[W]hen I think back to when I was a kid, family vacations involved long road trips and stops at scary looking motels where the lights were dim, the pool water was green and the black & white TV was above average. Back then you didn’t plan your road stays. When we got tired, my parents would pull off the highway and look for a lite up “Vacancy” sign. We would check in, pre-pay, and get handed a real key. You know, the kind that fit inside a doorknob and turned. If we were lucky the place might have a TV, some extra towels, and a phone–although it was usually a rotary and sometimes it had a lock.

Nowadays overnights are quite different! Even the simplest of hotels/motels offer many amenities and extras. As one who travels more than most, I thought it would be fun to review my favorite features and a few that I wish weren’t there.

The Curved Shower Curtain Rod & Hotel Shower Curtains

Nothing was more irritating than standing in a foreign hot shower and having your butt sticking to the plastic hotel shower curtains. Don’t laugh, you know what I am talking about. I am sure it was during one of these curtain sticking episodes, that Joe Bob tripped, brought down the curtain, and bent the rod. After some colorful metaphors, he re-hung the bent contraption, paused for moment to admire his handy work, and became a patented zillionaire. However it happened, it is my number one new features for hotels. Thanks Joe Bob!

Fred's Five Favorite Hotel Features: The Hotel Clock Radio

The Hotel MP3 Clock Radio

Waking up to your own iTunes or ripped music straight out of your iPod is fantastic. I have not visited a hotel yet that didn’t have a place to slap in or hook up the royal tuneage. (I like to wake up to Weird Al’s White & Nerdy.) The music is great but setting the alarm–well…not so great. The blinking 12:00 AM set time, modern science has yet to truly simplify. Although I am sure there are guys with lab coats and a clipboards trying to solve it.

The Hotel Hairdryer, Conair 87

The Fancy Hotel Hairdryer, the Conair 87

I could truly care less about my number three, but I have to be fair to my wife and daughter. It’s the modern-day hairdryer. You NEVER need to pack a hairdryer as EVERY hotel has one. Now the quality of the device and the freedom from which to use it, will vary depending on where you stay.

Most motels are trying to prevent you from committing suicide, so their dryers are bolted to the wall opposite the bath tub. The fancier hotels give you the freedom to zap yourself with the latest light weight, low noise and adjustable heating Conair 87. This puppy will dislodge a toupee and dry two feet of hair in 4.3 seconds. However the city lights will dim when used.

The Hotel Coffee Maker

The Single Cup Coffee Maker

To get your caffeine fix without walking twenty steps to the lobby, nothing is better than a single cup of do-it-yourself Wolfgang Puck coffee. Ah these single cup coffee makers are great, coming in as my number four great hotel product. It’s worth firing this baby up even if you don’t drink coffee. The smell of coffee in your hotel room is the new “I’m really smart” aroma. It says “intellectual” much the same way that car wash fake “new car” smell did for your 1993 Toyota Camry.

Why is there a Hotel Telephone by the Toilet?

Hotel Phone by the Toilet, Really?

For all the great features hotels provide, I cannot understand why there is a hotel phone by the toilet. First off, “Who actually uses the hotel phone anymore?” Doesn’t the world carry a cell phone, iPhone, Android, or some cellular device?
[tweet “Anybody out there still paying $2.99 a min to use the hotel’s local or long distance service?”]

Even if you don’t have a cell phone, are you going to order room service or talk to your business associates from this position in the hotel room? “President Billy Bob, I want to review those acquisition number…” loud earthquake sound “Sorry about that Billy, I’m dialing from the hotel john, and I knew I should not have had that second round of sushi.” I think not. This feature should not exist.

Speaking of ridiculous extras, does anybody use both rolls of toilet paper at the same time? Another frivolous feature I don’t understand. This feature is right up there with the cable TV, but that is a discussion for another time. I just heard a crash next door and the lights dimmed. It’s probably Joe Bob doing in another shower curtain, or he just invented the Conair 88.

What are your favorite or annoying hotel amenities?

Image are Fred’s taken from his hotel room.