Of all the mysteries in the manmade world – what’s the deal with Stonehenge? what happened to Amelia Earhart? – I find myself returning most often to this enigma: How can it be that people who design hotel rooms for a living don’t know how to design hotel rooms?
The concept of a hotel room has existed for centuries; surely we could have it figured out by now. And yet, time and again, the geniuses drawing up the plans for a hotel room make a complete mess of it.
Recently I spent a night in one of those mid-range hotel chains where every room is a “suite”. While the room’s living area was enormous, with enough empty floor space for a tai chi session (in other words, useless to me), the bedroom was barely big enough to squeeze a suitcase between the too-large bedframe and the desk. There was a special nook with a luggage rack next to the closet, but there were no lights nearby, so to use it you would have to dig through your luggage in the dark. The bathroom offered surprisingly large bath towels – and exactly zero towel rods. The safe in the closet was too high up to reach. When I wasn’t banging my shins into the corner of the bedframe, I had to marvel at what a functional failure the whole thing was.
And just imagine, some hotel designer actually drew up that room on a piece of paper and thought, “this looks good!”
The harder hotels try to be different and cool, the worse things get. At some of the trendiest hotels these days, you don’t even get solid walls. Hotels are currently enamored with the idea of putting windows, glass walls or frosted doors between the bathroom and bedroom (maybe, if you’re lucky, there will be a curtain). I’m going to go out on a limb here and state with confidence that a man came up with this idea; no woman wants a see-through bathroom. Caveat emptor: If you’re traveling with family or friends, you better dig around online for a picture of the bathroom, or you might find yourself in a peep-show situation with your besties.
Meanwhile, hotels give us all sorts of amenities that we don’t want, and nothing we actually need. We get fancy pod coffee makers and massive flat-screen televisions (the hotel industry must single-handedly support the television industry at this point), when all we travelers really want is a conveniently-located bank of power outlets to charge our devices. That, and maybe a pillow that isn’t a lumpy cement block.
Every time I find myself prowling the perimeter of a hotel room, power cord in hand, trying to find an outlet that works, I wonder if perhaps my next career should be rectifying the wrongs of the hotel industry. The Mockingbird’s Nest, perhaps? Now that’s a good hotel idea.