Tag: Hotel RantsView All Tags
Last week, I spent a night in a five star hotel in Singapore – one of its top ones, no less. The room was, obviously, beautiful. The pools (plural) were to die for. I arrived late and went straight to sleep. I woke up, swam, had breakfast, and turned on my computer. And found my computer wouldn’t connect to the WiFi.
I have a Mac, and this sometimes happens. So I did what normally works – left it a few minutes, restarted it, adjusted the settings. Several times. And it still didn’t work.
I knew it wasn’t a problem with the WiFi, because my phone was connected. So after a few more restarts and a bit more fiddling, I called the front desk. This has happened about four times in the past, and each time connecting me to the IT dept has solved it by manually assigning the IP address. In fact, the first time this happened – at the Allegro Chicago – the IT guy said that they often have this issue with foreign-‘born’ Macs. It was not a big deal.
A woman answered and I explained the problem, asking to be connected to someone in IT. “Maybe it’s a problem with our WiFi,” she said. “I don’t think so,” I said, “Because my phone is connected. This has happened before, and it was a Mac issue. I just need to assign a manual IP. Is it possible for someone from the IT dept to walk me through this?”
“Have you tried turning it off and on again?” she replied.
The pool at the IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Paraíso, on Mexico's Riviera Maya
There’s a distinct snobbery among elite travelers about those gluttony, booze-guzzling, ignorant group of ingrates without a cultural or inquisitive bone in their boring bodies: the wretched all-inclusive vacationers.
I know. I used to feel like that about all-inclusives myself. Then something magical and life changing happened: I had kids.
Before children it never dawned on me to go to an all-inclusive. Why would I? We hiked around Kauai, island-hopped in the Virgin Islands, tequila tasted across Mexico, explored ancient towns in Spain… well, you get the point. Now let me ask you this: have you ever tried to sightsee with fussy, regurgitating six-month old twins strapped to your back? Exactly.
We continued to travel adventurously with young children (“I won’t let these brats stop me no matter how miserable it makes me!!” I must have been thinking) and when they were four years old we wound up at our first all-inclusive resort.
And a very foreign feeling came over me that took me a while to identify: relaxation.
Thompson Hotels / London Hotels / Belgravia Hotels / Hotel Restaurants / Hotel Rants / Hotel Service / → All Tags
Pont St on Sunday, which we'd been told was fully booked
We need to talk about Belgraves.
When Thompson’s first London (and first non-US) hotel opened three years ago, there were teething problems. Many. I stayed on opening night, and my stay was so amateur that when I outlined what had happened at check out, a manager offered me a voucher for a free night’s stay any time in the next year to make up for it. I never cashed in that voucher, because I was so bummed out by my first experience that I couldn’t really be bothered to go back.
As it happens, I live pretty near Belgraves, and, over the last three years, I’ve tried to give it a chance. I’ve gone for drinks, breakfast, dinner, an abortive attempt at afternoon tea (we left after trying to get the server’s attention for over 20 minutes). The service has been mediocre to dire every time. I had given up on it.
But now I am getting worried about Belgraves.
Just When You Thought Hotel Charges Couldn't Get Any More Ridiculous, Enter Orlando's 'Safe Charges'
Up this week is reader J Jacobson. From the horse’s mouth:
Tipping extra for room service, when there are already gratuity and delivery charges involved, has long been a hot topic here at HotelChatter. But contributing editor Will McGough is seriously fed up with these service shenanigans. Here's his rant. Got a hotel rant of your own to share? Send it to us!
Before I went to bed at a $300+ per night luxury hotel, I called room service and ordered two plates of eggs, wheat toast, yogurt, and coffee for two. I asked that it arrive around 7:30 a.m., and after confirming this and my order, the woman hung up. I went to sleep. I woke up the next morning via my alarm at 7:20 a.m., brushed my teeth, and got back in bed to wait. I was on a semi-tight schedule, having to leave the room by 8 a.m., so when the clock turned 7:32 a.m., I decided to jump in the shower.
A few minutes later--probably five or so by my mental clock--I heard the knock at the door. I was in the shower, so my girlfriend signed for it. A little late, but no worries. I dressed and came out, poured some coffee, and dug in. After the quick meal, my girlfriend went to get dressed, and as I was moving the service table out of the way, I saw the copy of the receipt under one of the dishes. Curious as to what my girlfriend left for a tip, I looked at the bill.
She had left a smaller than usual tip, and when I asked her about it, she said it was because the food had arrived late. A woman after my own heart, for sure.
But then I looked closer, and my eyes immediately transformed into saucers. A forced gratuity had been added to the tune of 18%, something my girlfriend, an innocent rookie when it comes to luxury hotel stays, had overlooked.
Last week, we stayed at a hotel that shall remain nameless. We checked in after a 13-hour flight to a room stocked with a free minibar. A few minutes later, we were brought a welcome gift: orange juice, a packet of cheese cookies, a chocolate bar, and a box of marshmallows. Perfect! A little graze of that, and we wouldn’t need to venture out while zombie-fied.
As it happened, we drank the juice, had one cookie and one marshmallow, and realized we didn’t want to add a sugar coma to the jetlag one, so we ordered room service. No worries! We closed the marshmallow box, put the lid on the cookies, and left the chocolate in its wrapper. The rest of those goodies could wait for tomorrow.
The next morning, we stumbled down to breakfast. By the time we stumbled back up, our room had been cleaned. And the entire tray had been taken away.
Why, housekeeping, why? Why would you think that an airtight plastic pot of cookies that had been opened, deprived of one cookie, carefully closed again and set neatly on our desk, was finished? Why would you think that a box of marshmallows that had been dipped into and taped back up was to be thrown away? Why would you think that an unopened chocolate bar was repellent to us? Why?
Airbnb / Hotel Rants / Athens Hotels / Long Beach Hotels / Warsaw Hotels / Moscow Hotels / → All Tags
Lovely remote Airbnb in Joshua Tree
It’s taken a while, and a spell at rock bottom, but it’s happened. It’s over. I’m in recovery. I am no longer addicted to Airbnb.
When it launched, I loved the idea of Airbnb. Good hotels are wonderful, of course, but they’re also unaffordable for many people. On the other hand, few things are as dispiriting in travel as staying in a mediocre hotel with uninformed, unmotivated staff. Airbnb promised a local experience with locals who cared. What was not to love?
My first Airbnb hit was in Moscow. In a city where even a budget hotel costs around $300, I stayed in a world-famous Stalinist skyscraper for $130. Sure, there was no hot water but there was history – an infinite amount. (Plus the guy refunded me $80 for the lack of water.)
I went on to have better and better experiences. A stunning midcentury house in Palm Springs – an entire house – for less than a room at the Parker. A cabin on its own 15-acre desert plot in Joshua Tree. A gorgeous apartment in Warsaw.
But this summer I fell out of love.
Hotel Memories / Snapshot / Hotel Toiletries / Hotel Rants / NH Hotels / Hotel Amenities / Bathroom Amenities / → All Tags
Our name is HotelChatter and we are addicted to hotel toiletries.
Designer, cult, no-name motel brands – we can’t get enough. We stash them away every night in our suitcase, so housekeeping gives us more. We check out with bagfuls of the stuff. We haven’t bought soap or shampoo in years.
Hotel toiletries are the first things that always crop up in those articles that always crop up – the ones asking what is ok and not ok to take from hotel rooms. (Spoiler: it’s always the toiletries and stationery that’s ok, everything else is off limits.)
Recently we’ve noticed a decline in hotel toiletries. Smaller bottles. Fewer restocks. A sparser selection of products. Those wall dispensers that, much as we want to be eco, we can’t quite get around to accepting.
We live, of course, us inhabitants of HotelChatter Towers, surrounded by hotel toiletries (a shoebox of soap, one of shampoo and conditioner, one of body lotion). And we tend to grab them without much thought – it’s hard to remember just where that bottle of CO Bigelow came from, after all.
But, spring cleaning this week, we stumbled upon another shoebox full of body lotion – one collected in happier times, around 2006-2008. Perhaps it’s coincidence, perhaps it’s pre-financial crisis, but we noticed that most of these bottles had been personalized to the hotels – and we had a Proustian moment, there in the bathroom, remembering the various trips.
Hotel Bathrooms / Hotel Design / Hotel Rants / Abu Dhabi Hotels / Starwood Hotels / Le Royal Meridien Hotels / Jonathan Khoo / → All Tags
This looks like a nice bathroom, right? Granted, the toily is a little close to the shower, and we’d prefer a proper bidet to a hose that someone else might have done who knows what with, but overall it looks good. Props for the separate tub, sexy streak of brown marble and omg-yes-gimme-dat dinnerplate showerhead.
Except the hotel left out one thing. A panel of glass.
This was the tweet that alerted us to the problem recently, from friend of HC and intrepid traveler, Jonathan Khoo.
hey bathroom designers (hotel & otherwise), ALWAYS a bad idea to just have a shower out in the open with no wall, tub, curtain, lip, etc.— Jonathan Khoo (@jonk) August 14, 2014
Yes, as much as we may bitch about peekaboo bathrooms, there is a worse bathroom sin, and that is the bathroom that leaks everywhere.
Question: is it ever ok to ask a woman what her childbearing status is? (Answer: not unless it is particularly vital to the conversation, or if she brings it up.)
Another question: how many 21st-century women do you know who define themselves by their childbearing status? (Answer: unless they’re joking about ‘mom brain’, or write "proud mom!!" on their Twitter bio, not many, presumably because it’s the 21st century and in general society believes that women have brains and souls and vocations that don't necessarily include breeding, and the virgin/whore/mother categories were put on fade when we got the vote.)
Last question: in light of the above, just how much sense does it make for a hotel to market a new package for
barren sterile heartless unfulfilled childless women?
Personally we’d say not much sense at all, but the Westin New York Grand Central seems to think barren is the new black, because they’ve just launched a package called Womanhood Redefined, aimed at women of childbearing age who – the horror! – don’t have children. It is, they claim, an ‘industry first’. Guys, sometimes there’s a reason for that.
The Womanhood Redefined package aims to “create a new definition of happiness” for women (whose happiness meter is, of course, generally contingent on the number of offspring that have swum through their birth canal). The hotel has teamed up with Melanie Notkin, author of the gloriously titled book, Otherhood: Modern Women Finding A New Kind Of Happiness. Together, they have decided that this is what childless women want from a hotel stay:
· A bed for the night (presumably unwarmed, just like your single mattress at home);
· A copy of Otherhood (to help you find happiness despite your stale loins);
· A $25 food and beverage credit towards cocktails at the bar (because SATC, woohoo!) or in-room dining (in case you are ashamed to show your single self in public);
· A personal consultation with the hotel’s executive chef, who will tell you about superfoods and growing home gardens (crucial question: is he single? MAYBE YOU CAN MARRY HIM);
· A personal consultation with the hotel’s Running Concierge (careful now, overexercise can lead to fertility issues);
· 10% discount on yoga classes at a nearby studio (bcs you childless girls looove your yoga);
· A complimentary Westin White Tea candle (clutch it to your never-lactated bosom, it smells almost as good as a baby);
· Loaned exercise gear (because nothing feels as good as working out in second-hand sneakers).
The business center at the Atlas. At least this internet is free
One of the most important questions to take into account when picking a hotel? Whether or not there is free WiFi. You know how we feel about this at HotelChatter. It is imperative to our stay. We would not stay in a hotel with paid for WiFi.
But what’s almost worse than charging for WiFi? Advertising it as free, but actually imposing limits. We already told you about one reader’s encounter with a Fairfield Inn that had a limit of one device per guest, but we can go one better with our stay at the Atlas Hotel in Brussels last week.
The Atlas is a really nice, fashion-themed three star hotel in a great area of the city. It has OCD-friendly disposable coffee cups. It’s lovely. And it trumpets its “FREE Wireless High Speed Internet Access in ALL ROOMS, the Lounge, the Breakfast room and the Conference room” (sic) on its homepage.
The Atlas doles out the WiFi via individual codes at the front desk. We were given one, which we immediately tapped into our phone. We asked for another for our computer. And were told that there was a one code per room policy.
One device per room in one of the business centers of Europe? One device per room when you’re selling doubles, twins and duplexes? One device per room in 2014? Non non non, c'est pas possible!
While our front desk advisor listed 10 basic things a hotel must offer guests yesterday, a current hotel guest is demanding something else be added to that list--Bathroom fans. We'll let her do the talking here to further explain what she means. Warning: if you don't like potty humor, click away now.
It absolutely boggles my mind why there is not a bathroom fan in every hotel room!
This is not only essential for a basic human function, whether you are with others or not, no one wants to sit in there own stench like a fat cat, but also for any queen diva that needs to get ready in a jiffy -that fan is needed for refreshing the air from a shower, hair dryer and hot lights, without it is hellish hot and humid in there. All that effort just to come out like a wet poodle that smells of its own poo or drowning in cologne.
There is also the environmental issue here, without that white noise factor that allows for some sense of decent privacy, now ladies have to result to running the sink water in a pinch. Let's not also forget the need for strategy without the fan, "Who is going to spend some QT in the lobby bathroom now? Don't forget your card, will meet you over here, meet you over there". Bottom line somebody is standing around waiting while you expunge your demons.
To choose not vent a bathroom is to choose to kill the mystique factor in every relation, even with ones self.
Bring the fan back along with human decency !
Ps. I am writing this right now from a five star hotel while my husband is currently in the bathroom lobby - 5 minutes and counting.
Got a hotel rant of your own? Get it off your chest by venting to us!