Top 10 five-star hotel pet peeves

Light? Fantastic! The Scarlet, Cornwall

Whether you’ve saved up for that luxury trip of a lifetime or you wouldn’t dream of bedding down in anything less than a five-star, these hotel hassles can make your holiday more irritating than illuminating (literally)


Of course we all look dreamier in a dim glow, but the obsession that five-star villas and hotels have to make every night feel like date night is extremely irritating. Packing, unpacking, getting dressed, putting on make-up, shaving, finding that contact lens you dropped, finding your LBD buried among your other LB clothes: these all require light! And some of these things, I even do at night (quelle surprise!), so no matter how much sunlight streams through the floor-to-ceiling windows, by 9pm, I can’t see a damned thing. At least 70 per cent of luxury hotels do not have adequate lighting. Mood lighting is fine, but if you don’t provide additional, practical, bright light in EVERY room, then my only mood will be bad. (PS My vision is 20/20. Imagine if it wasn’t!)

Light switches

While we’re on the subject of lighting, effing light switches. Not only are all bulbs dimmer than a tealight, but you have to spend an hour playing with the switches to figure out what turns on what. To truly enjoy the comforts of a five-star, you need to be a master electrician (The Scarlet in Cornwall being a notable exception, with clearly labelled lighting controls). And there are invariably those switches that do nothing, and the ones that make no sense (why is my bedroom wall light switched on and off from behind the CLOSED door of the adjacent room?!) Label everything clearly, please.


Should I tip when I leave? If so, how much? What about in the restaurant of an all-inclusive resort? And to the driver? The spa therapist? The bus boy? The concierge? Look, I’ve only been in your country five minutes. I’ve been too busy to read the guidebooks, and they rarely tell you much anyway. I don’t even have my head around the currency. Just give me some kind of bloody guide as to who I might consider tipping, how much, and when. If every bill comes with a ‘tip’ section as I sign, how much do I tip? And if I’m also paying a service charge at the end, have I just undertipped by not adding a tip, or am I overtipping by adding one (not to mention that I can’t afford to tip every five minutes – I’ve just paid for your uber-expensive resort as a treat, remember)? And I have no idea how much the staff or local wages are, so how am I to know if £5 is a cheapie tip or an outrageously generous one? If I leave one big tip at the end, does it get shared among all the staff? And if I put it on the credit card, how much do the staff REALLY receive? Come on and give me a clue. Better still, email me a guide before the trip so I’m prepared with change to give the porters, if necessary. (And to the smuggins who are just about to write in that you ALWAYS need to tip. Think again. In some countries, such as Japan, it is literally insulting.)

Face cloths, cotton buds and cotton balls

I need to wash my face, and I’d like to do it without getting water all over my clothes. Some hotels provide face cloths (or wash cloths or flannels – whatever you want to call them), but they are sadly lacking in many, especially European luxury hotels. And while most provide cotton buds and cotton balls, lately, they seem to come in these little plastic packages of three or four each. Just put out a jar full of cotton buds and a jar of cotton balls. Less waste, and I won’t feel so bad for using just the one I need.

Wi-fi Guest entry from James Ellis (

When oh when will hotel chains wise up to wifi? Connectivity is now as much a part of every day life as breathing, so allow us to metaphorically breathe by giving us free wifi. In fact, bugger the wire, I just want free internet access. When I’m paying a small fortune for a hotel room, there is nothing more annoying than being nickel and dimed for internet charges. For almost everyone I know, free internet is worth a million little chocolates left on the pillow – which only leave a mess when you roll in drunk anyway. It’s going to take one of the big chains like IHG or Hilton to break the mould and then everyone else will have to follow. But until then, the fact they can’t see they’d gain more than they’d lose in the positive PR spin they could put on a wholesale shift to free internet access is, quite frankly, a right Royal pain.

For the remaining five pet peeves, see



  1. 18 February 2010 at 8:42 pm

    Couldn´t agree more last night I had excellent free fast wifi at the Parador in Chinchon Spain.

    Today NH Sanvy in Madrid 17 euros per 24 hours via Swisscom
    Really slow access on the wifi, ping rates of over 2000ms, couldn´t even download emails until I used the cable conection, total pain, especially when on a biz trip. After complaining was offered 2 hours free.

  2. 6 March 2010 at 11:27 am

    26 us$ a day wifi at the Hilton Nairobi today
    Great staff, even they feel it’s such a lot to charge

  3. 4 November 2010 at 2:52 am

    there are many luxury hotels that are quite cheap and affordable these days, “

  4. 2 December 2010 at 2:24 pm

    luxury hotels are always expensive but they offer some very attractive features and packages ~*’

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