Friday, 2 January 2009

Why do hotels play hide and seek?

When it comes to hotels design should not triumph over practicality. A colleague describes searching for an hour before finding the boutique property he had booked in Venice. He had arrived in the small hours, just before Christmas, after being delayed by a flight diversion.

He tried to phone the hotel for directions but it was on voice mail. A Venetian with satnav on his mobile phone generously came to his aid - but while the technology located the hotel, there was no name on its outer doors nor any other indication that this was the right place.

Eventually my colleague, fearing he might be disturbing a private resident at 3am but by this time cold and annoyed, plucked up courage and rang the bell. It was indeed the hotel.

I have had a similar experience in London - though not in such discomforting circumstances. It is time designers realised that while making hotels and restaurants hard to find may appeal to customers who cherish exclusivity, to the rest of us it is just plain irritating.

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