Good Hospitality: Sleep 2013

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Thanks to everyone who joined us last week for Sleep 2013! Over 2 days, more than 3,500 hotel industry professionals made their way to London’s Business Design Centre for what we’re proud to call Europe’s favourite and longest-running hotel event. … Continue reading

The Latest Design Trends According to Interface Hospitality

Thank you to Hannah Harper, European Concept Designer at Interface Hospitality, for today’s guest post. Interface Hospitality specialises in floor coverings for guest rooms, corridors and public spaces – and they’ve got their finger on the pulse when it comes to the trends shaping contemporary hotel interiors.

Internationally acclaimed Dutch designer Marcel Wanders has been described by the New York Times as the “Lady Gaga of the design world”. If you step inside the Andaz hotel in Amsterdam, one of his recent creations, it is easy to see why. The hotel has been described both as outlandish and quintessentially Dutch, with the rich history of the Netherlands evident in the hotel’s features – from the Delft blue carpet to the tulip-inspired chairs.

The lobby of the Andaz Hotel, Amsterdam

The lobby of the Andaz Hotel, Amsterdam


However, far from being ‘way out’, many of the characteristics of the Andaz are fairly typical of some of the key trends we are seeing across the board in the hospitality sector, from youth hostels to luxury retreats.

Location, location, location

Hotels are striving to become part of their local community, to reflect where they are on the map and become places that appeal to locals looking for a place to meet for drinks as much as to travellers from further afield. Whereas previously hotel chains might have had uniform properties across the globe, the trend now is to provide local variations on the brand.

The power of the individual

There is a growing tendency for hotels to provide quirky, individual spaces. It’s not so much about creating a “home away from home”; more about creating a special, unique experience that takes guests away from the daily grind of modern day life.

Modular flooring gives hotels the creative freedom to design unique spaces

Modular flooring gives hotels the creative freedom to design unique spaces


Interface’s newly launched Net Effect flooring combines with Monochrome tiles in berry shades to spectacular effect

Interface’s newly launched Net Effect flooring combines with Monochrome tiles in berry shades to spectacular effect


Other trends that are taking hold in hospitality interiors include:

One space, many uses

Hotels are featuring flexible, multi-purpose spaces. In place of a dedicated reception desk you might find a lounge area where guests can relax when they arrive, and someone will check them in using a iPad. It’s a flexible and fluid set-up, geared up for locals and off-the-street business as well as for overnight guests.

Back to basics

Another key trend is for hotels to reflect the fabric of the building in which they are located. Think exposed brick work and a pared down, Nordic feel. Acoustics play an important role, helping create calming, restful spaces where guests can relax and recharge their batteries.

Back to nature

In the compact living spaces of modern cities, people are increasingly searching for a link to the natural world. Hotels are tapping into this growing trend, applying the principles of so-called biophilic design which seeks to incorporate natural elements into the built environment.

Interface’s Urban Retreat flooring in nature-inspired hues of sage and moss helps brings the outdoors indoors

Interface’s Urban Retreat flooring in nature-inspired hues of sage and moss helps brings the outdoors indoors


Supporting these various interior design trends is a colour palette of neutrals with flashes of colour. We are seeing lots of natural neutrals, warm greys with black and pops of colour – such as pink and mustard. Accessories provide a low-cost way for hotels to incorporate these accent colours. Modular flooring is another practical solution and offers hotels the flexibility to add coloured tiles to a neutral backdrop for a fast and inexpensive design refresh.

Visit Interface Hospitality at The Sleep Event on stand 11

Making A Landmark: The Great Northern

Six years in the making, London’s Great Northern Hotel opened to much fanfare earlier this year and is proving a hit with locals and travellers alike. Jeremy Robson, the owner operator behind this anticipated arrival on the London hotel scene, tells us the story.

When we catch up with Jeremy Robson on a mid-week morning, he is full of exuberance and enthusiasm at how his latest project is faring. “We had 400 people through our bar last night; 120 covers in the restaurant,” he says proudly. The buzz around the Great Northern hasn’t stopped since its rebirth in April this year. Once a Victorian railway hotel, 150 years and £42 million later it’s a boutique landmark that’s managed to scoop up a host of interior and hospitality awards in the 7 months since its doors reopened.

The Great Northern Hotel, Kings Cross, London

The Great Northern Hotel, Kings Cross, London

It’s been a long journey for the Great Northern Hotel’s owner operator Robson – who once studied architecture but switched to surveying, investment and finance, and calls himself a “classically trained real estate investment surveyor”. When the opportunity to develop a hotel on the site came up in 2007, the credit crunch had taken hold. Finding funding for a project of this scope was difficult. Furthermore, although Kings Cross “had all the components for a successful location to invest in,” Robson says, “a lot of people didn’t buy into the vision that this location could sustain a boutique hotel. It would have been much easier, given market conditions, to build a 3 star hotel.”  

Robson persevered, believing that the site’s strategic location at one of the busiest transport hubs in Europe would have made a 3 star offering a wasted opportunity. “Commercially it would have worked, but I don’t think it would have worked in terms of where Kings Cross is going with the high quality of discerning travellers and local people it attracts,” Robson says. Instead, the hotel is a 5 star boutique offering with what Robson describes as “a feeling of glamour and elegance, but not edgy or trendy. It has to be fresh, to have a sense of modernity, but also a deep quality and timeless elegance.”

Guest room at the Great Northern Hotel. Guests have access to "the fastest wifi of any hotel in Europe" as well as a comprehensive in-house entertainment package and other freebies, including newspapers, coffee and homemade carrot cake.

Guest room at the Great Northern Hotel. Guests have access to “the fastest wifi of any hotel in Europe” as well as a comprehensive in-house entertainment package and other freebies, including newspapers, coffee and homemade carrot cake.

The Great Northern Hotel is in fact four businesses in one. There’s the hotel itself; its GNH Bar; its destination restaurant, the Plum and Spilt Milk; and finally Kiosk, a sandwich and coffee outlet accessible from the Kings Cross station concourse. It’s a clever way of reaching out to the largest possible number of people, from commuters grabbing food to go, to travellers staying in London, to locals eager to experience the restaurant or bar. 95% of the GNH bar’s revenue comes from non-hotel residents, Robson says, and revenue from Kiosk is the equivalent of 8 hotel rooms’ worth. Tying these offerings together is what he calls “a shared DNA, but all with distinct moods and feels. I’ve tried to create a landmark in London that is reliable and of consistently high quality.”

The Plum + Spilt Milk at the Great Northern Hotel

The Plum + Spilt Milk at the Great Northern Hotel

This integration and shared vision is key to the project, and one of the most important features of a good hotel, Robson says. “A sense of integration of a hotel’s parts and constituent offers is vital, so that people understand what it’s trying to be and delivering on those aims,” Robson says. “A lot of people try these things; big brands try to be boutiques, and it’s not cohesive – it’s a scheme thought up in a marketing office. There has to be clarity in what the vision is.”

The Plum + Spilt Milk at the Great Northern Hotel

The Plum + Spilt Milk at the Great Northern Hotel

Jeremy Robson

Jeremy Robson

Hear more from Jeremy Robson at the Sleep conference on Thursday 21 November as he joins Stirling Johnstone, Dennis Irvine and Una Barac for ‘Out With the Old, In With the New’ – a session exploring the opportunities afforded by hotel refurbishment. Find out more on the Sleep website.

Lighten Up!

Ahead of his appearance at Sleep discussing contemporary lighting in hospitality interiors, we caught up with Paul Nulty about his latest project, a revamped lighting scheme for a Clerkenwell hangout.

It’s amazing what difference a considered lighting scheme can make to a project. Until recently, Clerkenwell’s Workshop cafe was a pleasant locale let down by its lighting. On a bright day, the interior looked gloomy and unwelcoming from the outside; in the evenings, it looked harsh and bright rather than cosy and atmospheric.

The team at Paul Nulty Lighting Design was brought on board to “redress the balance” through flexible lighting that would enhance the interior elements of the space and create a lively appearance from the outside. “The brief was to keep hold of existing fixtures as much as possible,” says Paul Nulty, Head of Practice at Paul Nulty Lighting Design. Reclaimed light fittings – many from the original fitout – were chosen to complement the industrial feel of the interior; their exposed lamps, visible in daylight, add to the rawness of the space whilst creating a brighter appearance from the exterior. “The space is more permeable now; you can see it from the outside. Your eye is drawn into the space,” Nulty says.

Workshop, with lighting scheme by Paul Nulty Design

Workshop, with lighting scheme by Paul Nulty Lighting Design

An important element of the new scheme was a control system, implemented to enable the cafe’s transition from bright daytime cafe to cosy evening bar. Given the project’s limited budget, a control system was a way of lending flexibility to the interior whilst providing an easy, sustainable solution.


Workshop, with lighting scheme by Paul Nulty Lighting Design

The trick to good lighting design, Nulty says, is for it to create an experience without drawing attention to itself. “I don’t want to walk into a space and think, ‘the lighting looks great’,” Nulty explains. “Anyone whose lighting is so overt that people will notice it, has failed. It should be about someone thinking the space looks amazing. Design, lighting and space should go hand in hand – it’s really all about collaborative working and collaborative design. That’s what makes a successful space; people will go in and enjoy the experience of the space and are likely to dwell more.”

Workshop, with lighting scheme by Paul Nulty Lighting Design

Workshop, with lighting scheme by Paul Nulty Lighting Design

Of course in the hospitality industry this desire to dwell, and subsequently to spend, should be paramount – which means hoteliers and restaurateurs can’t afford not to invest in good lighting. Although many do understand the importance of what good lighting can do – Nulty cites the W Hotel on Leicester Square, the Corinthia Hotel and the Bulgari Hotel as some of his favourite recent examples of quality lighting in hospitality – there are many who neglect lighting in their projects.

“There are some horrific hotels,” Nulty says. “Why are so many jumping on the LED bandwagon? It’s not a panacea; the fixtures don’t make the space, it’s the composition. In the UK [especially] we pride ourselves on being a leading nation as far as design goes, so we don’t have an excuse for turning out bad projects. Because you can employ the right consultant and spend less money for a better quality space. It’s important to ask why people aren’t investing more in good design. Good design should be accessible.”

Paul Nulty

Paul Nulty

Discover more about the transformative effect of lighting in hospitality environments at the Let There Be Light seminar at the Sleep conference on Wednesday 20 November. Paul Nulty will join Kevin Theobald, Johannes Torpe and Paul Traynor live on stage for a lively and enlightening discussion! 

Defining the Brand

Anna Goodrich of Hyatt International is changing the way the hotel is perceived and strengthening its brand in the eyes of its consumers. Sleep finds out more.  

“If you think of the iconic brands of the world – which hotel brand could go against any of these high tech companies?” asks Anna Goodrich, VP of product and brand design for Hyatt International’s EMEA and South West Asia territories. “Hospitality as an industry doesn’t have the same brand impact that there is in other industries. There isn’t a hotel brand that people know and recognise.”

Goodrich and her team are “putting hospitality on the map in a branding capacity,” responding to how Hyatt is currently perceived and how it can be better placed in people’s minds. The power of brands has never been more important in attracting and retaining customers; companies like Google, Apple, Facebook et al. have shown how strong brands can appeal emotionally to consumers. Hotels, Goodrich says, should aim for a similar impact, asking questions such as, “Where do we sit as a brand? How, as an industry, do we bring forward a stronger position? On a global level, how do you walk into the second tier cities of the world and have them know you?”

Changes in recent years have been significant, with “brands becoming more refined,” Goodrich explains. “They’re more forward-thinking. There’s more clarity and transparency.” At Hyatt, detailed analytics and research into the guest experience are providing valuable insight into what consumers need and how the brand can respond to this. One of the most important insights, says Goodrich, is simply that “one size no longer fits all.”

“The demographic of traveller is so varied; everyone wants something different. The standardisation concept is gone,” Goodrich explains. The stereotype of where the business traveller might stay, or lifestyle hotels appealing only to young people, are a thing of the past. “[There’s] a spectrum of people that want the same experience, but the delivery of that experience is different,” she says. “Everyone wants to feel welcomed, but what does this welcome mean to a solo traveller vs. a couple? What does this mean for the guest in India vs. Russia vs. Saudi Arabia?”

Anna Goodrich, Vice President - Product & Brand Design, EMEA and South West Asia, Hyatt

Anna Goodrich, Vice President – Product & Brand Design, Hyatt EMEA and South West Asia

Find out more about Hyatt’s research into the guest experience and the power of the hotel brand with Anna Goodrich as she joins a line-up of industry experts at the Question Time! session at Sleep on Thursday 21 November. This is your chance to pose questions to Goodrich, Alison Lindsay, Brad Wilson, Charles Leon, Dexter Moren and Maria VafiadisVisit the Sleep site for more info on the session and how to register.

In Conversation: Jean-Michel Wilmotte

Heading up one of the world’s most influential contemporary practices, architect, designer and urbanist Jean-Michel Wilmotte has a portfolio spanning numerous continents and industry sectors – from hospitality to high-end residential to museums and cultural landmarks. Sleep caught up with Wilmotte to discover his inspiration and secrets to lasting design.

Jean-Michel Wilmotte

Jean-Michel Wilmotte

How has your approach to design changed since you began your career?

My approach has always remained the same: rigorous lines, attention to detail, always looking for crisp materials. Time has given me the necessary experience to appreciate the value of quality as such. I developed my career from design and interior design to architectural design, therefore when I conceive an object, a piece of furniture, a space or a building, my approach is always the same, based on the same values, which are based on my commitment to quality and attention to detail and my will to simplify, purify towards the essential elements.

You work across many different continents and building sectors. Is there a common theme or motif that ties your work together?

Firstly, I only develop projects that are interesting for me and I tackle all of them with conviction and passion. I follow a script of coherence in that respect.

La Réverve hotel-spa, Ramatuelle, France

La Réverve hotel-spa, Ramatuelle, France

Much of your work involves converting existing buildings and giving them new life. Do you think the design and construction industry is sufficiently committed to restoration, or is there too much focus on new build?

Indeed, the rehabilitation of historic buildings is never a simple task. Rehabilitation of an existing building to give it a new life and function sometimes requires considerable resources and a commitment at program and brief stage. It is always easier to create from scratch a new project; however, I am passionate about historic heritage and also about contemporary inserting and grafting. I believe there is nothing more fantastic than the dialogue between a contemporary intervention, that integrates itself, with a strong and rich existing construction which often carries a glorious past.

The idea of giving a new life to an abandoned or degraded structure is a formidable adventure, from the start. This approach is very rewarding, both on a creative level and on an intellectual level. This approach is the meaning and purpose of my Foundation, headquartered in Venice (already a whole project statement in itself), whose mission is to give a flavour to young architects to what contemporary graft is. I am also particularly pleased each year to see the growing popularity of this discipline and the high quality achieved on these projects, in terms of design talent and expression.

Mandarin Oriental, Paris, France

Mandarin Oriental, Paris, France

What do you think is the secret to timeless design and creating a design that has longevity?

The first big secret is not to succumb to the fashions of the time, and to express deep convictions when designing. At the same time, the design needs to enrol in its time to be reflective and understood by the “markers” of the time. What is more, respect to the project, its mission and goals are important. Finally, there is the integration element; the object created must be inscribed as a whole within its context. The element out of context is excluded, of course.

La Réverve hotel-spa, Ramatuelle, France

La Réverve hotel-spa, Ramatuelle, France

What 3 words best describe your design style?

Detail, material, volume.

You work all around the world – but what has been your favourite place to design for recently? 

I feel good everywhere. I am a citizen of the world; I have an attraction for Russia and Italy, but it is the project which makes the difference, and it could be anywhere in the world. Wherever the project is, my  job is to convey all the strengths and harmonies of the project, integrating them into its cultural and historical context.

Novotel, Monaco by Wilmotte & Associés

Novotel, Monaco by Wilmotte & Associés

Do you have a dream project you’d like to work on?

A contemporary farm house, with shiny tractors on display and classic music in comfortable stables, and also a nursery with colour coding for plants.

See Jean-Michel Wilmotte at the Sleep conference on Wednesday 20 November as he shares his concepts and inspirations as part of the Rapid Eye Movement session. Visit the website for full session details and to register for the Sleep Event as a visitor. 

Wilmotte & Associés S.A 

More Power Please!

When Sleep conducted a poll recently for hotel guests’ biggest bugbears, an overwhelming number of respondents complained about badly positioned or insufficient power sockets in guest rooms. The team at design company Punkt. has a solution for this universal hotel faux pas. Marcia Caines tells us more.

ES 01 Extension Socket by Punkt.

ES 01 Extension Socket by Punkt.


People’s lives are becoming increasingly reliant on power with the use of battery operated personal devices that require juice top ups quite regularly to function. No one knows this better than the experienced traveller. With the average overnight bag carrying more power adapters than outfits one of the first things on the agenda after check-in is to find a free socket!  Alas, easier said than done.

Despite the growing need for multiple and accessible plug sockets it is easier than you think to get wound up by hotel power supplies. For example, both your digital camera and your phone are dead, which do you choose to charge? Do you unplug the TV and watch a movie or power your mobile instead? Who gets to power up first, you or your roommate?

At Punkt. we’ve found a clever solution to your power-craving blues: the ES 01 Extension Socket. There’s no need to hide the good-looking ES 01, so you can plug devices in a clean design feature while keeping them within reach. Inside the ES 01 there are five sockets which are positioned to accommodate power supplies that normally cover two or three sockets, enabling you to power plugs and AC adapters of different shapes and sizes. All cables and plugs converge neatly in the ES 01 Extension Socket, tucked away under its sleek rounded lid. Moreover the single power switch on top of the ES 01 means simultaneous on/off operation of all the devices plugged in, making energy saving simple.

ES 01 Extension Socket by Punkt.

ES 01 Extension Socket by Punkt.

ES 01 Extension Socket by Punkt.

ES 01 Extension Socket by Punkt.

The Punkt. ES 01 is finally a solution to the cable clutter that plagues modern lifestyles and makes a mess of interiors. Come and see it showcased at Sleep, where Punkt. will debut in the Newcomers’ Gallery.

To arrange an appointment with Punkt. during Sleep please contact Lorenzo Sorbi or +41 76 325 94 59

The Shipping News

The trend for all things pop-up makes its way into the world of hotels with a sustainable new hospitality concept. Thanks to George Sell, editor, Boutique Hotel News for this guest post.

The importance of sustainability in hotel design is inexorably rising, as is the fashion for pop-up or relocatable hospitality spaces, whether they be hotels, bars or restaurants.

A recent movement that neatly combines the two is the creation of hotels by recycling metal shipping containers. The idea is becoming a reality in several countries and can be used to create either permanent or mobile hotels.

Xiang Xiang Xiang Pray House Hotel, China

Xiang Xiang Xiang Pray House Hotel, China

In China, the 21-room Xiang Xiang Xiang Pray House hotel, made from 35 shipping containers, opened its doors to guests in August. Built by the Tonghe Shanzi Landscape Design company, the containers have a stark, unembellished look from the exterior, but inside they are luxuriously appointed with with traditional Chinese décor, skylights and high-design furniture.

Located on the side of a hill in Changski, the 21 rooms come in 50 or 100 square feet sizes, with 8.5 foot ceilings. The lobby and restaurant are also made from shipping containers, and guests can watch tea ceremonies and music performances in the courtyards. The hotel took just three months to design and install.

In Belgium there is Sleeping Around, a pop-up hotel made from Chinese shipping containers, which is entertaining guests around the country. The mobile rooms travel around in a cluster of six containers – four converted into rooms/sleeping areas, one into a breakfast/lounge area and another used as a sauna.

Sleeping Around, Antwerp, Belgium

Sleeping Around, Antwerp, Belgium

It is currently sited in front of a pier in Antwerp, but is looking for suggestions for its next port of call. Potential sites need to be at least 400 square metres, have a great view, drinking water and electricity, and be accessible to the large trucks that transport the containers.

Sleeping Around claims that only environmentally friendly materials were used to build the pop-up hotel. It charges €149 per night to stay in the containers.

And in the US, Collision Works, a boutique hotel planned for Detroit’s Eastern Market, will be made from recycled shipping containers. Developer Shel Kimen is working with architects KOOP AM on the design and construction. Kimen said: “Shipping containers are considerably more durable than standard construction, can cost less, and most importantly are about 30 per cent faster to build. We’ll be using this project as an opportunity to teach local builders and designers about the process. So as we get to building in the spring, expect to hear about public workshops for people interested.” Collision Works will have 36 guest rooms and event space.

Boutique Hotel News is a leading online news and networking resource for the boutique and lifestyle property industries, and an official media partner of Sleep 2013. Follow them @BoHoNews

Hotel Thinking: Sheppard Robson

With a growing portfolio of international hotels under its belt, architecture firm Sheppard Robson is leading the charge in the world of high-end hospitality design. We caught up with Creative Director Tim Evans. 

Tim Evans, Creative Director, Sheppard Robson

Tim Evans, Creative Director, Sheppard Robson

“Our expertise is finding new experiences and new ways to develop hotel thinking,” says Tim Evans, Creative Director of Sheppard Robson, who for three years has headed up the firm’s ever-expanding Hotels group. The approach has led the design team to take on a fascinating portfolio of hotel projects – from the small, subtle and technology-enhanced, like citizenM’s Tower of London location, to the vast and luxuriant, like the Phoenix Mountain Spa in China’s Guangzhou.

Intended to be China’s first seven star hotel and spa, the mountain-top Phoenix comprises a 200 bed hotel as well as 44 exclusive clubhouses, each designed around a different fantastic thematic idea. Features include a sauna with adjoining ice room; performance kitchens; wine tasting rooms designed to resemble laboratories; sulphur baths and exhibition spaces. During the design process, no idea put forward was too extravagant. “The more we researched it, the more the client loved it,” says Evans. “It was one of those projects where no idea was too crazy.”

On the opposite side of the spectrum is another of Sheppard Robson’s recent projects, one which has garnered the firm much attention – a retreat in Hungary on the site of what was once the Sopronbonfalva monastery.

Spa hotel and retreat in Sopron, Hungary by Sheppard Robson

Spa hotel and retreat in Sopron, Hungary by Sheppard Robson

“It’s a place to go if you seek something different from luxury indulgence,” Evans explains. A getaway for those wanting to escape the sensory overload of modern life, the complex is designed to take visitors on a physical journey “which goes from sensory deprivation to sensory and social engagement.”

“We wanted something that was a retreat and a destination in its own right, but which offered an antidote to 21st century living. Some of the rooms were literally conversions of monastic cells. We made the decision to have no technology or WiFi in the rooms. It was about being able to step out of the world as we know it,” Evans says.

“You turn up, frazzled from the airport; on the first day you go to the sensory deprivation chamber, where you’re left to float in a saline solution for an hour with nothing to distract you. Over the coming days you move forward to more sensory engagement and are finally reacquainted with other people. It’s about the self, and reacquainting yourself with the senses and what you’re all about.”

Projects like these, Evans says, have allowed Sheppard Robson to avoid the predictable hotel chain model and instead work on exploring the new experiences and sensations a hotel can provide – whether disconnecting visitors from the modern world or, in the case of Citizen M, offering a more urban, technology-led experience.

Citizen M, Tower Hill, London

Citizen M, Tower Hill, London

“We’re continuing to develop these ideas of what the user experience is; moving away from the everyday hotel, where you go stay somewhere as a matter of experience,” he explains. Ultimately, the ideal hotel stay is one in which the visitor has control.

“At the end of the day, it’s about putting the choice back to the user,” he says. “We still need to be connected, but we want to be able to switch off, too. The more we become entrenched in that idea of constantly being in contact with everyone, the more we need to be able to get away at some point. There’s a place for everything.”

Join Tim Evans at the Sleep Event conference on Thursday 21 November as he takes to the stage for a discussion of contemplative hotel design at “To contemplate or not – Fad or Future?” To register your interest for the Sleep Event and book your place at the seminar, visit the Sleep website. 

Hotel Hates – What Drives You Crazy?

The pleasurable experience of staying in a hotel is fraught with peril, as we found out recently when we put out the call to some of our friends and colleagues to share the things most likely to ruin their hotel experience.

Some were culture-centric (“fresh milk for an Englishman to make a lovely cup of tea”), some were service-oriented (“I’d like something personal when checking into my room… customer service should be just as wonderful for every client”), some were telling (“hotel bars that don’t stay open late enough!”). But there were a handful that united us all and came up in almost every response – so we’d like to share them with you:

Top 10 hotel bug bears (in no particular order)

Light switches

Finding the right switch for the light you are trying to turn off can turn a hotel room into a flashing disco. Respondents also complained about the system where the key card operates the room’s electricity supply. “Rooms where the lights only come on when you slot the room card in the device by the door,” wrote one disgruntled traveller. “I always forget, often after a couple of hours in the bar. The room door shuts and you stand there in the dark fumbling for the slot, usually bursting for the loo.”

Room access

Key cards were a bugbear for many – especially their peculiar tendency to uncharge themselves during the course of the stay. “The key cards don’t work after they have been next to your phone in your bag for a day, so you have to go back down to reception.”

Power points

Badly positioned power points were one of the biggest bugbears we found, with respondents agreeing that a spare plug by the bed to charge a mobile was one of the most important features of a room. As one respondent commented, “there’s never a plug point by the bed, so you have to leap out of bed to the other side of the room in a blind panic when your alarm goes off in the morning!”


“…that don’t open, leaving you a choice of being kept awake by the world’s noisiest air conditioning or a slow death by suffocation.”

Climate control

“You can never get the air conditioning to the right temperature – the room is either a fridge or a sauna!”


Tiny, thin curtains that don’t cover the window and let too much light through are a weary, jet-lagged traveller’s worst enemy.


“I’d rather stay somewhere a bit shabby with proper wifi than somewhere super fancy with expensive dial-up or dodgy connections.” It seems that, for our respondents, there is no excuse for a hotel not to offer a free, reliable internet connection in its guest rooms.


Slow lifts, small lifts, one lift servicing an entire hotel – the simple act of getting to your guest room can be a fraught experience. “Tiny elevators that barely fit me and my luggage, let alone other guests, give me panic attacks!”

Bad service at check-in

“A big queue at check-in and only one or two people behind the counter. For bonus points, lots of people behind the counter but all are ‘busy’ doing other things.”

Noisy neighbours

This one can be hard to avoid – but it’s an annoyance that came up often amongst our respondents, who cited blaring televisions and loud voices coming from next door as one of the biggest things that could ruin their hotel stay.


And some for good measure…

“Free bottled water should be a must!”

“Tiny cups. If I’m making a cup of tea in the morning I want a mug, not a thimble.”

“Many hotels think that having soft down pillows is a nice touch, but I’m forever trying to cobble together a configuration that works. Sadly this means that I sleep poorly and have a sore neck for most of the trip.”

“Why do hotels think that the only TV channels we would be interested in are CNN or BBC World?”

“Give me a good bed, a power shower, broadband and Radio 4 and I am one happy bunny.”

“I usually get the icemaker next to my room and someone always needs ice in the middle of the night.”

“The hairdryers. Someone could blow my hair dry quicker than the hairdryer can!”

“You book a room as a single occupancy and when you get to the room there are two oversize double beds! Then you have the dilemma of which to choose – the window bed or the closest to the bathroom bed?”

“It takes ages to unwrap the soap, you go back to the room after it has been cleaned and they have taken away the one you unwrapped so you have to start again every day. Where does the used soap go?”

“Trouser press… anyone ever use one?”

What’s your hotel bugbear? Let us know in the comments below, or send us a tweet @sleepevent with the hashtag #Sleep13Chat