Charm your way into a nice hotel room

I was staying in one of the prettiest rooms I had ever come across at one of London's top hotels. An American colleague had booked the same hotel at the same time, but apparently this woman was not quite as happy about her accommodation as I was with mine. And she definitely was not shy about saying so.

Actually, my cohort didn't tell me this. Rather, when I came back downstairs after settling into my lovely temporary abode, I overheard the front desk staff talking about "the fussy American."

Apparently, from what I was overhearing, not only did my fellow sojourner dislike the first room she was shown, but the second, the third and even the fourth.

Finally, according to front desk gossip, she did settle on (and seemed to be satisfied with) the fifth suite to which the bellman had ushered her.

Or so thought these hard-working hotel employees.

Only a few minutes later I heard otherwise. I had arranged to take tea in the hotel lobby with the aforementioned colleague, and sure enough, shortly after ordering our Earl Grey, this ultra-picky guest started to complain about her room.

I listened to her grouse, not letting her in on my eavesdropping exercise. Finally, when I could get a word in, I suggested she inquire about changing rooms. Instead of confessing she had already done so four times already, this difficult traveler said, "That's a good idea!" and off she went to the front desk.

I craned my neck to witness a cheerful bellman, new key in hand, showing my coworker to the elevator. Finally, when the complainer returned to finish our tea, she did nothing but talk about what a nice room she was given. When I asked which one it was, she meekly admitted it was the deluxe accommodation the hotel staff had assigned her in the first place.


Sometimes you just can't please the unappeasable. But, if you're the typical traveler with only an occasional problem with the hotel room selected, following are some ideas on how to avoid having to move once you are given your initial accommodation:

• Ask for the specifics of the room you are booking at the time of the reservation. If all does not seem to be in order, request something else. Also, be sure to give your personal preferences at that stage. For instance, if you prefer a room near the elevator instead of down a long hallway, or want to overlook the pool and not the parking lot, say so.

• When you check in, ask the staff member about the room you are being assigned. Again, run down the specifics and if all does not seem to be in order, ask if there is anything else available in your price category.

If not, ask in as nice a way as possible if there is any potential for a complimentary upgrade. This might not work, but it can't hurt to inquire. Just make sure you are not pushy when you put in the request.

• Chat up your bellhop. While you make your way to your given room, ask this hotel professional what he or she thinks about the accommodation you have been assigned. This is definitely a person who will know the hotel from the inside out. If the answer is not to your liking, turn around and go back to talk to the front desk about a change before you settle in. Most likely everybody involved will be happy to help as much as possible because, in the hotel business, the guest is always right.

• Finally, if there are circumstances that won't let you stay in your room once you get there, let your legitimate concerns be known.

Case in point: A long time ago in a hotel near Heathrow Airport, there was no way I could stay in the room where I had been placed.

Here's what happened: I went alone to my assigned room. However, when I put the key in my door to gain entry I was met on the other side by a man who just stood there, speechless and stark naked. I slammed the door and ran. When I reached the front desk, I was out of breath as I explained why I really needed another room. I was embarrassed at first, but by the time another key to another room was sorted out we were all laughing at my unfortunate incident.

Even better, the management made amends by awarding me an upgrade to a very large suite. Now that's what I call a night to remember!

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