A rant about hotel showers…

I’m staying at the Grand Hyatt Santiago right now, which is a spectacular hotel. The service and rooms are easily up to Park Hyatt standards, and I can’t say enough good things about the hotel… except for the showers.

It’s 2012 and I don’t get how hotels still can’t get showers “right.” There are a few things that are important to me when it comes to showers:

  • Good water pressure
  • Good temperature control
  • Good draining
  • Easy to access and use controls

The hotel does well in the first three categories, though fails miserably in the last.

Here’s a picture of the shower:

And here’s a picture of the shower controls:

So what are my issues? First of all, see the glass shield in the first picture? That first piece of glass can’t be moved, so in order to access the shower controls you literally have to be in the shower.

That would be all that bad if the shower controls were labeled. I don’t know which side is for hot water and which is for cold water, and even worse, in order to turn them off you have to twist them in opposite directions. So it’s not even that you can turn both in the same direction to get the desired temperature you want. To make things even worse you have to twist the knobs at least 10 times before the water is all the way on or off. Using the shower at this hotel is one of the many activities contributing to my carpal tunnel syndrome.

I thought I finally had it all figured out last night, because I was at least able to make it so water would first flow out of the bath noozle instead of the shower nozzle. So I got into the shower this morning all bleary eyed with no trepidation, only to find that water still flowed out of the shower nozzle first. To say freezing cold water woke me up would be an understatement.

I love this hotel but I’m terrified to take showers. And that’s not in anyone’s best interest.

But seriously, Hyatt, Starwood, etc., any interest in hiring me as a shower consultant? šŸ˜‰

Or am I in the minority in caring so much about decent hotel showers? Yeah, I know, this is most definitely a #firstworldproblem…

Filed Under: Advice, Hotels
  1. Definitely not in the minority. The worst are the ones that don’t drain. I love standing in my own (and possibly others’) filth.

  2. If I find a good hotel with all the shower criteria you listed, I stick with it! A good shower experience goes a long way towards a great hotel stay IMO.

    In London for example, I stay at the Hotel Indigo Paddington primarily because their shower is consistently great!


  3. IMO, no hotel can be considered great if it features a combined bathtub and shower. Maybe it is just me, but they always seem lessc clean than walk-in showers and shower curtains are particularly disgusting.

  4. How about add “decente shower head height” to your list? I am 6feet 2″ and it is amazing that 5 star hotels still have very low shower heads.

  5. May be a first world problem, but at 8K points/night it’s a third world price.

    FWIW I stayed their two weeks ago and thought the water pressure crazy high.

  6. Easily one of the biggest gripes of all, because even if you don’t care about channel selection or coffee, you’re bound to take a shower when you’re in a hotel. šŸ™‚

    The other major peeve is the lack of an exhaust fan, but I digress.

    I was recently on a cruise and I was surprised how the cruise industry seems to have this sorted out already. Left control is for water quantity and right control for water temperature — labeled in degrees (albeit in celsius).

    You simply choose say 38Ā° and let her rip. I can’t believe nobody else is doing this.

  7. I have to agree about the showers. First I wish they all had walkin showers and not the tub. It would be nice if at least things were labelled

  8. +1 for Viguera: “The other major peeve is the lack of an exhaust fan”.
    1) Privacy
    2) Ventilation
    3) PRIVACY

  9. I am a flight attendant and I feel your pain! Even the fanciest of hotels seem to have a shower/bath design that appears to be an afterthought. They apparently put all their money into expensive furnishings. At least that shower has a hose, which you can aim (at least partially) away from you. I prefer a shower with a hose, and most hotel rooms don’t have them (unless you get an accessible room). The separate hot and cold knobs are now rare in the US, but are still common in Latin America. I also find it difficult to get a comfortable temp using them. I have seen some weird get-ups; from the Westin in San Luis Potosi (which has frilly shower curtains that do not close all the way), to the Presidente in Guadalajara (which has modern showers with only one glass panel and NO DOOR). Most hotel showers in the US seem to be designed for a 6 foot plus man, with shower heads very high on the wall. As an average height woman, I feel I do not get as clean in that kind of shower (another reason I like a hose). ALSO – to shave my legs – many showers do not have a ledge on which to place my feet, so I have to be a contortionist! And nowhere to place my shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and washcloth. I also would LOVE to be hotel shower consultant, or a hotel consultant in general (don’t get me started on too-soft and too-little hotel pillows, and no coffee or breakfast available for early morning departures).

  10. Wait until you get to be my age. Even if the controls ARE labeled, I need my reading glasses on to be able to read them. Ditto the shampoo/shower gel/conditioner. Very irritating.

  11. @Donna – Totally agree. Plus, I’ve been in showers in Europe that didn’t even have a partial glass door, just a drain in the bathroom floor outside the tub. Yuck.

  12. I’m in 100% agreement with Ryan above. Every hotel should have a stand up, shower only with a glass door and no tub. Tubs with curtains are disgusting. If an elbow/knee accidentally touches the curtain, I have to spend an extra 5 minutes trying to (re)scrub myself clean. Hotel showers, as a whole, may be my biggest fear in life.

  13. I’m beginning to think this blog should be renamed First World Problems While Traveling Premium…

    Just kidding. It is useful for people who have to choose between 2 options in the same city, or 2 airlines flying the same route…

  14. @Lucky-Well, since you asked-you head for the lounge showers seemingly at every international connection, despite having flown in uncrowded First Class & slept on clean sheets and duvets. In the current post, you showered last night and then again this morning. I’ve traveled internationally my entire career, often with colleagues and rarely have any of us used a lounge shower. To us they have a “yuck” factor in the same way gym showers do. Yes, they may have shiny fixtures and thick towels but their frequent daily use also means they probably aren’t very clean. Finally, as someone of Northern European extraction, you probably realize frequent showers are going to really dry out your skin.

  15. Some of the things you list are annoying, but I’m not sure why it is such a big deal where the water comes out of first. From your pictures it looks like you can point the shower head towards the wall, therefore saving you from a cold shower if you get it wrong. The most confusing shower I have had to use is one where you actually had to pull down on the underside of the bath nozzle to get water flowing up to the shower head. I had to call down to the front desk to figure it out!

  16. The father of a good friend of mine used to bring a pair of pliers when he traveled. He pulled the shower head off and removed the water saver at every hotel where he stayed!

  17. @ JetAway — Fair enough. I take showers at airports mostly so I can review the shower facilities (as I find there to be a huge variations in terms of the quality of airport showers). I showered last night because I had gone to the gym, and I showered this morning because I like to shower in the mornings whenever possible.

  18. @ snuggliestbear — That’s the problem. The shower pressure is so hard that even if you point the nozzle in a different direction you’ll still get wet.

  19. Lucky

    Totally agree with you when we stayed there in February — cool hotel and elevators — my son didn’t want to get off them since they are see through — got tired of the same repetitive lounge food though /- I would say at least there is a McDonald’s next door but since you’re a health nut now I guess not — at least the mall is near by.

  20. To me, when I’m looking for a place to crash on my 14 hour drive to the coast, I’d pay more to stay at the Super 8 in Wytheville, VA than the Marriott in Greensboro, NC, and the reason is the showers and beds are better at the Super 8.

    Statler was building in-room showers in 1912. It blows my mind that there are hotels that get it wrong after 100 years.

  21. SO and I will be in Santiago for first time soon as part of 6 country swing through South America. Only there for just 24 hours so like to minimize travel time to/from hotel from airport and wherever main tourist sites are. I have a SPG cash & pts booking at San Cristobal Tower as a lowly SPG Gold. Love any advice on switching to the Hyatt (or any another hotel).

  22. It seems that those who design hotel rooms do not travel enough and actually use the rooms. There are a number of minor improvements hotels could make that would increase guest satisfaction……the shower seems simple enough. And how about horizontal space for our stuff – to many hotels lack free space….

  23. that doesn’t look half bad. The shower at the Z Ocean Hotel in South Beach is the absolute worst I have ever seen

  24. I wear glasses and can barely see when I have them off, so when traveling I’ve gotten in the habit of always pulling the shower head off of its perch before each shower, and that way I know I won’t get a rude awakening while fumbling with the knobs.

  25. @ steve — If you’re a Hyatt Diamond I’d highly recommend the Grand Hyatt, especially on points since it’s only 8,000 points per night (or if you book via American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts you get a free massage for two once during your stay, which is an especially good value on a one night stay). The San Cristobal Tower is at most 10 minutes closer to the airport, so I wouldn’t make a decision based on that.

  26. @steve – the W Santiago is at the top of the chain hotel list in Santiago. The roof with bar and pool is spectacular, and in Santiago traffic it’s more than 10 minutes closer to the airport. San Cristobal is closer than the W, but not as nice and in a bit of a dead area (although closer to downtown if you want to see the old political buildings).

  27. Another shower pet peeve is no door (or curtain for that matter). Just a half-wall of glass that half-contains the water from the shower. If memory serves, W Hong Kong and W Santiago had these. The W NY Lex has the smallest shower I have ever been in, while a suite at the St. Regis Puerto Rico’s shower (an entire room!) was bigger than the whole W NY Lex bathroom. Truly amazing.

  28. I don’t know why they can’t just import this stuff, but the issues you’re talking about are most common in south America and europe. I agree!

  29. My semi rants would be:
    1. Pillows! The ones that provide no support and serve no purpose. If I wntedto lay my head on the bed directly I would not need a pillow.
    2. Bathroom lights. A dimmer switch or a low light is what I need. Late at ngt or first thig in the morning I do not need to be blinded by bright lights.
    3. Showers where te water goes everywhere. Most often seen traveling overseas.

    Of course the most important items are cleanliness, safety and quietness.

    I do like strong water pressure ad please no soft water.

  30. Had a new issue at the Westin in Mt Laurel NJ. The shower rod was so high that the shower curtain brely touched the top of the tub. To say there was a little water on the floor is an understatment…….

  31. Hilton Quebec-shockingly one of the top 5 hotel showers I’ve experienced. Just checked out yesterday. Great water pressure (but not too much) and a very precise temperature control. šŸ™‚

  32. Grand Hyatt Santiago accepts the “Classic” stay certificates, which cost $109. 8,000 points for a $109 room is actually pretty poor value…1.4 cents per point.

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