Okay, so I’m not a professional traveller, or even someone who stays in a lot of hotels, but I do like to make sure that when I stay in a hotel, I stay in a great hotel. What makes a great hotel is probably quite a personal thing, but there are some common services which will help to make sure that a customers stay is a pleasant one.
Service is probably the key for me. A great hotel has an innkeeper/host that wants to make my stay as pleasant as they can. Some of the things that can be done to give me the feeling of good service are:
- provide information about local resources – i.e. restaurant menus, maps, local history maps, tourist information
- have the room serviced whilst I’m at breakfast (if the hotel has a separate breakfast room)
- be approachable when I check in, give me a bit of a tour so that I know that you’ve provided restaurant menus, local information etc
Probably out of character with a lot of other UK citizens I don’t find a traditional English breakfast necessarily the best thing I can be offered. I like to have a choice, I like to be able to decide whether I want some fruit, a subsection of a traditional breakfast (just egg on toast), a continental breakfast or a full breakfast.
Of course, if you have a chef available and the facilities then some masterpieces can be created – I stayed in a couple of places in New England last year which produced beatiful 3 course breakfasts that were incredible.
But you don’t even need to have a dining room to provide a good breakfast. An Inn in California which I’ve recently stayed in had no dining facilities and so they left a continental breakfast on a tray outside my room. They also included a copy of the local newspaper and it was a real treat to sit in bed reading the newspaper and eating breakfast.
Whatever outdoor area you have can be put to good use to impress. If you’ve got a garden, then set an area aside with tables and parasols for guests to enjoy. If you have a porch or balcony area, then the same goes. Its always worth making sure that any garden area is kept in order, so that the guests have flowers to look at, or well maintained furniture to sit on.
I don’t mean cabaret nights :-), I mean in room entertainment. Provide your guests with televisions, with cable/satellite where possible. Also provide them with some audio system – prefereably a CD player with a library of CDs available. If you want to go that little bit further then how about a playstation or Xbox, and use that to provide both game playing and DVD as extra entertainment methods. This is particularly useful if your location is remote. Again provide a library of games/DVDs for your guests to make use of. If you’re worried about loss of media then some form of check-out system could be employed, so at least you can recharge the guest for any losses.
I guess the key for me is to keep to neutral themes. Having said that I always like the idea of themed rooms, and being able to select a particular room based on it’s look and features when I’m booking. This also allows some creativity to flow. The rooms can be priced at different levels according to their features (so, for instance, add a hot tub to a room and increase the price of it). Any brochure/website should include photographs of each room so that the guest knows what they’re going to get.
The little extras can make all the difference, for instance providing bath robes for your guests. That’s a really nice touch, and gives a good feeling about the place. You can always get lots made up and offer them for sale if your guests should want them – that way you always have spares.
Great hotels I’ve visited
The following are the sites belonging to places I’ve stayed. Not all of them have all the things I’ve suggested above, but they have enough to make a stay there feel special.
- Garnett Creek Inn, Calistoga, CA, USA
- The Carriage House, Provincetown, MA, USA
- Hartstone Inn, Camden, Maine, USA
- Encore Bed and Breakfast, Boston, MA, USA
- Conrah Country House Hotel, Aberystwyth, Wales, UK
- Bredon House Hotel, Great Malvern, Worcestershire, England UK
Johansens and Select Registry are often good starting points for finding great accomodation.
Note: This article was first written about 3 years ago, and I’ve just rediscovered it and thought it should get posted.