W Hotel Room in Istanbul

Listen Up, Hotels: My 5 Most Annoying Hotel Room Quirks

This post has been bouncing around in my head for a while but I’ve been hesitant to write it. I generally try to highlight positive travel experiences in my blog, and nitpicking about hotel rooms doesn’t fit that theme. Also no one likes a whiner, and whining about little issues in hotel rooms seems so #FirstWorldProblems. I’ve been fortunate to stay in many lovely hotels: Who am I to complain?

However. There are a few hotel room quirks that I’ve observed over and over and some of them seem to be increasing in frequency, to my great bewilderment. I have decided it is my responsibility as a frequent traveler and blogger to point out these annoying quirks, in hopes that they might be rectified or averted in the future. If I can convince just one hotel room designer to decide against placing the toilet in full view of the bed, then writing this post will be worth it.

Here are my top five most annoying hotel room quirks. Note that I don’t have photos to illustrate all of these quirks, as it doesn’t usually occur to me to take photos of things that I hate.

Annoying Hotel Quirk #5: Poor lighting

Low light can be romantic if executed properly. Low light can also be frustrating, especially if one wants to, say, read something, or apply makeup after nightfall. (This comes from someone who wears very little makeup — I can’t imagine how annoying this quirk is for serious make-up-wearers.) Low lighting around the bathroom mirror drives me particularly crazy, and seems to occur more and more frequently in the hotels and lodges where I stay.

W Hotel Room in IstanbulMy room at the oh-so-trendy W Hotel in Istanbul. The dim, purplish lighting made me feel like I was in a pornography shop and was useless for helping me to see anything. 

Also, low light — in fact all light — is frustrating when one can’t figure out how to adjust it or turn it off.

Annoying Hotel Quirk #4: Flooding showers

I really regret not having a photo of this quirk, as it’s very visual. But if you’ve stayed in an upscale hotel designed after 2010 then you’ve probably experienced the flooding-shower quirk. Modern hotel room designers love showers that appear to meld seamlessly with the rest of the bathroom. Often times the shower is separated from the bathroom by just one glass panel, sometimes no panel at all. Often the shower floor is not separated from the rest of the bathroom floor in any way, making it impossible to shower without soaking everything (and everyone) else in the bathroom.

When I check into a fancy hotel, or any hotel, one of the first things I look forward to is a good shower. I don’t care how sleek and sophisticated the shower looks — I just want it to be hot, and high-pressure, and I don’t want it to soak my clothes and toiletries. A shower that floods is a crappy shower, no matter what it looks like.

Annoying Hotel Quirk #3: High bathroom mirrors

This quirk is especially common in South Africa, mostly in guesthouses and lower-end hotels. I’m not sure why this is, as I don’t find South Africans to be particularly tall. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into a South African guesthouse bathroom and found that I have to stand on my tip-toes to see my entire face in the mirror. I am 5’3”, which is on the short side but certainly not outside the normal range of height. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that I should be able to see my head and shoulders in the mirror.

So please, hotel room designers: Remember the short people when you install the bathroom mirror. And while you’re at it, stop designing rooms without full-length mirrors. I’m sick of standing on chairs to see how my feet look.

Annoying Hotel Quirk #2: Lack of electrical outlets next to the bed

This is such an obvious one, but all too common. Travelers use their phones in bed — everyone knows this — and travelers use their phones as alarm clocks. Travelers have been out and about all day with nowhere to charge their phones, hence they need to charge them overnight. There is nothing I hate more than settling into a comfy hotel bed, reaching to plug in my phone, and discovering that: 1) I need to crawl under the bed, feel around for an outlet, and unplug a lamp in order to plug in my phone; or 2) I must walk across the room to charge my phone and then stumble back across the room the next morning when my alarm goes off.

Take note, hotel owners: Suck it up, hire an electrician, and install easy-to-reach electrical outlets on both sides of the bed. This is the easiest annoying hotel room quirk to fix. Also, please provide as many different types of plug points as possible, for irresponsible international travelers like me who always forget their plug adapters. Thanks in advance.

And now, for my #1 most annoying hotel quirk.

Annoying Hotel Room Quirk #1: Toilets without doors

Toilets without doors…Kind of like doctors without borders, only bad instead of good. Why, oh why, are so many hotel room designers placing toilets in open-plan bathrooms with no doors, or with piddly glass panels that aren’t really doors?

Happy Birthday bed at Brahman HillsMy stunningly beautiful room at Brahman Hills. It was perfect in every way, and I loved it, except…LOOK WHERE THE TOILET IS.

Let me ask you something, fancy hotel room designers: Have you ever slept in one of these doorless-toilet rooms with a romantic partner? Do you know the feeling of waking up on a lazy Sunday morning, snug in bed next to your partner, and then having to awaken said partner and send him out of the room because…you have to poop?

No? Well, let me tell you, I have. It’s a sure-fire way to ruin the mood. Please stop with the doorless toilets, hotel room designers. Just stop it.

I have many more annoying hotel room quirks that I could include but I like to limit my listicles to five. If you’d like to hear more, please contact me and I’ll provide you with the complete run-down.

Special thanks to Ray, who provided suggestions for this post and who is always happy to leave the hotel room when I need to poop. 

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  • Reply autumnashbough August 17, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    The hotel room in Istanbul reminded me of Vegas. So. Much. Red. I wanted to ask if the bed vibrated! 🙂

    Yes on all points. BATHROOM DOORS, please.

    You’re only 5’3″?! I was sure you were 5’10” at least. You blog taller, I guess.

    • Reply 2summers August 17, 2016 at 4:50 pm

      Ha! That’s very flattering. For some reason, even when people meet me in real life they are surprised when I tell them how short I am. I somehow convey the impression of being taller.

  • Reply Steffen Fischer August 17, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    OMG absolutely love this – As a architect I agree with everything you have written… something along the lines of form follows function? The whole purpose of having a door to the toilet is… well need I say more – no-one wants their actions heard in front of their loved one…

    • Reply 2summers August 17, 2016 at 4:52 pm

      I know! And that design is cropping up so often. I seriously don’t get it.

  • Reply Brenda Reiss August 17, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    Yes! All spot on….I’m grateful I’ve missed the open toilet one. Horrible.
    I’ll add my pet hotel-peeves, all cheap.
    Why no night lights? Are hotels run by people who never get up in the night? I end up leaving the bathroom light on, using electricity.
    Also, and it’s so cheap and simple, hooks on walls! Somewhere to hang a robe, and not behind the door where it will be forgotten.
    And while we are putting up hooks…. one in the tub for a wet bathing suit (OK, cozzie) It will drip!

    • Reply 2summers August 18, 2016 at 7:27 am

      Wow, those are interesting ideas. More hooks – of course!

  • Reply Gail Scott Wilson August 17, 2016 at 6:03 pm

    Have to agree with all especially the open plan bathrooms, I just don’t get it.

    • Reply 2summers August 18, 2016 at 7:27 am

      Yep. It’s mystifying.

  • Reply Jannik August 17, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    There is a special place in hell for the person who invented the open plan toilet.

    • Reply 2summers August 18, 2016 at 7:27 am

      Ha! I agree completely.

  • Reply gabyagraz August 17, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    Couldn’t agree with you more! Spot on on all 5!

    • Reply 2summers August 18, 2016 at 7:26 am

      Thanks Gaby, hope you’re well!

  • Reply Caroline Hurry August 17, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    NOTHING is worse than no toilet door. What the hell’s up with that? I would check out of the establishment right away especially with a companion in tow. Sitting on the loo should NOT be a shared activity …GROSS!

    • Reply 2summers August 18, 2016 at 7:26 am

      Haha. Well, often this happens in hotel rooms that are otherwise super-nice that I wouldn’t want to check out of. But there have been a couple where I should have just left 🙂

  • Reply tenneymason August 17, 2016 at 9:55 pm

    Toilets without doors.— Really? — I haven’t seen that one yet. I’d have to go down and use the lobby loo.

    • Reply 2summers August 18, 2016 at 7:24 am

      Yep, definitely wouldn’t work for you. I’m sure you’ll encounter one of these rooms eventually.

    • Reply TheLouwkuls December 9, 2016 at 1:29 pm

      For Heather and you it’s probably normal but I recall our visit to the States and it freaked us out that American toilets had that really big water area in the bottom. It splashes and gets weird!

  • Reply Leizl August 18, 2016 at 6:24 am

    Totally agree on all the above. Two small things I could add are those tiny cartons of long-life milk for your morning tea (you have to use almost all of them for one cup) and undersized towels… That really annoys me.

    • Reply 2summers August 18, 2016 at 7:22 am

      Yes, the towels! HATE that.

  • Reply Mia August 18, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    Oh wow this is great. Thanks for writing it because YES! Toilets need doors. We are supposed to be civilised people!

    • Reply 2summers August 18, 2016 at 5:02 pm

      I know. Seriously, wtf.

  • Reply Emma Julia August 20, 2016 at 10:20 pm

    I too have a kind spouse who vacates the room when the call of nature, er, calls… why designers, why?

    • Reply 2summers August 23, 2016 at 8:58 am

      Yes. Why?!

  • Reply Lani August 23, 2016 at 8:58 am

    I say why not have two toilets facing each other! 😛

    • Reply 2summers August 23, 2016 at 9:01 am

      Hahahahaaaaaa. That would be the greatest.

  • Reply Jenna August 23, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    OMG… Yes on toilets without doors! We specifically check for that now, we’ve experienced it so many times! Another quirk I hate is tiny beds. If you put Jurgen and I in a double bed, we will not sleep.

    • Reply 2summers August 24, 2016 at 6:32 am

      Hahaha. Totally. My boyfriend is like 10 feet tall so any bed smaller than a queen is out of the question.

  • Reply Eugenia Parrish August 27, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    Okay, I have to ask. I went back to your Brahman Hills blog, to that marvelous picture of you bathing in front of a glass wall. I love bathing somewhere that I can see and feel outdoors (as long as I’m not in the suburbs, etc) but on second look, does that toilet face the glass wall as well?!! Even out in the boonies (which you said BH wasn’t, it was behind a gas station right off the road) I’m not sure I could sit there and function in front of a glass wall. I’ve taken a pee behind some pretty public bushes when necessary, but what were they thinking?

    • Reply 2summers August 28, 2016 at 9:33 am

      Oh no, sorry to hear about the spam filter! I hope the same thing isn’t happening to other readers on my list. I’ve also been having problems with my gmail spam filter lately and it freaks me out that I’m always at risk of missing important emails.

      Yes, the toilet in that Brahman Hills cottage does face the glass as well. I didn’t find that to be a problem though. The self-catering cottages are on the far edge of the property – very far from the aforementioned gas station – and you feel very isolated. The odds of someone walking past or seeing you (someone other than a cow or an impala, that is) are very slim. Also there are blinds for all the windows that you can pull down, but we never bothered to.

      I feel kind of badly for calling out Brahman Hills for their toilet, as we really did enjoy our stay there. But…that toilet! 😀

  • Reply Eugenia Parrish August 27, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    BTW, I recently discovered that Google has been messing around again and changed their Spam diameters (claiming it was the blog host’s fault — really? ALL of them?). Nearly every blog I follow has been sent to Spam for weeks and I never thought to check. I was worried about you, girl! Such a relief to know you’re okay and still blogging, even if I’ve had to spend hours catching up. I’ve reported them all as “not spam”, but now I make sure I check every couple days. Don’t want to miss anything.

  • Reply Cat (talkingofchinese) September 18, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    All of these are so true! I can never understand why the power points are NEVER near the bed or if they are they are behind it rather than beside it. I also agree re the showers that flood the whole bathroom – and they only ever give you one thin bath mat that becomes drenched and useless after the first use.

    • Reply 2summers September 18, 2016 at 2:19 pm

      Amen, sister. If you’re going to give me a flooding shower, then at least give me a stack of four bath mats to soak up the flood 🙂

  • Reply TheLouwkuls December 9, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Haha!! Spot on! Seemingly less important and slightly off topic but I’ve had this debate with Tails of a mermaid (Natalie) and we can’t figure out why hotels give you those small glasses for breakfast juice!!! It’s torture, people are thirsty in the morning.

    • Reply 2summers December 9, 2016 at 1:25 pm

      Yes. Same goes for tiny coffee cups. Just give me a freaking mug.

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