We recently stayed in an excellent small motel run by a nice young family. I was impressed by some of the thoughtful things they provided and surprised that there were some minor (easily improved) things they seemed to have overlooked. Their hotel gets an allover A+, and this article is a thank you to them, a recommendation to others and a list of suggestions for keepers of the sleepers all over.
I confess that I love hotels in general. I love the fact that I don’t have to make the bed, (even though I do), or hang up my wet towels, (ditto), or nag someone to take out the trash. I love the lack of clutter, the silence, the crisp, clean sheets, and the fact that I can’t see any of my unfinished home improvement projects from anywhere in the room.
Like most Americans who travel once or twice a year, I’ve probably stayed in a variety of hotels and motels over the years. It amazes me that the people who run, own or work in them never seem to have spent a night there. If they did, they might understand the things travelers truly appreciate, and why.
Of course, we’re all unique, traveling for different reasons, amounts of time and with or without children and pets, but there are some things that may be universally appreciated. I’ve compiled a list of some (not, by any means, all) of the things I love (and don’t) about hotel rooms. Your perfect hotel room may be different so please feel free to add to the list or comment about your own best/worst hotel experiences.
- Cleanliness – The room should smell clean or have no scent at all and look as if housekeeping just finished. If towels or sheets are noticeably stained, they should already have been recycled as cleaning rags. The bathroom should be shiny, the carpet should be lint and litter free and the toilet, trashcans and ashtrays should be empty.
- Towels and toilet paper -please don’t make us have to ask because if we’re not clean and dry, we’re probably not going to be as polite as we normally are. I was pleasantly surprised to find two beach towels in our room at The Beachwood Motel and even happier they were replaced each day. (They also supplied giant beach umbrellas and lounge chairs – very much appreciated by my pale skinned husband and his sun loving wife!)
- Security – Every traveler wants to feel as safe as if they were in their own bed so door locks that work, windows that lock and the ability to lock up your valuables are at the top of the list. Small in-room personal safes are a great idea and have become more popular. You can leave your car keys, wallets, cameras, or anything you don’t necessarily want to haul to every beach run or business meeting, in the room without worrying. A great idea for peace of mind and it only took me six tries to figure out the directions (my shortcoming, not the hotel owners’).
- Refrigerators and microwaves – most hotels have both now, and some even have coffeepots and kitchen sinks (so you won’t have to pack your own). Some of us travel to get out of cooking, of course, but being able to refrigerate and heat up a slice of leftover pizza for breakfast is like a mini vacation in itself. The Beachwood Motel even provided (yes!) a corkscrew, so we didn’t have to buy yet another one, having, again, forgotten our own. They also had picnic tables and gas grills on the well kept lawn, and coffee available in the lobby so you didn’t even have to make your own. One poor guest was going door to door searching for teabags one night though. My mother, who is often looking for her glasses (mostly when she’s wearing them), always travels with teabags. Hotel guests are sometimes more forgetful than my mom.
- Heating and air conditioning systems that are quiet and in working order. Windows should open and close, and extra blankets for the one too hot/one too cold couple. Now, if building codes require non-opening windows on the 40th floor, that’s one thing. But if I’m in on the first or second floor, I want to be able to open my window. I promise not to jump.
- If you’re like me, you’ve probably experienced the dreaded bulging bag syndrome. You don’t know what you want to wear when you get out of the shower in the morning, much less what you’ll want to wear in four days so, planning for this inability to plan, you pack everything. If you’re looking for a way to pack less, I’m not going to be able to help you in this article. But if you’re an innkeeper, please take note and give us a place to put all that stuff when we get there; dresser drawers, hangers and plenty of wall hooks, especially in the bathroom. You don’t want to hang your damp bathing suit on top of the jammies you’re wearing to bed that night and, no matter how clean the bathroom is, you don’t want to put your clean clothes on the floor of the toilet seat (at least I don’t)
- Speaking of the bathroom, most hotels provide soap and shampoo, shower caps and various lotions and potions. I’ve always wondered and have to ask: Why no toothpaste? I’d gladly trade it for the hand cream or the shower cap. It’s the one thing I usually forget. And, in the summer, a sample sized sunscreen might save a life (literally). Lots of hotels now have hairdryers, too; a nice touch.
- While we’re in the bathroom, let’s talk about size. Size really doesn’t matter. But storage does. Where you can’t have a vanity or counter space, install a shelf or two because, again, we don’t want to put things on the floor. Just be careful about the location. One hotel had a shelf over a shallow, wall-hugging sink so every time I bent over to spit out my toothpaste, I’d get a concussion. If it’s your hotel, just sit down for a minute and check things out. Do you whack your funny bone on the sink while rising from the throne? Is the toilet paper holder across the room? Do you need to call a plumber to operate the shower? And speaking of showers, The Beachwood Motel had the best shower of any motel I’ve ever stayed in. Not only were you clean and rinsed when you got out, you were buffed and polished. The water pressure was so good; I actually felt my cellulite melting away.
- Lighting – A lamp on both sides of the bed, each with its own easily reachable switch. I’m a reader and he’s a sleeper so if the lamp is on the wrong side of the bed, I’ll have to wake him up to switch sides in the middle of the night or both of us will wake up cranky the next morning. (Along the same lines, a clock on both sides of the bed would be great too.) And, I don’t want anyone to think I’m a big baby, afraid of the dark, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stubbed my toe or banged my shin on the way to the facilities in the middle of the night. A dim lamp or night light beats a noisy fan/bathroom light combo any day (great for travelers with kids too).
- Tip envelopes – Sure we can leave some cash on the dresser, but an envelope adds a little class, saying “thank you for doing such a good job,” rather than “you’re under arrest for soliciting.” Additionally, it will remind the forgetful among us.
- A suggestions/comments questionnaire, including a place to tell the owner/manager that something didn’t work, burnt out, or should be cleaned. You, as the innkeeper, might be grateful to know the dresser drawer sticks, the sink stopped draining, or the alarm clock goes off 27 minutes late. I guarantee the next guest to stay in that room will be grateful too.
- Tell us about the neighborhood. Maybe we’ve Googled it, but maybe we’re not that organized (or tech savvy). Where can we bring the kids when it’s raining? Is there a number for a local taxi service? Who serves breakfast all night? Which restaurant has the best lobster? Many establishments offer coupons and a shelf full of brochures – that’s great too, but there’s nothing like a personal recommendation. A nice, chatty brochure/letter of neighborhood highlights in the room shows us you care about your guests.
- The television. I know there has to be one
, so I’ll only make one suggestion. Please make sure porn channels aren’t accessible with the touch of a button. Years ago, we stayed in a hotel that had “forgotten” to block those channels. Believe me, the last thing we had planned for our vacation was explaining what THAT was to our ten year old and her best friend.
- A comfortable bed. (Last, but not least.)
As a rule, we spend most of our hotel room time with our eyes closed, but the more pleasant our surroundings, the more soundly we sleep, and the more likely we are to come back and recommend your place as the best place to stay. There are probably plenty of hotels, motels, inns and B&B’s that already do all of these things and more. If yours is one of them, feel free to comp me a room, and I’ll be glad to write you a recommendation too!
And if you’re still planning your vacation, I highly recommend The Beachwood Motel in Old Orchard Beach Maine (http://beachwood-motel.com/index.html). Beautiful place, nice people and close to everything. Wishing you sunny beach days, restful nights and unstubbed toes….