A recent NY Times article discusses a new (and welcome) focus by hotels: soundproofing. Chains, always competing to offer the best amenities to prospective travelers, have finally figured out two of the most important amenities: peace and quiet. Some efforts include:
- AmericInn chain's "SoundGuard" program, in which the hotel uses masonry blocks filled with sound-deadening foam, in addition to drywall that is 5/8-inch thick, instead of ½-inch, to muffle noise.
- Loews Hotels has been offering free sound-masking machines that emit white noise for light-sleeping guests.
- Luxury hotels like Le Parker Meridien New York have eliminated most of the internal doors that once connected two guest rooms, a prime noise source.
While people find an amazing array of things to complain about when it comes to hotel rooms (no in-room coffee maker! spotty wireless!), there are really four major complaints one can make about a hotel stay:
In this Internet age, if you're not happy with a hotel's location, you have nobody to blame but yourself. There's no reason to rely on a hotel's statement that it's in "the middle of it all" when you can just look at Mapquest and travel review sites to figure out that "it all" is short for "skid row." Complaints two through four are tougher to predict ahead of time, as a hotel room's cleanliness, size, and noisiness can vary from room to room. Also, individual travelers' tolerance for these issues varies. A hard-of-hearing neat freak might really value a noisy but clean room, whereas a light sleeper would rather sleep on a dirt pile than listen to the elevator dinging all night.
On that note, families with children probably value quiet more than your average traveler. First, you don't want anything waking your kids up in the middle of the night, because they might not go back to sleep, and they'll quickly advise you of this fact. Second, if you have a crying baby or rambunctious pre-teens, you'll be less stressed if you know their cries and screams are muffled by the walls separating you from your neighbor.
So, you can keep your rain shower heads, your eucalyptus bath products, and your in-room pilates kit. None of those things make me feel nearly as good as eight hours of uninterrupted sleep by Travelin' Junior will. I'll be on the lookout for the latest in noise reduction. Exhibit A: AmericInn, the beautiful.