The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Hotel Lighting in My Perfect World….

We all know the fairy tale of the Princess and the Pea, in which the sensitive princess cannot sleep due to a minute imperfection in her bedding. So … if the princess is aware of her uncommon sensitivity, which translates into an inability to sleep well under less than ideal circumstances, does she have a right to complain about hotel accommodations? Probably not, since the problem is mostly her. But she definitely has a right to comment. And so I shall.

The inspiration to think about lighting came from Nancy Novogrod, editor of Travel + Leisure, who listed a few recommendations for hotel designers in her June 2010 Editor’s Note. Novogrod had the brilliant idea of putting some kind of lighting control for the entire room at the bedside. I love this idea! People sleep in the dark, and hotel rooms are unfamiliar. There should be a way to control all the lighting — and room temperature and air flow — in the hotel room or suite from a bedside console, a unit that is not so bright that one needs to cover it up in order to sleep.

I can recall staying at only one place that actually came sorta kinda close to doing this the way I have in mind. The Haddonfield Inn in Haddonfield, NJ, has the control for the main overhead light right alongside the headboard in the Rose and Bud room, where we usually stay. A single step away is access to the control for track lighting, which can be brightened or dimmed. But really? All room lighting should be managed from a single, remote-control device that sits on the nightstand. The default state for this device is perfectly dark, but when you pick it up, it lights up just enough that you can see which controls you want to use. Then you should be able to press a button and make the lighting in your unit do exactly what you want, whether it be dim or go off or illuminate a path to the now faintly lit bathroom. The technology doesn’t exist yet, but this is what I want.

I carry a small flashlight in my purse and a pair of tiny “button” nightlights in my luggage. Why don’t these meet my needs? For starters, a purse-sized flashlight brightly illuminates a small spot in the direction you point it rather than softly lighting a larger area, and trust me, based on experience, that isn’t always enough. And the batteries have an unfortunate tendency to expire while the flashlight lives in my purse. As for the nightlight, hotel rooms are not always designed for guests to see the bathroom. The small hotel suite we stay at in Phoenix has a bathroom around two corners from the bedroom, and light doesn’t bend. I’ve even had problems finding an appropriate outlet, which is unbelievable in the 21st century. But it’s true.

Rather than argue the theoretical, allow me to recount a hellish situation Dave and I found ourselves in last summer. We were to arrive in Salt Lake City around 7:20 p.m. and meet my mother there about 20 minutes later. She had a direct flight from St. Louis, while we were flying to Denver and changing planes. The plan didn’t work. Our flight to Denver was significantly delayed, causing us to miss most connecting flights, and we arrived there around the time Mom landed in Salt Lake. My aunt Joyce met Mom instead, and they drove about 90 minutes to Joyce’s home. Following further delays in Denver, we arrived in Salt Lake around 12:30 or 1:30 a.m., I forget which. We were completely exhausted, and the nice kid at the front desk of a nearby Hampton Inn gave us the quietest room he had available when we staggered in around 2 a.m. We promptly went to bed.

We figured that, due to the time difference and having to get up early to be at the airport for a flight that didn’t take off, we’d been up 22 straight hours. So you’d think we’d sleep soundly and straight through. But has there ever been a night where I didn’t need to get up and visit the bathroom? No. And Dave is similar. So we were in our oddly shaped room, the bathroom was around a corner from the bed with a sort of kitchenette in between, and the light from my little button nightlight wasn’t shining where we could see it because light doesn’t bend. I got up a couple of times with the flashlight to adjust the temperature. But en route to the bathroom, one of us — and I don’t even remember who, but I’m pretty sure it was Dave — experienced a nasty encounter between the kitchenette and a bare foot.

With my hypothetical nightstand light gizmo on each nightstand, he would have been able to grab his gizmo, press the right buttons, and have a softly lit pathway illuminated between the bed and the bathroom. And this would be necessary in part because I would have blocked all the friggin’ bright light from the microwave, TV, and alarm clock, which is in all ways too excessive and interferes with sleep. In fact, there’s all sorts of information about the benefits of sleeping in a completely dark room. Most appliance lighting is ridiculously bright, in my opinion.

By now you’re thinking, “this woman is insane, there’s no pleasing her, she’s really demanding, and she wants the impossible.” And you are absolutely right! I want light when I want it, and I want it completely dark the rest of the time, and I want hotels to supply me with technology that doesn’t exist yet so that I can have complete control over the level of light. Hell, yes, it’s unreasonable! But this is my blog, and this is my blog post about hotel lighting in my perfect world. This is what I want, and I hope some day to land in a hotel and find it. I can’t be the only one — I suspect Ms. Novogrod would like my nonexistent device quite a lot.


May 20, 2010 - Posted by | hotels, random thoughts, travel, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Thanks for the favorable mention of the Haddonfield Inn! I know when I stay in hotels I often have to leave the bathroom light on so I can find my way back there in the middle of the night. Getting a good night’s sleep away from home can be a challenge for sure! As an innkeepers we try and stay aware of what our guests might need in order to feel most at home and get the rest they need. I think your idea is a great one and actually these technologies do exist, they are just not commonplace yet. Your wish may come sooner than you think!
    Happy Travels,
    Haddonfield Inn

    Comment by Anastasia | May 21, 2010 | Reply

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