When we travel, whether for business or for pleasure, a hotel stay can make or break our trip. Traveling in itself can easily throw off our systems, and as a result, getting a good night sleep is crucial to our ability to be productive (as in the case of business travel), to overcome jet lag, to limit stress and ultimately, to stay in balance.
As a frequent traveler, I'm a bit picky about where I crash for the night. I've racked up millions of points on various hotel brands, and as a result, have developed the 'perfect night sleep' checklist:
Location, Location, Location: The location of your room is one of the most important aspects to getting a good night sleep. Why? Because certain locations will most definitely be noisier than others, easily disturbing you from a deep sleep slumber.
- Which Floor: When possible, choose the highest floor. If you can't get the highest, then try to get on a floor that is a 'concierge' or 'suite' level. Higher floor levels often have more suites, so the ceiling heights may be taller. This is good for 'air-cushioning' the noise that may come through the ceiling from an above room. I've had my fair share of nights when I was woken up at 2am from loud people getting in from a late night of partying. Also, avoid the first floor, as it will be the loudest and if you are a female, the least safe. You always want to be sure that you are at least on the second floor for safety.
- Where on the Floor: The middle of a guest floor is often the best location, away from the elevators, ice and vending machines, exit stairs and service closets (linens, housekeeping and janitor). In particular, guest and service elevator machinery is loud and can be heard through the walls of your room. Further, the 'Ding' that lets you know the elevator is arriving on your floor is enough to drive you batty.
- Renovations: Hotels go through periodic renovations. When they do, however, they do their renovations in stages. They usually renovate one floor at a time, which means that the hotel may have newly renovated rooms, as well as old, stinky, worn-out rooms. Always ask for the most newly renovated, as they will be cleaner, less smelly, and have newer linens, all helping you to feel more comfortable during your stay.
- No-Smoking Rooms and Hotels: If you are sensitive to smoke, look for hotels that are smoke-free. Although some hotels have non-smoking floors, there are many smokers who do not abide by these policies, leaving 'non-smoking' rooms and floors smokey. Further, housekeeping staff will do their best to cover up the smell, by over-air-freshening the room, which can often make the smell worse. Smoke-free hotels, however, see less of this and are often sought after by non-smokers who share your preference.
- Curtains: Most hotel rooms come with two or three sets of curtains. 'Black-out' curtains, sheers and decorative curtains. The 'black-out' curtains are your sleep time friend. As their name implies, they black-out your room so that light from outside of the hotel can not infiltrate and disturb your sleep. Use them. This will ensure that you won't be woken up by police car lights, billboards, parking lot lights or an earlier than optimal sunrise time.
- Do Not Disturb: Unless you get a thrill out of the housekeeper staff finding you in your skivvies, always remember to put out your 'Do Not Disturb' sign before you go to bed. This is especially important when you are on vacation. More often than not, the housekeeping schedule starts much earlier than your vacation schedule.
- Alarm Clock & Wake Up Call: Unfortunately, I've had both wake up calls and the alarm clock fail. Both of which can be very unsettling. Not only does this cause you to over-sleep, but you may very well miss an important meeting or sightseeing tour, all while having an adrenaline hangover that plagues you for the rest of the day. To ensure your schedule remains on...schedule, call down for a wake up call AND set the alarm. One of these may fail, but rarely will both.
Do you have any tricks of the trade to ensure a good night sleep while traveling? Have you had any bad experiences when you couldn't sleep or were woken up, only to not be able to go back to sleep?