I’ve always had a fascination with staying in hotel rooms, from the swankiest luxury pad to the seediest travel motel. I’ve stayed in more than my fair share over the last few years, and I’ve inexplicably never really managed to get over a childish fascination with everything from the little packets of coffee to the embroidered dressing gown that can apparently be purchased as long as you’re prepared to hand over an arm, and indeed, a leg.
I’ve had some pretty memorable hotel experiences too. A hotel in Memphis offered rooms that were larger than most of the places I’ve ever lived in my life (as well as ducks that made regular processions from the lobby to the roof, under the supervision of a duck master). A place in Majorca practically came with its own butler, while the memory of an in-room heated pool/jacuzzi in Santorini will stay with me for many years to come. If only because I was forced to get up at three in the morning to ask the hotel staff to get it to stop gurgling, while my new bride slept soundly through the whole experience.
When it comes to service though, top notch American hotels know exactly what they’re doing – and they probably do it better than anyone else, in my experience at least. Staff couldn’t be more attentive to any requests that you might have, and the facilities seem purpose designed to make sure that you have as good a time as it’s possible to have. Admittedly you pay through the nose for the experience. The hotel I’m in at the moment charges a compulsory $9 per day facility fee to charge for the gym and the delivery of a 35 cent newspaper. A facility fee? I assumed that the extortionate room rate was my fee payment for the use of the facilities, but clearly not.
What’s interesting though is that when it comes to ensuring that customers feel that they are being provided with a luxury experience, Americans always turn to the British. Show me a four or five star hotel in the US, and I will show you a place that uses British toiletry products in its bathrooms. It’s as if the British are the only people who know how to keep clean (which, if you’ve ever been to Flint in North Wales, you’ll know is far from the truth). My current hotel home has Gilchrist & Soames shampoos and body washes on offer, while recent stays have featured Molton Brown, Cowshed and Jo Malone. And that’s before you even consider the boutique offerings put together with rose petals and water by an odd bloke in his bathroom in Nottingham.
Seems that American hotels have decided that if you want to get that extra star, there’s no choice but to go English in the bathroom. Dial, Herbal Essences or American Crew just won’t cut it if you’re looking to get into the Luxury Hotels of the World book, it would seem.
Ironically, the ultimate olde Englishe bathroom brand Crabtree & Evelyn was actually launched in Cambridge in Boston. Even Molton Brown is owned by the Japanese. Seems that luxury might be going abroad if we’re not careful.
That said, it’s difficult to be too upset when you’re sitting in 85 degree heat with a cold drink on your mind.
Now, where did I put the key to the minibar?