It appears that counting sheep is no longer the nation's preferred method of getting to sleep. Budget hotel chain Travelodge is offering guests a goldfish hire service, following research suggesting our aquatic friends can aid a good night's kip.
Guests at the chain's Leeds Vicar Lane and Birmingham Fort Dunlop properties can request a "fish therapy room" at check-in for no extra charge, and are encouraged to watch their new found friend for 15 minutes prior to going to bed to help them de-stress. Apparently Travelodge has conducted a survey revealing that 63 per cent of us are sleep-deprived, and 57 per cent believe that goldfish hold the answer to our insomnia woes.
The chain has employed experts including animal psychologist Dr Roger Mugford to develop its goldfish service, and stresses that the welfare of the fish will be taken care of by RSPCA-trained staff. Says Dr Mugford:
"It's a well known fact that watching fish can have a positive impact on human emotions - especially when feeling tense. This is why you often see aquariums in dentists' and doctors' surgeries. Travelodge's new service is a great example of how one sector can learn from another. Many hotel customers check in after a stressful day or before a big event the following day. There is no doubt that this service can have a calming affect, inducing sleep and reducing anxiety."
Travelodge also points out that their goldfish "aquariums" are approximately ten times as roomy as traditional bowls, so at least the fish should have no need to request a corner room.
It's not the first time the chain has acted on customer surveys to try and make a stay at a Travelodge more comfortable. Last year it trialled "scenic window transfers" at its London City Airport property, offering guests a room with a view of the Manhattan skyline rather than the Dockland's railway viaduct (see online news March 9, 2006). Business Traveller wonders what will be next – a babbling brook in the bathroom or a sandy beach next to the kettle?
Report by Mark Caswell