Speaking Skills: At the hotel
In this week's Premier Skills English Podcast, Jack tells Rich about a bad hotel experience. The language focus is on words and phrases you can use at hotel receptions and the lesson includes 20 of the most common questions asked in hotels. Jack and Rich role play two different hotel situations and introduce lots of useful language at the same time. Your task is to write about a hotel that you've stayed in and then to upload it to a travel advice website. As always, we also have a new football phrase for you to guess. Enjoy!
Rich: Hey Jack! How was your trip? You went to Brighton, right?
Jack: Yeah, Brighton’s great. The kids had a great time and the pier was fun.
Rich: What about the hotel I bet you were staying in a five star hotel next to the beach, right?
Jack: I wish! Brighton was brilliant but the hotel … well … that’s a different story!
Rich: What was wrong with it?
Jack: I’ll tell you in a bit. Come on we’ve got to get this podcast started.
Welcome - Hotel Problems
Rich: Hello my name’s Rich.
Jack: and I’m Jack.
Rich: and welcome to this week’s Premier Skills English podcast.
Jack: Where we talk about football and help you with your English.
Jack: What’s happening this week, Rich?
Rich: In this week’s podcast, we’re talking about hotels and some phrases to use when you’re at the hotel reception; phrases you can use when things go well and phrases that could be very useful if you have some problems during your stay.
Jack: And we’ve got a task for you out there listening to this podcast. We’re going to ask you to write a review of the worst hotel you’ve ever stayed in.
Rich: Cool. I always check reviews online when I’m going to stay at a hotel or a campsite or go to a restaurant ... things like that.
Jack: Me too. I really like to hear what real people think of a place.
Rich: But, that’s for you, our listeners, to do later. What we’re going to do is focus on the language that you need when you’re actually in a hotel.
Rich: Brighton. You went there to take a look at the football stadium?
Jack: That’s right. It’s quite new and Brighton haven’t played in the Premier League before. I wanted to take few photos for the Premier Skills English website. And Brighton’s a great place to go for a weekend - on the coast, lots of things to do … so I took the family, too.
Rich: A good place to stay?
Jack: Definitely a good place to visit. Well … it is a good place to stay, but just not the place where we stayed.
Rich: Ah! You said the hotel wasn’t that good.
Jack: That’s a bit of an understatement. The hotel was appalling. I paid quite a lot for the room, but it definitely wasn’t worth the money.
Rich: So, what was up? What was the problem?
Jack: I wish it had just been a problem. There were lots of problems. When we arrived, the hotel was miles from the beach, the rooms weren’t ready, the TV in the room was broken and the bathroom was dirty and had no towels.
Rich: Doesn’t sound good.
Jack: No, it wasn’t. I had to speak to reception a number of times.
Rich: Oh dear. Sorry to hear that. But, I’ve just had a thought. It’s the summer and lots of our listeners might be going on holiday and going to a hotel … maybe in a different country. I think it would be a great idea to practise a conversation or two.
Jack: What? Hotel conversations?
Rich: Yes. One of us can be the receptionist and the other the guest.
Jack: Can I be the receptionist? I think I’ll just get angry if I’m the guest again.
Rich: Ah, if you want! We’ll do a couple of conversations. One where everything goes right and in the other there can be a problem or three - like at your hotel!
Rich: Right here we go. I’ll be the guest and you’re the receptionist.
Jack: And the task for our listeners is to listen for Rich’s pseudonym. I don’t know why, but he tells me that never uses his real name in hotels. Weird!
(bing - reception bell)
Jack: Good afternoon. Welcome to Seaview Hotel. How can I help you?
Rich: Ah yes. I have a reservation for tonight and tomorrow night.
Jack: Wonderful. Under what name?
Rich: Spencer. S P E N C E R
Jack: Ah yes. I see it here. Richard Spencer. So that’s a room for four, two adults and two children?
Rich: That’s right. The smallest child is only 18 months. Do you have a cot for her?
Jack: Yes, we’ve already set up the room. There is one double bed, one single and one cot.
Jack: Your room number is 454 on the fourth floor with a seaview. The lift is just around the corner.
Rich: Sorry, one other thing. Does the room have a bath rather than a shower?
Jack: Hold on a second. I’ll just check … yes, it does.
Rich: Brilliant. And one final thing, breakfast …
Jack: Ah yes, I can see that breakfast is included in your booking. Breakfast is served in the dining room on the first floor between 0700 and 1000.
Rich: Thank you. Have a nice day.
Jack: We hope you enjoy your stay.
Rich: That was very nice.
Jack: Yes, it was and that’s how nine out of ten hotel conversations are. Easy.
Rich: But sometimes you can have a few problems, so we want to do another practice conversation where things don’t go quite as smoothly.
Jack: Let’s do it.
Rich: This time when you listen we want you to listen for the problems that Richard Spencer has at the hotel.
Jack: That’s just weird, Rich.
(bing - reception bell)
Rich: Oh come on!
(bing - reception bell)
(bing - reception bell)
(bing - reception bell)
Jack: Sorry about that. I was just on the phone with another guest. Welcome to Seaview Hotel. How can I help you?
Rich: Yes, hello. I have a booking for tonight and tomorrow night.
Jack: What name is it under?
Rich: Spencer. S P E N C E R
Jack: Ah yes, I have your reservation here. A single room for three nights.
Rich: Er … no, sorry I booked a double room for just two nights.
Jack: Right. OK, I see. It seems to say that you booked a single room.
Rich: No, I’m sure it was a double room. Look I have my wife and children here. It would be a bit difficult for all of us in a single room. I have my reservation here. I printed it out.
Jack: Ah, yes. I can see that. There must have been a problem with the booking system. I’ll try to find you a double room.
Jack: I’m afraid the only suitable room left is one with twin beds rather than a double.
Rich: OK, I suppose that will have to do. Does it have a cot in the room?
Jack: No. Would you like us to put a cot in the room?
Rich: Yes, I did book a cot in my original reservation.
Jack: You will have to pay a supplement for that.
Rich: Pay extra, really?
Jack: I think we can overlook the cost this time, sir.
Rich: Yes, good. Thanks. Could you tell me, what time is dinner?
Jack: Dinner? We don’t serve dinner at the hotel, sir.
Rich: But I booked full board. Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Jack: I’m sorry sir. Neither full board or half board are available. We only have bed and breakfast or room only options. You seem to have just booked the room, but we can certainly add breakfast to your bill.
Rich: To my bill? Really? I think we’ll go out for breakfast. Could you tell us where our rooms are?
Jack: Certainly sir. It’s room 330. It’s on the third floor. I’m really sorry, but you’ll have to take the stairs. The lift is broken but it will be fixed by Monday.
Rich: About right - we’re leaving on Monday.
Jack: Let me help you with your luggage sir …
Rich: Quite a few problems in that conversation and that’s before we even got to the room!
Jack: That’s when the problems can really start! Like in my hotel last weekend! But we won’t go into that now.
Rich: No, let’s not. Let’s take a look at some of the language that is useful when having a conversation with a hotel receptionist.
Jack: Let’s begin with how the conversation normally starts. In our practice conversations, the receptionist said How can I help you?
Rich: This is when you tell them that you have a reservation or booking at the hotel. In the conversations, I said I have a booking for tonight or I have a reservation for tonight
Jack: You might be asked a question like what name is it under? or In what name? You just need to give your name or the name of the person that booked the hotel.
Rich: I think it’s quite important to know about room types and food.
Jack: Yes, I always want to know if I’m going to eat and sleep well. Some of the language can be quite tricky.
Rich: You can have a single room, a double room, twin beds, double beds, you might need a triple room or a cot if you have family, you might have an en-suite …
Jack: OK, I think single room and double room are quite obvious. A single room is for one person and a double room is for two.
Rich: Then it gets a bit more complicated. Double rooms often have a double bed which is one bed for two people, or twin beds, which are two separate single beds.
Jack: And if you are a family you might have a double bed and a single bed for a child or a cot which is what a baby sleeps in.
Rich: And then there are meals. I think the main types are room only, bed and breakfast, half board, full board and all-inclusive. Let’s think about what they mean, some are more obvious than others.
Jack: Room only means no food, you just pay for your room. This is sometimes called self-catering, but this is more common in apartments where you have cooking facilities. In hotels, if you have room only you have to go to restaurants or buy your food separately in the hotel.
Rich: Bed and breakfast is easy. You get your room and breakfast. Actually, it’s very common in the UK for hotels, especially traditional family-run hotels, to be called B&Bs or bed and breakfasts instead of hotels.
Jack: Then we get this word board. Board means the meals that are given to you by the hotel and are included in the price you pay.
Rich: You get half board, which is usually breakfast and dinner and full board which is breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Jack: And finally you have all-inclusive. This is usually for longer holidays and it is when everything including drinks are free at the hotel.
Rich: There are lots of other words and phrases that are relevant to conversations in hotels and we’ve got some activities that look at more of them further down this page.
Jack: And if you want to learn more hotel language, watch an episode of the English Game. It’s a video series that sets English language challenges to tourists from around the world.
Rich: We’ve put a link to one of the videos on the side of this page. It sees Shuna from Japan against Claudio from Italy. They’re both in a hotel in the UK.
Jack: I think a lot of our listeners from Minato in Tokyo, Japan will be cheering on Shuna in that episode.
Rich: Yes, a big hello from us if you are listening in Tokyo! We saw that we had lots of listeners from there last week!
Rich: Right, we’ve got a task for you to do. We’d like you to write about a hotel that you have stayed in.
Jack: We’d like you to tell us about a terrible experience you’ve had in a hotel.
Rich: Tell us where the hotel was, how long you stayed, what type of room was it, what type of board did you have, what you could see from the windows and why it was a bad stay.
Jack: Write your hotel reviews in the comments section at the bottom of the page. If you write correct me at the beginning of your message, we will help you with your English.
Rich: And then, you could upload your hotel review on tripadvisor or Google or the hotel’s Facebook page.
Jack: I think that’s a brilliant idea!
Can you work out this week’s football phrase?
Rich: Have you got a football phrase for us this week?
Jack: Yes, I have, but first, last week’s football phrase. The phrase was transfer rumour. There are no football matches at the moment so football news is full of transfer rumours. Which player is moving where and so on. Last week, we said that Alexis Sanchez is moving to Manchester City and that Alvaro Morata was going to Chelsea.
Rich: Yes and this week Morata has signed for Chelsea, but it looks like Sanchez is staying at Arsenal! If you listen to our gossip, you will be the first to know … maybe. What’s this week’s football phrase, Jack?
Jack: This week’s football phrase is ***-****** ****. A couple of week’s ago our phrase was ***-****** friendly, well these friendly matches are often part of a club’s ***-****** **** where they go to a different country or a number of countries. For example, Leicester City and Liverpool are on their ***-****** **** in Hong Kong.
Rich: Ah yes. They’re playing in the Premier League Asia Trophy.
Jack: Right, that’s all we have time for this week! Don’t forget to write your hotel reviews, your answers to our questions and make a guess at our football phrase in the comments below.
Rich: Bye for now and enjoy your football!
How much did you understand?
In the podcast, Rich and Jack used some words and phrases that might be new for you. Do you know the words in bold?
I’m afraid the only suitable room left is one with twin beds rather than a double.
Let me help you with your luggage sir ….
There were a few more tricky words and connected to hotels in the podcast. Do you know what they all mean? Try the activity below, then, listen to the podcast again to hear how we used the words. This can really help your understanding.
At the hotel - Checking in
In this podcast, Rich and Jack did two hotel role plays (practice conversations). The first thing that the guest (Rich) had to do was tell the receptionist (Jack) that he had a booking. The receptionist had to check that the booking or reservation was correct. This process is called checking in. Here is a slightly edited version of the conversation that Rich and Jack had in the podcast:
Guest: Hello, excuse me. I have a reservation for tonight.
Receptionist: (Your reservation is) Under what name?
Guest: It's Spencer. S P E N C E R
Receptionist: That's right, yes.
This is the simplest way to begin the conversation when you want to check in to the room you have booked. After you have checked in, probably the most common thing to ask about is breakfast. Here is a simple conversation that you can practise at home.
Guest: Sorry. Could you tell me if breaksfast is included in the price of the room?
Receptionist: Yes, sir. One moment ... yes, breakfast is included for two adults. The children eat for free.
Guest: Great. And what time is breakfast served?
Receptionist: The dining room is open from seven o'clock until ten o'clock on weekdays and until eleven at the weekend.
Guest: Great. And where is the dining room?
Receptionist: It's on the first floor.
Guest: Thank you very much.
These two conversations are quite simple but they are important to learn for this situation. Many more conversations are based on questions that you might need to ask in a hotel if you want some information or if you have a problem. We will look at these questions and answers in the next section. Before we look at some more complicated language, we would like to know that you know some of the basic vocabulary that you might need when staying at a hotel.
20 of the most common questions asked in a hotel
While you are checking in, there are a number of questions that you may want to ask the receptionist. Here are 20 of the most common questions that are asked in a hotel (one of them isn't that common - can you find it?). Have you ever needed to ask any of these questions?
- What time is breakfast?
- Is breakfast included?
- Is there free WIFI?
- Do I need a WIFI password?
- What time do I need to check out?
- Is there any chance I could get a late checkout?
- Do I need to pay now or should I pay when I check out?
- Do you have any vegetarian options on the menu?
- Is the meat halal/kosher/organic?
- What time does room service finish?
- Is there somewhere I can park my car?
- How much does the parking cost?
- Do you need to wear a swimming cap in the pool?
- Is there somewhere I can leave my luggage?
- I think there is a monster under my bed. Can someone please come and check?
- Could you change my room, please? It smells of smoke.
- We have a baby. Do you have a travel cot that we could use?
- Could you book me a taxi for 9 o' clock tomorrow morning?
- Could you bring a couple of extra towels to my room, please?
- What floor is the restaurant/gym/pool on?
You can see ten of the answers to the above questions below. Look at the answers and decide which of the questions they answer.
- That shouldn't be a problem, sir. We are not fully booked tomorrow so you can check out as late as 5 o' clock.
- There are always a number of dishes for non-meat eaters, madam.
- Hot food is available until eleven with sandwiches and cold snacks available 24 hours.
- If there is no street parking available we have a small car park available for a nominal charge.
- It's from seven o' clock in the dining room on the first floor.
- It's on the fifth floor and is open until nine.
- No problem, madam. Can you tell me your destination?
- Yes, of course, sir. I will send someone with a big stick to your room right away!
- I'm terribly sorry about that. The floor you are on is a designated no smoking floor but we should be able to find another room due to the problem.
- WIFI is available for free in all the public areas of the hotel and is available for a small fee in individual bedrooms.
Have a look through the questions and answers again. Try saying the question to yourself and using the answer above. Then, try asking some of the other questions and thinking about how you might answer them. If you're not sure about any of the answers or there is a word or phrase that you don't understand, let us know in the comments section at the bottom of this page.
Writing a review
In the podcast, Jack told us about a bad experience he had at a hotel. We would like you to write about a bad hotel that you have been to. You can tell us a true story or invent one. In your hotel review, try to include the following points:
- The location of the hotel, the room and the view
- The food
- The facilities and the service
Write your answer in the comments section below and don't forget to reply to other people's messages, too!
What do you think?
In this week’s podcast, Jack and Rich spoke about hotels.
Have you ever had a bad experience in a hotel? Write your review below.
Could you answer the 20 most common questions asked in a hotel? Can you think of any other questions?
Remember to write your guess at this week's football phrase and answer the questions above in the comments section below.