It's getting round to Christmas once more. And I just know that I'm going to be writing that letter again - the one that contains the phrase "just what I've always wanted" and thanks mother/auntie/my useless best friend for the knitted cardigan with three arms and no hole for your head / size twenty plastic raincoat / strange LED gadget that does something very interesting no doubt but has no instructions or batteries that you've put under my Christmas tree (delete as applicable).
Hotels can be equally infuriating. They give us things we really don't want or need and we're expected to be grateful for them. On the other hand they'll sometimes skimp on the little luxuries (and free WiFi) that we do definitely want. I'm afraid I feel a bit of a rant coming on...
These are the hotel items I'd like to send to Room 101:
Shoe shine - To anyone who wears trainers, suede shoes, or sneakers - and that's an increasing number of us these days - hotel shoe shine kits are completely useless. In fact even when I'm wearing leather shoes, I've never got a good shine on them with the sad piece of impregnated paper or floppy sponge that most hotels give you!
The little paper folders that fit round key cards - Why do I have to have one of those? OK, so you wrote my hotel room number on it. But why not just give me a separate slip of paper with it on or send it to my mobile? Why give me this wretched little folder out of which I will probably manage to lose the key card at some point, or which I will leave behind and then forget my room number? (I recently cleaned out my handbag and had six of these wretched things in it!)
Paper doilies under everything - A glass - a paper doily. A bottle - a paper doily. Soap - a paper doily. It's like the Victorians with their anti-massacrer, it's a sort of hotel obsession. And the paper doilies are always horrid, mass produced, lowest common denominator trash - they never have any style. Worst of all, the drink that comes with a paper doily slotted on to the stem of the glass. Those always make me feel like a baby with a bib - not trusted to drink a cocktail without it, because you know I'll only slop it all over my clothes. And it makes me mad that someone killed a tree just to annoy me with these paper doilies!
Bedtime chocolates - Actually, I love bedtime choccies... but really it's kind of silly. Some people don't eat chocolate (hard to imagine, I know); for some of us, the extra calories are unwelcome. And when you hit the sack after a long day and a few beers, it's easy to miss the chocolate until you wake up with sticky brown stuff all over your face. Yuk!
Too many cushions on the bed - I know it's the in thing, but I do wonder why so many hotels provide loads of extra pillows which all have to be taken off the bed and hidden away in a cupboard come bedtime. If they're not any use, why put them there? Is it just to give the chambermaids something to do?
Luggage racks - I usually travel light and often with a backpack which never fits a luggage rack, but I always thought other people found them useful. Apparently not; a friend who always travels with two large-ish cases (she's a musician; one is for her fiddle) says they never fit the luggage rack either - or if they do, they keep falling off it. I know the idea is to save space, but these folding luggage racks just don't work!
Wrapped glasses in the bathroom - If I've booked a room in a 4 or 5 star hotel, I trust them to keep the rooms clean. That includes changing the bed linen, the soap and the glasses. I don't need them to come in plastic wrap! Particularly if I want to drink water at some unearthly hour of the morning and don't want to have to work out (with my PhD in Modern Packaging Technique) how to get the wretched stuff off!
An ironing board - This may raise hackles with some of the business travel community, but I don't see the point of an ironing board. Travel with drip-dry and non-crease fabrics if you're smart, or use the hotel laundry, or use steam in the bathroom to get your clothes to hang right again. But ironing? No way!
Decaff coffee - Okay, this is simply a personal hate. But I still don't see the point of coffee that's got no caffeine in it...
What's the one thing a hotel room has to have? For me, it's a good bed (refer to my post on the comfiest hotel beds). And that's pretty much it! I've slept in the open air on the top floor of a Moroccan hotel, so can even dispense with walls - but the bed has to be properly comfortable.
I'd rather skip all those unwanted extras and get a higher quality of Zs!