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10 Things That Even 5-Star Hotels Get Wrong

There’s lots to love about five-star hotels—attentive service, beautiful design, comfy beds, and thoughtful amenities—but there’s also a lot at stake. I once stayed at a top hotel in Rio where the manager lied to my face about the air-conditioning in my room not working. Then there was the exorbitantly expensive beachfront resort in Puerto Rico where the same deflated beach toy stayed on the garden path for the entirety of my stay. Certainly, such experiences are the exception rather than the rule, yet there are bits that even the world’s most luxurious properties consistently mess up. Here’s our list of 10 things that any high-end property could get wrong.

1. Light Switches, Climate Control, and Entertainment Systems That Require a Ph.D. to Operate

Even the most sumptuous hotel room becomes uncomfortable when you can’t figure out how to make it warmer than a meat locker or read a book in bed without making it feel like an interrogation. As for queuing up a movie or TV show in under an hour? Good luck. There’s a lot to be said for intuitive, user-friendly technology.  

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2. Slippery When Wet

A wet bathroom floor
We’ve all almost done it. But there is no reason your marble bathroom should be a bone breaker.

Marble or travertine floors in bathrooms big enough to land a plane in might look glamorous, but they’re a broken coccyx waiting to happen when wet. Why put out those virtue-signaling signs about saving the planet by conserving towels when you have to use your daily allotment to make sure you don’t slip and crack your noggin? 

3. Practice What You Preach

Speaking of which: With all the lip service paid to environmental sensitivity, the amount of single-use plastics and extraneous packaging in hotels remains absurd. We understand the need for hygiene, but that doesn’t mean you should have to fight your way into an impregnable cotton swab package, and non-reusable water bottles are just plain irresponsible.

4. Don’t Always Take Me at My Word

Room service
Yes, we really did want that Champagne we ordered.

Just because I accidentally pressed the “Do Not Disturb” button or forgot the sign was still hanging on the door doesn’t mean room service shouldn’t deliver the bottle of rosé and french fries I ordered half an hour ago. Obeying protocols to a fault actually detracts from good service.

5. Pepe LaPew Bath Amenities

We appreciate fancy bath products as much as the next folks, but personally, we like to choose what we smell like. After shampooing, conditioning, washing, and moisturizing with Icelandic Pea Blossom and Gardenia everything, our signature scent doesn’t stand a chance. 

6. The Flies Should Be a Hint

It’s perfectly lovely when there’s a plate of fresh fruit, chocolates, and other assorted delicacies waiting on the cocktail table upon your arrival. It’s considerably less lovely when the same welcome goodies are languishing there after three days of remaining untouched. Note to housekeeping: If I haven’t consumed it before it’s gone bad, chances are I won’t.

7. Where Am I Supposed To Put This?

A hotel closet with only a few hangers isn’t much use.
A hotel closet with only a few hangers isn’t much use.

Insufficient hooks in the bathroom—especially at beach destinations, spas, and wilderness lodges—is baffling. You need somewhere to hang your swimsuit after rinsing it out, stash your rain-drenched gear, or drape the five spa robes you’ve inexplicably accumulated.

8. Where Am I Supposed To Put This? Part Deux

Insufficient hangers in the closet is a completely unnecessary nuisance on vacation (and does anybody actually use those weird ones with the puffy satin or the clips attached)? Equally annoying is unpacking your luggage and finding there’s nowhere to stow it, so that you end up staring at your suitcase all week.

9. Put a Plug in It

Related to our smart tech and storage complaints, insufficient and/or inconveniently placed wall outlets and USB ports can bedevil even the presidential suite. We all have things to charge, and while we know that technology changes quickly, USB ports have been around long enough to make them a necessity.

10. Ever Hear of Adam and Steve?

By now, every hotel should be eschewing the his and her bathrobes.
By now, every hotel should be eschewing the his and her bathrobes.

A comfy robe and slippers are standard issue in hotel rooms, and a pair of branded flip-flops or a beach tote are always welcome, but it’s time that gender normative amenities go away. Most of the time, there are clues when it’s a same-sex couple checking in, and when in doubt, the hotel can deliver them after the guests have arrived (or inquire beforehand).

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