What makes a great hotel room for business travellers?

Whether for work, leisure or a bit of both, hotel rooms can have a bit impact on your mood and productivity.

By Staff Writers, November 2 2023
What makes a great hotel room for business travellers?

Successful hotels rarely remain static for long. After all, as the needs and tastes of travellers evolve, so too must the hotels catering to them – and one of the biggest drivers of change right now is the blurring line between work and leisure.

While the leisure side is arguably improving by the day though, it seems the balance rarely tips in favour of the business traveller, particularly when it comes to basic amenities such as work desks or business centres.

Hotel rooms with proper desks feel like a dying breed.
Hotel rooms with proper desks feel like a dying breed.

The newly-opened W Sydney is a good example. While beautiful and filled with restaurants and bars, there’s nary a true work desk or business lounge in sight. Given the hotel’s geared up to welcome huge conferences and events, this feels like an oversight.

It’s not the only hotel pulling desks either – those once-ubiquitous features are increasingly subbed for coffee tables and dining settings, often placed metres away from the nearest powerpoint… or nothing at all.

Which raises a couple of questions: what makes a great hotel room for business travellers? What could hotels do – say, bringing back the ‘executive’ room category – to make them functional for everyone?

Here are five things the Executive Traveller team looks for in a great hotel.

A proper working desk, with a suitable chair

Life on the road often calls for work outside the typical office visits and meetings, with a quiet hotel room pulling double duty as a de facto workplace – provided that room is set up for business.

In our experience, 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. A desk lamp is appreciated too.

A small dining or coffee table is now often all you get.
A small dining or coffee table is now often all you get.

If not provided in-room, perhaps one or two hotel rooms (in these larger properties) could be converted into shared work spaces where travellers book in for a half or full day.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

Blackout curtains and soundproofing

Switching time zones is never easy. One day you’re in Perth, the next you’re in LA, and your sleeping habits are left hovering somewhere across the Pacific. A quick power nap can certainly help, but to do that you need a dark room and no sound distractions.

To allow this, blackout curtains and rooms with walls thicker than tissue paper should be the norm, particularly at properties where conferences and events are held or located nearby.

A bedside table is appreciated too.
A bedside table is appreciated too.

As many know, this isn’t always the case, but a writer can dream…

Chromecast or HDMI ports on the 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.

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.

Chromecast, a Bluetooth speaker and a lounge: everything needed to unwind.
Chromecast, a Bluetooth speaker and a lounge: everything needed to unwind.

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.

Executive Traveller readers, it’s now over to you: what makes a great hotel room for business travellers in your books? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Aug 2017

Total posts 12

In addition to those listed.

Comfortable bed. I want a good night's sleep before I get up and get into the grind.

Fast lifts, and plenty of them. It sucks massively to be late for something because you are waiting for a slow lift.

Good coffee at brekky. 

Good air conditioning system that's easy to figure out. Nothing worse than getting into a hotel room and trying to figure out how to actually get the temperature to be comfortable.

When it comes to the desk, I personally prefer that the TV is visible from where I sit, because my habit is to have some sort of background TV. Bonus points if the TV can be tilted towards me.

Good toilet paper. Seriously. Why do so many hotels give sandpaper for your bum.

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

16 Oct 2017

Total posts 157

The caveat about Chromecast etc is of course the wi-fi. No-one wants constant buffering interrupting their entetainment but that will always happen on poor hotel wi-fi. Another reason to pick a hotel with decent data speed. Even then, don't expect HD to work without issues, set for SD viewing.

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

16 Oct 2017

Total posts 157

Agree with PCHammond, comfortable bed. That includes pillows. Not foam slabs like bricks. Not cheap feathers that rustle in your ear all night. OK, first world issues but that's the quality we should expect in a good business hotel.

22 Sep 2017

Total posts 81

Agree about the desk, with minimum depth of 600mm.  Too many places offer a small ledge cluttered with their own stuff.  There needs to be space to use a full-size laptop, read, write, spread out other gadgets, and have a bit of food at hand (if trying to finish the presentation at the last minute).

And of course, bad WiFi means an immediate negative review.  This includes connections that drop back to the login screen at random times (of course during that critical call). 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 718

An impeccably clean room is essential (and a deal breaker when its not).  I often look under the bed for a build-up of fluff/lint/dust because of sensitivity.  Next is the exhaust register in the bathroom.  If it's clogged with fluff and lint I know I'm in trouble.  A request for a different room often results in the room being properly cleaned before nightfall.  

If I'm a first time guest I'll call ahead, explain I have an allergy and ask when was the last 'deep clean' for the room I'll be assigned.  If Reception doesn't know (which they often do not at the time I call), I'll ask for the hotel GM (a good one will at least make sure your room is thoroughly cleaned ('deeply', if need be) before you arrive.  

30 Mar 2014

Total posts 19

Decent lighting - I don't understand why so many hotels have such poor lighting in their rooms. How hard is it to give guests a decent, bright central light, ideally with a dimmer switch for extra control? They can add one or two of their usual, lower-power lamps on top of that......

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Nov 2017

Total posts 9

I suspect the poor lighting relates to showing up the wear and tear on a room. The lower the lighting level the longer the room seems to be in good condition!

I also agree about the desk.  I only travel for leisure, but I like room to read the paper on the desk.  Plenty of accessible power points as well.


22 Jan 2013

Total posts 94

Good bed that dose not sag on one side and a great powerful shower and I’m happy. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Nov 2012

Total posts 121

Travelling overseas I’ve come to really appreciate unobstructed power points with international plug options.  Unobstructed so if you have bulky plugs they work and generally on a flat surface is better than a wall, especially in Japan as those plugs don’t hold much weight (like a Mac power charger) 

I also appreciate the same next to the bed. 

And a bonus is USB A & C points. 

I know this may be slightly off topic, but a decent sized umbrella is also appreciated as I just found out here in Madrid 💦💦💦

26 Mar 2020

Total posts 1

Lights that you can see by in every part of the room, with switches that are easily accessible and do not require you to test every single switch to work out what controls what. 

Room service with an edible burger on the menu. 

06 Oct 2021

Total posts 6

Adequate shelving/stand for suitcases - not just one (more of a family issue!)

Somewhere to sit in the bathroom, not just perching the bath edge, for foot-drying time

A nightlight at the bathroom entrance for night navigation in an unfamiliar environment

Above all, no buzzing fridge compressors (who normally has these in a bedroom at home? I usually turn them off)

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