High-speed Internet access and power points a’plenty are staples of any decent hotel room, yet it takes much more for a property to truly shine.
When travelling for work, here’s what I look for in a great business hotel:
1. 24-hour check-in and room service
Hotels are practically abundant, so if the check-in desks won’t be open when I’ll need to arrive, you can guarantee that I’ll be booking my stay elsewhere.
Round-the-clock room service is also a biggie – we certainly don’t expect the full menu to be available at every hour of the day, but at least have a few different starters, mains, desserts and drinks on offer to cater to everyone’s tastes and hunger levels.
That’s especially important when you’re arriving late at night or indeed at a hotel overseas after a long journey, and haven’t had the chance to sit down to a proper meal.
If the local restaurants have all closed for the day or you don’t feel comfortable exploring the local neighbourhood in the dark, being able to dine in your room is a godsend.
2. A great loyalty program with tangible benefits
When booking a hotel stay (or a flight, for that matter) I give greater consideration to the overall value derived from the booking than the financial cost – which means a great loyalty program with perks to match is an absolute must-have.
For example, let’s imagine we have a choice of two properties: a basic room costs $180 at Hotel A and $220 at Hotel B, yet my status with Hotel B’s loyalty program would also provide free Internet access, an upgrade to a higher room category, free breakfast and a late check-out.
As I’d have likely paid $20 a pop for my morning meal and access to the Web at Hotel A, the extra perks of Hotel B’s loyalty program make it a better value proposition and ultimately wins my business.
Add to that the prospect of earning points for free stays and the deal only gets sweeter.
3. A pleasant Club/Executive Lounge
Hotel lounges double quite well as remote offices, with the best serving up all-day espresso coffee and snacks to keep you going.
The main reason I visit the lounge is to escape the confines of the room, so open spaces, different zones for different moods and plentiful power points all contribute to a relaxing and ultimately productive stay.
It’s even better when the lounge is on a high floor and there’s a view to enjoy – giving off that ‘high-rise office’ feeling but in a more laidback environment.
That’s especially so at the ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel in Kobe (Japan), which towers above the city and has floor-to-ceiling windows to let in plenty of natural sunlight during the day:
Read our review: Japan's ANA Crowne Plaza hotels
4. A business centre with remote printing capabilities
Executive Lounges generally have computing facilities, but they’re only available during the lounge’s actual opening hours – not to mention being off-limits to those without lounge access.
Dedicated business centres, on the other hand, are open to all and normally house computer terminals, printers and scanners, plus binders and laminating machines.
While still a novelty at some hotels, remote printing should also be a staple – it’s relatively simple for a hotel to configure and is a real time-saver for the frequent business traveller.
It also negates the need to enter your work or email password on the public printing terminal, which was likely used by hundreds of people before you and is a great place for unscrupulous guests to install keylogging software to later compromise your accounts.
5. An experienced and personable concierge team
A great concierge team has the power to make or break your visit to their hotel, and you’ll find the most experienced proudly wearing golden keys on their lapel.
From simple and ordinary tasks such as arranging transportation right through to those ‘impossible’ requests like a ticket to a sold-out event, there’s very little that a concierge can’t help you with.
I’m more than capable of researching the local attractions myself and make a habit of downloading the city’s public transport apps before leaving home, but prefer to visit the concierge desk for restaurant recommendations as the staff are naturally more familiar with their local city than I.
It’s a great strategy and I wasn’t left hungry on a recent visit to Shanghai – with the Jing An Shangri-La’s Chief Concierge able to recommend restaurants to suit everything from a quiet business lunch through to a lavish client-pleasing dinner with matching wines.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Japan as a guest of the IHG ANA Hotels Group and to Shanghai as a guest of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts.
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