It's dark, and I can't tell what time it is. This is not normal. When I'm in bed at home I always have a proper clock nearby, one with staring electric digits. Then I always know what time it is. 2:13? Shouldn't be awake. 4:48? Go back to sleep. 6:51? The alarm's about to go, hang on. But here in my hotel room I can't tell. Is it still too early, or should I have been at breakfast hours ago? I don't know, not without reaching over and picking up my mobile. But it's too much effort to reach over and press a button to check the time, because that'd no doubt wake me up good and proper. The hotel wanted me to book an alarm call, at a price - I bet that's why there's no visible clock in the room. No thanks, I'll risk using my mobile's alarm instead. I wonder if I've missed it going off already? No idea, because it's dark, and I can't tell what time it is.
How does the shower work? Every hotel shower has completely different operational arrangements. Something that twists with red and blue on it, or numbers on it, or a scale on it, or whatever. And something that twists with some different numbers on it, or a different scale on it, or whatever. Which one's which, which one do I turn first, and which way do I turn it? I don't know, I've never used this shower before, I'm bleary eyed and I can't see properly. Ah, so that's 'on' is it? More of a dribble, hang on... sheesh, more of a torrent, oops. If I leave it for a couple of minutes it might run warm. Er, maybe a bit longer. Maybe the last visitor to use the shower was a sadist and deliberately left the temperature setting on 'ruddy freezing' just to annoy me. Maybe I should leave it on 'scalding, yikes' for the next person, to get my own back, assuming I ever discover how the shower works.
How do I make tea in this place? There must be a miniature kettle in one of these cupboards or drawers, one that's too big for a Gideon Bible. Then I need to try filling it from the bathroom sink, assuming the water's drinkable and the kettle actually fits. And then I need to wait. Hotel kettles are notorious time-wasters, burbling quietly for ages whilst raising the temperature of the water by not much. Want a cup of tea now? Should have decided fifteen minutes ago. Plenty of time to select an unnecessarily wrapped teabag, available only in bog-standard or ultra-herbal. If you're lucky it'll make a brown drink, but more likely the colour will seep out slowly into tepid water unless vigorously stirred. Then there's the chemical milk, ready to squirt from its plastic pot should you manage to prise the lid open without breaking a nail. End result, half a mugsworth of weak wet liquid. Never tastes like this at home, does it?
How do I switch the TV set on? There are instructions for the trouser press and pictograms for the ironing board, but there's only an unfamiliar remote for the telly. One of these buttons must give me a channel I can recognise. I don't want the hotel's own-brand screen reminding me how easy it is to book a wedding here. I don't want the menu of over-priced movies which visitors only ever end up watching because the rest of the hotel's facilities are so dull. Somewhere here must be the usual restricted set of TV channels circa 1995, plus whatever Sky Sports news channel Rupert deems free-to-air this year, plus not a lot else. Does Ceefax work? Does it hell, but don't expect a red button alternative like you'd get in all the houses down the street. Sorry, I know the volume's a bit loud and you're trying to get some sleep nextdoor behind the paper-thin wall. But if I have the sound any lower I can't hear BBC Breakfast above the racket coming from the extractor fan in the bathroom and the rumbling aircon. How much did we pay for this again?
Other important questions people ask in hotels » How do I turn the heating down? » Half an hour of wi-fi access is how much? » How long has that bowl of curled-up bacon been sitting there? » Do you have nothing better to do than fold the corner of my toilet roll? » Having forced me to check out at ten, could you look after my case until five? » Was my room down the incredibly long corridor to the left, or up that flight of stairs and along the incredibly long corridor to the right? » Why can't I buy shampoo and shower gel in convenient small sizes like this in shops? » Did you deliberately build the hotel somewhere with zero mobile reception? » Why are bedsheets either far too tight or much too loose? » A bottle of Becks is how much?