Rethinking the Hotel Room for 2015

Give me three wishes and I will tell you what I would change about hotel rooms.

Hotel rooms are snug. A commonly cited figure is 325 sq ft but I have seen much smaller in Manhattan (and usually much bigger in Las Vegas).  But assume 325 sq ft, with a lot of the space consumed by the bathroom.  The living space is small.  Let’s declutter it.

Step one: eliminate the minibar and, definitely, eliminate the junk for sale that now sits atop tables and dressers in hotel rooms. I know greedy owners want the profits that come with selling me a 99 cent candy bar for $10 – but I am not buying.

I cannot recall the last time I bought anything from a minibar.  I am thinking it had to be more than 25 years ago, when I had clients that happily picked up all manner of expenses. That stopped in a recession some time ago and so did my buying overpriced minibar stuff.

Of course if the hotelier insists – I have no idea why but if – I am okay with the Virgin Chicago hotel’s no minibar markup plan, where candy bars and Cokes are sold at High Street prices.

Another option: Kimpton’s $10 credit to “Raid the Minibar,” a perk extended to loyalty program members.

Ask hoteliers why minibar prices are so high and they spout mouthfuls of mumbo jumbo – citing fees by outside vendors, theft, other less explicable shrinkage – but I am not buying. The prices are high because they generate high profits. Period.

But that also generates guest outrage and – listen up – annoying guests is no way to build repeat business. Just stop it.

And, oh, by the way, a shop – possibly unstaffed – in the lobby by the front desk works fine for me, if the prices are High Street.

Wish two: remove the infernal hotel phone in the room.  Who answers the thing?  I don’t. Anybody with whom I possibly want to speak knows my cellphone number and I always travel with one, usually two.  The only calls that come in via the room phone are sales calls I do not want to deal with so I do not answer.

Other than at hotels with no cellular service I cannot see any reason to acknowledge the existence of inroom phones. And, oh by the way, for cellphone customers on T-Mobile and Sprint, most newer phones can be toggled to work over WiFi at hotels with no cellular reception. That means the regular number rings, voicemail works, and it’s an adequate substitute for real cellular. But that’s assuming the WiFi is robust, an assumption that is dangerous to make at many hotels.

Either way, just rip out the inroom phone. That works for me.

Wish three:  discard the inroom TVs.  I always travel with an iPad and it is my TV.  I have neither need nor want to play with the hotel’s remote, then attempting to figure out what paltry list of stations are available and, incidentally, I have never – as in never – bought a premium TV service from a hotel so you are not getting that money from me.

It was not bad when TVs were stuffed in armoires – they were easily ignored – but now they hang into the room and, frankly, I just do not want the thing.  Please give mine to the Salvation Army.

Except maybe at that Virgin in Chicago because its televisions let guests stream their Netflix account – which I otherwise would do on my iPad but a bigger screen just might be inviting.

I really have to try that Virgin.

But at other hotels, please, practice decluttering tight rooms.  Your reward will be happier guests.


12 thoughts on “Rethinking the Hotel Room for 2015”

  1. I agree with your proposals although the in-room phone was a Godsend last month when there was a real emergency at my hotel.

  2. Hotel Phones are needed in the USA for 911. They’re a money loser for hotels at this point, but are required to do so by law.

    Video on Demand on Hotel TV’s is dying. Most of the Hotels were wooed by startups who agreed free TV’s in hotels in exchange for a percentage of the profits. Needless to say, most have already gone bankrupt.

    I always though that Yotel had the right idea. Extremely tiny rooms, decent facilities, with large lounge areas in prime locations.
    If on business it works.

  3. I recently stayed in a Manhatten hotel where there was a 54″ TV over the DESK. Phones? Every day I received a call from the hotel trying to sell me something; robo call of course. A clean bathroom would be nice, and please—soft towels, not the raggedy ones.

  4. Agree about minibar and TV as I don’t use. Lately, if traveling with spouse, I find the TV often makes a nice backdrop for a vase of flowers, but I suppose a blank wall would do as well. Phones will likely remain, for reason(s) above mentioned by other posts; also, when I call for car to be brought or other in-house services, I prefer to not leave a cellphone #, to maintain a certain amount of unreachability. I am somewhat at odds with the fashion in recent years of being always in touch, but I was always sceptical of the benefits of any damned fool who took it into his head to call me being able to do so any time. So, I prefer to have a desk phone in room still.

  5. I am sorry but I think you suggestions are so far out of the mainstream thinking to be laughable. While the minibar may be overpriced, I do use it and am willing to pay a premium for in room snacks, just as a higher price for room service. To remove the phone is a security and safety issue plus it is the primary method for the hotel to contact you during your stay. I think 90% of my employees would rebel if I told them they were staying in a hotel that does not offer a TV in the room. The TV is typically mounted on the wall and does not use any true space in the room. To remove it for no reason except that YOU prefer an IPad for viewing is at best ill conceived and at worst a statement of arrogance.

  6. I agree with the minibar sentiments: If they’re overpriced they just take-up space and invite bogus charges if they’re disturbed. On the other hand, if the prices were street prices, they might actually prove to be a convenience.

    The TV is a tricky one. Since most are flat screens now, they don’t take much space, including not taking space in the armoire. In face, at one Marriott I visited a couple times, they provide jacks so you can connect your notebook to the TV. I’ll take that over watching movies on my notebook anyday.

  7. In other countries, I usually find it interesting to watch local programs, assuming they are either in English or are subtitled. Full agreement on minibars, but I’ve used the in-room phones to both order food & drink…& to complain when service is lousy.

  8. Although I can agree with some things, I can’t agree with all of them. The hotel phone is for calling the front desk when there is something broken or if I have to call 911. The housekeeping staff use it in order to document when they have finished cleaning rooms – they press a code on the phone. I know that can be replaced with something else. but it isn’t.
    The crap for sale on the desks, yes it can go. A hotel in Chicago actually had the audacity to say they would make a charge for “emptying the minibar”. I told them to at least get the tray of crap off the desk, and that I wouldn’t pay them to do it. As far as tv and Ipad, I can’t stream video in many hotels, their internet is too crappy and it cuts out a lot (including the Marriott operated property I am in now).

  9. How about some decent lighting in new hotels? Us older folks really benefit from a good ceiling light. Don’t turn it on if you don’t like it. I also hate the almost universal trend toward bulky duvets on the (very high) beds, with no option for a lightweight blanket.

  10. I agree with the in room phone and honor bar. But I do like having a TV in the room. At home, I cut the cable service and recycled my TV in 2006. Never looked back and don’t miss it. When I stay at hotels, I regularly turn on the TV and sift through the channels. All I need is a half an hour watching reality shows with 20 minutes of advertisements and I remember why I gave up my TV.

  11. When traveling internationally, it’s likely your tablet, phone, computer will be blocked from streaming many US news and other shows. Also, don’t count on being able to access Netflix from abroad so please don’t rip out TV’s plus I want to see local shows – even if I don’t speak the language.

    I recently stayed in a hotel in Madrid where the fridge was stocked with water and some soft drinks with a
    card saying they were a first-night welcome gift. And, that was welcomed.

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