Hotel Annoyances, and a Few Benefits of Elite Status

Sometimes I think I’m the opposite of most hotel guests, at least when I read other people’s reviews. People raving about the club scene at some Vegas hotel pool is a definite clue I don’t want to stay there. Then there are the people who talk up the quiet, secluded beaches at some resort in the South Pacific. Again, I don’t want to stay there (there is such a thing as being too quiet).

My dad shared with me two recent articles by the hotel blog Oyster on their Top 11 Things We Hate and Things to Love about hotels. Going through the lists brought back memories of some of my hotel stays this year and how some of these favorites don’t seem to apply to me.

I don’t like room service. It takes just as long as going to the hotel restaurant and usually has the same menu. I’d rather sit at a real table and eat my food in comfort. I caved and had room service exactly once this year, when we arrived late at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco. The food was great, but there was no place to eat in the room. We ended up delicately balancing several plates on a side table while Megan sat on the bed and I in the desk chair.

I don’t like designer toiletries. I am not a cool person and have never heard of these companies. All I want is something that lathers, rinses out, and is easy to open. What is this KenetMD stuff we have coming at Hyatt? I could care less about the Bliss products stocked at W Hotels. My favorite toiletries this year were the no-name coconut-scented items branded with the Hyatt Regency Maui’s Spa Moana.

I don’t like hi-tech rooms. To a point, they are very nice. Every hotel should have ample and easily accessible power outlets. I appreciate that almost all Hyatt hotels have an A/V panel next to the television. But when we stayed at the Andaz Wall Street, we had to ask our host to come up to the room and show us how to use the door key. There were so many light switches for different “zones” and “moods” that I just left all the lights on all the time.

I don’t like no lines at check-in. Again, let me qualify. I don’t like waiting, but I also need to know where to go. At boutique hotels, the whole sit-down-and-have-a-drink aesthetic unsettles me. Frankly the last thing I want to do when arriving at a hotel is to sit down. I’ll come back after taking my things to my room. At the Grand Hyatt New York, the Diamond check-in area was in a separate room with no obvious signage.

I don’t like mini bars, with local treats or otherwise. The local idea is nice; charging isn’t. You could give me a free $2 granola bar and I’ll be happy. But charge me $12 and I’ll never eat one. This is something I love about Andaz hotels: the food and non-alcoholic drinks are free. One of the biggest costs of mini bars is managing inventory and payment. If you just stock the thing and give it away (like toiletries) the cost actually become manageable.

You could fit two sinks there. And that mini bar on the left just wastes useful space.

You could fit two sinks there. And that mini bar on the left just wastes useful space for a foyer.

So let’s switch to the things I love about hotels. I agree with everything else on Oyster’s list. Megan loved having her own vanity at the Grand Hyatt Singapore, and nothing annoys me more about hotel bathrooms than those that have enough space for double sinks but fail to utilize the opportunity. Megan has also gotten spoiled with regular access to bathrobes and slippers. The best we’ve had this year were in the Presidential Suite at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver, made of terry with a soft velour on the inside.

Free drinks and WiFi are also pluses. We saved bundles by drinking up at the Grand Clubs in New York, Singapore, and Hong Kong. New York is just expensive in general, and Singapore has unusually high liquor taxes. Before becoming a Diamond elite, the free Platinum status that comes with the Hyatt Visa paid for itself in free WiFi and access to quiet rooms with better views.

Megan loved having a view of the city when doing her makeup and getting ready each morning.

Megan loved having a view of the city when doing her makeup each morning.

Hotel status goes a long way to eliminating the issues on Oyster’s “hate” list. Resort fees are stupid, no matter how you justify them, and should included in the advertised rate. But the Hyatt Regency Maui has reduced resort fees for Platinum and Diamond members, and the Hyatt Regency Waikiki has eliminated them entirely for Diamond members. Bottled water charges are another annoyance. Hyatt hasn’t done anything about this …yet. I just grab a bottle from the gym. But Hilton, Starwood, and other properties will comp in-room water for elite members.

Other changes have nothing to do with elite status. I like that certain hotels, including the Hyatt Regency Maui, have started banning the practice of reserving pool chairs. There are few things that annoy me more than people who set their stuff down and then disappear. This doesn’t help you in Las Vegas, where hotels see it as something you can actually charge for, but I’ve realized that few hotels in Las Vegas are actually concerned about doing anything that doesn’t line their pockets.

I’ll have a few posts next week on hotel elite status, including another comparison table much like I made for airline programs. In the meantime, what are some of your hotel pet peeves?

Scottrick’s Christmas Thanks and Wishes
Baggage Handling at SeaTac Airport

Scott created Travel Codex after learning how to travel better on a budget during grad school. He now flies over 150,000 miles every year.
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  • Maranda

    I actually have minimal pet peeves with hotels. They don’t super gouge if you book last minute (unlike the difference between G and Y fares on UA), the cancelable rate is barely higher than the nonrefundable one, and even 2 star hotels treat me with dignity (unlike Ryanair which is pure torture). Vegas hotels may feel impersonal at times (hey, they have to deal with 4000 rooms), but mandarin Oriental Vegas is definitely a gem.

    • Scottrick

      That’s one reason I encourage family to go after hotel status and points if they hate airlines. Sometimes gouging does occur, but for the most part it’s pretty tame (certainly not on an order of magnitude).

  • Diana Wu

    What’s up with higher-end hotels nickel and diming (dime-ing?) for everything (in-room wi-fi, parking) while lower-end hotels include those things? Almost considering a Starwood plat challenge since we’ve got a 2.5week trip to Asia coming up. . .

  • rich

    My hotel priorities are: clean, safe, quiet room.

    Pet peeves:
    1. Resort fee. Totally illegal IMO
    2. Mini-bars – I’ve lost count the # of times when I check out they wanted to charge me for items when I never used the item or even touch them. A few boutique hotels (in Grindalwald-Hotel Cabana, and base2stay in London) actually had good prices so I would use those but in general forget it.
    3. Pillows that provide zero support. I could stack 10 of them and my head still would fall through to the bed.
    4. Bathroom lighting. I don’t need to be blinded if I get up during the night or in the morning. Either provide a dimmer or a low voltage light.
    5. Hide and seek in finding a useable power outlet.
    6. Unusual controls for the shower. Should be a simple thing, why make it more complicated than necessary (kind of like a new washing machine I have, it has a variety of jingles you can select for notification that the machine is done).

    Happy Holidays.
    Rich

    • Scottrick

      I hate #3, too. And often it’s an issue at hotels that have otherwise excellent mattresses. Giving me six pillows with no support is not the same as two pillows with great support. As much as I may make fun about Holiday Inn Express, at least they give you both firm and soft pillows so you can choose.

  • http://www.tukwilatalk.com Chuck Parrish

    I think that you are a pretty cool guy, Scott! (smile!)

  • TravelBlogger Buzz

    It is scary how I agree on ALL points you raised here. Does that mean I am not cool either or we are both just too darn cool period? :-)
    The number 1 pet peeve of mine is having to become a hunter for power outlet or not finding one near the desk!

    • Scottrick

      Maybe we’re too cool to be cool. I feel more at home at a Hyatt Place sometimes. It’s just comfortable.

  • http://www.willtravelforwork.com/ Nick Vannello

    I’m on the road 50 weeks a year and I actually disagree with most of this list. Let me check in right away. Not sure where to do that? There is a bellman or a greeter. Asking them a friendly question will help me determine how attentive the rest of the staff is going to be.

    Toiletries: I take them and donate them to a local homeless shelter. I haven’t polled them on if they care for the designer stuff or not.

    I do actually enjoy most hi-tech rooms. It means that during the redesign, more outlets were placed throughout the room. I will agree that the Andaz Wall Street was extremely confusing.

    I adore room service. I prefer to work on projects alone and most of the time I need to have privacy. The menu at the Hilton Garden Inn in Charlotte changes several times a year and offers delicious, affordable food.

    Things I don’t like? The complimentary bottles of water, a lack of outlets, and TVs that aren’t using LodgeNet (I love the iPhone app.) I also detest when my hotel of choice chooses to not participate in quarterly rewards offers.

    • http://travelcodex.com Scottrick

      Ah, well I’m not a business traveler. But I did point out that I often find myself disagreeing with the popular consensus.