As a freelance travel writer, I spend most of my time traveling across the country and around the world. And because I'm constantly working on deadlines while traveling, it's imperative that the hotels I stay in support my work experience so I don’t fall behind.
Over the years, I've developed a list of criteria that I look for in a hotel to suit my business needs.
1. Complimentary Wi-Fi access. There should be strong Internet access available in-room and accessible throughout the hotel – including by the pool. A hotel should not call itself a business hotel and business traveler-friendly if it charges guests money to use the Internet. Sadly, it seems there are more hotels that charge than don’t charge.
From my experience, it seems that most boutique hotels offer complimentary Wi-Fi, while bigger-name chain hotels have no problem tacking on $14.95 to $24.95 daily in Internet charges to your bill.
2. A multitude of electrical sockets. How hard is it to outfit a room with plugs by the bed, at the desk, near any additional seating? I travel with my laptop, cell phone and camera and have to recharge all of them each day. A good business hotel has plugs in more than one place. Two plugs on each side of the bed are more than reasonable. It is surprising how many business hotels fail at doing this.
3. U.S. -adapted plugs, or U.S. adaptors. When traveling outside of the country, it’s nice to not have to bring your own adaptor. Some business hotels will be so on it that they will have the appropriate adaptor already in your room for you, based on your nationality.
4. Free local calls. It’s so 1980s to charge for a local call. And then to charge some obscene rate just to a nearby office is just unfair. While most of that is solved these days with the use of our own cell phones, it’s tacky to be charged for any in-city local calls.
5. Quality and complimentary in-room coffeemakers and water bottles. When working from your room, it’s not too much to expect to have a coffee pot some decent-quality coffee available for impromptu brewing.
Water-wise, after a long day, being able to take a swig from a water bottle that doesn’t cost $7 is the least a hotel can do for someone who’s already paying in the hundreds for a room.
6. A pleasant and attentive staff that follows through on requests. When you ask for that 5:45am wake up call, it should not come at 6am. You should never have to wait long for a taxi, and staff should know the answers to every reasonable question you ask. A hotel staff should know its hotel inside and out. And for international business travel, it’s crucial that the staff at the hotel you choose speaks and understands English.
7. A solid business center. You’re in the hotel for work, so chances are you will be doing work-related things at the hotel. It is a tremendous hassle to have to run to a nearby Kinko’s – but it's unbelievably convenient when your hotel has all those capabilities right there.
A hotel should have a business center with working copy machines, fax machines and printers, and, within reason, they should be complimentary. The best hotels have someone knowledgeable on hand to troubleshoot if there are any technical challenges.
8. Hotels with frequent-flyer programs. Once you determine which hotels suit you best during your business travels, this is a nice feature to help you save money down the road.
9. A 24-hour fitness center. Working those long hours on the road can completely mess up your routine. Taking a break to slip in a run on the treadmill after sitting in meetings all day helps keep you sane and productive.
10. Various concierge services. This isn’t mandatory, but once you’ve experienced the perks of having on-call concierge services, it’s hard to imagine working without one.