Business Insider Edition

The biggest red flag to look out for when checking into a hotel, according to a professional traveller who has stayed in over 3,000

Rachel Hosie , Business Insider US
 Oct 20, 2019, 04:36 PM
Philippe Kjellgren at the St Regis in the Maldives.
Philippe Kjellgren
  • Impersonal service is a major red flag when you check into a hotel, according to full-time traveller Philippe Kjellgren.
  • How you're treated when you arrive says a lot about a place, and Kjellgren - who has built a career out of staying in hotels - believes it should be a personal but swift process.
  • Similarly, he thinks guests should be asked for their names rather than their room numbers when arriving at a hotel restaurant.
  • For more stories go to www.businessinsider.co.za.

Booking a hotel is a risky business.

Sure, you can read every single review on the internet and stalk the location tag on Instagram into the wee hours, but you never really know what it's going to be like until you're there.

However, it turns out there is one red flag you can look out for at check-in that signals a hotel might not be the greatest place to stay.

No, it's not a lack of welcome cocktail or insufficiently plumped cushions in the lobby, but simply impersonal service.

According to Philippe Kjellgren, a professional "digital nomad" who has built a career out of staying in hotels - and has visited over 3,000 in his lifetime - how you're treated at check-in says a lot about a hotel.

Kjellgren in Shanghai.
Philippe Kjellgren

The first bad sign, he says, is feeling like you're standing in line - "if you go to a hotel in Las Vegas and it's like being in the bus terminal, even though they call themselves a five-star hotel, but there's like 40 people in line before you," Kjellgren told Insider, shaking his head at the prospect. 

The full-time traveller has just completed a 912-day trip around the world staying in thousands of hotels to decide which ones to include in his new app, PK's List.

The app features about 2,200 hotels around the world, ranging from around R2,000 to upwards of R44,000 per night, all of which have been personally vetted and recommended by Kjellgren.

Any that didn't provide a personal service, however, did not make the cut.

Another classic but entirely impersonal feature of hotels which Kjellgren hates is being asked for his room number rather than his name when arriving in the restaurant.

"I think it would be quite that much nicer if they ask for your name instead of a room number, you know, to make it more personal," he said.

Kjellgren in Byron Bay.
Philippe Kjellgren

But treating guests like actual people is simply part and parcel of good service, the globetrotter says. And that starts at check-in.

"I think that the check-in process can be a lot better and simpler [than it is in most hotels,]" Kjellgren said.

"Everything should be done before you get there. You already provided a credit card and everything."

As far as Kjellgren is concerned, check-in takes an unnecessarily long time - he believes you should simply hand over your passport and get your keys in return.

"Everything is prepared," he said. "They know who's coming because you've already provided all of the information.

"It's the first impression that you get [of a hotel], and it's all about how you're approached when you get there."

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