I travel a lot, and much of it is for old-fashioned work–staying in hotels which are essentially my temporary home and office. I travel for leisure too (although it’s usually work-related), And have a different list of things that make a great hotel room for leisure.
For any type of travel, the following should be standard in a hotel: Silence (or something close to it most of the time), comfortable bed with good pillows (preferrably choices of pillow types), decent shampoo and soap, clealiness, security, and everything in working order. Beyond the basics, here are things that set a hotel apart for me as a business traveler
- Included wifi. Honestly, I can’t believe hotels still charge for this–it should be as free as the ice in the hallways or the water from the tap. Strangely, it’s generally the high-end, high-priced hotels that still charge for internet access, presumably because they figure the type of guest who stays there doesn’t care about budget–and it’s something they can throw in as a freebie on their corporate rates (when I travel for one of my key clients, Wifi is generally negotiated into the hotel rate). Ways to avoid hotel internet charges: stay with one chain enough to gain elite status (Hilton HHonors gives me free internet because I have status with them), or enquire about even the possibility of free access just for joining the loyalty program (Fairmont offers this–it’s come in handy many times). But generally, to get free wifi, you only need to steer clear of the “marquee” brand hotels and luxury properties (although even some small luxury hotels offer it free). And you can always just ask when reserving if there’s any way to have wifi included.It’s also crucial that hotels keep their internet systems up-to-date. I recently stayed in a Best Western where you could literally tell what time of day it was by the speed of the internet. During mid-day, when most people were touring or in meetings, the speed was great. But from 5-7 (after work / pre dinner) it slowed to a crawl, and did so again after dinner. Not good for those of us who need it to speed along for things like Skype. Also, none of my business can keep running without Accessible power outlets. We live in an elctronic world–why do so many hotels still make me get on my hands and knees to find a damn electrical outlet for my computer, my phone charger, my camera charger, etc. A good business hotel puts several outlets within easy reach of the desk and bed.
- Comfortable working area, excellent printers and supplies in business center. If I need to work, I need the room to become an office. That means a good, adjustable chair, and a desk that’s big enough to open my computer, spread out a few papers, and get to business. If I have to sit on the phone books to raise up high enough to type comfortably for a couple of hours, it’s not a good thing (and it has happened a few times). Also, a good business hotel will have a business center somewhere on the property where the printers are fast, well-maintained, and actually print clean pages (and hopefully can make copies). They will also have some basic supplies–hole punches, stapler, tape.
- A good iron, and in-hotel self-service laundry. I often just need to to touch up my shirt before a business meeting, and most hotels do have a good iron and ironing board. The really good ones also give me a place to do a load of my own laundry–sometimes I’m on the road longer than expected (or just too long to begin with) and I really don’t want to pay someone else to wash my underwear.
- Fitness center with good equipment, in working condition! Working on the road is stressful, and excercise helps keep that in check. It also helps mitigate the extra calories from road food. The first time I stayed in a La Quinta, the exercise equipment was in such bad shape I’ve never given the chain a second chance. I need at least a decent elliptical trainer or stationary bike–and the hotel must have enough equipment to satisfy the demand. A few functional weights are helpful, too. A bonus is a hotel that has a good running route map available.
Good, quality breakfast included, with fresh fruit, a non-sugared yogurt option (this never happens), and excellent coffee. I’m generally not a morning person, but I do love, and require, breakfast. A good business hotel includes a breakfast that isn’t all crappy carbs, canned fruits, and sugary yogurts. Real fruit is important, along with multigrain breads and cereals.