See-through bathrooms and expensive wifi: The pet peeves hotels should be fixing

Have you ever had that moment in a hotel room when you're about to go to sleep and you can't, for the life of you, work out how to turn the lights off? You've tried the obvious switches and some of the lights have gone out ... but there are still a few stubborn ones that want to stay on. Perhaps it's the one at the entrance, or those strange ones that come from underneath the bed. Or probably it's a lamp. Actually, it's always a lamp.

Working out how to switch off all the lights in a hotel room shouldn't be that difficult ... should it? Picture: Supplied

Working out how to switch off all the lights in a hotel room shouldn't be that difficult ... should it? Picture: Supplied

Many times have I stood in a hotel room, shaking my head, astounded at situations that seem counterintuitive. The case of the missing light switches is just one of the regular things hotels do that annoy me. There are many more - some of them much worse.

Warning: you're about to read quite a rant.

Let's start with my biggest pet peeve: hotels that charge for wifi. I'm sorry, but it's 2019 and the internet is as basic a utility as electricity and water - especially for travellers who may not have phone data. I have been in small shacks in the jungle that offer free wifi, so there should be no good reason for a large business hotel to charge for it. It's a blatant cash grab and I always choose not to stay in those places if I know in advance.

Not offering free wifi is a blatant cash grab. Picture: Colleen Chin Quan

Not offering free wifi is a blatant cash grab. Picture: Colleen Chin Quan

Another trick like this which happens in some countries is the ''resort fee'' or some other extra cost that is added to the price of your hotel room, regardless of whether you're using the amenities. This is particularly common in the US but thankfully it's illegal in Australia and EU countries.

I'm not going to complain about the cost of the minibar items because those high prices are as standard as having a bed in your room. But what does really irk me is when hotels leave a big bottle of water on a table or sideboard, with a little subtle note that it'll cost you $6 to drink it. Either offer some water for free (preferable) or at least hide the overpriced bottle in the minibar!

When it comes to the design of the rooms, I'm often convinced the creator of the hidden light switch has tried their hand at some other features. Like the inconvenient power points. How many times have you had to crawl under a desk or pull out the television plug to be able to charge your camera? And who knows why some architects think it's a good idea to put a power point halfway up a wall, so your phone has to dangle down at the end of the cord all night.

It's no secret that mini bar items carry highly inflated price tags. Picture: Eddie Jim

It's no secret that mini bar items carry highly inflated price tags. Picture: Eddie Jim

To be fair, sometimes it's a blessing to need to pull out the television power cord because I get rather frustrated by rooms where the TV automatically turns on every time you enter and plays the same music from the hotel channel. If you're staying somewhere for a few days, that song will get lodged in your brain and will be harder to remove than the unstealable coathangers in the wardrobe (another pet peeve).

And, while I'm on the topic of appliances, I always enjoy being able to make a cup of tea in a hotel room (thank you to every establishment that offers that). So, I can't understand why so many hotels will have sinks that you can't fit the provided kettle into. I end up filling the kettle one small teacup at a time, which seems rather unnecessary.

Also, what do you think the interior designers were imagining when they came up with the idea of a bathroom with a large window into the bedroom? Maybe it's OK for a couple (although I'm not sure even then you want a view of everything that goes on in the bathroom) but it's certainly very weird if you're sharing with a friend or a colleague. And I've seen this concept plenty of times in twin rooms!

When it comes to the design of the rooms, I'm often convinced the creator of the hidden light switch has tried their hand at some other features. Like the inconvenient power points.

There are also times when I wish hotel employees would actually read the signs they provide. The ''Do Not Disturb'', for instance. I often leave this on the door handle when I am out and don't want anyone to come in because I have left my work equipment set up - perhaps my laptop uploading and my cameras charging. Yet cleaners will still come in and move everything around and unplug my chargers. Recently a cleaner threw out some things that I had left on the bed! (Admittedly, many of my possessions look like rubbish.)

And don't even get me started on the signs that say I can reuse my towel if I leave it hanging up, playing my tiny part in saving the environment. I would guess that 90 per cent of the time the towel I've left hanging gets replaced with a new one anyway. Those signs telling me that millions of litres of water are used to wash towels every day just make me feel even more guilty!

And, speaking of saving the environment, the final annoyance I want to share is when a hotel does not have stairs that you can easily use to get to and from your floor. I like to avoid the elevator when I can, another tiny effort to help the environment. And it's also good exercise, something that's always needed considering the size of most hotel breakfast buffets. Now, that's something I do appreciate!

  • Michael Turtle is a journalist who has been travelling the world full-time for eight years. Follow his travel adventures at timetravelturtle.com.
This story Room for improvement: What hotels could be doing better first appeared on The Canberra Times.