Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Traveling Woman

In the next 5-6 months, I will be making several professional trips to Europe, and I have been working on my travel arrangements this week. I have found it very helpful in recent years to consult online reviews of hotels. I like to stay in small to medium sized hotels that seem like they might have some elements of charm or character. What is most important to me, though, is how a hotel treats its women guests. That's where the reviews are helpful.

I pay no attention to reviews from people who complain that a hotel is 'old' or that the rooms are small or that the TV was microscopic. Information about traffic or other noise and renovation/construction can be useful, but mostly I care about being safe and being treated with respect.

One hotel I was seriously considering I am now not considering because a review from a solo woman guest noted that she was ignored by the staff at breakfast, even once she told them that she wasn't waiting for anyone, and she had trouble getting the attention of people at the front desk. I can deal with a certain amount of rudeness, especially if it is equal-opportunity rudeness, but I'd rather stay at a place where women travelers are as welcome as men travelers.

After (and sometimes during) my trips, I contribute reviews of the places I stay, including positive reviews of hotels that treated me well. I think this is important data for solo women travelers, and much more interesting than whether the pillows are too thin.


Irie said...

My husband and I found a great hotel by checking online reviews. It's helpful to have info about nearby attractions, cleanliness of the hotel, and customer service.

meijusa said...

Sometimes I wonder whether the only scenario available to hotel planners is the lone traveling man, at least they seem to optimize the height of the mirror and sink such that a tall man can shave comfortably. arggghh

iGollum said...

I sometimes check out hotel reviews on websites for gay travelers, because you can tell a lot about how bigoted or how open-minded the staff may be from the way they treat same-sex couples.

Professor Staff said...

I too have found (my favorite) useful for academic travel.

I'm amazed at the "standards" that some people have -- as you pointed out, you need to read those reviews from your own personal standards. If someone is offended that their luggage wasn't carried to their room, I don't really care :) (I hate it when someone tries to "help" with my single rolling bag)

FemaleCSGradStudent said...

The most female friendly hotel I ever stayed at was in Osaka Japan. I stumbled onto this hotel in the "red light district." It apparently didn't see that many women. I got a special pack of feminine items, and the women-only bath had a security code. Despite the red light district part, as an American woman in a Japanese city, I felt safe and sound.

Storm at sea said...

I never reserve a hotel anymore without checking out Trip Advisor. And you're right, the standards vary, which can be vastly amusing. Basically, there's always someone complaining about the hotel, but whether they're complaining about the bedbugs and roaches or about the inattentive concierge makes a big difference!

And especially for European hotels, there's always an American complaining about how small the rooms are...

EuropeanFSP said...

Actually, hotels in Europe are not bad if you avoid the "American standard" :)

Look for the El Cheapos that are not "International", the smaller houses a bit out from the center of town and not easily accessable by car, but by public transit.

Even some of the middling ones are great, usually there is a breakfast buffet, so I can choose what I want myself, no snooty waiters asking where the Mr. is. And they respect your privacy, but are quite willing to help, if you need it, much different from the missing service mentality found throughout Germany.

If you are visiting Germany ;) do make a point to put "Prof. Dr." FSP on your hotel registration form. Germans in hotels and such will respect thet title, even if you are a woman - they assume (rightly) that it must have been a long, hard path to get to those letters.

The last time I felt mistreated as a woman was in a hotel in the States.

The last time I felt mistreated as a woman on a search committee was, um, this afternoon. But that is another, horrible, long story.