Notes From Asia: How to Stock a Hotel Room

At the Shangri-La Hotel in Xian, we’ve been upgraded – I’m not sure why – to an executive suite. (This is the second time we’ve been upgraded to a suite. What gives?) Our living room is big enough to hold a table and chairs, a seating area, and a desk. Off the large bedroom is a spacious, marble bath.

The bed linens are crisp and white. Flowers bloom in every room. A large bowl of fruit sits on the living room table, silverware and napkins beside it.

And the view of the city, from eight stories, is inspiring. Like Beijing, Xian is a bustling, bursting-at-the-seams city with clean roads, green parks, and lots of new buildings. The only negative: smog. The receptionist denies that it’s smog. She says “The farmers are burning something in the fields.” And “The weather will be good tomorrow.” The valet gives us the same story. We’ll see.

The spaciousness, cleanliness, decor, and vista of our suite put it in a level-one category for hotel accommodations. Not the poshest room we’ve ever stayed in, but for $250 a night, it’s pretty amazing – like just about everything else in China.

What’s really remarkable about this suite is the abundance of little amenities: It has everything I’ve ever seen in a hotel room, plus a whole lot more – including a copy of James Hilton’s Lost Horizon available for purchase beside the bed. (This is, after all, the “Shangri-La” Hotel.) If you decide to go into the B&B or hotel business and want to astound your guests with thoughtfulness, use this checklist: an abundant fruit basket a small bottle of complimentary wine and two wine glasses two sets of robes, one terrycloth and the other silk a fully stocked mini-bar an easy-to-use safe four “free” bottles of water a fully equipped desk, including a tray with rulers, staples, paper clips, etc. a fax machine high-speed Internet (cable and wireless) a welcome letter from the manager a sofa table stacked with hardbound books on China coffeepot, cups, and a selection of coffees a basket of toiletries for women, including skin creams, hair products, etc. a packet of toiletries for men, including razor, shaving cream, and aftershave in the evening, cotton slippers beside the bed, cookies on the night table, and a rose on the sheets

[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]