I make no secret of the fact that I am not the most adventurous of travellers. While it’s true that I love to make unexpected discoveries when I travel, there are some things that I want to be predictable — especially the standard of accommodation.
For that reason, I find myself more and more drawn towards brand-name hotels. Yes, I’ve stayed at some fabulous family-owned hotels and bed-and-breakfast joints over the years, but I’ve also had some nightmare experiences.
On one occasion, in northern Scotland, a pigeon’s nest — complete with pigeons — fell through the ceiling. The hotel staff treated it so casually I could only assume that it had happened before and very likely would again.
Another time, in the late 1980s, I asked a B&B owner in middle England why there was such a huge police presence next door. “Oh,” she replied. “That’s where the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland lives: he’s the most highly guarded politician after the prime minister. I don’t mind, if we get blown up, we get blown up.” She didn’t seem to care whether I minded.
And a friend and I once had our bags moved out of one room in a dodgy Sydney hotel and into another. When we returned to the room we thought was ours, we interrupted an elderly couple in the throes of passion.
The guide books certainly didn’t mention those gems of information. Today, I suppose, these things would be all over social media, or on TripAdvisor, so potential guests would be forewarned.
But, I’m becoming more and more
set in my ways risk averse these days, so I tend to choose brand-name hotels over the funkier, perhaps friendlier, less predictable alternatives.
Yes, it’s often more expensive, but these properties are almost always clean and convenient, and easily booked, so there’s less mucking about arranging lodging and more time to enjoy the purpose of the trip, be it business of pleasure.
To that end, I am a member of several loyalty schemes, including the recently merged SPG-Marriott schemes, Hilton Hhonors, Accor Le Club and IHG Rewards. The benefits add up, meaning I’ve had some significant discounts and quite a few perks, plus points transfers to my frequent flyer accounts.
And when I have a problem, I know it will be sorted out — if not on site, then when I make a complaint over social media.