There are a lot of things that annoy me when staying in other people’s hotels / B&Bs. I rarely find somewhere I’m completely happy with and always have a bit of a moan to Julian.
I was reading an article earlier this week about one particular journalist’s pet peeves and thought I’d list my own and how we’ve alleviated them at The 25.
These are in no particular order… (and they're stock photos - not of The 25 or any other hotel we've stayed at)
One of the earliest changes I made when we moved to our last hotel, Plas Dinas Country House, ten years ago was to add fresh milk to all rooms. This was either in a fridge or a flask.
The first thing I want to do after a well earned lie in on holiday is to have a nice cup of tea in bed. UHT milk does not make nice tea. Not to mention they are difficult to open, and as Julian and I have lots of milk in our drinks, we would usually use around four per drink – shame they often only give you six in total for the 24 hour period.
At The 25, you’ll find a fridge in every room and a fresh bottle of milk daily, and feel free to ask if you need a top up.
Unusable tea tray
Why oh why are some tea trays hidden away? Surely the first thing you are going to want to do when you get to your room is make a nice drink? Therefore I don’t want to play hunt the tea tray, and when I find it, I don’t want to have to find a surface to put it on, then have to unplug something else to plug the kettle in.
I once stayed at a rather expensive hotel where the tea tray was in a box in the middle of the room. Once you’d unpacked the kettle from the posh box, and unwound the cable, you then had to plug it in. The only plug I could find in the lounge area of the suite was for the lamp next to the fireplace. The table was too rickety to dare put the kettle on so I had to boil it and make the drinks on the floor!
And another thing…why is there never a bin next to the tea tray for your teabags?
You'll find our tea tray brimming with a selection of teas, coffees, hot chocolate and even squash for the non-tea drinkers. The kettle is plugged in and the bin is right next to you.
I don’t get underfloor heating. It’s usually accompanied by ceramic tiled floors - so with it turned off, the floor is freezing, and with it on, it makes your feet sweat and the bathroom is boiling hot. The only point I can see in them is to dry the floor of wet rooms and I have a moan about them in a minute!
We don't have underfloor heating. Our floor coverings are not cold with bare feet, and each en-suite has its own fully controllable heating for the perfect temperature.
All our bedding is hypo-allergenic from the Fine Bedding Company and guests rave about it – so much so that we have a special discount code so they can buy our bedding for their own beds at a reduced price.
I don’t like feather bedding for various reasons, firstly, I’m allergic to dust and they really bung up my nose and affect my breathing, secondly, the ends of the feathers can poke out and stick in you, and lastly, they tend to squash to about 3mm thick offering no support or comfort to sleep on whatsoever.
Lack of food
We once stayed at a very expensive "restaurant with rooms" in South Wales. We’d travelled quite a distance and as usual, I just wanted to get to my room and enjoy a cup of tea, a biscuit and a quick nap before dinner.
However, much to my disgust, there were no biscuits to be found. In a place with a restaurant, I kind of expect something homemade, but not even a packet of Custard Creams were on offer. We were miles from anywhere so there was no chance of popping to the local newsagents to get something, we’d just have to starve until dinner. Oh, I do tell a lie though – there were two peaches in a bowl which in desperation I would have eaten, had it not been for the fact that we picked them up and found them to be all mouldy and fused together underneath!
You won’t go hungry at The 25. You are offered a welcome drink and one of my famous chocolate brownies on arrival, and there’s always a homemade treat in your room too, and a jar of sweets.
Don’t forget, if you book direct via our own website www.the25.uk for two nights or more, you get a complimentary minibar which also includes some snacks.
If you are extra peckish, there’s some snacks in our honesty bar, and there’s also several shops within a few hundred yards.
Lack of temperature control
It can be difficult to get the temperature right for us as I prefer a warmer room and Julian complains if it gets above fifteen degrees! However, it’s nice to be able to have some control over the heat.
We’ve had several issues at other hotels over the years. We once stayed in a boutique B&B which at the time was supposed to be one of the best in the country, but their very neat radiator cover had been screwed to the wall and covered the thermostat. As a result, when the heating came on, and we were already hot and had the windows open, we just had to sweat, and therefore had a poor night’s sleep.
Another story that comes to mind is quite recently when we stayed in a hotel for an awards ceremony we were attending. The only heat / cool in the room was via a very old air conditioning unit which meant we struggled to dry our towels after showering in the evening, wanting another shower the following morning, and the bathroom was cold with no heat source. Again we had a poor night’s sleep as the contraption shook the whole room every time it switched itself on and off during the night, but we needed it on to cool the room as the windows only opened a couple of inches.
At The 25, most rooms have aircon (ours are almost silent), and all rooms have an independent source of heating and cooling the bedroom and the bathroom in addition to the thermostatically controlled central heating so you’ll always be the perfect temperature when you stay with us.
Things you might have forgotten
Another little story – I once forgot to pack my toothbrush on a trip away. Unfortunately, by the time I realised, I was undressed and about to go to bed. So, I had to get dressed again and headed down to reception to ask if they had one. At that time of night, their housekeeping had gone home so I waited round for what seemed like ages whilst someone was dispatched to find out where they were kept.
To alleviate this happening to any of our guests, not to mention the fact that I don’t want to be woken by a guest wanting a toothbrush after I’ve been asleep for half an hour, you’ll find one in your room. In fact, you’ll find a whole box of “In case you Forgot” items including a comb, shaving kit and various other bits and bobs. How sensible is that?!
Lack of pad & pen
Is it just me who likes to write notes in bedrooms? As we supply feedback forms, we also supply pens (colour co-ordinated with each room as you’d expect from us). So few places supply notepads and pens though. It infuriates me when I need to write something down and there’s no pen. I’ve taken to always bringing my own now.
Lack of tissues
Between the dust and feather bedding in some hotels, I’m often caught with a sneezing fit and looking for the nearest box of tissues. You would think that tissues are a staple provision of all hotels, but they are often missing. At least there’s always toilet paper to improvise with.
Of course, we provide tissues, as well as make-up wipes and all the other little touches that most places never even think about.
Lack of sockets
This must be a bug bare for so many people nowadays – you should see some guests’ rooms – they have a smart phone each to charge, sometimes two if there’s a separate works one, plus the Kindle, and the iPad, laptop, hair dryer and straighteners.
In so many hotels, this would already have used every socket in the room. This doesn’t even take into account the lamps, kettle, fridge, clock, iPad, Nespresso machine, TV, wifi point and mood lighting!
We’ve made sure there’s plenty of spare sockets where you need them, for example next to the dressing table / mirrors, and each room also has at least two USB sockets too so you can charge items as well as having other things plugged in.
I know from experience that re-wiring a building to this degree is an expensive job but why not use an extension cable or two for their items and leave some sockets free for the guests to use?
Lack of cleanliness
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the sort of person walking round with a white glove on checking for dust (much to some people’s surprise). What I’m talking about here is attention to detail and the lack of an occasional deep clean. I know as well as most that after you’ve made a bed, cleaned and left a room, dust is still settling onto your beautifully clean surfaces. However, it’s the things that are not done on a daily basis that do eventually need doing.
We stayed at a lovely place a couple of years ago which had been recommended to us by some guests. It was very good in general but it was obvious that the owners had a hands off approach to the cleaning staff and did not check what they were doing. Even when we had a team of house keeping staff at the last place, and a head house keeper, I would still never let a guest into a room until I had double checked it myself.
This particular place had things on the wall that needed a damn good dust, and the top of the fridge, although located in the wardrobe had a thick layer of dust on the top, I presume their cleaner was not tall enough to see it, but Julian certainly was. The chandeliers were full of dust too, as were the pipes under the sink. The skirting was painted black, and if you have black things, you need to be aware that they show the dust all the more. None of these things individually affected my stay at all, and we still had a lovely time, it just showed a disappointing lack of attention to detail.
As you know, both Julian and I are a little OCD about cleanliness and it takes us far too long to clean a room, but at least you know our rooms are always spotless.
We know The 25 is big on its tech (blame Julian) but we also realise that not everyone is tech savvy. That’s why we’ve tried to make sure showers, light switches, coffee makers, mood lighting, TV remotes etc are all fairly intuitive. We also provide complete and easy to follow instructions for everything in our Guest Information folders. For the Nespresso machines we even have short video instructions on the iPads.
Some hotels don't make things quite so easy. When staying in London last year for a trade show, we stayed in a hotel with unfathomable lighting controls. We had great difficulty switching all the lights off, every button you pressed turned one light off but a different one on! It was almost impossible to have darkness so we could go to bed.
The tea tray was situated in a dark corner of the room next to the wardrobe and although there was a light bulb above it, throughout our stay there we only managed to get it to come on once but couldn't work out how we'd done it or do it again! It just all adds unwanted stress to a trip if you can't do the basics.
Why or why do I want a wet toilet roll? There’s something to be said about a well designed walk in shower with no door or tray, as long as it has a decent piece of glass to stop the splashes and a big enough gradient to keep the water out of the rest of the room.
I hate bathrooms where you soak the floor completely or even worse the toilet, toilet roll and half your belongings too.
It’s all about thought – bathroom designs cannot be rushed and every aspect about how a guest will use the room has to be thought about.
I’ve lost count of the amount of floods I’ve had to stop with bath mats or the steamed up mirrors (ours are de-misters), the bad lighting (not here!), the lack of hook for your towel, or even lack of hand towel ring near the sink so you soak the floor walking across the room to dry your hands. Come on hotel/B&B owners – use the bathroom yourself to get ready and you might notice how inadequate it is.
Lack of black out curtains
I know I must sound like I’m in my eighties, but being a tourist is exhausting! We eat more than normal, charge round tourist attractions all day, do a few hours of driving, plus we’re starting to relax and wind down, and may well have had some alcohol. (since returning – not whilst driving!) Therefore, I usually want an afternoon nap before enjoying a nice meal in the evening.
This is the point where I realise, on a day in the middle of summer when the sun is shining brightly, that some clever so and so forgot to provide black out linings in the curtains. I can usually get to sleep for a bit, but it’s certainly not as easy.
All our curtains are black out, so no matter what time of the day you fancy a snooze, you can do so in complete darkness. And to make doubly sure, we even provide eye masks and ear plugs for the really light sleepers – so remember to set an alarm in the morning or you may just miss breakfast you’re sleeping so soundly!
Surely there’s not much I need to say about this is there? It’s annoying at the best of times when you’re in the middle of no-where and you have little or no phone signal so you do expect a decent wi-fi signal in this day and age. There’s really no excuse. Here at The 25 you get a great high speed signal in all bedrooms as well as all reception rooms.
Whilst I’m on the subject – what is it with those places that don’t provide a TV? Wanting to “promote the art of conversation” doesn’t cut it with me – if I choose to watch the TV then I will. The only thing I can think is that they are trying to be tight? No fear of missing your fave show at The 25 – all rooms have large Smart TVs, and some suites have three TVs!
Lack of a luggage rack
I know I might sound lazy, but if I’m only staying somewhere for a night or two then chances are, I’m not going to unpack all my clothes and belongings. Instead, I’ll just unpack what I need as I need it.
However, I’d love to put my bag / suitcase on a luggage rack – it just makes it easier than bending down constantly. In these days of bed bugs being quite prolific in (mainly foreign and international hotels) I’d also be happier with it off the ground. Yes I can bend down, no I’m not decrepid just yet, but when I’m paying a decent price, I just don’t want to have to bend down!
I thought this would be a list of eight or ten but I seem to have doubled that quite easily!
You can probably see that as so many things annoy me, and we’ve tried to avoid making these mistakes here, the rooms at The 25 should be pretty perfect. I could have gone on but I can’t sit here typing all night. This is probably already my longest ever blog.
One of the ways we assess things like layout and usability is to actually stay in each of our rooms. Sometimes, it’s only when you make a drink, try to read in a corner or sit on a seat watching a film that you realise you have any issues.
We do also ask for feedback though. From day one, we’ve always had feedback forms as we see this as a hugely important factor in making sure everything works as it should.
So, the next time you stay somewhere, see how many of these pet peeves of mine you can spot, and when you next stay with us, I hope you enjoy the fact that we’ve thought about and removed them.