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Thursday, August 14, 2008

10 things that annoy us about hotels #6 When using the bathroom is like undertaking an intelligence test

It shouldn’t be that hard. You have a cold tap? Make the colour on the tap blue. The hot tap? Make it red. Don’t put ‘C’ or ‘H’ on them, as for travellers from countries with Latin-derived languages, ‘C’ is not for cold but for caldo or caliente, which means HOT! Ouch! So why is it that lately we’ve felt like using every hotel bathroom is like being put through an intelligence test? We’ve been scolded, soaked, and clearly failed the exam. We've also failed to clearly grasp the logic of most contemporary bathroom designers, which seems to be to boldly design something that works in a way that defies conventional wisdom. Hotel bathroom designers seem to be going the way of toothpaste makers and razor companies, where there has to be a new gimmick to maintain interest in the product, which - no matter what they think - essentially performs a simple task. And as for the showers, baths and Jacuzzis themselves, nearly all the new designs we've sampled lately have managed to very successfully flood the bathroom - once you can get them running in the first place that is. We’re starting to put the bath towels on the floor to mop up the ensuing flood, and drying ourselves with the bath mats and hand towels. And don’t get us started with those hairdryers stuck to the walls...
As chic boutique hotel Villa Rosmarino at Camogli, Mount of Portofino, Italy, has some of the best-designed bathrooms (pictured) that we've road-tested recently (i.e. easy-to-use, spacious and light-filled with big sinks and big showers that don't flood),
we asked owner-managers Fulvio Zendrini and Mario Pietraccetta to respond: "A hotel is a temporary home. It's also a travelling experience. But basically a bathroom is a place where you have to wash yourself and have other intimate experiences, which you are not going to share with everybody else! So, before thinking about candles all around your bathtub, let's have the toilet flush really work and the shower be really warm and the towels be many and clean. That's the basics. Then your hotel bathroom should be (if possible) the bathroom of your dreams: well designed, comfortable, with the right light, and the right ‘atmosphere’, the Italian marble, the hi-tech devices... the bathroom you dream of having at home. But first of all... it should be your comfortable retreat!"


Anonymous said...

I love the ones where there's no wall fitting for the shower head. It just rests above the taps on a fancy holder that's clearly trying to look grand and olde worlde.

Alas, it's a guaranteed drenching for the whole room the moment you even look at the shampoo.

Oh yes... why are hotels willing to spend a fortune on largely pointless toiletries, yet too tight to fork out for a toilet brush?

Lara Dunston said...

Oh god, I thought only girls hated those stupid shower heads - aside from drenching the bathroom they make it impossible to wash your hair without sitting in the bathtub.

Now, hang on about the toiletries though... agree that they can give those generic soaps, shower washes and emery boards a miss, but I'm quite happy to pack away nice products such as L'Occitane, Etro, Bulgari, etc. But then maybe that's a girl thing too.

Loved your bug bears on MSN by the way! We're glad these things don't just bug us!

The Messy Baker said...

I thought I was the only one to have bathroom issues. We once stayed in a French hotel where the toilet and shower were in the same open-concept stall. After the first morning we learned to put the the toilet paper in the bedroom before showering.

Who thought that one up? I've had better experiences on trains.

Anonymous said...

Cheers. I could probably list 25 - 30 given the space... The sad thing is that I've gone from being happy to sleep in any old flea pit to being really narked by tiny things in otherwise gorgeous hotels within the space of about three years. The job spoils us at times.

Those shower heads are awful, though. It's the first thing I look for on a hotel inspection, which is pretty tragic.

I still like to swipe the toiletries too, though. They're perfect for taking as carry-on only for short trips a lot of the time.

Lara Dunston said...

Hi Christie - oh dear, we've had those before - especially when we were a lot younger and we were backpacking in Europe and mainly stayed in 2 stars. I remember one room in Venice that had one of those, but it also had two floor-to-ceiling windows with teensy balconies we could sit in and drink our wine in the evenings as we watched the gondolas glide by - it was heavenly - so we were very forgiving on the shower-toilet-in-one.

Hi David - we know exactly what you mean! We're exactly the same. We're so much more forgiving of budget properties but then we tear the five stars to pieces. But the thing is, the higher the price, the higher the expectations.

Terry and I think if you have a lousy experience in a $15 a night youth hostel, you've blown $15, but if you have a miserable time in a $250 a night place, then, for some people, they might have blown a week's wages or their pension. That one week's honeymoon or 50th anniversary may be completely spoiled and a tonne of money wasted because some writer hasn't stayed at the hotel and has given it rave reviews based on the website or PR gumph. We believe (like you also, it sounds) that those hotels are worth closer scrutiny than a youth hostel.

But I agree, sometimes I just feel like we're spoilt, then I have to remember myself why and what we're doing!

Tamara said...

I couldn't agree more. Here are my pet hates:
Lights - I don’t want to have to use a manual or call for help to work out how to dim the lights. I like simple on/off/dimmer switches

Wifi – make it simple to connect – if it takes longer than 1 line to explain your how I use your Wifi system you’ve over complicated it

Showers - what ever happened to the words hot and cold or blue and red to help me work out mornings more easily?

Anonymous said...

That bathroom looks quite nice