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Four Ways to Make Me Hate a Hotel

English: Looking north across 11th Avenue at K...

English: Looking north across 11th Avenue at Kimpton Hotel, 659 11th Avenue, on a sunny midday. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I hate to admit this, but I spend more nights in hotels than in tents when I travel. I wish it didn’t have to be that way, but it’s tough to camp in the middle of a city (at least legally … without establishing your own shantytown) So I’ve had some thoughts about hotels – mainly, about how hotels can do little things that make me really, really dislike them.

I’ve wound up staying at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort over the past few years. Each time, Loews gave me very few reasons to like it. Rather, it offered a case study in how to make a traveler hate a hotel that should have everything going for it. Let’s take a look.

It’s Isolated from Everything Interesting

This particular Loews is tucked into the mountains on the north side of Tucson. It is extremely far from everything interesting about Tucson – the funky shops, the cool cafes, the museums. The scenery is pretty, but wow … this neighborhood is dull. This seems to be a Loews theme. Consider the Loews Coronado Bay Resort near San Diego. Each cab trip to the interesting bits of Coronado Island is going to set you back a good $25. Or you can wait for its not-frequent-enough shuttle that runs on octagenarian hours.

My theory? Loews would rather have you pay $8 for a pint of local microbrew (double the going rate) at its own bar than shell out for a cab and spend time going to the actual brewery. So they don’t do a good job of standing by local businesses, either.

Charging for WiFi

Fancy hotels seem to invert everything. They charge you for stuff that cheaper hotels include. Case in point: WiFi. A hotel might as well charge guests for broadcast TV if it’s going to charge for WiFi. The Internet is necessary whether you’re a business traveler or a leisure traveler. And it’s 2015. Wise up, hotels.

Wasting Resources

Some hotels have this nailed. I checked into  The Grand Hotel Minneapolis (operated by Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group) and marched straight into the shower. There, I found refillable glass-and-metal dispensers on the shower wall – they held liquid soap, shampoo and conditioner. This is so much better than the hotels that have individual-sized, individually wrapped or bottled bars of soap and liquid toiletries.

Hotels that haven’t caught onto the importance of eco-friendliness earn a big points deduction. It’s short-sighted to their bottom line, too. So they’re not good at acting in the planet’s best interests, and they’re not good at acting in their own best interests.

So, hotels – let guests reuse their towels and bedding for a few days. Use refillable dispensers. Maybe even think of using linens made from sustainable materials like bamboo fiber.

Terrible Hours for Amenities

Here’s another chance for me to pinata Loew’s a bit. I had an urge for a workout. My schedule was a bit discombobulated, so I wound up hitting the gym at 7:45 p.m. That’s when I found out it closes at 8. Every single night.

Why bother having a gym if you’re going to close early? Travelers need to burn calories when they’re away from home. And traveling messes with people’s schedules. They might not fit into the local time zone.

Wrapping it Up With Some Praise

I mentioned Kimpton Hotels earlier. I’ll go out of my way to stay at a Kimpton hotel. Each one I’ve seen has a much more contemporary vibe (compared to the better-known hotel chains), a friendly staff and a reasonable price. The Minneapolis location I mentioned? It had a wonderful little bar with some great regional microbrews; it also had a knowledgeable bartender who was quick to point out some great local craft beer hangouts. So much different from the frosty, corporate-enforced courtesy and laminated luxury from the older, bigger hotel chains. Keep it up, guys!

Mentioned in this post
  1. Loews Ventana Canyon Resort
    Hotel in Tucson Arizona

    7000 North Resort Drive
    Tucson Arizona
    (520) 299-2020
    http://www.loewshotels.com/ventana-canyon/
  2. Loews Coronado Bay Resort
    Attraction in San Diego California

    4000 Coronado Bay Rd
    San Diego California
  3. The Grand Hotel Minneapolis
    Hotel in Minneapolis Minnesota

    615 2nd Ave S
    Minneapolis Minnesota
    (612) 288-8888
    http://goo.gl/HrF9OM
  4. Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group
    Hotel in NY New York

    60 E 42nd St
    NY New York
    (212) 867-6606

4 thoughts on “Four Ways to Make Me Hate a Hotel

  1. John Watson

    Justin, I love your list and will add one more: mandatory “resort fees.” I’m seeing more hotels add these and I’m guessing it may be a response to people booking through sites like kayak and expedia. The listed price doesn’t show the resort fee, at least not clearly, so the price appears to be quite a bit lower than it really is. And you can’t opt out of the fee so it’s really nothing more than a way to list a lower but inaccurate price.

    I agree with your very positive assessment of Kimpton Hotels. I’ve also found that some of my favorite hotels aren’t part of a chain at all but are completely independent, and sometimes historical: for example see the Salida Palace Hotel in Salida, CO. There’s a bit of a risk with these but I’ve only had one bad experience.

  2. Wandering Justin Post author

    Thanks for the comment and the addition to the list, John. “Resort fees” sound as bad as car dealerships charging to remove the plastic wrap from your new car!

    Glad to hear Kimpton has done right by you. And I agree on indie hotels. One of my favorites is the Inn at Northrup Station in Oregon. Wonderful place! I’ll keep the Salida Palace Hotel in mind for my next trip to Colorado. We usually get up there once a year.

  3. Bruce

    The inverted relationship between free WiFi and how fancy a hotel is exists in some other countries unfortunately. When I was in India and Nepal, all but one of the hotels charged exorbitant rates for WiFi usage, much more than the going rate at a local internet cafe. In Cambodia and Vietnam, it was the opposite, all the hotels had free WiFi except for one, and the one exception changed their policy the second day we were there and offered free WiFi.

    An exception to your observation in the US however is the Disneyland Hotel. When I was there during a users conference for my company last year, it had free WiFi.

  4. Trevor Stasik

    Great post as always! I’ve never been to a Loews, but I’ll try to avoid them moving forward.

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