I just want to pull you aside for a moment and talk about the hotels of the future.
Because as we report from London, I believe we’re staying in a place that is likely the template for what we can all expect when we travel down the road.
I’m not going to name the chain, because this is not a review intended to now help you make vacation plans, but just a comment on the changing nature of hotels.
I’ve traveled a lot, and have stayed in five star places with Madonna sleeping just down the hall.
I’ve also more often been in inns where I’ve shared the bathroom with roaches.
Our current perfectly located hotel in London, a short walk from the Javelin train to the Olympic Village, is clean and seemingly nice enough.
Soft beds. Scrubbed toilets. Fresh towels. Modern.
But after a very short time, you realize you’re not a guest – you’re a paying customer.
It starts in the lobby, where you are welcomed by a row of check in computers that look like a bank of ATMs.
Inside your room, toilet paper comes out in small squares like a public restroom. You don’t get small soaps or free shampoo.
You can call down and ask for a wake up call, but will be told you’ll have to program than in your room phone yourself.
In the shower, there’s a dispenser that offers up watered-down body soap.
There’s a safe in the room, but you have to pay to use it.
Posters brag about the wi-fi internet, but after a half hour, you have to pay to stay on.
Not that it always works, and if you complain to the hotel official who stands at a podium in the lobby, you don’t get warmth or concern. Instead, you get an autobot corporate response that: “They are looking into the problem. It should be fixed shortly.”
There is no human connection.
No home away from home — which I know is all pretend, but we all like the small free creature comforts when we travel.
You can make the same argument of some of the other major chains around the world, but many owners still manage to cut through the brand and make their places seem welcoming.
Though as one of my peers pointed out — maybe this is a cool British thing.
They’re wonderful and helpful people. But a welcoming hug is not really their style here.