David J. Danto



Business travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion




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Hot and Cold:

What’s The Story With Hotel Air Conditioning?

Image result for Hotel Room Air conditioningThis week’s blog is not about bashing United Airlines.   I mean, I could easily choose to talk about how my latest round trip on United’s “Premium Service” last week was miserable, with IFE systems not working, internet not working, and even the Jetway not working.  Yup, that last one was a new curve ball, when at LAX (a United hub) they couldn’t figure out why the Jetbridge was not working, were incapable of repairing it, and couldn’t manage to park the plane at a gate with a working Jetbridge.  So instead of any of that they wheeled a 1960s staircase up to the 757 and walked passengers down stairs onto the tarmac - and up stairs onto the plane – in the pouring rain – because that’s what the incompetent management at United think qualifies as  “Premium Service.”  But again, none of that is the subject of this blog.  Instead, this blog is about the hotel experience I had between those two “Premium Service” flights, and a question about what’s going on with hotel air conditioning in general.

The specific property I stayed at for a family party weekend – a Doubletree in the usually rock-solid-reliable Hilton chain – was clearly in poor shape.  We had to move rooms four times in three days to try to get a room where the air conditioner actually cooled the room (and yet still couldn’t get a room that wasn’t falling apart.)  This is the first time in about three decades that I had to write to Hilton to ask for a full refund (and to their credit the good Hilton people immediately agreed and issued the refund.)  The situation raised the question in my mind if I’m asking too much of the properties I stay at in the air conditioning department.

I personally expect any hotel room to be able to cool down to at least 65 degrees (Fahrenheit), and have a cooling system that maintains some airflow (circulating fan) at all times.  I often have to run back to a room and shower and dress in suits and ties, and if the air conditioner can’t dissipate the bathroom shower’s humidity as I dress it can be unnecessarily uncomfortable.  I also prefer sleeping in a cool room with a blanket / comforter keeping me warm.  I can’t believe those needs are unique or unreasonable – yet it is sometimes difficult to find properties that meet those needs. 

As with everything these days, the lower down you go in the portfolio of hotel properties the more quality and services you get at no cost.  The Hampton Inns (Hilton’s bottom brand) almost always have great air conditioning (along with great free internet, great free breakfasts, etc.)  As you move to more upscale properties in Hilton and other chains (and stand-alone properties) the services begin to get worse and more costly. 

Have you stayed at a casino hotel in Las Vegas recently?  In that city – where temperatures can easily climb to over 100 degrees outside – most air conditioning in rooms is terrible.  EnergyFlux Ellipse Rechargeable Hand Warmer 5200mAh / USB Portable Charger Power Bank Battery Pack (Silver/Black)At the lower-end properties (such as the Orleans) the room cooling systems are so ineffective that for the few times I have to stay at them I carry a small electric hand-warmer to place on the wall thermostat so it thinks the room is hotter than it is and keeps the AC on.  (I now keep that charged hand warmer in my standard carry-on tool-kit for the many properties that skimp on room-cooling.)  At the high-end Bellagio (and many of the other MGM properties) the air conditioner is programmed to shut-off if no one is in the room.  When I complained to the Bellagio front desk that I didn’t want to return from my meetings to a 100 degree room and have to wait an hour for the room to cool, they told me they’d place the room system into “VIP Mode” that would allow it to run when I’m not there.  One apparently needs to be a VIP to have a cooled-room when it’s 100 degrees outside.  Also, if you’ve never tried it, the next time you’re at a mid to high-end property in Vegas try checking out on the room TV or on-line when you’re ready to leave the room.  The second your check-out is registered it sends a remote command to shut the air conditioning down.  I respect the desire to conserve energy, but not the driving reason of trying to squeeze every penny out of the property at the guest’s expense.

I also don’t understand the design of hotel room air-conditioners.  Physics dictates that heat rises, so a properly designed AC return (the thing that draws in air to cool) should be mounted high in a room.  Instead, neither of the two most popular hotel air conditioning units do that.  The most common unit sits at the bottom of the windows, drawing in air from near the floor (the coolest air, not the hottest) and manages to blow artic cold air right onto anyone sitting at the room’s desk (another design feature I don’t understand.)  The second most common unit sits in the wall next to the windows, drawing in cooler air (again from the bottom) and blowing cooled air out the louvers located over head height.  These louvers are often aimed completely away from the rest of the room, and it takes about five minutes of work to bend each one individually to steer the air to the bed and other parts of the room where people actually are.

If you ever do the AirBnB thing, apparently all it takes for one of their properties to be listed as having air conditioning is for the property to have a single window air conditioner.  An AirBnB condo I stayed at in Hawaii was listed as “air conditioned,” but it turned out to have one tiny window unit in the living room.  Using a series of fans (the owner left) to circulate the air through the apartment - for about six hours - I did manage to get the bedroom temperature down to 75 degrees – but in my book that is not a space that can be fairly listed as air conditioned.

One would think that cooling-down hotel rooms would not be as difficult as it seems to be.  I wish there were an honest rating source for room air conditioning like there is for hotel WiFi, but I am not aware of one.  Until then, all there is for the frequent traveler is hoping…and sweating.

Drop me a note if you have any notable stories or opinions about hotel air conditioning and I’ll gather them all into a follow-up blog.


This article was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions.

All image and links provided above as reference under prevailing fair use statutes.