What Hotels Get Wrong For Business Travellers

What Hotels Get Wrong For Business Travellers

Hotels mean never having to make the bed and pizza that’s a phone call away, but there are plenty of downsides too. Here’s the top five things hotels across the globe should fix to make business travel a more pleasant experience.

A good chunk of my life gets spent in hotels, and quite frequently that experience gets translated into poorly shot YouTube videos like the one blow . Over the years, however, I’ve come to identify some common problems that afflict hotels of all stripes, from five-star luxury outfits to cheap and cheerful airport options. Here’s the five things I’d really like to get fixed to make business trips more pleasant and productive (chosen from a much longer list of minor annoyances).

5. Sink plugs: missing and/or useless

When you enter the bathroom in an unfamiliar hotel, there are two frequent scenarios that you face. Firstly, the previous guest may have stolen the plug from the basin. Alternatively, the plug may be one of those stupid built-in ones operated by a lever, which seem primarily designed to allow water to leak out rather than to keep it in. Either way, there’s not much chance of being able to have a decent shave. My longstanding emergency solution is to travel with a mug I can use for this purpose (and then rinse for drinking coffee), but how hard is it to offer the old-fashioned option of a proper sink plug on a chain?

4. No information in the room

Any well-organised hotel should have a folder (or an A4 sheet, or a wall poster) in the room telling you what time checkout is, what services are available, how to access the in-room Internet and so on. A surprising number don’t. Sure, I could ring reception, but why not save me (and the frazzled staff) the trouble?

3. No lights on the ceiling

If there’s a Hotel Rooms 101 design manual, the first instruction must be: “Ceiling lights are evil. You can only use lamps.” This is a poor decision on several levels, starting with the simple fact that you can’t see anything in the room. I’m here to work, not to seduce someone. Yes, a desk lamp is a nice addition, but it works much better if there’s also some overhead lighting. It’s also an environmental mess: one overhead bulb would be better than six distributed around the room. And having just one light (and one for the bathroom) would save a lot of confusion over switches.

2. No alarm clock visible at night from the bed

Most hotels have an alarm clock. However, many have it built into the TV, and many others have low-lit options that you can’t see without switching on the room light. I like to be able to see at a glance what the time is, especially when jet lag means my body clock can’t be trusted. (No wonder my BlackBerry always ends up serving double duty as a backup alarm.)

1. Not enough power outlets

It’s a not uncommon dilemma: having to unplug the TV, or the only lamp near the desk, simply so you can plug in your PC and get charging. I always travel with a power board, so I really only need one, but finding even one can be tricky sometimes. Other common power niggles: points that are so close to the wall or floor you can ‘t fit in a bulkier adaptor, or rooms which switch off all the power whenever you leave, making it impossible to charge up your PC.

OK, enough whining from me. That’s my take — what would you like to see hotels get right more often? Tell all in the comments.

Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman can live without a fridge in his room, but finds it tough going without a kettle. His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.


  • The first thing I do with a hotel that provides the swipe-card access doors is look for another card in my wallet that’s the same size – the powerswitch is pressure activated, and not dependent on the room key. The Virgin Blue / Velocity card is pretty reliable as a power-switch key for a lot of hotels in Australia. If I know it’s an odd key shape, I wander back to reception, and ask for a second key. If it’s an odd shaped card and a regular stopping point, I take the spare swipe key with me for use next time.

    Most of my work travel is conference related, so I need to be able to work on powerpoint presentations on the road, which means mousework. Mousework requires surface space (I pack an external mouse) and the lhe lack of desks is a big complaint for me, followed by desks with glass tabletops since they render the laser-mice useless.

  • Some of my tips:

    – Ask the hotel for a spare key so you can leave it in the power switch.

    – Carry your own powerboard with an appropriate adapter.

    3) During check-in, I ask what time the breakfast buffet will end, when checkout is and if I can get a late checkout.

  • How about free wireless? Too many hotels still think it’s a luxury, or that you should be happy to pay exhorbitantly for the chance to connect your own 56k modem. A reliable wireless network would be good too, but let’s not get silly.

    Decent room service menus. TVs with a full complement of working channels. Mini bars that wouldn’t bankrupt a third-world country if that country wanted some peanuts. Reading material that isn’t just advertising for a hotel chain. A comfortable chair at the desk, and room to push that chair back from the desk without hitting the bed.

    There’s more, but I’d sound like I was nit-picking.

  • Another “oversight” I have found is that sometimes the kettle in the room will not fit in the sink and can’t be filled directly from the tap. This forces you to fill it glass by glass if you are looking for that late night cup of tea.

    I agree with Patch regarding free wireless. I can’t understand how hotels think they can charge $30 for 24hours of access for a slow wireless link. I have taken to using my mobile as a wireless modem as it seems more reliable and I’m already paying for a data plan.

  • I’m a low maintenance customer, but get frustrated when I have to fill out the same forms over and over at regular hotels. Only one or two don’t ask for a card swipe Most do, even though they have all my details and I’ve stayed plenty of times before. Not in any particular order my general requests would be:

    More power points
    Shower head above face height
    TV at the end of bed
    TV tuned correctly
    Remote that works
    Soft Pillows
    Quiet air-conditioning.

    Yeah, good luck.

  • Utterly agree about Ceiling light – one switch at door and also at bed and more power

    AND also somewhere to anchor your laptop ball and chain – some places there is just nothing.

    Funniest hotel was Amsterdam airport all the gadgets power cords disappeared into holes so no body could steal but where was my power socket

  • Power outlets – never have them near the bed or if they do, they are some weird plug configuartion.

    Irons – should have steam irons (not crappy no steam irons that are useless) in every room (and an ironing board). Pressing charges for laundry are ridiculous.

    Buy a good bottle of scotch before you check in. Say no to the minibar.

  • I agree with the comments here. For me, a reasonable desk with good powerpoints, lighting, and useful room to work in is the number one request.

    Also, whilst some colleagues report that free in-room wireless internet is quite commonplace at US hotels, that still seems extremely rare in Australia.

    In between margarita’s, backpacker places manage internet availability better than many pricey hotels I’ve stayed at, so hotels could do a lot more in this area.

    I might be wrong but it seems that both leisure and business travellers travel with a laptop more than ever, and so assumedly hotel groups might one day consider introducing a ‘free buffet’ policy on internet usage.

  • I agree with the comments here. My most common complaints are:

    – Noisy air-conditioning
    – Lack of pillow options (in the room there should be both high and low profile pillows, they always seem to be high and I can never get a decent nights sleep)
    – Replace shower curtains with a screen. Shower curtains are a HUGE bug bear of mine and inevitably cause a wet, slippery floor.
    – Lack of provision for free wireless internet included in the room cost
    – Lack of decent tea/coffee making facilities. Either the kettle doesn’t fit in the sink as mentioned, milk is missing from the fridge, cups are dirty, spoons missing etc
    – Decent curtains that cover the window properly to block light. This is probably my biggest bug bear. The number of hotels I stay in where the curtains don’t completely cover the window or just plain don’t fit is very annoying and ends up letting in light from adjacent buildings leading to a poor nights sleep.
    – Amenity kits. I think hotels should provide little amenity kits in rooms including toothbrush, toothpaste etc etc as you always forget something when you travel
    – Better placement of power points. Whilst I never seem to have issues with a lack of power points the placement of them leaves a lot to be desired. I don’t want to have to move furniture to get to a power outlet.
    – Cheap bottled water in room. Another bug bear of mine. Why do hotels charge $6 to $8 for a decent sized bottle of water. I refuse to drink from rusty old hotel plumbing, but the cost of purchasing water in the hotel is bordering on ridiculous.

  • How about a proper remote for the tv that has an Aspect button.
    or at least setup the tv correctly

    I hate watching the late night movie on the big wide screen tv when the faces are all stretched out of shape because someone setup the tv to use “all” the screen.

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