Hotel Room Design Flaws – Travelin’ Dad
My phone is a collection of photos I’m sometimes at a loss to interpret, later.
There are the inevitable watch pics. I know, I know. But anyone into the hobby can tell you there’s a place — typically on Reddit — for the elegant wrist roll, even whole boards dedicated to the art of matching that watch to your daily duds.
Epic dishes I’ve cooked or ordered.
Pics of the kids and the wife and fam, of course.
Odd, random selfies, usually meant to amuse or — gasp! — astonish.
And, as a result of my cookies being trucked around the country and world for work meetings, snaps from hotel rooms.
A lot of these are shots out the window, in case work consumes me so totally while I’m visiting (a typical occurrence) that I don’t have the time to get out and actually appreciate the local sights, in which case, the window pic is at least evidence I was there.
The rest are a sort of rant: this room lacked this, or, oh-my-dear-lord-Marriott, would you check out how lame this particular quirk is?
Good news: they’ve been sitting on my phone for a year now to share with you.
We’ve already shared, in this space, well-traveled knowledge about the things a good hotel room must have. Consider this entry, then, a few shot across the bow for those lodgings that failed to measure up in one significant way or another.
Dreary Dispatch from the Lousy Room Front
We’ll begin our trek in Hong Kong, where a room in Wan Chai provided close proximity to my office there, but failed to measure up in a couple important ways.
- The closet was the only, um, place to put my clothes. And not all of my clothes hang.
A necessary feature of any room I’ll spend more than, oh, a night in is that I can unpack my suitcase that has been everywhere from airport to tarmac to hold to luggage belt, and arrange the stuff I’ll have to swaddle myself in in a nice set of drawers or a shelf or closet — or all three.
But this room had a closet for hanging my shirts, but nowhere else to stash my pants, underwear, socks, T-shirts, belts or shoes except the bag I hauled them in. So, I lived out of that bag for the better part of a week.
2. Those awful, increasingly omnipresent, body wash and shampoo dispensers bolted to the walls of hotel room showers.
I — guess? — it’s a nod to the environment? Less disposable bottles of shampoo, perhaps. Or zillions of day-use bars of soap. But it’s sure inelegant. And not the way any of us go about scrubbing up — I’d guess? — when we’re home and off the road.
Unless, you know, that’s your thing.
It’s not mine. And I’ve started packing a bar of soap and mini shampoo just to avoid squirting out handful after handful of whatever mass-produced junk the hotel trucks in and affixes to the shower wall.
3. Measure twice, build the closet once. On second thought, measure three times.
At an otherwise pleasant hotel in downtown Seattle, it didn’t escape my attention that the little nook they’d designated for my room closet wasn’t actually wide enough to accommodate the jackets and shirts I tried hanging here.
The room door would actually knock them sideways whenever I opened it, and the left shoulder of my shirts and jackets were clearly hanging beyond the border of the closet.
So much for any thought or care given to anyone, you know, actually wanting to hang clothes in that room.
Another variation of this is the hotel closet with a whole 2 or 3 hangers. Maybe they are counting on you just getting so frustrated that you check out after the first night? Or perhaps these rooms are for the disposable clothes sect among us.
4. Desk chairs whose arms don’t stay up, or, worse: the chair itself.
Life on the road is a series of compromises.
Like, sure, I’ll get up at 3:30 a.m. just to get there in the first place.
Or, all right, I’ll eat out of a bag all week long, and probably drink way more than I ever would, at home.
And, yes, I’ll poke my bare feet into showers many, many others have ventured into before, sans foot spray.
It’s enough to make you shudder all the way home.
But even more of a compromise is hauling out your work laptop and huddling over the — usually tiny and unpleasant — desk the hotel has crammed into the room almost as an afterthought.
The best hotels — and I’ll share a post shortly on the very best I ever stayed in — will stun you with a piece of furniture you’d imagine in the office of some important potentate, or marauding despot, situated in front of a picture window overlooking the skyline at night, or the scenic bay, or both. You kick off your shoes, flex your feet on the deep, deep carpet, whip up a complimentary in-room cappuccino and grin into the day’s labor, feeling you got one over on the whole system.
But let’s face it: most of the time you are not sitting like a marauding despot. You’re squashing yourself into some $20 torture device from Office Depot in last night’s boxers and trying to keep your elbows from sticking to the narrow plank of particle board on which your laptop rests uncertainly.
The worst of those situations occurs when the chair fights back, like at an otherwise eye-candy hotel in Pittsburgh (see below) where the arms would tease me by adjusting upward, only to fall when they came in contact with, of all things, my arms (see above).
Or the chair I declined to photograph during a recent stay in Amsterdam, fearful that, like a vampire or everyday succubus, it would fail to be captured by ordinary means. It’s trick was to never, ever, ever stay fixed in any particular position so that I eventually gave up and lounged on the bed, sentencing my back to excruciating pain, which was maybe the chairs plan all along, mwuh ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaaa.
If I’d thought to pack a handy length of wooden stake, I might have ended the nightmare right there. Alas, I was more keen on escaping while I could still walk relatively upright.
5. No towel bars in the bathroom, like, anywhere.
I dunno about you, but before I shower I like to know my towel is high and dry and safely away from the blasting (preferably) spray of the shower I’m about to take.
But more and more, hotel rooms are stacking their clean, folded towels on a shelf right in the shower itself.
Or, in the UK, draped over some heated bar contraption that takes up an entire wall and is completely overkill in the mid of this westerner, and perhaps a fire hazard besides.
Still stranger are those rooms that fold the towels neatly under the sink, or in a corner, and then leave you no place at all to possibly dry them or hang them when you’re done with the shower, dry, and ready to head out into the non-steamy world beyond your bathroom.
This was the case at the otherwise posh Kimpton Hotel Monaco in downtown Pittsburgh.
The rooms themselves are a riot: gilded birdcage chandeliers, old postcards on the wall, lamps with exotic bird bases… and no single place to hang your towel except by threading it through the narrow handle of the shower stall.
Granted, there’s no bathroom fan to speak of, so maybe by squishing your towel — God forbid you have two; Monaco policy? — through the narrow handle aperture you’re meant to wring it out for the next use. Or, not. I just grumbled a bunch, squinted through the steam as I got ready, and when through, flung my towels on the floor.
Quite an oversight, if you ask me. Or even if you didn’t.