Some friendly suggestions for modern hoteliers


This columnist spends a lot of time on the road observing the a lot of the great, some of the good, and a few bits of bad and ugly in modern hospitality. For all of the trends and innovations going on in the space, there are some simple basics that are frequently missed and can make the difference in making a stay great.

Here are some of the commandments (er, friendly suggestions) that shouldn’t be overlooked:

Enough Instagram

Beware too much worshipping at the false idolatry of a social platform. Designing a space for the purposes of digital validation is going to look silly in a few years time.


There’s nothing sadder than a coffee robot when a barista could do. Also, every hotel needs to have a plan for early risers. Complimentary coffee in the lobby, before the breakfast service opens, is a nice touch as there’s nothing worse than the 5 a.m. search for a warm cup.

Strangling retail

Retail in hotels is a good trend and can introduce the worldview of a brand to a guest. However, this should be metered and not take over the entire experience like an overgrown vine. There is a good balance to be struck and when every space feels like it is being monetized, including the room, it isn’t a good look. This means making sure that your minibar, snacks, etc., are nicely tucked away, and the room isn’t looking like a grocery store.

The need for paper

I’ve long argued that paper needs to be a staple for guests that want it. This means memo pads in the room, proper postcards to be mailed, as well as print copies of essential dailies. Every hotel is trying to get people to download a press reader app, but many still like a crisp paper in the lobby in the early morning.

Noise avoidance

Some hotels double as vibrant nightspots. However, there needs to be a plan if the kick drum keeps resonating late into the evening. A guest shouldn’t need to ask for earplugs, particularly if there are renovations going on.

Free requests

A very simple email address like frontdesk@XYZ, made available for guests is a simple way to make easy requests for a printed itinerary. Also, based on the location, a simple way to do the same via the local messenger service (WeChat, Line, etc). is also a guest-friendly option.

Local map

A morning running map, as well as a printed local map, is a great guide for guests to get oriented. Also, a station welcoming back early morning runners with ice cold water and towels is a very elegant touch.

Warm lighting

Beware the switch to LED lighting, as some bulbs can cast a cold, sterile glow. Agree with the Monocle team’s call to arms for warm, natural lighting at all costs.

A unique turndown touch

For a turndown, some sort of small signature touch is still welcome, whether it is a lavender sachet, or an interesting radio station, dialed perfectly in the background. It creates a calm and harmony that is magic.

The right notes

The right music programming, day to night, is essential and can add a really inspiring texture to a hotel. However, setting a foot wrong aesthetically can have 10 times the negative of the desired effect.

Bare necessitites

The bare necessities when things go slightly wrong on the road should be close at hand, whether it is a simple asprin, a mending kit, or something for an upset stomach. No one is going to sue you for an aspirin, and the trudge to a local store late at night is quite a pain.

Read more: Local events: some tips to drive your direct bookings

Mai Huynh