On a recent overseas trip, in a fit of bleary-eyed jet-lag, I made the mistake of checking into a hotel without going through the standard list of questions I normally ask at the front desk to ensure I get a good room. (You can find that list here…it’s one of our most popular posts- ever!)
When I got to my assigned room, it was hot, smelled like disinfectant and had a view of a large exhaust fan. The air conditioning hummed and vibrated so loudly that I thought an A380 was landing on the roof. Despite wanting to just crawl into bed and crash after the 10-hour overnight flight (in premium economy), I returned to the front desk and told the clerk that the room was not acceptable. A few keystrokes and a smile later, she apologized, and handed me the key to another room in a recently renovated wing on the opposite end of the hotel.
What a change! The hallway to my room was bright and new. The bathroom was spotless, the room décor modern and clean, the air conditioner was already on, and I had a nice view of airport runways without a peep of airplane noise.
I learned then that it’s always a good idea to give your room a quick inspection as soon as you enter — to avoid having to ask for another room once you’ve unpacked and settled in.
It also reminded me of one of my frequent traveling parents’ maxims: Never take the first hotel room offered to you, especially if you plan to stay more than one night.
When I walk into a hotel room now, I always check the view, the air conditioning/heating and the bed. I pull back the bedspread to look for hair on the sheets or pillows (especially after some scary recent revelations), and I inspect around the mattress or box spring edges for any evidence of bedbugs (they look like flat appleseeds).
If I’m planning to work in the room, I’ll turn on my laptop and check the strength of the wi-fi signal before I unpack my bags.
I also check that there are disposable plastic cups for water because I’m never sure about the cleanliness of glasses.
I’m not the only one with a checklist. A good friend of mine who is also a hotel GM told me that as soon as she walks in a room, she flushes the toilet to make sure it is operational and checks grout lines in the tub and shower for a solid clean seal- a key indicator of the age and overall condition of the room.
She also said that she checks the the floor space between the nightstand and the bed, which indicates how thorough the room cleaning and inspection process has been. She also checks for air conditioning fan noise and looks out the window to see if there is anything that might disrupt sleep.
Which reminds me of another thing I frequently forget to ask when I make a reservation or check in: Does this room have a motion-sensitive thermostat that turns off in the middle of the night when I’m asleep? Is there a way to bypass that? I’ve read about several solutions to this on other blogs, but have so far been unable to bypass a hotel thermostat. Have you?
What are the first things you check when you walk into a hotel room? Please leave your comments below.
A similar version of this post was written by TravelSkills editor Chris McGinnis for BBC.com
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