12 things every female-friendly hotel needs

bed with mug of tea

Over the years I’ve stayed at a wide range of hotels. Each time I’ve been female. As a result I can’t help but notice how some places get it right and some get it woefully wrong. There are simply some things that we ladies need when staying overnight.

It’s not just a matter of convenience or luxury. It’s evidence that hotels don’t value their female guests (and the money they wield) as much as the men. It’s as much a feminist issue as having enough toilets at sports venues. It means the world is built for only half the population.

For those getting it right, I thank you. For those trying to get it right, here is the Jenography list of what every female-friendly hotel needs:

1. Full-length mirror

Sometimes I need to monitor my feet without craning my neck. Other times I need to make sure the shoes I optimistically packed for my holiday or business trip actually go with the outfit I put in. In any case, a full-length mirror makes sense for hotel owners, as it saves wear and tear on the duvet from when I have to stand on it to see my lower half in the mirror that’s mounted on top of the chest of drawers.

2. A proper, fully-powered hairdryer

I don’t expect every hotel to have a hairdryer like the wind machine I paid up for at home. But I need an appliance that generates something more than a gentle breeze. As for those places that have a wall-mounted hose that looks salvaged from a vaccuum cleaner, we’ve gotten the message: only middle-aged balding men are welcome here.

3. A plug near a mirror for hairdryers and styling irons

I hate that morning circuit of running from the side table with the plug over to the mirror to check the results, back over the dryer, back to the mirror, repeat ad infinitum.

4. A decently lit mirror

To paraphrase Jerry Maguire, “You don’t know what it’s like to be ME out here. It is an up-at-dawn, freshening-up-after-dark, pride-swallowing siege that I will never fully tell you about, ok?” To save everyone from this horror, I need a well-lit mirror for proper makeup application. Help me. Help me help you.

5. Countertop space for face soap and moisturizer

Here’s where budget hotels always win hands down. They mount their basins in a smooth Formica prairie of countertop, adorned only with a bar of soap and a plastic shrinkwrapped cup. Meanwhile “cool” design hotels can be so in love with their waterfall tap or minimalist style that I have to schlep my face soap to and from the bathroom like I’m hitting the shower block at summer camp.

6. An iron in the room

I know housekeeping has one somewhere. It will take them 15 minutes to deliver it to the room. I only realised I needed one 5 minutes before I have to leave. Please help me continue to be a disorganised traveller.

7. Separate hair conditioner, not 2 in 1

Name one thing that is better when mixed with something else when one of those things isn’t vodka. Guys can use hand soap to clean their buzz cuts. I need something that moisturises the ends.

8. Washcloths

Because my hands are not nubby makeup removers.

9. Female-sized robes

Sometimes an oversized fluffy robe feels cozy to snuggle down in. Sometimes the cuffs dip into the sink or trip me up when walking. We want man-sized coziness in woman-sized proportions.

10. Front desk staff who don’t announce your room number

Lots of hotels have cottoned on to this safe practice already, opting to hand over a little envelope with the room number written inside. The chance of someone dodgy skulking around trying to discover women’s room numbers is slight, but the only weirdo I want coming into my room is the one I married.

11. The kind of bar or lounge you can read or work in

When I’m in a new town, especially if I arrive late at night, I often don’t fancy hitting the streets to scout out a place to eat, unwind, or get on the internet. It makes a hotel that much more appealing knowing there’s a space in the building where I can get out of my room but still comfortably hang out: Well-lit, with good internet connection, and herbal tea. Throw in some decent wine by the glass while you’re at it.

12. A little container where I can put my jewellery

I confess: this is a luxury rather than a necessity. But such a small item yields great pleasure. I can take off my jewellery (or at least the jewels that don’t go into the hotel safe) and place it in a beautiful small dish or a little leather tray where it is displayed like items from the windows of Tiffany. OK, now I’m just dreaming.

Are there things you absolutely need in your hotel room? Tell me what they are and let’s start a revolution, sisters!


I’m a journalist and blogger. Previously I was The Times’s online lifestyle editor and Alpha Mummy blogger. Now I’m co-founder of BritMums and BritMums Live! – our annual blogging conference that draws hundreds. Follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Google+.



  1. April 30, 2015 / 5:39 pm

    This is an interesting list and number 7 is definitely something that resonates with me. I would also add: staff’s ability to recommend restaurants and eateries which are accommodating to solo female travellers and are located in safe areas.

    • April 30, 2015 / 5:48 pm

      Rossi, that is an excellent addition. It’s irritating when the idea of a woman dining alone is like some strange anomaly that can only take place in McDonalds or a TGI Friday’s.

  2. April 30, 2015 / 7:07 pm

    Yes, sockets not close to mirrors are my bugbear. I have to resort to turning my iPad camera onto myself to have a vague idea of what my face looks like.
    Yup – proper conditioner please and yes to washcloths.
    I also prefer showers which you can detach from the wall – I don’t like just having one big one on the ceiling.
    Hair dryers which require you to hold the power button constantly in order for it to work – my fingers ache!
    Of course I’m sure men grumble about similar things – my husband finds lack of countertop space annoying too.

    • May 1, 2015 / 2:35 am

      Trish, I’d forgotten about those hairdryers with that annoying button! I suppose the idea is that they are greener, but who accidentally leaves a hairdryer on once they’re finished? I had one recently that had a “cool shot” button right on the handle where you grip it, so I accidentally kept blasting my wet head with cold air. Brrr.

  3. Brooke
    April 30, 2015 / 7:44 pm

    I love this. It’s hilarious and spot-on. The countertop thing is huge — often “high design” means low practicality. I have a lot of toiletries and things and stuff, and I need surfaces to put them on — both in the bathroom, and in the room itself. I need surfaces, surfaces!!

  4. April 30, 2015 / 8:31 pm

    I love the fact that several of these are mirror-related! 🙂 I agree with all of them though – especially the one about room numbers, which hadn’t occurred to me before but which makes loads of sense.

    • May 1, 2015 / 2:36 am

      Nell, I could of course just rely on my husband instead of mirrors, in which case apparently I always look “fine”.

  5. April 30, 2015 / 9:24 pm

    I hate having to lean over the desk to put my make up on at a decently lit mirror. I also am totally with you on conditioner. Proper instructions on how things work, may just be me, but I am just not as intuitive about techy stuff and don’t want to waste time getting the telly working or the air con sorted!

    • May 1, 2015 / 2:30 am

      Oh yes, the mysterious controller for TV, radio, drapes, air conditioner, drone, etc. How about an on-off button and up and down arrows for changing channels? Sometimes I find myself reading that little ring binder a lot of hotels provide, perusing the channels and the instructions on temperature control.

  6. April 30, 2015 / 11:09 pm

    All agreed, though I always want a box of tissues as well (drives me mad when they’re not around) and when it’s the four of us, I want hooks on the backs of the doors to hang coats (and towels in the bathroom – when you’re sharing a family bathroom, you run out of places to put the used towels…)

    • May 1, 2015 / 2:33 am

      Sarah, don’t even get me started on hooks. Why do some places have those tiny little hooks — they tend to be ultra modern — that are so small you can only hang a camisole from them and so slippery or ill-designed that they wouldn’t hold up a hand towel. That also drives me mad in ladies’ loos at restaurants, a place that you can bet most people there will have a bag they’d like to hang behind the door rather than place on the floor or hold up while also, um, sitting down.

  7. Robin
    May 1, 2015 / 5:09 am

    Number 7 is an abomination. I always bring my own. There are never enough hangars. One of my sisters does not have a full length mirror in her home. How can we be related? I would like improved room service. Since you asked, how about a complimentary glass of prosecco?

    • May 1, 2015 / 9:03 am

      Girl, you are singing my song. On the flip side of the hanger issue, I LOVE it when they have the ones with the little slots for the hanging straps or even better, the silk padded hangers for delicate lady clothes. A glass of prosecco would be nice. You can drink it while researching birth records for your sister online.

  8. May 1, 2015 / 9:32 am

    Yes! Mirrors that you can see into even if you’re not 5ft 10. Towel rails that aren’t on the other side if the bathroom to the shower (although that’s annoying for everyone)…

    • May 4, 2015 / 3:10 pm

      Cathy, I hear you. What’s wrong with a hook right outside the shower stall/bathtub?

  9. May 2, 2015 / 8:04 am

    Yes, all of this. Plus a kettle and a selection of teabags including some without caffeine. As well as an adjustable shower head so that I can shower without getting my hair wet.

    • May 4, 2015 / 3:11 pm

      I hate it when they only have black tea and some kind of coffee. Ladies (and other people) love herbal tea.

  10. May 2, 2015 / 9:23 pm

    I agree with all of these. I know you covered it with the well lit mirror but a well lit room would be good. Hotel rooms are so dark and dingy these days, especially in the UK. If there isn’t great natural light then get some decent lighting.

    I used to have to go to Amsterdam a lot for work on my own and stayed in a hotel in Dam Square, annoyingly I can’t remember the name. They were great and always put me in the same room and made a real point of not declaring the room number etc at check in.

    When I lived back in Manchester I came down to London for work a lot and one night I was fast asleep in my hotel room and suddenly the TV came to life with a welcome message, seconds later a guy was coming through the door who had clearly been given a room card. I screamed, he screamed and couldn’t stop apologising as he hurried out. I couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night.

  11. May 4, 2015 / 2:07 pm

    More than two teabags please, I would add to the list. I will drink my first on arrival whilst sorting out my gear and the second before bed. I definitely need one for the morning.

    Hairdryers and mirrors agreed.
    Tissues as Sarah mentions above and I am loving the idea of a decent hang out area where you feel comfortable.

    Excellent tip about the room number Jen! So important in this day and age sadly.

    • May 4, 2015 / 3:12 pm

      Mari champions the 3rd teabag! I’d never even thought of it, but now that you mention it…

  12. May 4, 2015 / 7:50 pm

    A heated towel rail I can also use to hang a wet swimsuit on – always welcome, especially when I’m travelling with the kids and don’t want to take them back damp. A sturdy plastic bag for those times when the heated towel rail doesn’t do it’s job (or just plain isn’t there). And a disposable plastic shower cap, because who remembers to bring one of those with them every time they travel? (And I love the comedy value when my boys decide to model it…)

    • May 5, 2015 / 6:00 pm

      I use the disposable shower cap almost every single time! And a heated towel rack. I honestly had never thought about that but it is a stroke of brilliance!

  13. May 5, 2015 / 6:06 pm

    Here are some suggestions from Helen at Fuss Free Flavours, that she contributed via Twitter:

    – Electric sockets at desk height — I say, Absolutely.
    – Coat hooks — why are good ones so rare?
    – Somewhere to hang ski socks etc to dry — especially important when you’re skiing, outdoor-adventuring, or someplace cold

  14. May 5, 2015 / 6:18 pm

    Some great tips for the travel industry here, Jen – particularly the little pot for the jewellery…how many times have I had to search the floor for the ear-ring that’s fallen off the bedside table in the night….

  15. May 31, 2015 / 10:03 pm

    So true. Nowhere to plug my straighteners or curling iron is so annoying.

    Non-full length wardrobes are a bug bear of mine. I want to be able to hang my dress up without it hitting an inbuilt chest of drawers or shoe rack.

    Also, sometimes I only get supplied with one towel. I need one for my body and one for my hair (plus a hand towel).

    Sally @ Life Loving

    • June 1, 2015 / 8:39 am

      Sally, oh yes I’d forgotten about those short wardrobe. They only work for suits! Grrr.

    • January 9, 2016 / 8:10 pm

      Jeanne, this is a very good point. ALWAYS need these too.

  16. chelsea @weddingblog2018
    August 8, 2015 / 9:36 pm

    When I read the title to your post I was intrigued as I couldn’t think (on the spot) of any differences I’d like to see to help us females out but now you’ve posted them I agree with every single one. Especially the hair dryer. Most hotels ones are rubbish. I could drip dry my hair faster and the mirrors, yes! They’re always so tiny and pointless. Lets hope some hotels take on board your fab points

    • August 10, 2015 / 5:33 am

      Chelsea, Thanks for the comment. Those of us with long hair suffer especially with the tiny-insect-wing blowers lots of hotels have. I wish they would take action on all the comments as well as my suggestions!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *