Holiday comfort: it’s all in the detail

Last week we took a break from our Sandboys gites and went to Brussels for a short stay.

Scanning the last-minute booking sites on the internet for a decent city centre hotel, we came across the Hotel du Grand Sablon, one of the NH Hotels group, 4 star rated, conveniently situated in the centre of Brussels and offering a bargain discount rate for the period we wanted. “Grand Sablon” sounded an ideal place for the sandboys, so we booked it.

4 star hotel not as comfortable as Sandboys Gites

The NH Hotel du Grand Sablon in Brussels - it needs a bedroom re-design

You would expect a hotel in a major group to offer pretty much everything its guests wanted, and at first glance our room seemed adequately roomy, comfortable and well equipped. It should be, after all, they probably have a whole design department that exists only to ensure that their rooms appeal to their clients. But it wasn’t long before we started to notice the errors and omissions.

First, the TV didn’t work – a maintenance worker was sent for and dicovered a loose aerial connection. The WiFi didn’t work, either, but that wasn’t of much interest to us so we didn’t make a fuss. The room’s major drawback, however, was a basic design error – something the corporate design department should have identified before investing group money in thousands of identical rooms, in dozens of their hotels all over Europe. The problem was one of a serious lack of mirrors.

Exterior of European Parliament building, Brussels

The European Parliament building

Now, we had been invited to Brussels to attend an event at the European Parliament building, so obviously a reasonable standard of turnout was required. Since the only mirror was in the bathroom, it wasn’t possible for Sue to put on her makeup or do her hair while I was in the shower creating lots of steam and condensation. After the shower, and an interval to clear the steam from the mirror, Sue could start to get her face on. Meanwhile I was choosing my suit (yes, I have more than one!) and trying on shirts but I couldn’t get to the mirror to see the effect, because the space in front of the mirror was now occupied.

Things got worse when Sue started to do her hair. Although there was a hairdryer fixed to the bathroom wall, her hair styling gizmo could only be plugged in in the bedroom, so she couldn’t get it closer than about 10 ft from the mirror. While she cursed, squinting through the bathroom door at her distant reflection, I dodged backwards and forwards in different suit/shirt combinations, trying to check my appearance without getting in her way.

Interior of Sandboys Pearl, one of our luxury seaside gites in Northern France

Inside one of our Sandboys gites

So, to come to the point, a little forethought in the NH Hotel Group design department would have led to the realisation that a full length mirror and a dressing table mirror, with an electrical socket nearby, would be absolutely essential to guests’ comfort. A little routine maintenance would have solved the TV problem before it became a problem, and if you advertise WiFi, you should make sure it works.

Now, we may not be running 4 star hotels at Sandboys, but we’re not charging 4 star hotel prices, either, so our bedrooms ALL have full length mirrors and, though there may not be space for a dressing table, there is somewhere for you to plug in your gizmos (safely) within reach of the bathroom mirror.

And our TVs are checked every week.

By the way, Brussels is about 3 hours easy driving time and Paris only 2 hours, from the Sandboys gites in Fort Mahon.

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