Thursday, May 05, 2011

Bread, Wine and Wifi

I travel a great deal, as do many of us these days. On my recent trips, I've been thinking what makes me happy when I arrive. I'm a man of simple tastes, so I've narrowed it down to just a few things. Obviously, I need somewhere to stay (ideally with a shower that my six foot three frame can stand under). I like a nice comfortable bed too, and a room that's in the quiet part of the hotel.

But there are three things that really make travel a good experience for me:

1) Bread

Just bread? Well ideally a bit of cheese or ham too, or maybe even a salad. It's not what the food is, it's whether it's available. Airline food, despite all the marketing to the contrary, and the involvement of celebrity chefs, is still pretty grim. When I arrive in a hotel at 1am local time, my body clock may still say 4pm. I'm hungry. One of the worst things to hear is "The restaurant is closed right now, and room service is finished too. There are some snacks in the minibar." A packet of peanuts is not what I'm looking for. Many hotels do have 24-hour room service, but I've often dropped off to sleep in the 40 minutes between order and arrival. If some hotel chain offered an instant 24-hour cheese sandwich service, it would be top of my list.

2) Wine

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a great drinker. It's not even that I'm looking for a glass of wine. A cold beer, coffee or even a fruit juice would do. It's more about what goes with it. I'm looking for a quiet place where I can sit and relax and have an enjoyable drink in peace. Travel, although often a solitary activity for me, is also done in groups, whether waiting for a train or sitting on plane. There's something very restorative about being able to find a peaceful place to just sit and think, read a book, or do nothing at all.

3) WiFi

Being able to communicate with the rest of the world is invaluable for me. I'm not an email junkie, or someone who must be available at all times. It's useful, but not essential 24/7. But I'm also a husband and father, and the ability to chat on Skype in video with my family is a real tonic. It would be wonderful if hotels didn't try to pay off their nation's national debt with internet access charges too.

So that's it. I'm not asking for much. A little food when I arrive, a quiet place to relax and affordable contact with my loved ones. A few hotel chains do it, so could the rest please take note? Thanks.

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