Is your hotel trying to choke you with an iPhone app?

In an effort to save money (and annoy guests), hotels are preventing you from making your hotel room cold. And it's all controlled by a little iPhone app.

Is that cool? Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Some like it cold.

It's not everyone's idea of comfort, but sitting in a cool hotel room -- especially when it's hot outside -- can offer a certain pleasure. At least for me.

It's a pleasure that a certain group of people want to deny me. They're called hotel owners.

Hotel owners, it seems, are rather fonder of making a cool profit.

It's bad enough when the room has no windows you can open. However, an ever-increasing trend is for hotels to restrict how cold you can make your room temperature.

You click furiously on the thermostat's "down" arrow and it makes like a prison guard.

Recently, I stayed in a hotel where it was verboten to have less than 67 degrees in your room.

To me, 67 degrees is balmy and barmy. So I called the front desk and wondered whether an engineer might help me in my unreasonable quest to choose the temperature in my room.

When he arrived he took one look and said: "Yes, 67 degrees. That's the hotel policy."

"But my policy is a little different," I explained. "I have blood that boils easily."

"Hotel policy," he repeated.

I gave him a look that explained my blood was already far beyond 67 degrees.

An hour later, his boss arrived. I pointed to the thermostat. He nodded caringly and said: "Hotel policy."

"Sir," I began. "If I owned a restaurant and you ordered fish and chips and I brought them to you cold, would you get annoyed? Would you send them back?"

Look, it was the first thing that came into my head. It was hot in that room. I wasn't thinking so clearly.

"Well, yes," he replied. "But this is hotel policy for all floors. It's 67 degrees."

"My policy is cold fish and chips," I repeated.

He looked at me as if I had drifted in from the Planet PoohBah.

I asked him whether there was anything he could do, you know, just for me. Because I am clearly mad. In the insane sense.

Could he not perform some feat of engineering because I am a little unusual, a little excessively human?

He pulled out his iPhone. I assumed he was going to call some men in dark suits who would attempt to bring my head down to my knees and my blood down to 32 degrees.

Instead, he said: "Look, it's all on this iPhone app. You see, here I can control the temperature in the whole hotel."

"So is it a floor-by-floor thing?" I wondered.

"Oh, no. I can change the temperature in every room," he explained, unwisely but helpfully.

"This is nothing more than a money-saving thing, isn't it?" I whispered.

He nodded.

Perhaps fed up of my insistently polite European accent, he looked up and sighed: "How cold do you want it?"

"60 degrees," I said. "I want the option to make the temperature in here to go down to 60 degrees."

With one touch of his iPhone, it was done. Suddenly, the down arrow on my thermostat was free to slide toward perfect coolness and he slid away, perhaps regretting he'd shown me the truth.

I can understand that some people carelessly leave the aircon or the heating on all day, when they're not in their hotel rooms. I can understand that hotels are businesses. But the essence of staying in a hotel is comfort.

Temperature shouldn't be any different from the need for hypoallergenic pillows, clean sheets, respect for the "Do Not Disturb" sign and a massive array of exciting movies for all ages on the TV.

So if you happen to be one of those people who simply prefer a little global cooling in your hotel room, it may well be that you need to invite the Head of Maintenance up to your room for a quick chat.

You know, about cold fish and chips.

 

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