What Do You Look For In A Hotel Room?

Author: Charlotte O'Shea

Either my standards would be considered incredibly high, or the majority of hotel rooms (expensive/instagrammable/Luxury etc etc included) leave a lot to be desired.

If I am going to spend a small fortune on sleeping in another bed (I really like mine) then there should be at the very least what I consider, basic comforts and amenities.

There is a selfish reason behind this feature (along with the fact I’m nosey) and that is that James’s company are considering building hotels. As you do. Long story so I’ll make it short – there is definitely a market for a chic reasonably priced hotel/motel chain that is a pleasure to stay in. Along the lines of Mollies Motels but in multiple locations. I have never stayed at Mollie’s by the way, so I would be interested to hear from anyone that has.

I expect my room to be clean CLEAN. I expect the shower to be powerful enough to wash my hair properly. I expect the bed to be comfortable with a couple of pillows – so I have a choice of one or two depending on how I feel at the time. I want a decently lit mirror in the bathroom so I can take my make-up off without risking jabbing myself in the eye. I also expect a full length mirror – more often than not I stay in a hotel as I have an event, why would I want to only see my top half?

Also plug sockets. I need a socket near enough to the aforementioned full length mirror so I can see what I’m doing with my hairdryer/curling wand etc. I am not going to pack an extension lead along with my toothbrush. In terms of space I appreciate in order to maximise the quantity of rooms and thus profit margin, especially in prime city locations, rooms can be compact. And that’s ok. Providing there is a sense of space. Clever useful storage along with considered lighting and decor can all contribute to the perception that the square footage is considerably more than it actually is.

On the subject of lighting, what is it with hotel rooms and downlighters? “Please do pay us lots of money so we can make your manageable dark shadows look like black circles of doom and highlight every pore and blemish on your epidermis…..just before you are about to get ready for a special event where we will only allow you to see 50% of your outfit”

I once stayed in a hotel where they had what was essentially a pull out laptop table with stool – it took up hardly any space, but was perfectly functional. Most hotel rooms have a full on desk and chair, are they really necessary?

I want a full length wardrobe though – because maxi dresses/and or jumpsuits. I also want decent coffee and tea making facilities. Hidden away mind. Don’t dump my cups and saucers on a plastic tray on the massive desk that I am never going to use.


And then there are the nice-to-haves. I appreciate a posh mini shampoo as much as the next person. But I also like the more practical items such as cotton wool pads: all those things that it’s so easy to forget to pack.

I could go on, but risk boring everyone to death whilst simultaneously sounding more than a bit wanky.

I expect at the very least to get what I pay for. Genuinely I have had a better experience in a Premier Inn than I have on some so-called “boutique” hotels. A classic was a place in Mayfair in December, all fur coat and no knickers – and over £400 a night for the privilege.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences (the good, the bad and the ugly) in the comments box below. What do you look for in a hotel room?

Purveyor of short shorts. Make-up junkie. Hopes to grow old disgracefully.
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37 thoughts on “What Do You Look For In A Hotel Room?

  1. Loads of good ideas there Charlotte….a couple more would be blackout blinds/curtains along with the comfy bed for a good nights sleep which to me is the most important thing as a new environment is never as easy to sleep in as home. Some hooks would also be useful for coats etc and then if they are to provide any toiletries (although I would always take my own in case) then perhaps in large decanters rather than mini bottles to save plastic as I hate the thought of all the waste a hotel can bring.

      1. Hmm so I’m more divided on this. Yes most definitely to less plastic but I hate those decanter things that always look a bit scummy and make me wonder how long ago it was that they last cleaned out the thing rather than just topping up… A conundrum… I do quite like it though when you can request items, rather than them always being provided. So perhaps you can get a soap and a shampoo, but if you would like anything else you need to ask for it?

  2. Yes to all of this. Good blackout blinds is a must as already suggested.

    In addition to wardrobes tall enough for dresses etc, more than a handful of hangers is a must! Even in the most fanciest of hotels, they seem to only put five or six hangers which is never enough especially when travelling with my husband. We end up having to double up items on hangers which is just annoying and sometimes not practical.

    Also if you’re going to provide a hairdryer, make it a decent one. I stayed in one hotel in my life that provided a hairdryer that was better than my own (and mine is just a cheap travel style one from Boots!) The majority have those crappy beige ones that barely warm the air let alone provide enough heat and strength to dry even the thinnest of hair!

    1. You are so right Jo! I always take my own as I’m yet to find a decent hairdryer in a hotel. And hangers – never enough! and very rarely hangers for trousers etc

  3. Along with all of the above, temperature is a biggie for me. I like to be able to open the window if I want to 🙈 and find hot dry air overnight kills my chance of a good sleep.

    I often find myself going for a boutique b&b where there’s a bit of character rather than a chain. Companies like Malmaison are probably the closest chain version of what I like (though they are fond of the deathly downlighters) and their rainfall showers are a must.

  4. I always think hotel rooms are designed by men with zero consultation of a female or by those with 20/20 vision with no thought for the myopic amongst us.
    Things I really appreciate are:
    Plugs near mirrors please.
    Mirrors without giant desks/sinks in front of them so I can see my face/put in contact lenses.
    Space on desks for make up/toiletries
    I went to fab place in Northumberland once who had these large shampoo decanters on the wall. So much better than minis and more environmentally considerate.
    I do like a robe.
    Wine glasses are always welcome, I sometimes like to take a bottle of plonk with me and it’s a treat if I don’t have to drink it out of a beaker.
    Plugs or usb points next to the bed for phones.
    Weekend breakfast not at the crack of dawn.

    1. Yes Gem! Why does breakfast finish so early?! and I also like a robe and wine glasses. Also yes on the USB points next to the bed for phone etc

  5. Soft closing doors and good insulation! I don’t want to hear my neighbours coming and going all night. And also, extractor fans that are linked to the light switch are my personal bugbear. I hate lying in bed listening to the sound of the fan in the bathroom for twenty minutes after using the loo in the night!

    1. Absolutely on the sound proofing, and I hadn’t considered the fan issue but yes, sometimes they go on for ever and a day!

  6. A clean room that smells really nice. A room filled with design inspo. Gorgeously comfortable bed and bedding. Lovely toiletries in big bottles. Big fluffy bath towels. USB charging sockets. A proper bottle of milk in the fridge for making tea / coffee in the morning.

    1. I had the pleasure of UHT this morning Sian – we’ve got meetings in London and the hotel we’re staying in is a great location but no full length mirror and dreadful lighting, I probably went out last night with an orange face.

  7. A kettle, tea and biscuits, once stayed in a pricey hotel with a posh coffee maker and a bottle of gin but no kettle, in England too, wtf!
    Broke the coffee machine too trying to get the sodding thing to work!

    1. Style over substance Rachel! I’ve had the same – fancy coffee maker but weird selection of pods and no actual kettle.

  8. I definitely agree that hotel rooms are designed by men and are not practical for women being able to get ready easily – having to put my make up bag in the sink because that’s where the only mirror is, while hair straighteners and phone chargers can only be plugged in across the other side of the room is not at all convenient. Dedicated, practical dressing space is a must.

    The bathroom layout is really important too. I love a bath, especially when away and without interruptions, but grotty cheap looking baths just don’t do it for me. I’m not a fan of shower curtains either, I would much rather have a decent sized walk in shower, with an adjustable height for the shower head – short girl problems!

  9. Loads of good suggestions already posted here. A crucial one for me is when the bathrooms don’t have enough racks for drying your towels – and I don’t mean hooks, actual racks to spread the towels out properly to dry. Because let’s face it, every lady will use one for the body, one for the hair & then your mister will use one too. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a hotel with enough rack space.
    I want to reuse my towels to reduce washing (which also winds me up about hotels – they should not automatically change your towels, they should positively discourage a change in fact) but I don’t want to reuse my towel if it’s still wet from the night before. Such a simple solution in my mind.

    1. Exactly Ciara, we want to reuse – but not a damp towel. They need to provide the facility to be able to make reusing feasible.

  10. One luxury thing I think is great is if you can make a bath both in the room and in the bathroom! Let me explain as this sounds weird… I have stayed in two hotels where there is a screen between the bedroom and the bath. This means you can open it to have a luxurious soak in the bath and feel like you are in an expansive room (and watch TV or whatever if you feel like it!), but you can close it so you don’t have to look at the bathroom all night/don’t need to hear your other half going to the loo… Honestly it is the best!!

    Also the amount of lovely hotels I’ve stayed in where the shower screen is rubbish or the door doesn’t close properly… It can’t be that hard to make it work! For bathroom mirrors I often stay in places where they have the big mirror behind the basin, impossible for makeup, but then they have one of those illuminated small mirrors on an arm which I think are really useful without taking up too much space.

    Lots of power sockets as others have said is a must. I do often travel for business or have to take my computer with me even on personal trips, so I want more than USB plug sockets but I do find those excellent near the bed for phone charging. I want at least one in/near the bathroom for hair straightening, or near the essential full length mirror (although I’m clearly luckier as I nearly always find this!), at least one near the desk area (and no massive table required!! Just enough space to eat at and/or work at a laptop) and another couple somewhere just in case…

    Also a mini bar that isn’t solely full of extortionate items. I appreciate a biscuit and some nice teas (so often you just get coffee, not tea, and I don’t drink coffee). And a couple of bottles or water, or, for saving on plastics, I’m very happy with a freshly filled glass bottle of water and some glasses.

    If it is somewhere near the countryside/beach then I also want somewhere near the door for muddy shoes/wellies and coats to dry please!

    Sorry for the epic post, I could go on but I’ll stop here!

    1. Annie this is all excellent thank you! The mirror/basin thing… what is that about?! I’m short so can never bend over far enough without it being really uncomfortable. Yes to biscuits! Always!

  11. So many good ideas but one is that if there’s no one booked into the room that day, to be given the option for a later checkout. I think Art Series hotels in Australia do something like that.

  12. I would BLOODY love a hotel that has interconnecting family rooms that doesn’t look like it’s stuck in the wrong bit of a 70s Butlins holiday. We’ve found that in when we go away in order for us to be able to sit up and have a glass of wine while our son sleeps the only option is to go for a suite which costs an arm and a leg as ‘nice’ hotels just don’t do interconnecting family rooms. I realise there is Air B&B and a whole wealth of lovely homes on there where our little boy could have his own room/floor to himself but sometimes I just want to stay in a hotel and have people do things for me! I also realise for lots of the ‘nice’ hotels a young family is not their target demographic but I have a little, largely well behaved boy, not Satan, and let’s be frank, he’s not going to be running around the hotel until all hours because when he goes to bed at 7 I’m usually only an hour or so behind him so we would be nearly and quietly tucked away!

    1. I think family hotels are a whole other much needed discussion, we stayed in a ‘family suite’ once with no bath. Are we supposed to put our baby in the shower…. in the sink? And same, I don’t always want self catering. I want a hotel – but with all of the facilities I need for young children.

  13. I travel a lot for work and completely agree with all the comments about USB plugs and plug sockets. Decent hairdryers are a must as I hate going to meetings with damp hair or having to get up excessively early to wash it. Also echo the bathroom comments, I’d prefer a good size standalone shower than a dated tub with a shower over it. Although luxurious free standing baths make work trips so much nicer!

    The other thing is ensuring that any technology is actually easy. On a recent hotel stay, it took me ages to work out how to turn off all the lights, there were so many buttons on the control panel. After many attempts, including opening and closing the electronic curtains, I managed to turn them off but it took so so long. A simple switch that turned off all the lights in one go (!) would suffice.

    Also turn down services. They are great but not when you’ve just checked in, it’s not yet late and they are closing curtains, turning down the lights etc. They need to be timed properly.

    1. Yes agree on the tech Laura, the same with the TV sometimes – I’m not an idiot (unless under the influence of cocktails) yet it seems to over complicated on most occasions to simply switch it on/find a channel. Yes on the shower/bath – I don’t like that set up anyway, would rather have a large spacious shower.

  14. Have to post a comment on this as have travelled loads with work and it’s horrifying how many hotels get the basics wrong. All I want in a “standard” hotel room is:
    – a comfortable bed – many of the large chains have appalling beds (Holiday Inn – I’m looking at you!). Premier Inns (my hotel of choice when I need a quick overnight somewhere) have reliably good beds.
    – a decent shower – yes one withe enough water pressure and preferably a shower head that isn’t fixed to the wall
    – good wifi. Don’t make me pay more for it.
    – power sockets / usbs next to the bed & not hard up against the desk surface so I can’t plug my devices in. Yes, I always travel with an extension cable because so many places get this so wrong.
    – blackout curtains – I have these at home and honestly don’t want to stay anywhere without them.
    – and to echo other comments – yes on a decent hairdryer. I should not have to need to take one with me!

    1. Oh my goodness the extension lead Caroline, I was joking when I said about packing one but I bet if like you, you travel a lot with work, you would do just for peace of mind. I actually think Premier Inns are good value – I would rather stay there than most places.

  15. All of the above but we also require an accessible room that doesn’t feel like a hospital. The bed the right height (ie not too high), easy to reach lamps and USB points next to the bed. Pull down cords not tied up. A wheelchair level hanging rail. A fully accessible bathroom that doesn’t look like NHS special. Grab rails, secure and safe seating. A roll in shower, a sink that is wheelchair height and a shaving mirror that a wheelchair user can see into. 😊😊

    1. Thanks so much for your feedback Vicki, really helpful – are there any hotels that you have stayed in where you feel they provide all of these facilities and do it well?

  16. A plea to James’ company: please, please, please avoid using that cover that goes on top of the duvet that always has a dubious stain on and clearly doesn’t get washed after each customer. I always take this off the minute I enter a hotel room, but they always put it back in the next day when they make up the room. It grosses me out! Phew. Been needing to get that off my chest for a while!

    1. Laura I completely agree! it’s as if they think it adds extra decor/style but it’s just….gross. Like the throw cushions – I wonder how often those covers get washed? Bleugh.

  17. I agree with all of the above, And I must give a shout out to a hotel I stayed in recently, They really had thought out a lot will highlight below.
    The Hoxton Shoreditch.

    They offered flexi check in if you book direct we checked in at 8am and didnt check out till 2.30pm – no extra cost – which was great for us as we had got the sleeper train to London. This was a major bonus for us!
    Plenty of sockets in the room
    They had kettle – tea, coffee & biscuits in the room
    Wine Glasses
    Large Mirror
    Small breakfast delivered to your room left on your door handle if you wished so could eat it in bed.
    Decent lighting
    Great bathroom/ shower and a large mirror.

    We had a really good experience and we gave them a good review but previously I have never had a hotel tick all these boxes so I know kinda shout about this one now!!

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