Putting our feet up

Even vacationers need a vacation now and then. We are taking a whole day off from being footsore tourists by spending a lazy day in our hotel room in Regensburg. 

Napoleon torched a lot of this city, which is deep in the heart of Bavaria. The Allies managed to bomb only factories and refineries, and avoided the nearly intact medieval city center, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tomorrow, we’ll get to know it better.

But today, we are staying in our most luxurious hotel to date, the Park Hotel Maximilian, with a perfect room for lounging and day-dreaming. Space! A sofa! Five windows! Lots of seating! We have died and gone to heaven. This is a very appropriate prelude to Don’s birthday tomorrow.

Lest you think this is what all our rooms are like, let me share a few of my thoughts on hotels. Yes, I am going to rant – since I am not occupied looking at medieval churches.

This has been building up for many years, over hundreds of hotel stays.

I have a fantasy about addressing an international coven of hoteliers, to speak on behalf of hotel guests everywhere. I will not waste this opportunity.

Some of my comments will apply to all; others, well, the culprits will know I am talking to them and will hang their heads in shame.

My first and most general piece of advice will be to suggest that each member stay in one of their establishments for just one night. Not in the most luxurious suite, or the most basic, but in that middle-of-the-road room that is heavily occupied.

It would be easy to find ways to spend more money in furnishing such a room, but that is not my intent. Instead, I would want the owners to realize that simple changes at no expense would greatly enhance many of these chambers.

Could the entrance mirror be positioned so as not to give others a full view of the occupant of the bathroom? (This refers especially to those bathrooms so innovative that bathroom doors are just not necessary.) Could the designer sink be placed in such a way that the bather can have access to the mirror without using a telescope? Is it necessary to seek out shower fixtures whose only virtue is that their design has never been seen before on planet earth? Since very few bathrooms come with operating manuals, we have spent many minutes trying to intuit how to get water from a pipe. The old on-off handles have gone the way of the doodoo. And, while we do appreciate the gift of bathroom amenities such as shampoo and lotion, how many of them come attractively packaged, but with contents almost impossible to access? Dear owner: YOU just try to get that stuff out!!!

Does the rate of theft really justify the use of those horrible hangers that can’t be hung anywhere else? And, don’t we all accept the fact that today multiple outlets need to be available at desk height, rather than just above the floor – under the desk? (Of course, if budget permits, having plugs on night tables is a very nice touch, too.)

I would want the group to be aware that there are often two people occupying double rooms. Imagine you are trying to get from one side of the room to the other. If occupant #2 is using the desk, will occupant #2 be required to move their chair uncomfortably close to the desk for occupant #1 to pass, possibly causing gastric distress to occupant #2? Could there possibly be a better place to position that desk? Think about it.

Overall, consider that two people might need to get in and out of the bed or beds without maneuvering around each other, and that each may have glasses and reading material that would require access to a shelf and lamp of some sort. Yes, be considerate of your elders.

One amusing item in today’s hotel rooms is what I believe they call the “bed cloth.” This plain or fancy piece of drapery at the foot of the bed is a vestigial nap blanket, sorely missed by many of us. (See below.) This devolution to a useless item that invariably ends up on the floor within 10 minutes of lights-out becomes a real hazard in the dark. Again, be considerate of your elders.

I am really not complaining, just observing a few minor inconveniences that we continue to encounter. My real vitriol is dedicated to something far more universal and incredibly annoying: The Bathroom Waste Can.

Regardless of hotel ranking, the horror of which I speak is omnipresent. It is the tiny metal can with a foot pedal and lid that is almost impossible to use. Surely you have encountered one.

Step on the pedal with a wet foot, and the can slides across the room. Step on it too vigorously, and the can topples over. Some allow you to position the lid just so, which keeps it propped open. This requires great finesse and years of practice.

As if the mechanics of this wretched object were not onerous enough, we next have to confront the Plastic Bag that the housekeeping staff puts in the can. Nine times out of ten, these are inserted so that the only object which will fit in the can is a (carefully folded) tissue. After that, you’re out of luck.

I would like to think that our carbon footprint is no larger than the average. But we require much more of our rubbish receptacles. I will spare the details, but suffice it to say that these cans are Just. Not. Adequate. What is the reason we can’t have nice open containers big enough to allow us to be frivolous with our use of tissue on occasion? What???

And don’t even start me on the size of the containers within the actual room. Their only advantage is that they are typically lid-less. (Actual sample below.)

Of course, it could be worse. We once stayed at a fancy Green Park hotel in London (I’m talking about you, Chesterfield.) After several days with no bedroom waste can, we took to piling our trash in a pile in the middle of the room. Requests for a receptacle were ignored. One night, Don went down to the front desk and said he wouldn’t leave without a trashcan. The attendant humphed and puffed, and led him through six empty rooms, equally without such an item. The seventh yielded results.

Are we so out of touch with the environmental movement that we didn’t get the memo about No Rubbish Allowed? Are we supposed to collect it in our hands and take it outside to dispose of it – by burning, possibly?

I guess the middle ground that hotel keepers of the world have chosen is the rubbish bin that makes you seriously rethink your need to eliminate waste materials.

If that were their intention, job well done and mission accomplished!

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