At the Motel 6 in Santa Barbara, Calif., request a room with a view.
If you're staying at the Ritz-Carlton, you probably expect the hotel to do its utmost to fulfill any special request, be it for your favorite brand of bubbly in the minibar or cookies for your children. If, on the other hand, you're at a Motel 6, your expectations for customized service may be considerably lower (since the cost of your accommodations certainly is).
This needn't be the case. Most budget and midprice hotels work just as hard as their luxury counterparts to satisfy certain special requests—but you have to ask for what you want.
Take bathroom amenities: Best Western rooms are ordinarily stocked with standard minibottles of shampoo and conditioner. And, spokeswoman Carolyn Marion says, "Any Best Western in the world will supply additional toiletries—razor, shaving cream, toothbrush, toothpaste—at no charge, if you request them."
Most hotels also try to honor room location requests, far beyond that of smoking or nonsmoking. "We make every effort," says Kelley Johnson of Motel 6. "We can't make guarantees, but we try to accommodate requests for the ground floor or second floor, for poolside or by the front office, or away from the highway." In taller buildings, you might request a room on an upper level for the most light or the best view, or on a low floor if you're cautious about fire escapes.
If you travel with small children, you're probably accustomed to calling ahead for cots or cribs. But you can also ask to have glass-topped tables removed from your room or the minibar emptied of candy. If you're traveling with pets, it helps to know that many hotels—including more than 1,000 North American Best Westerns, most Motel 6 properties, and many Days Inns—will happily accommodate animals if you make advance arrangements.
Once you've customized your hotel room to your heart's content, you may find there's just one additional request you'd want to make: late checkout.
Photography by MacDuff Everton
This article was first published in May 2004. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.