Last week's column on dysfunctional hotel bathrooms seems to have struck a chord with my fellow travellers. Many readers and colleagues wrote in identifying issues they typically encounter during hotel stays. Here are a few of their tales followed by a few more of my own:
OF RUGS AND MUD
-- I once stayed at a hotel in Birmingham, England, that thinks itself very posh. But it has condescending staff, dark rooms designed to ensure you homesick, shower heads you must stand under to turn on and -- most memorable of all -- broadloom that destroys pantyhose. I was seated on the bed, battling to get the things on. Contortions over, I put my feet down and attempted to walk. No such luck. The trendy but terribly rough broadloom gripped the entire soles of my lovely new hose. As I slowly -- and with difficulty -- raised each foot, hundreds of fine strands of hose stretched between my foot and the carpet, looking for all the world as though I had been tethered in Crazy Glue! Moral of the story: Remember to check the hotel carpet doesn't resemble Velcro, and always take a spare pair in case you become "trapped."
-- At my hotel beside the Dead Sea in Israel, I was delighted to find a large packet of therapeutic "mud" in my bathroom. I was alone, so no risk of making a fool of myself or of my partner sneaking up to take a photo! I opened the packet, undressed completely and applied the mud to my entire body. I'd read the instructions, and waited the recommended 10 minutes for the mud to work its miracles. At the appointed time, the mud now dry, I turned on the shower ... Perhaps a more sensible person might have checked to ensure the water supply was working before covering herself, naked, in mud, alone, in a hotel room!
-- Ann Wallace
I was in a hotel in Milan, Italy, for work a number of years ago. The shower was so small, that when I had dropped the soap one morning, I could not bend over or crouch to pick it up. I had to open the door, step out and THEN pick it up.
-- Bert Wikkerink
MAKING A LIST
I have been formulating a list in my head for years: Too-short blow-dryer cords, bad lighting for makeup application, full length mirrors in the most awkward places, complicated lighting systems that require a bedside manual -- I could go on.
-- Laura Marysiuk Johnston
A NOT SO BRIGHT IDEA
We had a mini-suite once on a large cruise ship. When they turned the cabin into a suite, they installed a tub without moving the toilet, and as a result, the front of the toilet seat was right up against the side of the tub. There was nowhere to put your legs! So, I had to sit sideways on the toilet. The toilet-paper holder was in a really awkward position and the roll wouldn't stay on. One morning it shot off the holder and bounced away under the sink. As I hung half on, half off the toilet, doing spontaneous sideways gymnastics, while trying to reach it, all I could think was, "I bet someone's TV reception suddenly got a whole lot better!"
-- Cathy Gregory Hutt
TWO ARE ONE TOO MANY
Many hotel rooms are created for the single business traveller, not a couple -- not enough space to open and use two suitcases, no room to spread out your toiletries, and the showers/tubs -- does anyone soak in those? Who knows what lurks in those drains? And those cupboards? Who needs them? Give me two stands for my suitcases, enough room to get around the bed, a generous shelf for my toiletries, and I'm mostly happy.
-- Linda Mcd
-- I have had two bad experiences, hotel wise -- one in Spain and one in Italy. In Spain the room was so small, my feet were in the hall when I laid down in the bed. The second night they moved me. I am sure the first room used to be a closet. In Rome, the bathroom was -- and I kid you not -- 4-sq.-ft. Still had a great time and I go back to Spain every other year, just a little wiser with the rooms now.
-- David Milne
Panic quickly set in when we discovered our son was inexplicably missing from the Burlington, Vt., hotel room where we’d last seen him a couple hours earlier.
Taking a night’s respite from a cottage we’d rented in the Adirondack’s, while the owner attempted to remove a bat, we dropped our suitcases in the room and hastily headed to a nearby restaurant.
Our son stayed behind to play on his laptop, agreeing to remain safe behind the locked door. Frantic, I dashed to the lobby of the sprawling hotel complex, through darkened halls, even into the laundry room where I anxiously peered into the huge bins. Heart pounding, I could not think of any reason why my son would leave the room voluntarily.
Turns out our non-smoking room had previously been a smoking room, still so contaminated my son had difficulty breathing. He’d been standing in the darkened parking lot hoping we’d return to the same spot.
— Barbara Taylor
MAKES ONE WONDER
-- I'm fairly tolerant of low-level noise but I once stayed at hotel that seemed to buzz with annoying sounds -- dripping taps, rattling fans, a humming mini-fridge and fluorescent lights that "buzzed" when they were on. Adding to the symphony of sound -- the hallway floor was tiled with ceramics, which created loud echoes whenever anyone walked past.
-- For years, I thought British hotels didn't have blow-dryers as these were never in the bathroom. Later, I would find them in odd spots -- desk drawers, bedside tables, clothing cupboards, etc., which would spark a search for a suitable plug that was also never in the bathroom (and usually blocked by a large piece of furniture). I often wondered if this was a quaint but annoying British hotel "thing" leftover from another era. Later someone told me it has to do with electrical codes for bathrooms.
-- Europeans are to be commended for their energy-saving ways but sometimes these go too far. I once stayed at a lovely hotel in France with an interesting method for lighting the halls. After stepping off the elevator on your floor, you pushed a light switch on the wall to make the hall lights go on -- supposedly long enough for guests to find their room and unlock the door. My room was at the end of the hall and despite almost sprinting, I never could make it to my door without being plunged into darkness. There were randomly placed switches along the hall to turn the lights back on, but in pitch-blackness, these were kind of hard to find. And pushing them before the lights went off was futile.
-- I don't wear glasses, except for reading. But the dark decor and low-lighting in many boutique hotels has prompted me to pack a small flashlight when I travel. Someone should tell hotel designers that functional lighting, which allows guests to actually see, trumps lighting that merely looks "cool."
-- Robin Robinson
JOIN THE HOTEL CONVERSATION
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