Luxury hotels: The dos and don’ts

Deborah Hopewell
CompassDecember 4, 2012

What, exactly, does luxury travel mean?

No doubt it has different meanings depending on who you are or how you like to travel. But Nicholas Coleridge, president of Condé Nast International, presented his list of luxury hotel "musts" on Monday night as a keynote speaker at the annual International Luxury Travel Market in Cannes, France.

Coleridge is by anyone's measures well-traveled, and as the head of such publications as Vogue, Condé Nast Traveler, Vanity Fair, Architectural Digest, and House and Garden, to name just a few, he's more than qualified to speak expertly on all matters luxury. Here are his hotel "must-haves":

  • Must have a great swimming pool. And, preferably, a waiter making the rounds, freshening drinks and offering slices of fresh mango.
  • A well-lit hotel bar. Why the inadequate lighting in so many hotel watering holes?
  • Extra blankets and duvets in the closet - and lots of them. (Coleridge says he loves to bury himself under layers and layers of bedding.)
  • Solitude. Don't ask at every turn how my stay is going. If I need something, or have a problem, I will let you know.
  • Bedside lighting bright enough for reading. Coleridge said he's surprised at how many hotels overlook this simple - but essential - accessory.
  • Warmth. There's nothing worse than shivering through a night in a hotel, especially when there aren't enough blankets or duvets (see No. 3).
  • Prompt room service. Please don't make us wait for our morning coffee.
  • Enough plug-ins i the room, and preferably plug-ins that don't require us to use adaptors.
  • Useful toiletries (of very good quality, of course).

And while he was at it, he threw in the things he really doesn't need - many of them once considered necessities, but are now just outdated, useless, or annoying:

  • A personal butler. We don't want this stranger following us around in our hotel.
  • Complicated lighting. Coleridge said he's spent more than one night with the lights on because he couldn't decipher the ridiculously complex lighting system.
  • Locked and sealed windows. We need to breathe and have fresh air.
  • Too many questionnaires asking how we liked (or didn't) this or that.
  • Tipping. Too many hotels add multiple surcharges on room service, then the waiter waits around for yet another tip. Enough already!
  • All those overstuffed cushions on the bed. We just end up throwing them on the floor.
  • The "welcome drink."
  • The letter of welcome from the manager. It used to mean something (and was always hand-written), but now it's lost it's often just a printed card.
  • The strategically placed bottle of wine and two glasses. Is it complimentary? Or do I get dinged for $250 if I crack it open? If I do open it and get charged, I'll be mad. But if it's complimentary and I didn't know, and I didn't open it, I'll be very, very mad.