The biggest decision you’ll make when you travel is choosing where you stay. Deciding where to stay has made or broken many relationships, strained or saved many budgets and, most importantly, improved or decimated many holidays.
Hotel rooms are so important there are huge websites dedicated to telling others about them, like TripAdvisor, where the reputation of a hotel is put on the line. Unless you’ve had a particularly frightful experience, I would say most of the rooms you’ve stayed in have the same basic features: walls, door, bed, roof, toilet and shower. If they all have the same basic features, what makes some great and others total crap? Let’s explore this theory further and talk about what it is exactly that makes a hotel room great (or shit, if they get it wrong).
A comfortable bed is absolutely essential, seeing as you only really need a hotel room for two things, showering and sleeping. A big, soft, fluffy bed is the thing dreams are made of, especially after a 20 hour long-haul flight from Brisbane to London. Sweet inner-spring-lumbar-support goodness. I once stayed in a tiny, tiny hotel room, but it had the biggest, most comfortable bed I’ve ever had the pleasure of sleeping in and it made me forget about the room size altogether.
In the same general group as ‘the bed’ but equally as important. There’s scarcely an incident more disheartening than settling into a comfortable bed, only to realise your head is resting on a piece of sheet metal. For shame! Hotel pillows are quite often the most comfortable, maybe because you can never work out what brand they are and recreate the experience at home.
There are so many things that can go right or wrong with a hotel shower, so many variables. Let’s start with the basics.
Decent water pressure and an ability to maintain a consistent water temperature. You cannot have a light, icy cold trickle dribbling out of a shower head. Similarly, you do not want to be pinned against the shower wall, like you’ve been caught up in a riot and the cops have turned the water cannon on you.
Shower size definitely matters and two heads are always better than one. The bigger the shower, the better, and if there’s any chance of you being able to live La Vida Loca and turn on two shower heads at once and run between them, you’ll know you’ve found a winner.
It’s hard for anyone to come close to what the Japanese are offering, in terms of high-quality hotel toilets. We’re talking heated seats, trickling water and rainforest sounds to mask your every tinkle and all manner of swiss-army style gadgets to… well,…. whatever.
Even the tiniest of hotel rooms can be made bearable with a fantastic view. Similarly, nothing knocks your socks off more than walking into a beautiful hotel room with a huge window and a birds-eye view of the city you’re visiting.
The food and drink
Buffet breakfast and happy hour, folks. Rolling out of bed in a Balinese resort, shuffling down to the hotel restaurant and being greeted by the sight of a jaw-dropping buffet breakfast is one of the best things that can happen to you at a hotel. A brilliant buffet breakfast or a great happy hour with good cocktails at a good price, can make your stay at any hotel so much more enjoyable and memorable.
Towels Big, fluffy, fresh, white, hotel towels. Nothing makes you feel more special than wrapping one of those bad boys around you or, if you’re really lucky, a bath robe and some little slippers.
Products Indulging in Shishedo bath products while you soak in a big ol’ bathtub or feeling spoilt with body scrubs, face washes and extra little things like loofahs or televisions you can watch while you’re in the bath.
Mirror A heated mirror so, when you jump out of the hot shower, it isn’t all fogged up by the shower steam. An absolute dream but also a little confronting if you’re prone to putting on a little holiday-pudge (like me!)
Pool If you’re very, very lucky you may get to stay somewhere with your own private plunge pool. Nothing compares to the sheer joy of romping around in your swimwear with no witnesses to see it, you can throw all your inhibitions out the window and feel like royalty for a few days.
Chocolate Ohhhh yes, chocolate. I had a brilliant experience at a luxury hotel in Vietnam and found myself receiving not just one chocolate on my pillow at night, but a small box of five beautifully made truffles. It was the highlight of my day to come back to the room and see that lovely little box of goodness waiting for me every night.
These are my thoughts on what makes a hotel room great or absolutely horrid, what are yours? What’s the best hotel experience you have ever had? What’s the coolest gadget or little treat or luxury you’ve found in a hotel room? I’d love to hear them, so share in the comments below.
Phoebe Lee is a writer, award-winning blogger and travel lover sharing helpful travel tips, insight and reviews for regular people. Follow her adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.