Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Business Traveller Tip: 12 survival tips for staying at a 5 star hotel

Surely a five star hotel does not need a survival guide. What's to survive? A five star hotel is the top of the luxury tree - deluxe room, swimming pool, 24/7 concierge, flat screen TV, no kids jumping up and down on the bed in the morning and all on the company expense account. But believe me to get the most out of your stay and business trip you need to head the advice on this Business Traveller Tip "12 tips for surviving a stay In a 5 star hotel" - in order of experiences

  1. Do not give your bags to bell boy: When I get to my room I usually want to unpack, shower and go to sleep in that order. If the bell boy has your bags the preferred order of unpack, shower, sleep changes to wander around room for ten mins waiting for bell boy to arrive, open door, wait uncomfortably for 2-5 mins for bell boy to bring in bag and then leave, stress about whether or not this is a country where tipping is required then get to the 1, 2, 3 of unpack, shower, sleep.
  2. Prep for check-in: At check-in, in one go hand over ID, Credit Card and loyalty card. Reduces questions, check in delay and problems with name pronunciation
  3. Be polite at check-in: You are tired and grumpy but they control everything from upgrades to speed of room service. Be nice. Say thank you
  4. Get two keys even if there is only one of you: Keep one key in your pocket and the other in your laptop bag away from your computer. Magnetic key cards do not react well to mobiles/smart phones/blackberries. It does not matter how deep the bath or sweet smelling the soap is, if you can't get into the room because your phone nuked your key and you have to head back to reception for a new one . BTW I hate when this happens and at reception assistants looks at me and says 'you didn't keep your key in your pocket did you? We recommend against that'. Makes me want to pull a Russel Crowe
  5. Confirm non-smoking every time: especially for late night check in. Too often I have a non-smoking res only to have the late night staff either not notice or not care. The last thing you want late at night is get to your room, turn around, go all the way back down stairs and effectively check in all over again
  6. Beware the elevator with a minds of its own: if you need a key to activate the elevator, them keep your foot in the door or finger on the open door button until the elevator has recognised the key input. Otherwise look forward to screaming at the button as the elevator timer clicks over faster that you can say 'there's no place like home' and sends you hurtling in the opposite direction to where you want to go
  7. Bolt the door: Whenever in your room bolt lock the door and turn on do not disturb to prevent any chance of housekeeping walking in when you don't want them to. I even had a hotel give my room to another punter who turned up at 1130 pm while I was asleep.
  8. Before going to sleep turn out the lights: Not as easy as it sounds. Five star hotel rooms emit a lot of light beyond the room lights. There is the standby light for the TV, the fire alarm will have a light, the control panel for the room may glow at night, the phone a message light, the clock radio a mid to high glow, the DVD player, the toilet light switch, an emergency light, the mini bar....too often I have turned out the main lights, gone to bed and sat in a near transcendental glow as all around points of red, green and blue lights emit from devices supposed to make my stay more enjoyable but instead bore into my brain. Check around the room before bed to determine what lights need the tried and true "cover with a sock" treatment
  9. Eat breakfast in the main area: if you have the option of breakfast in executive lounge or the main hotel restaurant take the main restaurant option not the lounge (unless you need wifi see tip 10). While the lounge offers a quieter (and more kudos filled) environment, at a five star hotel the full restaurant breakfast buffet should come with an exponentially larger range of choice than the lounge options
  10. Hunt for free wifi: will not work all the time but the lobby, exec lounge and area near the meeting rooms are the best places to hunt for free wifi
  11. Don't express check out: Unless the queue at check out is horrible I find express check out carries more challenges than gains. Charges can appear that you did not plan and receipts do not arrive at the time you are doing your expenses
  12. The save money Don'ts: Don't use the phone - if you have to get them to call you back. Don't use hotel laundry service - find local laundromat that delivers. Don't use mini-bar - stock up at the convenience store down stairs.
Now over to you. What other tips are there to help the tired business traveller get around to enjoying fluffy bath robes, pillow mints and all soaps and small bottles of lotion/shampoo that can be stuffed into a bag?

thanks to watchwithkristin for the photo via flickr


Anonymous said...

One more: unless it's really cold or really hot outside, turn off the A/C. If you're spending a lot of time on planes and in heavily air-conditioned hotels, it will dehydrate you and generally dry you out. Plus, you're saving energy.

Tim Hughes said...

@anon - good one. Tip 8B - after checking the lights turn off the air con

Lisa said...

I would also recommend checking any alarm clocks to ensure they aren't set to go off for the previous customers 3am flight.
Nothing worse than struggling in the dark to turn off an alarm, then discovering 10 mins later you only managed the 'snooze' button.

Kurt Knackstedt - The "Travel Barista" said...

Hi Tim - good comments and ideas all. I agree with your breakfast rule (ie- eat downstairs) but certainly my rule is another way to avoid mini-bar charges is to make sure to hit the exec floor lounge after a long day for free drinks and snacks. This is especially good value if you're waiting to head out for dinner or you just need a bit of liquid courage before entertaining a client all night!

Tim Hughes said...

@lisa - great one. I got hit with that in March in Chicago. A 330am waked up I did not need.

@Kurt - spot on.

Erez Armoza said...

Another one is to avoid using the valet if another option exists. It offers very little help, yet may delay you from leaving the hotel if you forgot to call in advance.

I've recently discovered that I prefer the smaller lower rated hotels. As long as the bed is comfortable and the room is clean - it is so much more convenient in so many ways: Free Wifi, closer parking, free breakfast (even if it is not your chain of choice) - and so on.

Michael said...

I'm the type of guy that would ask for the Wifi before I ask if there are any rooms available. heh

Anonymous said...

When ordering Room Service - stick to the simple and local meals. Even in 5* hotels I am often not sure who prepares those meals after hours.. (probably the bell boy Tim is waiting for)
Nothing worse than being grumpy, tired and hungry with a totally overpriced meal you don't dare to eat.

Tim Hughes said...

@anon - agreed. Dont look at the menu order either
1. club sandwich
2. burger
3. cesar salad.