Five features that business travellers want in their hotel room

By John Walton, June 23 2011
Five features that business travellers want in their hotel room

It's astounding how many hotels -- even brand new or recently refurbished places -- still don't have the facilities that today's business traveller needs. 

We've all been there: oh, you want to plug in more than just one thing? You'll need to ferret under the desk and unplug one of these four other things from the power point floor box. Need a pick-me-up in the morning? Sorry, only instant "coffee" is in the room.

But on the other hand, there are some hotels with those little touches that make all the difference.
So consider this the business traveller's hotel wish list.

Enough power points

The first thing on the wish list is a plethora of power points. I travel relatively light, and have four things I need to plug in: camera, laptop, phone, headphones. It's rare that I can find enough plugs in the room, let alone near the desk, without having to move furniture. 

Abroad, I really appreciate places with international power points too: the ones that'll take power points from the UK, US, Australia...any of the common plug shapes, really.

This is one of those really easy refits -- subject, of course, to local electrical regulations -- that really makes a difference to the business traveller.

If that won't work, try offering a selection by the desk for those times when you know that your multiplug adapter is in the bag somewhere, but you were rushed leaving Hong Kong and you're not sure if it's in the carry-on or the laptop bag.

While you're at it, hotels, put a power point or two on either side of the bed. If there are two people in the bed, both will want to plug in their phones overnight. 

And no, if you have something already plugged into it, like a light or a clock radio, that doesn't count as a power point.

Espresso machine

Coffee. Proper coffee. Made from coffee. Not instant. In the room. It's the most important way to start the morning.

We like the simple Nespresso machines when on the road -- they're relatively foolproof and make a good espresso or long black.

Alternatively, a simple plunger coffee pot -- and free coffee, not "that'll be $7 from the minibar" -- is miles better than instant.  

A proper desk

If you have to work in your hotel room, you'll quickly learn which hotel chains outfit their hotels with desks that are comfortable to work at, and which go for desks that are more form than function.

A desk like this one, in a hotel refurbished just this year? Not the way to go.

That always ends up with us perched on the sofa or chair with a laptop rather than inviting backache and RSI by trying to work somewhere that's just deeply uncomfortable.

Extra points if the desk is one of those height adjustable ones.

And while we're looking at workspace, let's have a decent chair as well, one that gets you at the right height to be able to type on a laptop on the desk and supports your back.

Docks for your phone

Whether you're carrying an iPhone, BlackBerry, Android phone or Windows device, there's nothing like having some of your own music playing to make a hotel room feel like it's yours.

That can be done simply -- with a simple headphone jack cable to plug into the clock radio -- or as an all-in-one iPhone dock option.

But if a hotel goes for it, they'll need to keep their hardware updated: newer iPhone owners will know all too well that some iPod docks aren't compatible with the extra power that the iPhone requires.

Shoeshine service

While staying at the Four Seasons in Sydney recently, we really appreciated the small touch of being able to place shoes outside the door at night and having them magically returned, as if in a German fairytale, by the shoe polishing service. 

Picture: A Suitable Wardrobe
Picture: A Suitable Wardrobe

This is relatively up there on the swanky list, but it shouldn't be that hard to get right, and it's a real boost to the business travel quotient of a hotel.

What's on your list?

Do you agree with everything on the list? What would you swap -- and what can you absolutely not live without? Share your thoughts with our readers below or join the conversation on Twitter: @AusBT.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2555

I'm there for all of these PLUS a decent wardrobe.

Seriously - how many times have you been in a hotel where the wardrobe seems like an afterthought, especially with lighting that doesn't shine on the clothes or drawers - so that you've got to pull out the shirt or pants and hold them up in the room or put them down on the bed to determine if they're black or navy or charcoal, ditto for socks? Yeah, sounds like a real #firstworldproblem - but it's just about the basics of designing the room so that things work!


24 Oct 2010

Total posts 177

I absolutely hate staying in rooms that don't have a sofa to stretch out and work on. A bed just isn't the same (you don't get the same kind of back/neck support from pillows) and the obligatory armchair is just not comfortable to work in for several hours.

Everybody likes to stretch out on a sofa, don't they? And surely a 2.5 seater isn't that much to ask for the average 4 star hotel? I'd gladly trade the marble wall tiles in the lobby for sofas in the rooms.

Also. Those pathetic tiny cups at the breakfast bar. When I'm paying $30 for breakfast, I do not want to only get 100ml of juice at a time.

10 Mar 2011

Total posts 526

I tend to agree with most of them...  especially the power points!

I'm not too fussed about the dock for the phone or the shoe shining though... and most hotels that I stay in do have a proper desk to work from.

The other "must have" is wireless... Although I carry my Apple Express with me just in case, it would be nice to just have wifi available. Decent toiletries are also a plus for me so I don't have to worry about carrying around a whole lot of my own.


24 Oct 2010

Total posts 177

Good point, and room-based wireless billing, not stupid device-based wireless, where you have to pay for each wireless device separately. That is just criminal..

23 Jun 2011

Total posts 2

  1. Easy to find/use bedside light switches
  2. Bright lighting - amazing how many hotels have very dim lighting - probably to hide how uncleand they are
  3. Always bundled wifi and breakfast
  4. Iron and Ironing board - lots don't include them
  5. Large safe that can fit a laptop and other gadgets
  6. Not too bright clocks


24 Oct 2010

Total posts 177

#5.. YES!!!!! Why is it that so many hotels put in safes that are just a poofteenth too small to fit a 15.4" laptop?


15 Apr 2011

Total posts 580

1. A proper shower - by far the single most important thing for me. Something that isn't in a bathtub, had a good, high pressure head and something that is easy to use/get to a good temperature. 

2. Good lighting around the desk (and I definitely agree with a decent desk!!) A small lamp on the side isn't a light I can spend a couple of hours working off.

3. Good internet - definitely a must.

4. An easy to use TV remote - some of the systems that are used just frustrate me... Just an on/off button, a TV guide and channel/volume is plenty for me... I also appreciate systems that allow users to activate subtitles - I often leave the TV on very low while I work and I like being able to look up and see what's on without needing to turn it up to a properly audible volume...

Great topic for discussion :)


24 Oct 2010

Total posts 177

On #1 ... omg yes!! The hotel industry seems to adore choosing the most ridiculously hard-to-work-out, unusual shower taps. What is wrong with a simple flick mixer tap to operate the shower, and another one to fill the bath?

26 Jul 2011

Total posts 1

You're dead right about plugs and either multiple-plug sockets or adapters in the room being very important.  And the sockets should stay ON when you put out all the room lights or leave the room - how many times have you plugged in a phone to re-charge overnight and discovered that the power to the socket was turned off by the master switch?

My standard test of a good business hotel is whether I can get a shirt pressed within an hour of arrival, 24/7.  All rooms should have a DECENT steam iron - not something that spits rusty water all over your shirt - and ironing board that stays up when put up, has a cover that isn't torn or stained and isn't made for pygmies.

Wireless internet that is FAST is also crucial.

Finally - dark and quiet!  Decent black-out curtains or blinds, as you may want to sleep when it isn't night wherever you are, especially if you're trying to synch with a different time-zone; and doors that aren't made out of paper, which actually keep out noise - all too rare. Whetever happened to having two doors into hotel rooms? It used to be quite common but seems to have all but disppeared now.  I will never stay twice at a noisy hotel.  Australian hoteliers with single glazed windows, please take note.

27 Jul 2011

Total posts 1

It's simple and somewhat self indulgent but...a sleep timer feature on all hotel tv's so I can fall asleep watching tv and not jolt awake at 3AM with tv still on. So few have it.

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Five features that business travellers want in their hotel room