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Faster Thinking

Empowerment and hairdryers

Half of all business travellers are women, according to one survey. Some hotels are now opting for female-only floors. Bring it on, says hotel expert Amanda Morison.

I’ve travelled solo frequently since my early twenties, and am more than capable of carrying luggage, negotiating time zones, and eating alone in restaurants (thank you, iPad dining companion). But I’d be lying if I said that solo travelling didn’t affect my behaviour. I’m cautious, for example, about saying my room number out loud.

So I don’t think it’s scaremongering to welcome the trend for women-only hotel floors. From Brisbane to Riyadh many hotels now offer these zones, often serviced by female staff only. Safety is an important factor, and cultural preferences – particularly in Middle Eastern countries – are also recognised. But it’s not all about security. According to a Hyatt Hotels survey half of business travellers are now female (in 1979 it was 16 per cent). So no wonder we’re being wooed. Hotels have woken up to the fact that women like efficient hairdryers, bathrobes that fit and full-length mirrors.

At Duke’s Hotel in London you are walked to your women-only Duchess Room by a woman, and glossy magazines, a bowl of fruit and endless toiletries await. Forget the glass ceiling, at Copenhagen’s Bella Sky hotel women are given a key card for access through a glass door to the Bella Donna floor. According to a survey by the hotel, women believe ‘it feels more hygienic to know that the previous guest was a woman’. Amusingly, a man has tried to take the hotel to court in order to shut down the floor, claiming gender discrimination.

So, to the male friend who laughingly asked if I’d enjoyed my stay in the ‘empowering hairdryer rooms’, I have only this to say. With one swish of my perfectly blow-dried hair I made some brilliant contacts. And I wasn’t kept awake by a man sneezing so loudly in the next-door room that I thought an earthquake had hit.