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10 things every luxury hotel room should have

It never ceases to amaze me when I check into a higher-end hotel room, and some of the most basic, practical things are noticeably absent. I’m sure everyone can relate to the problem of running around turning on every single lamp, because there isn’t a single overhead light to be found- but that’s just the beginning! With that in mind, here are the top 10 things every luxury hotel room should have. Outlets by the bed Given that just about every person on the planet is glued to their smartphone these days, it’s frustrating to have to plug the charger into the bathroom outlet because there isn’t one anywhere near the bed. I also can’t count the number of times I’ve had to pull out pieces of furniture and unplug things like the clock or a lamp in search of an available outlet! Storage It’s funny that a place designed to host travellers — aka people with large, cumbersome bags — would make it so inconvenient to actually put your stuff away. I mean, how annoying are those hangers that don’t actually come off the clothes rack? While I don’t normally gawk at having to shove my suitcase into a corner, it’s frustrating to find a complete lack of storage space in the bathroom. The last thing I want to do is put my toiletries bag on the dirty tile floor. Storage Lots of towels Maybe I’m a bit of a diva when it comes to this, but I like to have the option of using more than one towel during the duration of my stay. Would it kill them to throw an extra couple in there once in a while, so I’m not forced to reuse a wet one that refuses to dry in the humidity? Towels Blackout curtains People book hotel rooms for a place to sleep. Please make that possible, by installing blackout curtains to block out the bright city lights — and noise! Wi-Fi How is paying for internet access still a thing? I can’t stand spending hundreds of dollars on a hotel room, then finding out I have to pay an extra $20 PER DAY just to check my email. Considering the number of people who need constant access to the internet for work reasons, charging people for wi-fi is a full on money grab in my opinion. Strangely enough, this seems to be a common practice in fancier hotels compared with smaller operations like bed and breakfasts or hostels…what gives? WiFi Robes OK, I admit this is a little luxury, but I love the feeling of putting on a plush robe after a shower. In my books, any hotel that includes a robe in the closet is highly recommended! Robes Water Charging $3 for a bottle of water is just cruel. When you consider that it costs the hotel about 25 cents, there is no reason there shouldn’t be one or two waiting on your bedside table. This is especially important in places where the water isn’t safe to drink out of the tap. Water Privacy I recently stayed in a beautiful, modern hotel, but was shocked to find a very strange design choice: a window into the bathroom! I understand Europeans are a little more liberal than us North Americans so this is more of a common thing over there, but I feel like every hotel room should have somewhere private to retreat to—especially when it comes to doing your business! Privacy A safety deposit box No one wants to be caught in some foreign country without their passport, which is why the availability of a safety deposit box is so important. Regardless of how much they trust their staff, all hotel rooms should include one of these to give their guests peace of mind. Oh, and make sure they’re bolted down! Security box A hair dryer As a gal who has recently mastered the art of packing light—i.e. trekking around South America with only a carry-on bag—I try to avoid bringing bulky, heavy items like a hair dryer. While many hotels provide them, some still make you trek down to the lobby to borrow one, which isn’t much fun with soaking wet hair! Also, it would be lovely if they’d invest in actual hair dryers, and not the crappy ones attached to the wall that like to suck my long locks into the motor. Images: Shutterstock

Tamara Elliott

Tamara Elliott is a Canadian journalist and the founder of the website GlobeGuide.ca which offers savvy, practical advice for exploring destinations around the world. You can find her on Twitter at @Globe_Guide.

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  1. Nice list, made me laugh. I think that the worst is no plugs close to bed, or just one in the entire room (we need to plug the phone, laptop, tablet, camera batteries!)… charging for wifi is ridiculous.

  2. Just one note: being European, for me NOT HAVING a window in the bathroom is a very bad thing. I was in a 5 star hotel in Thailand which also had the fantastic invention of the bidet :)

    Having a window in the bathroom doesnt mean you dont have privacy… there are curtains for that. Not to mention that is also a way to get rid of humidity much faster. I HATE bathrooms without a window…

  3. For me, the worst is charging for WiFi. I can perhaps understand it if the charge is for an ultra-fast, super-deluxe connection, but I think there should always be the option for a free, standard WiFi connection for anyone paying the rates required to stay in a luxury hotel. It should be factored into the price and taken as a given in this day and age. And by that I mean in-room access… it’s not enough to say you can get it for free if you go to the foyer or the business centre!

  4. Clelia, what is the point of having a window in the bathroom? Just curious. I am tired of paying top dollar, only to have to pay a resort fee. They say it includes fitness center, water bottles in room, and wifi. Shouldn’t those come with the room?

  5. Alexandra, charging for wi-fi really does seem like nothing more than a money grab at this point, especially when tiny bed and breakfasts in the middle of Bolivia seem to find a way to offer it for free!
    Jean, am I just getting more picky…or do the hair dryers seem to be getting worse? Can’t they just throw a normal one in each room?

  6. I agree on everything but the towels. Whilst a couple of big towels and a couple of small ones are definitely needed for two people, the more we use, the more the environment suffers. Any good hotel will have a hot rack to put your towel on to dry and if for some reason not, then it will quite likely dry overnight. No need to provide 5 towels only to have to clean them all. Do you really need more than 1 towel for an overnight stay? If so, I wonder what the size of your washing looks like if using one towel per evening!

  7. I agree that it is unreasonable that you have to pay for wifi. Sandals resorts do not give access to wifi unless you pay for it or upgrade your room to one that is club level or higher. Silly in this day that wifi is not free to everyone in a 5* hotel when you can go to a beach bar and get it free!

  8. I would add an iron and ironing board. I travel for business and want to look smart after a night in the hotel. No matter how well I pack my shirts always have some creases so an iron helps to make me feel on top form.

  9. Since people who travel come from afar, would it niot reasonable to have electric converters available upon check in. They know where you came from after all.

  10. Totally agree on all of these, particularly the water. I get uber frustrated about that, particularly when I am in a city where you just can’t drink the local water. And, if I go through the first two tiny bottles they provide when they make up the room, I expect a replenishment at turn down service. Is that too much to ask? Great write up!

  11. Great article Paul.
    I too had the Wifi question, but come to find out that its actually very expensive to provide Wifi in a hotel environment. The clientele at the luxury hotels are quite different and a lot more demanding.
    This is reliable Wifi, not the bit that goes out if 10 people log on at the same time :-).

    Also, if you want amenities such as free wifi and breakfast for example, just join the Loyalty programs for the hotel and earn the elite status. I guarantee you that once you get the perks you won’t want to stay at any other hotel after that.

  12. Unless it’s business travel…Try staying at smaller, boutique hotels – I’ve had none of the mentioned problems plus it is often a more authentic experience, boosts the local economy and if there are any minor setbacks, I find that they resolve them more aptly than the big name luxury places. And I’ve stayed at such quainter places all over the globe, always free water, wifi, changing of towels even of I don’t throw my used ones on the floor, hair dryer.. It is just an overall more pleasant experience.
    Happy travels!

  13. Just realized this is a “luxury travel” blog. Never mind my comments, my type of travel is a bit different, yet great and fulfilling (though I have no trouble finding many of the items mentioned on the list at the little places I have stayed). But by no means luxury! :)

  14. Hi Kerwin… I don’t doubt that there’s significant investment required to ensure a reliable internet connection in a luxury hotel – and of course, any luxury hotel is going to want that reliability. There will also be significant ongoing costs for bandwidth (bearing in mind we all tend to have multiple devices these days, too) and maintenance.

    But I think the hotels are much better off adding $20 (or whatever) to the room rate than irritating their guests by charging a $20 a night fee for WiFi. It amounts to the same thing but leaves a very different impression and, in a world of online reviews, etc., I think it’s far more prudent on the part of the hotel to cover the costs this way.

    And by all means charge a premium rate for a super-deluxe connection. I don’t think people have a problem with that necessarily if they’re wanting to do something that’s particularly bandwidth hungry.

  15. Further to that last point about cost of WiFi installation, etc…

    Hotels don’t charge for hot water to come out of the shower, even though there’s a cost associated with implementing all of that.

    Hotels don’t charge you for your keycard, even though they might have gone to significant expense with the installation of all of that. Or for the security box in your room (usually, there can be exceptions there, I know!).

    Personally, I don’t really see WiFi as any different really.

  16. Love your list Paul. You have most of my favourite gripes here. Would also add showers that require a manual to get the right water temperature and a decent flow of water. On a recent trip to the United States our worst shower was in our poshest hotel – in Las Vegas. Not to mention the awful pillows we got on the bed. Like sleeping on bricks.

  17. I agree with all of these but would also add – Please have an additional mirror with an outlet nearby so that I can get ready while my husband is showering. Huge pet peeve of mine that they don’t consider there are 2 people that are getting ready at the same time and have to share the one mirror and one outlet available.

  18. Clelia, I think the list refers to a window from the main room into the bathroom, not a window to the outside. I have stayed in numerous hotels in Europe that sport this or a similar feature: an entire frosted glass wall between the sleeping area and the bathroom. If the lights are on in the bathroom, my shower becomes a silhouette show for my travel mates!

  19. Rebecca, for me it’s much better having a window as I can open it when I finish my business and the air can change naturally, it’s refreshing and keeps away the humidity.

    It’s probably very European but for me is a must!

  20. Nice list, I stay in hotels over 200 nights per year, this list wraps it up nicely, I would also add a refrigerator, I like to make coffee with proper milk rather than the powdered chemicals they supply so a fridge for the cold stuff, you’re right about the more expensive, the less they give, just stayed Conrad NYC, fridge stashed to the brim with their stuff, Tin of Coke $8 ++, but if you take their stuff out, $25 ++ re-stocking fee

  21. Great list! I can’t stand when hotels charge for wifi. Seriously, Cheap hostel have it available free of charge, why can’t luxury hotels do the same? When you pay for a luxury experience, comforts like wifi should be at your disposal.

  22. I think this list is very reasonable. Personally, I’m a bit more demanding :) I think every luxury hotel room should also be equipped with an electric tea kettle, rain shower and amazing bathtub.

  23. I really like your list,free Wifi is a good point,but better high speed internet connection. Luxury hotels are also supposed to provide a nonchargable breakfast delivery to the room and no time limits for breakfast.

  24. The wi-fi thing still gets my goat…how is the world is this still a separate charge in a lot of places. I’m sure this fee can be nicely tucked away somewhere.

  25. Great list. Perfect! Includes almost everything that is important to me. The only thing I would add is quiet/soundproof doors/rooms. I am not a great sleeper, and things like blackout drapes are essential to me and one of the first things I look for when I enter a room. But when the doors are not soundproof (tight-closing with a rubber seal), you can hear every person that walks by in the hall. Likewise, paper-thin walls are useless.

    And continuing in the area of sleep, many luxury hotels are now featuring a “pillow offering.” Recognizing that many people are allergic to down feathers, for example, other choices include pillows made of non-allergic materials. Another option is an orthopedic pillow. The Intercontinental Hotel in Prague has a pillow list on the bedside table, and you can call and have delivered to your room as many of your desired pillow type as you like.

  26. I think we are doing very well in India with this list. Most luxe hotels here will definitely have most of this in their rooms if not more.

  27. Totally agree with the Wifi – I don’t really care how much it costs to provide, it’s a standard for all luxury travellers these days and should be built into the price. I also agree with the outlets by the bed – I’m tired of going without a bedside light so that I can charge my phone!

  28. I agree with you on everything except for the towels: we should all opt for more sustainable options. The more towels we change, the more pollution we create. Re-using towels is a good habit for a few-day stay; moreover, hotels are usually over-heated and towels would dry in the twinkling of an eye!

  29. I agree with the list. Especially the robe part. Oh, and slippers please:)
    Black out shades are also my favorite

  30. I agree with this list completely. Clelia, the writer is definitely not referring to bathroom windows to the outside, but rather the ones which expose the bathroom to the rest of the hotel room, internal frosted glass or louvered windows. It seems to be a design thing lately. As for the Wi-Fi being costly to install, well it certainly is but once it’s installed that’s it. The hotel recoups the costs within the first year easily. There is no reason other than for sheer profit for a hotel to continue to charge high rates for Wi-Fi. Yes of course there’s maintenance and such but certainly not enough to continue to justify the guest being charged forever.

  31. I have a small boutique hotel here in Costa Rica and we have always provided free wifi but we do charge for breakfasts. I have been seeing a trend where some of the higher end properties are charging for WiFi and an even newer trend of charging a resort fee. In this day and age where the customer always wants more for less , we in the industry have to have a break even point and that is becoming a very tight margin these days , at least in Costa Rica with inflation on basic utilitiews the way it is right now . I had considered adding a resort fee (not more than $25.00) that would include free wifi, 2 free breakfasts,2 welcome drinks, and special drink tickets for the bar ie all day 2 for 1 specials. Now that its been mentioned cold water in the room on arrival and robes sounds good too. Would I be shooting myself in the foot or would this be attractive to most. I just want to add we have not been able to raise our rates for 2 years. Several reasons for that but mostly due the the competative influenses of the large booking engines

  32. Gary Rogers, it sounds like your resort fee would actually include a lot of stuff, so I say go for it! I once had to pay a resort fee in Las Vegas, despite the hotel’s pool and attractions being shut down for the season. Frustrating to say the least!

  33. Great article. Towels, hairdryer, wifi, ironing board and all the other listed above are the modern day necessities not luxury. I would rather stay in a small boutique hotel which takes care of these things rather than staying in a luxury hotel chain.

    I also expect the hotel to go an extra mile and provide women only floors. Since there is a big number of professional women travelling alone, it is important to feel safe in any foreign country.

    I know ITC hotels in India have it in their properties. I stayed in their Bangalore one and was pleasantly surprised to be escorted to the women only floor.

  34. What about a coffee machine in the room. I stayed at a brand new Shangrila recently and was surprised to see the usual instant coffee and kettle, powdered milk! Yuk,

    I travel a lot and all 5 star hotels are now adding a Nespresso Machine or at least a Coffee Plunger with real milk in the minibar.

    I love Shangrila, but they need to polish up this aspect. .

  35. Facewashers! I love them but always carry one with me because not every hotel provides them. And soap. Bars not shower gel.

  36. Slippers, q-tips and unscented toiletries are also on my list. One interesting thing I have noticed recently is that many hotels have a list of items that you can have requested to be brought up but they’re just no longer standard in the room. I’ve seen everything from robes and slippers two yoga mats and hand weights on these lists which is kind of cool :)

  37. This is an excellent list. It often seems that the more expensive the hotel, the more likely they are to charge for wifi – why? Especially when the charge is per device not even per room. We also stayed in a hotel in Singapore where they charged $6 for a small bottle of water – appalling.

    A recent trip around South America revealed exactly annoying the hairdryers attached to the wall are with barely a warm huff coming out of them and a button that as to be pressed the entire time. I think all hotel owners should be forced to stay in a number of places to understand exactly what is needed in a room.

    Another annoyance is a lack of decent lighting in the room. It might make the room look attractive but having to wear my Petzl head torch in bed to read is really not a good look!

    I often find the smaller B&Bs or independent hotels are far better.

  38. I agree, especially with water in the room. We just returned from Vietnam and every hotel we stayed in offered 2 small bottles of water free in the room each day. Wi-fi is a no brainer these days as well!

  39. So true. I would add that I do not understand why in double rooms there is always only one suitcase rack. This non-sense oblige one occupant to break his back during the whole stay.

  40. Great list. The lack of these items in luxury hotel rooms always irks me too. I just want to add one more thing – a pair of comfy slippers to use in the room after taking your high heels off.

  41. I love to have a robe (that fits!) in a hotel room. Often we will have been travelling a long while and be tired, so will prefer room service… it means you can’t strip off and relax if you can’t answer the door with a robe to cover your modesty! Same applies with breakfast in the room; do I have to fully dress to answer the door? Defeats the object.
    And yes; paying for wifi is hateful. Power sockets by the bed need to be mandatory! I’m also a fan of pay per view tv to watch a movie… if you haven’t got that facility, hoteliers, lend me a DVD or something!

  42. This information is a point of view, I was expecting to have real TIPS and not points that regular guests wanted to get in their stay.

  43. I am surprised to read this, we are 1 star guesthouse in developing city, Kumasi and we checked almost all list. With exception of occasionally unstable wifi / network

  44. I agree with the list! and I would include a window that opens whether in the bathroom or otherwise. Also a tub vs. shower only.

  45. Can anyone tell me why almost no hotel provides toothpaste in the bathroom. Most provide hair shampoo and people often have specific requirements here to suit their hair type. Why no toothpaste?

  46. Hey! I’m a bit of a diva when it comes to this, but I like to have the option of using more than one towel during the duration of my stay.

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