Irritating Things That Hotels Do

Posted: 20th May 2016


I travel around a fair bit and stay in a lot of hotels. I’ve been doing it for several years, and although many of my friends tell me the novelty of the hotel life will wear off, I do still really quite like it.

However, I’ve noticed certain things that too many hotels do, that they shouldn’t do, because they irritate me. These things started a conversation between myself and @Bob_Gann on twitter with the hashtag #craphotels and I’m sharing them with you because you might have experienced these too, and have your own to add… (do share!)

Power sockets

I'm in the last few months of a 24-month mobile phone contract, so it seems that I only get about 15 minutes of usage on a full phone recharge. If the only available power socket is the other side of the room to the bed, that leaves me with a tough dilemma; do I plug it in and forfeit the pleasure of the last few minutes of device-time before I fall asleep (yes I am an addict and yes I know it’s not good for me), OR… do I keep it unplugged but risk the phone running out of power, leading to my alarm clock not going off, my oversleeping, being late for my work and my customer never asking for my services again. It’s a tough decision (told you I was an addict) which is why I give top marks to those hotels who have a power socket within phone-charger-cable distance of the spot where I’ll be sleeping.

Sometimes I wonder if anyone actually gives any thought to where the power sockets are located, especially when it comes to using kettles and irons. I’m not the biggest fan of drinking coffee-sachet coffee with a dose of UHT milk but sometimes needs dictate. The photograph below (left) was taken in an otherwise quite lovely 4* London hotel I stayed in. The only socket in the room was here by the floor. Afternoon tea carpet picnic anyone?

kettle on the floor
Kettle on the floor
Maslow's Hierarchy
'Adapted' Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Free wifi

Whoever added “wifi” and “battery life” to the bottom of Maslow’s hierachry of needs (above right) was spot on. Once battery power has been restored, connectivity becomes next most important thing to me. Where possible I avoid choosing a hotel without free wifi. In 2016 I consider paying for wifi unnecessary, a bit like paying extra for the use of pillows, especially if the hotel is in a location where mobile data signals are poor.

And I mean free. I don’t consider that giving me access to wifi in exchange for all my personal data and permission to spam me forever is really in the spirit of “free”.

Kettles that are too big for the sink

If the kettle is too big for me to get it in the sink to fill it up, either give me a smaller kettle, or a bigger sink!

Bin liners

Bin liners that are tied on so tightly they behave more like a drum from which any litter thrown at it simply bounces off again. I end up balancing the rubbish in a little pile ontop of the bin, and that's just silly.

Or the opposite, bin liners that aren’t tied on at all and collapse under the weight of the first teabag to hit it. Enough said.


When the bed has been made with the same vigorous attention to detail as the bin liners above, when the sheets are so tightly folded that in the effort of getting in the damned thing I end up pulling all the sheets and covers right out. I mean, the whole point of the bed is being able to get in it, right?

Folded toilet paper

I find it more amusing than irritating that housekeeping took the time and the effort to fold a nice little pointed arrow shape into the end of the toilet paper. I do find it completely weird though when some hotels also affix a little branded sticker to the tip of it to hold it in place. It looks nice, sort of, but at a practical level, I only really notice at the wrong time and then what am I meant to do with the stupid sticker? (Detach it of course.) Nothing more annoying than sitting on the toilet holding a sticker with a bit of ripped tissue stuck to it!


I am officially an expert in working out how to turn on and adjust just about every kind of shower there is. I do, however, prefer to work this out from the comfort of somewhere dry before I step in, rather than stand in the line of freezing cold water while I figure it out. I’m unreasonable, I know.

Unnecessary complexity

At check-in have you ever been faced with the registration form the devil himself wrote? The one with tiny print and 50 questions. Usually, moments later an embarrassed receptionist apologises for the form, and with a quick squiggle of a biro highlights the three things they actually need you to complete. If you only need three bits of information from me, perhaps get some nice new forms with just three questions on them?

Also in desperate need of simplification are the majority of hotel television systems. Getting to a standard terrestrial TV channel often feels as tricky as completing a Ryanair booking without accidentally buying additional insurance, a hire car and extra space for a surfboard I don’t have.

Conveyor belt toasters at breakfast

Use one of these at your peril. Conveyor belt toasters are an easy way for a hotel to allow you to make your own toast at breakfast, as long as you don’t mind it burnt excessively on one side whilst cold on the other. Once through is never enough; twice through and the smoke alarms will be going off. And there’s also that awkward moment when you know the slice of toast that will drop out next is definitely yours but someone else thinks it’s theirs… Better get a bowl of cereal instead.

What about the good ones?

You may wonder after all that if I’m ever happy with my accommodation. I've mentioned a couple of memorable ones below:

My favourite hotel is CitizenM in Glasgow. I'm sure their other hotels are equally good but I’ve only experienced the Glasgow one. They are super high-tech, super friendly and super stylish. (Have I overused the word super?) There is free wifi, free movies and the TV system is easy to navigate. The beds are huge and comfy, there are power sockets everywhere and you get to control every aspect of your room from an ipad mini by the bed. Checking in is an absolute doddle and the customer service is exceptional. Top marks.

A hotel I have very fond memories of is the The Tower Hotel, by Tower Bridge in London. A bit of an ugly box on the outside, I imagine when it opened it was quite a grand place, inside at least, though it’s a bit dated now. But you’ll forget all that in a heartbeat if you can get a Thames-facing room near the top floor. The views of Tower Bridge at night are so good you’ll want to sit and look at it until the sun comes up. This hotel is also where I wrote most of my Desire Code toolkit in the summer of 2014, sitting in the same corner of the first-floor bar night after night working on it. Good memories.

My other favourite hotel is in Jandia, Fuerteventura, a place I try to get to at least once a year for some early morning beach running, good food, relaxation and sunshine. I’m keeping its name a secret though, so that I can still bag a good sunbed when I get there.


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