When you visit a hotel these days, most guests expect air conditioning, online booking, and in-room dining. Those amenities weren’t always available to guests, though. However guests slowly started to expect them and the hospitality industry responded. These days, modern travelers expect hotel rooms with cable TV, wifi and sometimes even pillow menus. As the new amenities become common, for better or worse, some of the features we knew and loved in older hotels have fallen by the wayside.
Here are ten things you don’t find in hotels anymore:
1. Hoteltype and Reservatron
In 1947, the first hotel reservation was introduced by Westin. Hoteltype allowed for instantaneous confirmation of reservation requests, a vast improvement over the telegrams and mail system that had been in place before. By 1958, Sheraton improved on the technology with their own system, the Reservatron, which was the industry’s first automated electronic reservation system—and the first toll-free reservation number. Now they’ve given way to online booking and even 800 numbers are becoming less common.
2. Room Keys
It’s pretty rare these days to check into a hotel and be handed a key by the front desk clerk. Instead, it’s usually an envelope with a plastic card with a magnetic strip. Now, even these key cards are starting to disappear. Starwood, the parent company behind brands like Sheraton, Westin, and W, developed a keyless entry system that lets loyalty members access their room via a smartphone app that is waved in front of a panel on the door.
3. Postage-Paid Key Rings
Back in the days when hotels used real keys for their doors, they wanted to make it really easy for customers to return the keys if they accidentally wandered off with them. The solution was a key fob that promised the post office that the postage would be paid if the key was dropped in the mailbox. It’s unclear how well these worked, but considering how many can be spotted at antique stores and yard sales, we’re guessing not very well.
4. Vibrating Beds
"Put in a quarter, turn out the light, Magic Fingers makes ya feel all right," Jimmy Buffett sang in "This Hotel Room." Magic Fingers was a little coin-operated motorized contraption invented by John Houghtaling in 1958. It attached to the mattresses in hotel rooms and made them shake and was meant to give exhausted travelers 15 minutes of “tingling relaxation” for a quarter.
5. In-room marketing material
Before the internet if you wanted to know what activities a town had to offer, you would simply check into a hotel and browse through a rack of brochures. These glossy brochures, which were frequently displayed in hotel rooms, would advertise local attractions and nearby restaurants to woo customers. Now that the information is available on smartphones, there’s no need to clutter up a guest room with dusty old paper fliers.
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6. Bath Tubs
While they can be gorgeous works of design, hotel bath tubs may not as be as clean as they appear. That’s just one of the reasons that modern travelers are opting for showers instead of lingering in tubs. Now hotels are getting rid of tubs in lieu of showers which are easier to clean, less of a safety risk, and take up less of that valuable hotel square footage.
7. Daily Sheet and Towel Changes
As travelers become more conscious of the environmental impact of hotels stays and the importance of water conservation, many hotels have made it a policy to ask guests if they really need their linens changed daily. Since most of us reuse our sheets and towels, this is one eco-friendly change that guests are happy to make, especially as some hotels offer reward points for making the switch.
8. Skipping Out On the Hotel Bill
It’s pretty much impossible to check into a hotel these days without ponying up a credit card. While the desk clerk will explain they are keeping the card on file for incidentals like the minibar or room service, they are also holding on to those precious digits for another reason—to prevent anyone from skipping out on the hotel bill. So-called “skippers” were enough of a problem back in the day that the entire hotel industry ended up changing their payment plan to require payment upfront.
9. Bed Scarves and Throw Pillows
So-called bed scarves have fallen so far out of use that many readers may have no idea what the name refers to. Bed scarves are the strips of fabric placed lengthwise on the foot of the bed either as decoration or to protect the duvet from shoes. As more travelers become wary of the germs and bedbugs that lurk in even high-end luxury hotels, bed scarves and throw pillows are both being done away with by hotels. The bed amenities are being removed to address germ concerns, make cleaning easier and faster for housekeeping, and to make rooms look more modern.
10. Guest Books
While guest books used to be a way for vacationers to share favorite memories of their time in a hotel, most modern travelers have no interest in leaving their name and address in a guest book for strangers to read. If you really like a hotel, leave a comment on their social media page or on TripAdvisor.