What Makes a Great Hotel?


More than 30 years ago, when I first visited China, hot tea would be served in my room the moment the hotel staff saw a silver of light underneath my room door, indicating that I have risen for the day.

Nowadays, following your wake up call, The Four Seasons in Bangkok will serve you freshly brewed coffee in your room – at no charge!

What fantastic service!

I don’t really need tea or coffee the very moment I wake up, but it’s a gesture I truly appreciate!

Indeed my needs are simple, my wants are something else.

Just give me the best money can buy.

Now, where’s what I look for in a great hotel – not in any order of priority:

LOCATION – preferably walking distance to some mall, and close to the subway. (Think Intercon, Bangkok or Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong.)

FOOD – free breakfast, 24-hour room service, free breakfast that can be enjoyed in my room – some rooms come with breakfast but the breakfast cannot be eaten in the room (and if you order room service breakfast you pay)  – and quality food in all restaurants. (In this regard, you can’t go wrong with any Shangri-La hotel. Also great: Sofitel Metropole, Hanoi. Plus any hotel with restaurants operated by world famous chefs – for example, Hong Kong’s Intercon has SPOON by Alain Ducasse.)

SERVICE – to me this means you’ll always get the type of room you want. (For me, I want a king-size bed, a room on the high floor, and away from the elevator.)

ROOM – automatic free upgrade to the next grade of room, a working desk, a comfortable reading chair with a reading lamp, a room with lights that are bright enough, enough free bottles of mineral water, separate shower stall and bath tub – I hate to shower while standing inside a bath tub and though I don’t care too much for those chocolates on the bed in the evening, they’re a nice touch. And – please don’t expect me to phone for turn-down service in the evening, turn-down service should be provided automatically. Very important: free Internet access (Shangri-La Jakarta is exemplary here – free internet 24/7 throughout the entire hotel.)

ROOM SAFE – large enough to store my laptop.

TOILETRIES – please don’t bottle dishwashing detergent and get me to pretend that it is shampoo. The Hilton in KL Sental provides Crabtree & Evelyn and The Four Seasons in Bangkok provides a full range of L’Occitane products. Nice.

TOILET BOWL – some toilets are so small wiping my fat ass becomes a problem especially Japanese hotels. And please, while I don’t need a bidet, I do need hotels to make sure that the toilet works. (At the Renaissance in Melaka, when I flushed, whatever deposited by the guest before me, returned to haunt me. Horrors!)

TV – I don’t care about in-house movies but that TV has to work. (One World Hotel in KL has a disastrous TV system. Drove me nuts.)

LAUNDRY – same-day laundry, clothes coming back smelling fresh, no extra lines made on my pants and missing buttons replaced. (Royal Cliff in Pattaya spoilt my tie.)

SPA – a clean spa please! I am sick of masseuses trying to talk me into paying them to masturbate me!

BUTLER – someone who will unpack and pack for you, an “invisible” butler who appears when needed. (The Oriental in Bangkok, pictured above,  is superb, so’ s any Ritz-Carlton. The Peninsula in Hong Kong is one of my favorites too.)

LIMOUSINE – available for hourly rental at rates that won’t give you a stroke. (The limousine ride from One World in KL to the airport is about the same price as the hotel room, doesn’t make sense.) BTW, I love The Rolls-Royces at The Peninsula and the BMs at The Oriental!

Finally, puleeze don’t ever ever show me a list itemizing the prices of the room’s inventory. That irritates me to no end and insults me, it implies I may steal the towels or the ash trays or the ironing board or the toilet bowl.

It implies that I may put the TV in my luggage and check out with it.

Similarly please don’t put a sticker on the remote control to remind me that it works only with the TV in the room.

I am not a thief.

Neither am I a retard.

Also, if I can buy an entire hotel, why would I go around stealing ash trays and remote controls?

So you see, my needs are simple, my wants are not.

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