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What We Hate about Luxury Hotels
High-end hotels have long been the victims of designers whose flights of fancy don’t even begin to address the practical needs of the poor old guest. Take the idea of having a bathroom in a glass box, inexplicably taken up by hotels from the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong to the Plaza Athénée in Paris. Yes, some glass screens become frosted at the flick of a switch, but really, do we need to see the bathroom from the bedroom?
How my heart leaps when I see a bath with two old-fashioned taps and a bath plug on a chain. Regularly, I am confronted with temperature controls that defy comprehension and soaked by the overhead shower as I try to run a bath. Once, at the Capri Palace, the Jacuzzi refused to switch off and soon bubbles were cascading on to the bathroom floor. Best bath? At 45 Park Lane, where the water cuts out when the bath is full (although paying £20 for bubble-bath dampens the mood).
To be supplied with toiletries so small that you can’t read the label is infuriating. Even worse are bolted-on toiletries that force you to keep heaving yourself up from the bath (step forward, the Montpellier Chapter in Cheltenham). Thankfully, more places, such as Rosewood’s Georgia Hotel in Vancouver, are providing full-size, refillable bottles.
If McDonald’s and Starbucks and almost all budget hotels offer free Wi-Fi – a commodity as essential as electricity or water – why can’t luxury hotels?
Cushions on beds
With beds these days, there is rarely cause for complaint – they are usually like floating clouds, handmade by Hypnos (my favourite), Savoir, Vi-Spring and classic manufacturers such as Dux (in the Surrey Hotel in New York) or futuristic ones such as Ammique (in Cotswold House). But the cushions piled on top – what’s the point?
“Aren’t we cool?” attitude
Hotels that flaunt their cool credentials aren’t cool. At W Leicester Square, the staff are referred to as “talent”, housekeeping as “style”, corridors are so dark you need a guide dog, the bed cushions say Keep Your Wig On, and his-and-hers sex aids are mixed in with the peanuts and chocolate bars. Thank you, but a comfortable room would suffice.
Rooms with no radio
Scrolling through dozens of menu options to listen to Radio 4 from a giant black screen just doesn’t feel right. Whereas, the sight of a radio by the bed instantly makes me feel at home − one of the reasons I love the Dean Street Townhouse and the Firmdale properties (despite their Wi-Fi policy).
A qualification in advanced electronics usually helps to tackle the complicated lighting in luxury hotel bedrooms, and I often find myself longing for a good old-fashioned switch. And do we have to have those alarming backlit magnifying mirrors in the bathroom? Just one glance and I have to be cajoled to leave the room.
First published by The Hotel Guru in the Sunday Telegragh