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Back in 2009, we put out a poll that asked HotelChatter readers what they thought was the best free breakfast amongst U.S. budget chain hotels. The answers ranged from humorous to discouraging, from "Hampton gets me percolating" to "Lets be honest, all the free breakfasts are pretty gross!"
Well, here we are four years later, and we have a whole new host of free breakfast options out there, including Element, Hyatt House, and Home2 Suites to go along with the usual suspects (Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Courtyard, etc).
Although we still think European hotels do a better job of providing solid complimentary breakfasts, it's good to see the concept catching on in the States. We'd love to see it keep going and become a normal inclusion in the rate at all hotels, and we think the ensuing competition would lead to better breakfasts overall.
Last week, we asked you if you still used the in-room TV anymore. Our initial feeling was that you would all answer no and instead talk about how you use the in-room WiFi to stream movies and TV shows or just use it to catch up on your news reading.
When we do stay in a hotel, yes ! Watch the news for days temperature & happenings. Plus helps put us to sleep, reminds us of home.
I like to watch the news in the morning, wherever I am, and also turn it on at night while we're unwinding from a long day of sightseeing.
I don't have cable at home, cuz I use the internet for everything. But the one thing that I don't get online and like to watch in hotels is SportsCenter on ESPN.
The television was once considered the most important amenity inside a hotel room, after the telephone of course. Remember the days when hotels tried to outdo each other with their advertisements of "Color TV" and "Free Cable?" But then we all quickly moved past those and onto flat-screens and HDTVs. Yet even these high-tech versions might soon be outdated and it's all thanks to, you guessed it, the internet.
Several times this year, HotelChatter contributors have been in hotel rooms and have not turned on the TV. And why should they? When they can stream their favorite TV shows or movies on their computer or tablet. Heck, even just checking social media is entertainment enough. And this particular HotelChatter editor has recently been skeeved out about the
fecal matter germs that might be on the remote controls, so much so that I refuse to touch them without a tissue or a shower cap around them.
But there is one exception to all of this--kids. When you're traveling with kids, you'll do whatever you can to keep them entertained. Sure, you probably travel with the iPad fully-loaded or the Nintendo DS fully charged but sometimes, there's nothing easier than just plopping the kids on the bed and putting on some random cartoons while you criss-cross around the room, getting all your gear packed up.
YOU TELL US: Do you even use the TV in your hotel room anymore? YES OR NO? Sound off in comments below!
We've walked in on some shady situations over the course of our hotel-staying careers, including beds that appear to have been "utilized" prior to our arrival. You could drive yourself crazy thinking about all the things that might have -- or worse, definitely have -- taken place in the room you are about to occupy.
That image firmly in place and acknowledged, we must admit that we're not very paranoid about room cleanliness. We pretty much trust the eye test, that the floors have been reasonably cleaned and the bathroom sterilized. But we've met our fair share of people who don't hesitate to cover the toilet with paper before sitting down, or who shake out all the sheets before slipping into bed. And that comforter has been known to raise a few eyebrows, without question.
You have thousands of choices when you travel, but at the end of the day lodging breaks down into two categories: Chain versus independently-owned hotels. Each brings its own benefits and compromises and attracts different types of travelers.
In general, chain hotels tend to be able to offer a larger variety of services, provide a reliable amount of consistency from property to property, staff experienced employees, and are a safe bet in terms of knowing what you're going to get. The consequence of the consistency is a lack of creativity, though, as chain hotels sometimes suffer in the personality department.
Independently owned hotels have a little more risk involved, as they are typically stand-alone properties that may or may not live up to your expectations. However, the upside is huge, as they tend to have more personality than chain hotels and give guests a more localized experience, especially in the case of small, boutique hotels. There is also a higher likelihood that your tourism dollars will remain in the destination, as opposed to chain hotels with revenue streams that lead back to their corporate office in other city or even country.
In a move that is most certainly a reason to jump on the next hotel bed you come across, properties around the world have begun to pull the plug on the overpriced, in-room vending machines we call mini-bars. Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt are all onboard with the change, and while not all brands will follow along, we expect to see a major decline in numbers over the next couple years.
Now, the concept of the mini-bar is really great in theory. It's nice to have a beer or quick snack at your disposal in the room, but hotels really took the wrong turn with their approach, jacking up the prices, billing guests if they merely removed an item to inspect it, and charging for the "privilege" to have the mini-bar emptied for fridge space. They also ran into problems of billing, relying on a site inspection by staff to add the charges to the room. Guest honesty also came into play in a variety of ways. You could get out of a mini-bar bill pretty easily by refilling a vodka bottle with water or simply insisting you didn't have anything upon check out. Most hotels, if you push it enough, are not going to lose your business over a bag of M & Ms.
With that, we offer a hearty good riddance to the mini bar, and we applaud the big brands for beginning to make this much-needed change. According to reports, the decision came at the hand of guest complaints of high prices and, we're assuming, the resulting loss of income the hotel suffered.
Something that's become pretty clear over the past few years: People like to book hotel stays through third-party sites.
There's a bazillion out there, from classics like Hotels.com and Expedia to the new and savvy PointsHound and Rocketmiles that really help you rack up the rewards. As a result of this ever-growing trend, we wonder where that leaves individual hotel websites. Does anyone really use them?
From the hotel's perspective, having a website is essential for, if nothing else, searchability and stature. In this age, if something doesn't have a website, it doesn't exist. But, for the consumer, what's the take away? A few photos? Mumbo-jumbo PR banter about how we should prepare to be "whisked" away into a "world of mystical luxury?"
It seems like every few weeks, there is a new fitness offering from a hotel chain trying to lure the healthiest of travelers to their properties. Some hotel brands have put together new and flashy fitness offerings while others are just doing the bare minimum (i.e. two cardio machines, a set of dumbbells and some free weights.) Yet even after we created our very own workouts to get a good in-room-sweat on, we've been asked the question: What do gym-junkie travelers want from a hotel while on the road? Well, here's what we think:
Firstly, have a look at the fitness facility. After motivating ourselves to push through the jet-lag and hit the gym, all we want is a room that inspires us to maintain an elevated heart rate. What can really send us back up to the room are horrible ventilation, wall-to-wall carpeting, awful views and poor lighting. Carpeting is just gross because fitness facilities get hot and people sweat and carpeting makes the room seem hotter. Even more so, if the AC isn't working properly. Having pleasant views and great lighting, however, will help us extend our workout time.
A recent study conducted by Hotels.com revealed that wifi, shuttle service, and kitchenettes were the most-desired amenities for U.S. travelers (it also points out how cable TV, air conditioning and swimming pools used to be the most coveted).
Wifi being at the top of the list is not surprising, but the high demand for kitchenettes wasn't exactly expected. We understand the appeal of staying in and saving some cash, but it brings up the question: Do on-site restaurants in hotels have any impact on booking? Does anyone pick a hotel because of the restaurant in its lobby or on its rooftop?
We talk about them and certainly eat at them, but when it comes to getting a room, it's all about the rate. All things being equal, we'll take the hotel with the restaurant/bar/social crowd in its lobby. But if we can stay down the street at Hotel B for less, we'll happily cab it over to Hotel A for dinner. To us, in-house restaurants seem to have become an amenity that is more for non-guests, meant to bring in traffic from locals and nearby hotels.
We recently received a press release and this first sentence caught our eye:
“Once a bad review or a negative article of a hotel/resort is written online, there is no way to delete it. However, thanks to ReputationChanger.com, provider of something called ORMS or online reputation management services hotels/resort managers can now bury negative reviews to fix a tarnished online reputation. ReputationChanger.com can help hotels/resorts clear negative reviews, control, monitor, and manage their online reputation.”
Well that certainly got our attention. Could this be a Kosher operation given the drama with TripAdvisor? Would this company Olivia Pope these hotels and “handle” their negative reviews even if they're well deserved?
We weren’t sure we liked the sound of this, so we contacted the company to find out more.
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For how small and seemingly insignificant they are, those little soap bars in the bathroom sure get a lot of attention. We've heard a lot about the efforts of hotels to recycle the partially-used bars left behind by guests, and when we looked at what people have stolen from hotel rooms, bathroom amenities were on everyone's list of most likely to be swiped.
And now, as hotels continue to search for ways to cut costs and minimize their environmental impact, we might start seeing less and less of them altogether. We might see them replaced by toiletry dispensers.
According to Pineapple Hospitality, the era of “amenity wars” between hotels has given way to a green movement where the traveling public’s growing environmental attitude is finally strong enough to overcome any feelings of luxury that might be lost by doing away with individual amenities. We understand that the source of that statement has a sales pitch driving it, but still we find it to be true. People’s minds are opened wider now than ever to green initiatives, even if they make the trip away from home a little less glamorous. It’s why so many people are willing to use their towel more than once.
Ever hear that old wive's tale about the 10-year-old boy who peeked inside a hotel room drawer and found $10,000? Oh, wait, that was a real thing that happened last week to a father and son staying at a Hilton in Kansas City.
Upon checking into the hotel, 10-year-old Cody Schaefer (whom his dad describes as "very observant") was performing a routine inspection of the room when he uncovered a wad of bills stashed inside a dresser.
According to the Washington Post, the good Samaritan dad told his son they couldn't keep the money, and he promptly turned it over to the police. We can't say we would have been quite so magnanimous…
However, the story got us thinking: what are some weird things you've found in your hotel room?