It's amazing how it's the small luxuries we remember from a really good hotel visit. I still remember my joy on visiting one little bed and breakfast when I found real milk in a jug (protected by a bead-weighted embroidered doily), five different types of tea including Earl Grey and proper china teacups. Little luxuries are how hotels earn their five stars - see for example our review of The Baglioni where my colleague Jules was greeted with cold towels and drinks after arriving to check in on a scorching hot day.
So what small luxuries should hotels be giving us?
One idea is a shoe shine - still offered by some of the more traditional hotels. But I think the shoe shine is obsolete. How many of us wear suede, or trainers or sandals these days - none of which take a shine.
I'm more interested in the free soft drinks now offered by many hotels.
When I get into my hotel room, I want to put my bags down and relax. Part of the ‘relax' is a cool drink if I've arrived on a hot day, or a cup of tea or coffee on a cold one - a complimentary soft drink is always a nice touch.
As for tea and coffee in-room, it's amazing how few hotels really excel here. Even in a 5 star hotel, you'll often find just one generic tea - no green tea, no fruit teas, no Lapsang or Pai Mu Tan - and a choice of caff or decaff.
Again The Baglioni has the right idea by putting Illy coffee machines in its London luxury suites. But I'd definitely like hotels to be more adventurous here - particularly the ones that serve the best afternoon teas.
Fresh fruit is another little luxury that some hotels provide and I love seeing a fruit basket in the room. It looks good even if you don't eat any! Luxury hotels should mean luxury fruit - fresh figs, for instance. I've even had dried fruit - easier to eat (generally anything that needs a knife doesn't make the cut, so to speak). But I'd love to see fresh mango or pineapple in the room, sliced and served by a butler!
Not so good for you are the occasional little sweeties that a hotel can provide. A chocolate on the pillow is perhaps one of those touches that looks a bit naff these days - but I still like it and the darker the better!.
Turning to the bathroom, hotels are now well aware of the importance of the right toiletries. But how many let guests pamper themselves in the bathroom? I know there's a spa downstairs but what I'd really like is to pamper myself a bit more in my room - some aromatherapy oils or a nice moisturising body rub, rather than just the usual soap, shampoo, shower gel combination. The lovely Floris toiletries which I mentioned in my review of The Stafford are a big pamper-zone for me.
Actually, come to think of it, I'd love the ability to use aromatherapy oils in the main bedroom. Though I suppose it might be difficult for housekeeping to return the room to scent-neutral in time for the next guest!
And the best luxury provided by any hotel ever? It came from that same delightful B&B with the milk jug, when I found that my bed already had an occupant - a mature ginger cat who looked up at me adoringly and chirrupped. When I mentioned him to the proprietor, alas, I found that this was not a free gift. "Cat on the bed - a pound extra!" he quipped.