Nocturnal activities seem not to include reading in bed in the mind of many hoteliers. The Good Hotel Guide gets more complaints about poor bedside lights than any other matter – more than poor welcome, indifferent food and noise.
Loud and/or inappropriate Muzak comes second. ‘The bedside lighting was atrocious,’ we are often told as correspondents describe their struggle to enjoy a cosy pre-sleep read. The emphasis too often is on design rather than comfort. And the current fashion for overhead lights and ecological light bulbs often means that you cannot find a well-lit chair in which to sit and read.
Frequently, the only brightly lit place is the bathroom. In public rooms it can be just as hard to read, with inadequate lighting added to that other disturber of the peace, Muzak. Dim lighting may be ‘romantic’ but what if you are alone or not in the mood?
There are of course many honourable exceptions, and Guide readers are quick to single them out. At Apsley House in Bath, for example, we were able to read our books comfortably thanks to well-placed lights inside the drapes of a four-poster. For a city hotel, One Aldwych in London’s Strand is a model. The Queensberry in Bath is another excellent place where you can read without straining your eyes.
Surely in this day of dimmer switches this problem could easily be put right. I recommend that each hotelier goes round his premises in the evening with a book, and spends a night in each of his rooms.
Meanwhile, dedicated readers might like to take the latest back-lit Kindle on their travels, to be on the safe side. It is always worth discussing these sort of issues with the hotelier. And if you have a problem, please write to us:
Caroline Raphael, Associate Editor, The Good Hotel Guide