Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Curse of Hollow Hotels

As a frequent traveler, I have learned a few things about what I like and what I don't like in a hotel. In addition to being safe and comfortable, I must have relative quiet in order to relax and fall asleep.

I'm not exactly a light sleeper, but things like a chirping smoke detector or chatter outside my room will prevent me from falling asleep. While I do carry ear plugs with me, sometimes they don't muffle enough sound for a restful night's sleep.

Assuming that a quiet hotel is universally desired, the design of some hotels surprise me. The design that irritates me most is one in which there is a large open area with the rooms arranged around this open area. This creates a sort of tube of rooms where sound and light can freely access the external door of each room.

While such a layout creates an impressive lobby, this first impression becomes irrelevant when you try to sleep in such a hotel. This is especially true if a restaurant, or worse a bar, is on the ground floor. The quality of sleep that you can obtain in such a hotel is dependent on both the behavior of the restaurant/bar patrons and the floor on which you are staying.

A recent trip had me in a hotel with such a design, and I was placed on the second floor after having asked for a quiet room. In the lobby of the hotel was a bar and the hotel was the host to a convention. To top it off, each guest received a coupon for a 2 for 1 drink at the bar. All of these factors converged on my second night at the hotel, which happened to be the last night of the convention. Convention goers were tired after the convention and ready to relax so the coupons came out and they stayed up late. Unfortunately, I had to stay up late with them.

Fortunately, I rarely encounter such hotel designs. In my seven years of business travel, I've only seen two other examples of this type; surprisingly enough, both of those were fairly fancy hotels. If such a hotel design is desired, some sort of sound dampening threshold should be employed on all of the guest room doors.

I pose the following question to my readers. Am I being fair in my critique of this type of hotel layout or should I just buy some better earplugs? If the latter, do you have any good earplug recommendations?

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1 comment:

  1. I think you're being quite fair in your critique. What do ALL hotel rooms have in common? Beds! For people to SLEEP in! Therefore, quiet should be prized. I also think you had a raw deal being on the second floor; I believe the sound would have dissipated significantly with greater distance from the ground level. In my experience, where hotels fail at sound-proofing, regardless of design, is between rooms. So often you can hear other people come in late at night or slam their door (if there aren't good door closers) or be loud in the hallways. I HATE having a room right near the elevator. You have my sympathy.