What makes a great hotel room for business travellers?

As travellers return to the skies, hotel rooms can make a big difference to their journey, and productivity.

By Chris C., March 5 2021
What makes a great hotel room for business travellers?

A great location, friendly service, and an executive lounge are three things that can make a hotel appealing to business travellers – but what about the room itself?

Sure, you’ll want a comfortable bed: and a view is always nice.

Beyond those basics, though, a lot can make or break a stay. Here are five things that many business travellers appreciate after checking-in.

A proper working desk, with a suitable chair

Business travel often calls for work beyond office visits and scheduled meetings, with a quiet hotel room in prime position to be a traveller’s perfect workspace – provided that room comes equipped for business.

There’s simply no replacement for a proper in-room desk. While sofas or armchairs suffice for a quick email or two, when there’s serious work to be done, the furniture should reflect that.

Ideally, the desk would be free to move around the room, such as over by a window. After all, there’s little point in having a nice view if you’ll spend most of the day staring at a blank wall!

At Next Hotel Melbourne, the business desks go one better, with city views as standard.
At Next Hotel Melbourne, the business desks go one better, with city views as standard.

Read: Business meets boutique: Next Hotel Melbourne opens March

At that desk, you’ll also want to be comfortable.

Small designer seats look nice in photographs, but they’re rarely practical for all-day use.

Being able to request a height-adjustable office chair – a feature Hilton Sydney now provides for those who ask, having removed them from rooms during recent renovations – ensures you can make the most of that work time, in comfort.

Read: Hilton Sydney's $25 million refurb rethinks the business desk

Power points: plural

From smartwatches and smartphones through to headphones, tablets, laptops, power banks, electric shavers, hair straighteners – and for some tech-toting travellers, cameras too – rooms with few power points simply don’t meet the needs of modern guests.

When you add in the multitude of hotel appliances that require power, such as minibar fridges, TVs, bedside clocks, lights, and coffee makers, it’s clear that power points for guest use should be separate.

Being unobstructed, unoccupied, easy to access, and located where you’ll need them most, we’d expect to find power points near working desks, sofas or armchairs, and on both sides of the bed: ideally, with AC and USB ports for convenience.

The first rule of hotel rooms: you can never have too many power points.. DepositPhotos
The first rule of hotel rooms: you can never have too many power points.

In fact, with many modern devices now supporting wireless charging, having those capabilities in the room makes forgetting your charger a problem of the past.

Not just ‘free’ WiFi, but high-speed WiFi

Basic WiFi is just like a sofa or armchair – it’s fine for emails, but high-speed WiFi is what’s often needed to get the job done.

Many hotels do make speedy WiFi available, although it often attracts a hefty access charge: and what you’d pay over just a night or two can easily exceed the cost of a month’s high-speed connection at home.

Where those charges do apply, we’d expect they’d at least be waived for a chain’s top-tier travellers, and arguably its mid-tiered guests too.

Reliable WiFi is now just like running water: travellers just expect it.. DepositPhotos
Reliable WiFi is now just like running water: travellers just expect it.

Even as business travel begins to bounce back, video conferencing still has its place.

If the two intersect – such as to keep in touch with the office, attend to other clients on your normal schedule, or to catch up with family back home – high speed is what you’ll need.

Your devices, on the hotel’s TV

In the years gone by, hotels often ‘locked’ in-room TVs to the house entertainment system – much to the chagrin of their guests – but many are now unblocking those precious HDMI ports and giving guests the freedom to connect their own devices.

For business travellers, packing a simple HDMI cable could make for a better-prepared presentation, by using the in-room screen as you would a projector while rehearsing your pitch.

Different devices have different ports, so it's easiest to bring a cable that suits your tech.. DepositPhotos
Different devices have different ports, so it's easiest to bring a cable that suits your tech.

Unwinding after a long day? Use that same setup to watch your favourite shows from your gadget on the big screen, just like at home.

Even better, if the in-room TV supports Apple AirPlay, or Chromecast – a more universal platform available to both Apple and Android devices, as well as Mac and Windows computers – you’ll be able to watch what you like, without the cable.

Combine that functionality with high-speed WiFi, and you’re onto a winner for not only business guests, but leisure travellers too.

First class amenities

On quick overnight business trips, or even journeys lasting a few days, business travellers tend to pack light.

That means not lugging around one’s own collection of toiletries and amenities – aside from a few basics – and instead relying on those supplied by the hotel.

Great hotel amenities make it easier for travellers to pack light.
Great hotel amenities make it easier for travellers to pack light.

Quite often, the first clues of quality come from the conditioner.

If a room only has 'conditioning shampoo', it's fair to say that any expectations you have should be lowered considerably.

Other common items like shower gel, shower caps, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and cotton buds or tips are also ideally found in the room.

Some hotels make these available 'on request', but nobody likes to be kept waiting: especially when you've just arrived, or need to get ready for a meeting.

Executive Traveller readers, it’s over to you: what makes a great hotel room for business travellers in your books? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below!

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

08 May 2020

Total posts 46

I’d add that chests of drawers and wardrobes are pretty useless for a short trip as it’s easy to forget items are there.  I prefer hotels with room for two open suitcases (aka a bench) with a curtain / door in front to hide it from view.  Plus a rail for hanging up one or two items above the suitcase.

So many hotels only have room for one suitcase and then massive wardrobes with billions of drawers.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

08 May 2014

Total posts 49

DoubleTree in Melbourne has something like this and I think it works really well.

No doors on the 'wardrobe' and saves floorspace

18 Mar 2014

Total posts 95

A decent iron and ironing board! One of my pet hates is an iron sole plate that looks like it's rusted or stained, and an ironing board that has almost zero padding. It's so frustrating having to put towels on top and below shirts that need a quick 'once over' in order to protect the shirt from getting damaged.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1192

A few things:

- As hotel quarantine has shown, access to fresh air is really welcome.  Sealed hotel rooms are inevitably either stuffy or chilled.

- Good blockout curtains

- Good soundproofing - I don't want to hear people coming back to their rooms at 1AM and I certainly don't need to hear their bedroom athletics when I've got to get up for an early flight.

- Something other than just a continental quilt.  This is very trendy but you only get a choice of being hot or cold.

- Space in the fridge to put my stuff.  I'm just not interested in paying $9 for a Mars Bar.

- Can we have a room safe that is actually big enough to put my laptop in?

- Decent suitcase storage.  If I'm only there for a night, I'm not going to unpack but most storage makes it impossible to have the case open unless you have it spread on the floor.

- Bench space beside the bed.  The phone is never used anyway so leave it on the desk and give me room to put my mobile phone and my glasses.  I probably don't need the alarm clock either.  I'll use my phone as I never really know if the clock actually works properly anyway.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 320

Yep I hate the quilt and nothing else, need a sheet as well.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Aug 2018

Total posts 8

No random light sources please - there's nothing worse than turning the light off to discover the smoke alarm has been placed directly above the bed and has a pulsing red light every few seconds . (QT Melbourne is among the sinners)

Also power points with enough clearance to plug in Apple power cords (I'm thinking of Langham Melbourne, although they'll cheerfully bring you a power board within a couple of minutes if you ask).

Non pretentious lighting that allow you to illuminate the room to the brightness you prefer. (I imagine having cataracts is a little like the experience of being in a Six Senses Singapore guest room).

Non-baffling curtain / lighting controls. Arriving late, there's nothing worse than having to take five minutes to figure it out.

And please have the housekeeping team check the alarm has not been left set by the previous occupant. And routinely check the remote control is working. They often seem to have flat batteries and it's too much hassle to ring down.

26 Mar 2020

Total posts 1

Decent lighting so that I can see every part of the room and not have to go stumbling around in semi darkness 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Nov 2015

Total posts 10

Although now recently retired, I have spent the last 35 years as a very regular traveller. There are a few things that I found made a great hotel room: 

  • A large comfortable bed and (ideally) a selection of hard, soft and thick/thin pillows, 
  • Quiet air conditioning that holds a constant temperature,
  • a hot shower with constant water pressure, 
  • black-out curtains (especially if you're out of your time zone and looking to sleep at odd hours), 
  • plenty of power points and/or USB outlets and 
  • a desk with a reasonably comfortable chair.
  • good, reasonably fast wi-fi.

Some of the daggiest older hotels or relative cheapies I stayed in fitted this description while some of the newest were the worst despite ticking some of those boxes.

Singapore Airlines - The PPS Club

11 Sep 2015

Total posts 45

Agree vehemently with previous re lighting, black-out curtains, flexible bed covering options etc.

I'd add;

- A night light in the bathroom so that a visit to the toilet in the night doesn't mean you have to turn on glaring lights in white bathroom

- Air-conditioning that is QUIET and easily controllable

- A couple of complementary bottles of water

- A choice of pillows preferably one of them feather-down, or at least one thin one

- Smart TV so that can watch ON demand ABC or SBS

- A decent sized glass for bedside

20 Dec 2013

Total posts 5

...and my pet hate? Work tables with glass tops. Ever tried using a modern mouse on them? arrggggh!

11 Dec 2016

Total posts 12

A safe that doesn't require skill in acrobatics or be Really tall to access.

Multinational power points with plenty of spacing 

Being able to control All lights from bedside

International Tv channels available for my viewing pleasure. 

International cuisine available from room service

Oman Air - Sindbad

06 Mar 2021

Total posts 3

Nailed it Chris! All aspects mention aboved are almost ' a must to have' in a competitive hotel industry. But I will include a great food choicrs for in room dining. Sometimes after a full day of work, you just want eat and drip like a stone on your bed and sleep. A qualitative and healthy selection is also a must nowadays.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Oct 2017

Total posts 9

Yes, the TV should have an HDMI port that is accessible, and the TV should be at a height that allows it to be used as a monitor. I hate working on small laptop screens. Really pleased with Crown Plaza in Lao PDR where the HDMI port for the TV is already linked to the console on the desk! And the TV/Monitor was at a good height above the desk for sitting in front of, and could also be pulled out slightly from the wall and angled if necessary.

30 May 2022

Total posts 3

Being able to use the TV as an extra monitor would be interesting.  That requires that the desk can actually be moved such that I can see the TV while seated.  Typically, I'll go for Cartoon Network or MTV/MuchMusic while I work as background, but I actually kinda do want to see the screen.  SOOO many desks are just not the right place for that.  Sometimes, I can rotate the desk out 90-degrees, but often the cabling is impossible.

And many power points at the bed/desk are great, but not... if they are then USED for lamps, alarm clocks, etc.

And to repeat: the remote batteries need regular checking.  Given what hotels pay for TV systems, why they aren't rechargeable now, is beyond me.  I don't want to plug my phone into your potentially malware hosting alarm clock USB charger.  I do like the clock.  But, it needs to be adjusted for DST (until we do away with that) by cleaning staff.  

18 May 2020

Total posts 1

Absolutely agree with you, Chris. Things like a proper desk and fast Wi-fi are so basic, yet so many hotels fail to provide them.

While we're at it, can hotels please stop leaving cushions on the bed that most likely aren't washed between guests?

I'm not fussed about blockout curtains as I always like a bit of light to se where the light switch is.  But of course, all I need to do is open the curtains a bit.  I also agree about the useless cushions.  As I only travel for leisure, it would be good to have a port for an SD card to see my pics on the TV.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Aug 2011

Total posts 168

I'd like (besides the above):

- Windows that can be opened, even a little, as an alternative to air-conditioning (depending on climate)

- Good water pressure in any shower, and consistent.

- Pillow menu (I don't want to have to put up with some soft nothingness of a pillow)

- TVs that don't run some insane software that doesn't return to what you had on before, and doesn't always default to some stupid hotel channel with loud music (that's you Sofitel!)

- An actual radio, so I can listen to news, not have to put it on a TV.

- Multinational sockets and USB ports in convenient places

- Irons and ironing boards that are cleaned regularly (more than once have shirts been covered in limescale or some filthy muck from an iron)

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 640

The only thing I'd add to the above is that the room receives a "deep clean" every 3 months (not 4-5, 6 or annually), but every 3 months.  Won't say where, but had to get down and look under the bed for a dropped cufflink - the dust pile was a good 2-3 mm thick.  That made me look closely at the AC registers, yep, dust and lint, clearly not vacuumed in over 3-4 months.  I took photos with my Samsung phone (including the door number), later assembled into an email to that property's hotel operator - no response.  After about another 2-3 months (when I remembered I hadn't received a reply), I researched the hotel owner and forwarded a copy (together with PDF of my bill, so they'd know I hadn't been comped) and mentioned not having received a reply.  Didn't ask for a rebate/refund, and didn't get one.  Was later assured by the hotel operator the room had been properly cleaned (bla, bla, bla), but I haven't been back to that property.  

Clean the rooms - PROPERLY (please).  

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