Road Warrior Hotel Tips

Best advice from a business traveler: 10 things your hotel room must have

Best advice from biz traveler: 10 things your hotel room must have

reception desk lobby in hotel
Fellow road warriors, before you check in, make sure your hotel room has the essentials for a comfortable stay. Photo courtesy of Four Seasons

In my two decades of recruiting, I have stayed in thousands of hotel rooms worldwide. Some have been wonderful (think Mandarin San Francisco) and some have been perfectly horrible (yes, that would be you, Sea Sprite in Hermosa Beach), and lots of hotels in between. Although I like expensive hotels as well as the next person, a hotel doesn’t have to charge $650 a night to make a business person’s life easier. In fact, some five star hotels miss the point when it comes to the business traveler.   

Fellow road warriors, here are 10 things every hotel room should have:

  1.  Outlets, outlets, outlets.  Nothing infuriates me more than having a hotel room with no easy access to outlets, preferably by the bed so I can recharge my phone, laptop and iPad. Last week I had to move the bed, only the find that I also had to unplug the bedside lamp and alarm clock to charge my iPhone. Also, I’m not a fan of having to plug an iron in the bathroom wall and try to fit the ironing board in between and the toilet and the sink. Give me multiple outlets on the desk and bedside table. In the executive search business, you cannot over-communicate. In the hotel business you cannot “over electrify”. 
  2. Shower heads.  I understand the average height of an America male is 5’10”, but there are some of us who are well over six feet. It’s no fun having a shower head at the level of my chest.  How hard is it to move a shower head up a few inches so that all of us can get clean without having to wash our hair in a kneeling position? I am not Danny de Vito. 
  3. Shower curtains.  Why do hotels insist upon old, plastic, moldy, smelly shower curtains? I feel sometimes like I’m taking a shower at my grandmother’s house—God rest her soul. A simple glass-enclosed shower is all that I ask for. 
  4.  Refrigerator? Not so much. There’s a trend I’m seeing that I don’t like, and that is substituting the well-stocked mini bar for a larger but empty refrigerator. I’m only in town for a night or two—certainly not long enough to stock up on groceries. And some of these refrigerators are big enough to hold a thanksgiving turkey. I don’t need provisions, just a beer and a bag of pretzels after a long day. 
  5. Air Conditioning.  A/C is a big deal—maybe more to men than women—and I hate walking in a hotel room in business suit in August only to find the thermostat is set on 80 degrees. One of my clients reported his room was so hot that the Kit Kat bar in the goodies basket—his planned dinner—had melted. 
  6. Alarm clocks.  Who the hell still uses alarm clocks in hotels anyway?  One, you can’t figure out how they work, and two, sure enough, the maid won’t remember to turn it off.  I know that I am not alone at having been awakened at 4:30 a.m. by the blaring static of an untuned clock radio. As chief road warrior, I implore you road warriors to learn how to use your cell phone as an alarm clock, assuming of course there are enough plugs to charge it up.  And perhaps, hotels might remove and replace them with free water. 
  7. Real coat hangers.  Nothing more frustrating in trying to hang up a pair of pants than trying to find the hole in the rod ring to insert the bottom half the coat hanger into the slot. At $700 a night, I’m not planning on stealing your coat hangers. It is an insult. 
  8. Robes that fit.  If hotels are going to supply a robe, consider that the person wearing it may be a male and may be taller than 5’4’’. Nothing’s worse than answering room service with a robe that won’t cover you, and with the sleeves above your elbows. Actually, it may be worse for the room service attendant.. And don’t worry about charging me 75 bucks for taking the robe.  I would be arrested in it for indecent exposure. 
  9. Internet.  Not all rooms are created equal when it comes to Internet or even cell phone coverage. This is especially true in New York, which has so many inward-facing rooms. The plus is no traffic noise, but you can literally be cut off from the outside world with no or spotty Internet coverage. I’m not looking to become a Buddhist monk during my stay. A business traveler without an Internet connection is a one- time guest. 
  10. A good night’s sleep.  There are a lot of things that can contribute to a good night’s sleep, and a lot of things do just the opposite. Some hotels, in their efforts to scale back, are using foam rubber pillows about the size of the breath mints they used to leave on the pillow at night. I love the Benjamin Hotel in New York for its varied pillow menu. Conversely, last month I stayed in a well- known hotel whose pillows were so small, it took me several minutes to get my head perfectly aligned so it did not fall off.  And no, I do not have a big head.  It is hard to count sheep when your head keeps falling off the pillow. 

As I review this list I can see that I probably have left off some items, but I am hoping some of you will weigh in with your pet peeves. In the meantime, look for me in a hotel wearing a child’s bathrobe heading to the vending machine to stock my refrigerator.

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As managing director of The Alexander Group, an executive search firm with offices in Houston, San Francisco, San Diego, New York, London and Park City, John C. Lamar is a real road warrior.