What Can You Request When Booking a Hotel Room?

Aug 21, 2019

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Hotels can be a home away from home. At the same time, you may miss the creature comforts of home and even be frustrated by certain quirks of sleeping in a confined space surrounded by hundreds — if not thousands — of people doing the same thing.

There are lots of different things you can request during the booking process or by contacting the hotel directly afterwards. These are not guaranteed, but if they are not unreasonable, you may be surprised at just how much you can customise a hotel room to make your stay more comfortable and enjoyable.

(Photo by Marcus Manoogian/The Points Guy)

Standard Requests

There may be tick boxes during the booking process for some requests that are very common, or they may even be suggested in a free-field box. These include:

  • Smoking or non-smoking room, although it’s more likely this will be chosen as part of the room selection process rather than hoping this can be accommodated.
  • A room away from or close to elevators. Being close to elevators can be great for guests with limited mobility, as it reduces the amount of walking or moving required. At the same time, rooms close to elevators can mean many guests walking past at all hours. And a hotel with very old elevators can be noisy and disruptive, so you may wish to request a quieter room away from the elevator bank if mobility is not an issue.
  • A high- or low-floor room. If you have any fears of heights, you may wish to be closer to the ground. Or if street noise may keep you awake, a higher room may be more suitable. Potential views will also be better from higher floors.
  • Early or late check-in or checkout. These will be considered based on capacity and reasonableness (it’s unlikely you will be allowed to check-in at 7am and out at 7pm the next day with only a one-night booking). Having elite status can help significantly with this.
  • No alcohol in room. If, for whatever reason, you would prefer the mini-bar to be alcohol-free, you can request this be cleared out before you arrive. If you would rather use fridge space for your own food or drinks or are perhaps travelling with children who won’t look at mini-bar prices before ripping open a chocolate bar, you may wish to request the entire mini-bar be removed.
(Photo courtesy of The Points Guy)

Unique Requests

You may have heard funny stories of guests making absurd requests from luxury hotels just to see if they could be fulfilled, like a signed photo of an obscure celebrity. I would not recommend pushing your luck with a hotel purely for your own amusement, but there are a number of other requests that a good hotel should be able to fulfill — especially at the five-star luxury level:

  • Extra or different pillows. I sleep better with a firm pillow, so would much prefer to organise that for the room than wake up with a sore neck because my head sank down to the mattress.
  • A laundry bag to keep. Hotel laundry fees can be outrageous, but if you can find free or low-cost laundry facilities somewhere else and only half your clothes need cleaning, then a laundry bag can be a great way to separate them while you’re still travelling.
  • Ice bucket. While this is commonly requested after checking in to the room, if you are super organised, you may want to ensure this is ready and waiting for you before you arrive.
  • Additional toiletries. If a tiny bottle of shampoo or conditioner simply isn’t enough each day, then you can ask for additional toiletries. The hotel won’t provide you with enough freebies to start your own B&B, but reasonable additional amounts should be accommodated by decent properties.
  • Umbrellas. If you are travelling hand luggage only, umbrellas are fiddly items to pack. I find those tiny handbag-size ones tend to be difficult to put up and take down each time, and large umbrellas don’t fit neatly within cabin bags. If you live in the UK, you may never leave home without an umbrella. But if travelling and the forecast looks wet, you can ask the hotel if they can loan you an umbrella in advance. This way you can spend more time drinking piña coladas and less time getting caught in the rain.
  • Universal power adapters. While experienced traveller never visit countries with different plugs without this little gadget, they are also incredibly easy to leave behind in your last accommodation — especially if you yank it out from behind a bed in a rush as you run out of a room. Most hotels will have plenty of these plugs — both ones they have purchased themselves and ones guests leave behind. The same applies to phone and tablet chargers. Note that some modern hotels will have universal plugs as standard offerings, so you may not need an adapter.
  • Sewing kits. While I can’t personally sew to save my life, I do appreciate the frustration of a loose or missing button — especially if you are travelling for business and it’s located somewhere prominently. If you’re rolling in to town knowing you need a quick fix solution, this can be waiting in your room when you arrive. And there’s always YouTube to learn how to sew urgently.
(Photo courtesy of The Points Guy)

Hotels differ hugely around the world in terms of size, standard of luxury, locations and amenities. A tiny, family-run guest house in a remote mountain somewhere may simply be unable to accommodate some requests — even if you provide plenty of notice and ask very nicely. Meanwhile, a 3,000-room, five-star chain resort in a major tourist destination may be able to bend over backwards and deliver the impossible.

Manage your expectations, request in advance where possible and appropriate, and have the most comfortable stay you can.

Featured image by Eric Rosen / The Points Guy

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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