Ambiguous Visual Controls: Airport Hotel Edition

Airports are full of signs. Standing in queue gives ample time to reflect on their meaning and appreciate their ambiguity. This visual control at the check-in counter made me wonder why it was necessary to abandon the better part of valor. Perhaps the restrictions on check-in luggage was particularly aggressive, warning travelers to prepare for a mighty struggle ahead.

Arrived successfully at the destination with a measure of discretion intact. An orange sign. A curved arrow. Seems like a good visual control to help a business traveler find their airport hotel.

Walking to the right as the arrow indicates, the hotel is not there. But there is an information center, helpfully color-coded orange also. The information station was dark, giving a clear visual signal that, “We are not here to help you.”

Wandering around the elevator tower on the other side of the hall, I spotted the Sheraton and succeeded in checking in. Exiting the elevator on the 3rd floor, a visual control on the ceiling guided guests to their rooms.

Rooms not on this list were listed on the sign on the other end of the hallway.



Unless, of course, the guest was staying in room 334.

I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried…


  1. Andy Wagner

    September 30, 2011 - 7:14 pm

    I believe the “stop discretion” tape is a reminder to TSA employees not to use any discretion in determining what items constitute an actual threat to the flying public.

  2. John Santomer

    October 1, 2011 - 12:20 am

    Dear Jon,
    I think you got the best room in the house! Its a Sauna and an suite!
    Or its one of those room numbers never used by Eastern or Western establishments (Like 13, 666 and such.)
    Hope you had a wonderful stay… 😉

  3. Anonymous

    October 3, 2011 - 12:15 pm

    I am rolling on the floor laughing at the room number conundrum (sorry)! That has happened to me umpteen times. Why can’t they just number their doors chronologically? Isn’t that, after all, the point of number in the first place? These methods seem as logical as just giving each room it’s own name instead of number, and just keep you guessing on a wild goose chase around the hotel.
    This convinces me that the people in charge of numbering hotel rooms are scientists or analysts, so the only way to find your room is to know the exact formula they had in mind when they put numbers to doors.

  4. John Santomer

    October 7, 2011 - 11:04 pm

    Dear Jon,
    I beleive there is a reason why the rooms were numbered this way for this particular hotel. The lay-out of the floor area for one would determine the number of rooms on each side of the arrows.
    It has to follow the initial numbering from the first floor to the last. It so happens that by luck, your room number may have been written erroneously or the room information board was printed wrongly.
    It would however be cleared by how you found your room or how the hotel management handled this mix-up.

  5. Jon

    October 8, 2011 - 11:55 am

    Hi John
    I found my room by walking all the way down one side. It turned out room 334 is at the end, where both hallways meet.

  6. JLE

    November 16, 2011 - 2:15 am

    Dear Anonymous:
    “…..number their doors chronologically?…..”. Is the suggestion that the number on the doors indicates how long it takes to get there from the lift ?

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