It’s no secret that over the past 3.5 years we’ve stayed in a lot of hotels. However, unlike the rest of our generation, we haven’t embraced the world of Air BNB but instead pretend we’re 50 year old baby boomers and stick to hotels run by businesses where you can either book online or, in the case of the wonderful United States, pull over into reception and ask, “gotta room?”
The places we stay normally reflect the kind of vacation we’re taking. Hiking in the wilderness? Well, as confirmed by the backpacker town El Chalten, Argentina, there aren’t a lot of fancy lodging options in such areas – your choices are limited to either hostel or guesthouse. Because I am now a hostel-snob (I don’t particularly enjoy sharing bedrooms with strangers unless ABSOLUTELY necessary) we stayed in a guesthouse. It was clean, basic, breakfast was included, however there was no TV and although we did have a private bathroom, the shower was shit. Conversely, when staying in a city, going out to fancy bars (very rare, but does happen) or partaking in a day of wine tasting; the quality of hotel increases. Preferably somewhere with a bit of space and decent lighting where I can slap on a full face of make-up in peace. Although, as is often the problem with real cities, the price of hotels can be prohibitive. Who wants to spend $300 per night for some poky “business” hotel in the CBD?
In any event, critiquing the places we sleep has become inevitable. And, whether in cheap, basic accommodation or luxurious lodgings, due to the frequency of our hotel stays there are some things that one is happy enough to adapt to… and some things that are just plain annoying, no matter how trivial they may seem.
- Soap dishes. Along with our loyalty to the hotel system rather than Air BNB, the husband and I are one of the few remaining people in the world who still use bars of soap. So, when showering, I generally like to have somewhere to put said soap. What could be more irritating than the absence of a shelf or soap resting bar? I’ll tell you – one of those grated racks in the corner of the shower where your flimsy bar of hotel soap constantly falls through. And then you have to go hunt for it in an inch of water in the “shower-bath” because the drain is not large enough to support the water flow. This complaint goes for the sink as well – if you’re going to provide soap for handwashing, then please, PLEASE also provide a little soap dish, so, again, the soap doesn’t go cascading into the plughole every time I use it. And not a flat soap dish either – same problem presents itself.
- This brings me to the shower itself. Shitty pressure so bad you have to dance around to get wet. Drains that won’t drain so you end up ankle-deep in your own filth. Icky shower curtains that have been sticking to someone else’s ass and are now sticking to your ass. Modern glass doors with poor designs that don’t seal properly and result in the entire bathroom (and sometimes entire bedroom) flooding. And don’t get me started on the complexity of turning on showers these days, left or right, temperature or pressure, do I need to push that knob down so the bath doesn’t fill up instead…
- Lack of hairdryer. Maybe I’m being a diva here, but I generally pride myself on packing light – although the husband may disagree with me on occasion – I’m pretty good with including only the essentials. Of course, this does get difficult for winter sojourns, where the game of which hat goes with which scarf/coat/boots is often necessary. However, the one thing I never pack anymore is a hairdryer. I don’t own a travel one and the rest are big, heavy and not something I wish to give up precious suitcase space for. Now, I choose to cut my hair short, and those of you with short hair will know that a hairdryer is essential for a “good hair day.” As an aside, I am constantly faced with long-haired people threatening to cut their hair off like mine – “oh it would be sooooo much easier.” You’re wrong. Short hair generally involves product, which means it needs to be washed every day. There’s no “just throw it up in a bun/ponytail option.” And if your hair is as soft and flat as mine, a blow-dry is essential. Anyway – I digress. I don’t bring a hairdryer. And unless I’m spending a day hiking in the elements with hair hidden underneath my trusty Buff, I need one. Please supply them. I’ll even settle for a vacuum-hose-attached-to-the-wall type.
- Now this one is a strange one. Coat-hangers which can’t be removed from the closet. Allow me to elaborate. The husband and I aren’t the kind of travelers who spend every other day looking for a laundromat. What a waste of vacation time! No, the easiest way to ensure you can pack light and don’t run out of clothes is to give the essentials a quick wash in the shower. That’s right – there is a use for that hotel shower gel/shampoo they give you. It’s all a form of detergent. Copious amounts of it has been used to clean my T-shirts, undies and bras while we travel. Problem is, one then needs somewhere to hang said wet items. Coat hangers are a good option – then you can artfully decorate your entire room with your soggy attire – strategically in the path of the AC is my tip. Until you can’t remove the damn hangers from the closet and are forced to turn said closet into the doomed closet of dank by hanging your wet stuff inside. Apparently stolen coat-hangers are a real issue for hotels.
- One more – bathrooms are a definite theme here. Storage space in hotels can be a problem generally. You know – that cute Parisian hotel room where you open the door and walk into the bed and have no option but to sleep on your suitcase because there’s nowhere else to put it. Getting back to the bathroom. Forget the soap dish – is there anywhere next to the sink to put my bulging toiletry and make-up bags? Oh, you mean I have to store it on the floor next to the toilet? Perfect.
Trivial perhaps? Have I turned into an uppity travelling monster who will never be satisfied? I shouldn’t complain – of course these complaints are nothing compared to an infestation of bed bugs which I have also experienced on more than one occasion. If the hotel room is clean and sufficiently quiet, one can usually forgive the rest. And then look forward to the next room which is more expensive so will definitely have decent shower pressure… right???