My girlfriend can sleep vertically. A position worth envying. Especially during our trip around the world in 1997. 365 days of deep sleep and moments awake on an interesting mix of matrasses and bed bases, or whatever was needed to serve as such. The ultimate bed testing experience. We could easily fill a comparative case study in a Consumer Guide Magazine. Yes, we see ourselves as certified sleep specialists.
In order to at least reach the R.E.M. phase, my body however, desires a sleeping position that can somewhat be described as horizontal. In busses, bemos (Indonesian minibuses) and trains this can be a tough challenge. While my girlfriend was sound asleep, I wondered why hotel classifications start (or end) with a 1 star rating. Shouldn’t that scale range from -5 to +5?
Lying down however, is not always a guarantee for a good night’s sleep. Drowned, torn, smeared, plastic, smelly, broken polyether foam matrasses of 2 centimetre width are guaranteed to interfere a proper rest. And bedbugs … vermin that feasts on your blood while sleeping, which can easily be recognized by a straight line of red dots on your skin. “Slept well?” was a question at the time, that formed our verbal welcome to the day.
Paying 250 euros for a luxury hotel room isn’t always a guarantee for a pleasant stay. One of the most disappointing stays, was at the Krasnapolsky hotel in Amsterdam. Toenails next to my bed, brown smudges on the linen (you know the drill: having been to the toilet and afterwards sitting on the bedside while watching TV), hairs in the sink and hotel staff that makes you realize that you share the hotel with 450+ other occupied rooms. “Getting out of this hotelroom factory asap” was the emotion that grasped us. And in practice a stay in any hotel anywhere in the world should feel like a warm fuzzy blanket.
Noise, I believe, takes top position in the top-10 irritations while staying in a hotel. Slamming doors, squeaky floors, thin walls, shouting in the hallways, loud televisions and buzzing air-conditioners. The sound of a flushing toilet in the room next to your or above yours that sounds like a tropical rain shower, traffic noise … for many guests a major annoyance. I place myself in that group as well.
To me, it is still completely unclear why the hotel industry is incapable of fixing hotel doors that shut with a loud bang before you even have time to reach the hall.
Naturally, I have a favourite one myself: the lack of a hook in the bathroom. I personally like to hang my toilet bag on a hook. For less than a euro, every hotel in the whole wide world could fix this easily, but during your next stay please pay attention to this detail: in 8 out of 10 hotel rooms your search for this practical gadget remains fruitless.
And then there is that chalky showerhead which causes the water streams to wet everything except your body. Is it too much to ask to cleanse that head every two months or so? If I were a producer of a anti calcification products, I would know where my opportunities lie.
A fresh white stroke of adhesive kit, fix that broken lamp, screw that shower head a tight again allowing me to wash my body with both hands and obviously free Wi-Fi in hotels worldwide, it costs a few euros and just a couple of minutes. And then the best of all: a smile is absolutely free! The level of service from the hotel staff is not always up to scratch – it does not always meet the expectations of a customer. Cranky staff, staff who walk into the lift before allowing the guest to do so, skipping the lines, begging for attention, lack of eye contact or a friendly “Good morning” are just a few of many complaints.
Significant detail: it appears that many guests in hotels do not lodge a complaint. Well, hotels can have their fun with me. In general I report everything – and hurray for the reviews regarding the shortcomings that can cause some serious red cheeks for the hotel in question, which can be posted on several sites worldwide. How many hotel CEOs would start their day with a browse through booking- and review websites, looking for the shortcomings of their own hotel?
Much cheaper – for some 10 euros a night and one of the most memorable stays ever – was a hut. On the Perhentian island Kecil, a divine island on the East coast of Malaysia. A back-to-basics bed, ergonomically very irresponsible of course, mosquito net, an oil lamp to see in the darkness and ‘shower’ by means of a watering can. At a mere 20 metres from the sea and water oh so clear, so blue and a beach that white, that pristine, a brain as empty as a strainer and the only stress causing factor the choice of your cocktail. Slept like a baby!
In short, there is an undeniable difference in understanding between what many hotels think to offer and how a guest experiences his or her stay. It goes without saying: a pleasant stay at an accommodation is more than just sleeping in a bed!