The quest for the well-labeled inn

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Thou shalt not put misleading labels on your power plugs.
(I’m looking at you, hotel of big US chain in Buenos Aires)


Thy TV’s should also not prevent an external video signal.

(Better than it used to be, but I wrote a white paper once on all the tricks back when most hotel TV’s were CRT’s)


Never shall thine ginormous mirror be placed where one, while seated on toilet, has an unavoidable view. Because, goddamn.


I hate hotels, for the most part. But I find the exploration of different kinds of fixtures and such to be one of their few appealing qualities. Maybe I just like UI experiments! I would sooner sleep strapped near the top of a tree. My weirdest improvised crash spot was probably the roof of a bank.

My funniest “label” instance was in my early teens, I had “run away” and had to find a cheap hotel in Manhattan which would service a kid with cash, and not fleece me. I found a place, paid my cash for the night, and the deskperson called out: “Oh! Look out for the Danish people!” As I found my way around, indeed, there were quite a few fair people painting every surface of the interior of the hotel. These were the Danish people. Everything was labelled only with freshly-painted dots, vines, shapes, and other decorations.


light switches that control power outlets bother me. I get frustrated by the hotel infotainment systems, but I also get frustrated by cable and satellite tv setups since I use a pc through my TV.

Otherwise most of the stuff that bugs you here I find novel. Kind of like one of those puzzle box rooms.

I guess the issue is that you travel often and for work while I travel seldom and for leisure. I think they are making more money from people like me than people like you.


Maybe if all the happy mutants started carrying Sharpies, we could fix this problem ourselves. And maybe even get a little creative, a la JWZ. :slight_smile:



Back in the eighties when I traveled to our company’s Encinitas, CA headquarters for a week at a time to do new-product design binges, I usually stayed in the same cheap motel down the street. $30 a night for the third floor walk-up.

This motel had the exact same hand-painted mural over the bed in every room - a seascape with a tall sailboat. I made sure to draw a skull and crossbones on the mainsail of the boat every time I stayed in a room. I only remember seeing my handiwork again once - they put me in a lot of different rooms.


Non-intuitive hotel UI has long been a pet peeve of mine. Don’t get me started on hotel alarm clocks… I am only staying in Doctrow approved hotels from now on.


The unofficial standard for switched power outlets (in the U.S. anyway) is to mount them upside-down, with the ground on top. Not everyone knows about this – hell, not all electricians know about it, so it’s often not implemented. But if you do come across upside down outlets that’s usually why.

The reason switched outlets are so common in hotel rooms is because it’s easier to flip a switch on the wall by the door to turn on the fixtures that can’t be hardwired (floor lamps, table lamps, etc.) than to fumble around in the darkness feeling under lampshades for a switch.


IX. Thy TVs shalt be free of always-on retina-searing blue LEDs which doth light the room at all hours;

X. Thy window curtains shalt actually cover the window, especially in the center;

XI. Thy window curtains shall not be transparent, because no one doth need to see that;

XII. Thy impossible-to-set randomly-set alarm clocks shall be banished forever; and

XIII. In place of thine alarm clocks thou shalt leave room for smartphones, and perhaps thou might make available a charging outlet, in thy mercy;

XIV. Thy shitty captive WiFi page shalt have a large easy-to-read AGREE button so that we might skip thine inane and unenforceable EULA;

XV. Thy interconnecting suite doors shalt be so heavily insulated so that we might not hear thine other guests’ 105mm shells exploding over a Methods of Mayhem concert;

XVI. At no time shall thine desks’ convenience outlets shock thine guests.

(I could go on. XVI actually occurred. I have pictorial proof.)



some weeks ago I stayed in a hotel that had TV sets WITHOUT a stand-by LED (and the receptionist did totally not understand my heartfelt praise)


Searching fruitlessly for objects to obscure the LEDs, I usually relieve the TV of power. That is getting increasingly difficult as TVs are sometimes mounted to the wall. I’ve considered using toothpaste / lotion / opaque gels from the bathroom.

Given that the latest hotel trend is toward TVs without HDMI inputs, or–in a true display of cardinal sin–HDMI input jacks but with no means of switching inputs*, I think the humble hotel TV has truthfully become worse than useless.

*No buttons on the TV at all, and one of those idiotic Fisher-Price hermetically-sealed remotes with the membrane keyboard and like 15 buttons, none of which is “SOURCE” or “MENU,” unless by “menu” the hotel means “our shitty self-promotion channel.”


I have never understood the reason behind minimalist tap fittings…

Two regular tap heads taps labelled H and C or with dots of red and blue. The same works for two separate taps, a mixer tap, or a shower. A plug on a chain.

How could you?

No, we need a featureless orb that is hot when turned to the right, cold when turned to the left (or is it the other way around), flow increases when you turn it to the back, and the flow stops and the plug opens when you turn it forward. The temperature is regulated using some bimetallic strip thing that takes a few seconds to react so your panicky correction between “die, puny earthling” hot and “gulag” cold always overshoots. Look behind, and the plug is raised using a set of shafts and junctions that look like they came from a Meccano set, and are always twisting and jamming.

See? That’s how it’s done.



I don’t travel much here in the UK, but i tend to find odd plumbing fixtures less of a problem.

Instead i’ve found obscure plug socket locations to be the issue, usually located at maximum possible distance from the bedside table as physically possible. I now pack a 2metre 2 socket extension lead with me to combat this.

And as someone else mentioned: Full length mirrors opposite the toilet or even worse fully mirrored walls in bathrooms. Must be very nice if you’re a very vain person, but it’s horrible if you’re not O.o


Thou shalt not make the television the central control point for the light switches, audio system, and checkout procedures, because what the hell.


The reason hotels like to use thermostatic mixing valves is that you can set a maximum temperature (to prevent lawsuits) even though the hot water heater is set really, really, friggin hot (to prevent running out of).

My peeve is when they don’t maintain them properly.


Plugholes with no grating that you could lose a whole fucking fob watch, never mind rings and so forth however. We got those.

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I have a few:

XVII: Thou shall stop buying clock radios (from that certain factory in China that appears to make them for all hotel chains) which are designed to pull in a ‘power rock’ station from Michigan, repeating it every 3KHz all over the dial, while completely unable to tune in the local CBC station whose antenna is only three clicks away.

XVIIIa: Thou shall stop installing more WiFi hotspots than there are rooms in the hotel. The Four-Colour Theorem has been proven; there is no need for eighteen equally strong signals distributed amongst the channels, thereby ensuring that thine guests’ device cannot lock onto any of them.

XVIIIb: If thou feelst that a completely unusable, expensive-to-install Wifi signal is the hallmark of fine hotels, then thou must have a working cabled data drop in the room which is not so old that it’s connected to a network hub which has never even heard of 10baseT.

XIX: Thou shall stop serving that ‘Mexican omelette’ at the free breakfast nook. It is an abomination.

XX: Thou shall have the bedside light switches reachable from the bed.

XXI: Thou shall lobby television manufacturers so they install the IR sensor for the remote in the top of the TV’s frame, so that thine guests won’t have to raise the hands at an awkward angle to try, try, try to change the friggin’ channel when lying on the bed.

XXII: If thou feelst the need to mount the television low, bolted to furniture, and in front of a mirror, then thou shall move that mirror so it can actually be used.

XXIII: If thou art the CEO who really thinks that a three-inch shelf in the bathroom is sufficient for thine guests’ toiletry items, then thou must be present at check-out time to suffer the slings and arrows hurled by thine guests’ because of the outrageous fortune of their kits falling into the toilet.


V. Yea, and thou shalt label them, with large, sans-serif writing, HOT and COLD, in red and blue

The last time I stayed in a hotel room which had an “H” somewhere near the tap, that of course meant hladno. Everybody who is surprised about getting cold water from that tap obviously doesn’t know enough Croatian. And the last time I stayed in a hotel room which had a tap labeled “C”, that of course meant caldo, which obviously means warm, at least if you happen to be in Italy.

Which is the way water taps are done nowadays in developed countries. There are of course different definitions of what a “developed” country is. The definition I’m using is that a developed country is one in which proper water taps are widely installed. Anyway, when you’re visiting one of those developed countries, adapt.

I’ve encountered about ten different systems of water taps in my life.

  1. The normal one. (= the one you described, except that the plug only opens when you open it using a separate lever)
  2. Two separate tap heads, one for hot water, one for cold water, being mixed into one tap.
    3 - 10. Everything else.

The distribution is about as follows:
3 - 10. English-speaking countries only.

  1. Installations made in the last 20 years in reasonably well-to-do countries
  2. Old installations and/or poorer countries