50 Hotel Workers Share The Red Flags To Look Out For During Your Next Stay
It seems like you never sleep as well as you do in your bed, but some hotels get pretty darn close with what they offer. However, in between counting sheep, some of us still have that nagging feeling that something might be off. Whether it’s some paranoia about when the sheets were last cleaned or if the glasses have been washed, odds are that many of you Pandas have worried about (real and metaphorical) bed bugs before.
Well, today, we’re featuring some great tips to keep in mind during your next stay away from home, as shared by current and former hotel industry workers in these two r/AskReddit threads right here and over here. They revealed some of the biggest red flags to look out for, spilled the tea about some great hotel hacks, and even hinted at some secrets that are definitely useful for guests to know.
As you’re scrolling down, remember to upvote the posts that you found the most useful, Pandas. When you’re done, tell us about the best and worst hotel stays you’ve ever had. And if you’ve got any fun or useful hotel tips and tricks to share with the crowd, go right ahead. After all, everyone deserves to sleep as soundly as they do in their beds.
I used to work in a hotel kitchen preparing and cleaning after the breakfast buffet.
Tip 1: If there is anything missing or anything extra you would like, I`d be happy to bring it to you. As long as you ask for it nicely and respect that it might take some time if its really busy. If you are demanding anything, or being rude, I will probably claim that we`re out, and ignore the dirty plates on your table until you leave.
Tip 2: if you have any allergies, don`t eat the food in the buffet, most guests are pigs, and will use the same serving spoon in different dishes. I usually prepared special plates using unopened food for people with allergies, they usually got a bit extra too.
Tip 3: Even though I`m paid to be there, it does not mean I`m your personal slave, there are 200 other guests to take care of too, and my pay is not high enough to for me to care about your special needs.
One more thing, kids..While I`m working I don`t give a s**t about your kids. I do not think its cute when people`s barefooted kids are left to roam around the dining room or kitchen, bumping into me while I`m carrying boiling water or sharp knives. I will not watch them, I`m a stranger and you should not trust me.
I used to be hotel valet. The people that tip the most are the ones driving regular cars, not the nice Porche.
Ask the hotel to remove such fees as Wifi, newspaper, gym and pool. These are often included but they will remove if requested.
Also, if you need to cancel but are too close to reservation date call and change to a date a few months out. There's usually no charge for this. Then, call back and cancel that reservation.
Bored Panda previously spoke about the hotel industry and hoteliers, and what makes hotels stand out from the crowd, with Dr. Gabor Forgacs from Ryerson University.
He was very candid that being unique is a pretty complex thing and hoteliers have to “master a lot of moving parts in order to achieve that distinction.” He stressed that alongside all of the physical questions like the locations, size, architecture, design, and furniture, all of the “intangibles need to fall into place seamlessly.” And that’s a tall order to fill.
“The colors, sounds, scents plus the ambiance are all perfectly lined up: what background music is playing, what designer aroma is in the air and have toiletries scented with; the choice of fabric for carpet, curtains and upholstery; the tone and level of voice of staff as they greet guests and communicate without judging requests or behaviors, etc.,” the professor explained just some of the things that hotel owners have to keep in mind when it comes to providing a top-notch experience for guests.
A front desk employee here. If we are at low occupancy at my hotel, we will often upgrade, if requested. But don't be a d**k about it.
Do: "Is it possible to have an upgrade?"
Don't: "Hey hook me up with the Prez suite! Haha JUST KIDDING. But, no, really, is there an upgrade for free?"
Often times, if you are just really nice to the front desk... without saying anything we will upgrade you.
Also, don't be afraid to ask for extra tolietries, towels, linens, or coffee. We don't care how much you take, all you have to do is ask.
The thinness of the sheets and roughness of the towels from being washed too many times. My family has owned two hotels since the 60's and about every decade we hire some consultant to come and tell us what we are doing wrong because we aren't managing owners. Without fail every single one will tell us we are scrapping our worn linens too early, that we can get another six months out of them and without fail it is the one piece of advice we always ignore. We did a cost analysis and it is worth the cost of having happy guests rather than saving a marginal amount by having sheets you can read a newspaper through or towels scratchy enough to sand paint.
“Great hotels provide intuitive and highly personalized service, which cannot be done over 250 rooms capacity. If a guest meets 3-5 different faces behind the front desk each time versus always the same two, that makes a huge difference. You can only do this if your hotel is not larger than that,” Dr. Gorgacs said.
According to the hotel industry specialist, the main reasons why guests return to hotels are good memories of the place. In other words, if the service and stay were extraordinary, the loyalty of the customer is almost assured.
Dr. Forgacs told Bored Panda that it’s not just about gold-plated door knobs or extra skirt hangers in the closet. “The best memories are created through interaction with people. If service excellence exceeds expectations, guests always remember that,” he said.
If you need a phone charger go to the front desk and say you lost yours, they have a box full of them from past visitors.
Don't put a Do Not Disturb sign on your door all day and then expect your room to be cleaned after 3pm when all the housekeepers are gone. Front desk workers are not housekeepers, sorry!
If you ask politely for fresh milk instead of those shitty plastic cup ones that taste like cheese-water, I am more than happy to personally bring a jug of fresh milk from the kitchen to your room. I've even done this at midnight because the person asked so nicely. Basically if you are polite about requesting a little bit extra, you'll almost always get it.
The expert shared some of his thoughts about what hoteliers can do if they’re having trouble with their business.
“Languishing hotels need to take an honest look at themselves to understand the reasons why they can't create special memories. Service culture is not built overnight; the way you hire, you train, and conduct yourself is crucial. Mistakes are made all the time; how you recover and show genuine care would make a difference,” he told us.
“Following up is a secret weapon. Comping, offering a discount, or an upgrade for a mishap is what a typical hotel would do. The better ones will always follow up with the guest and on top of a remedy, tell their plan how the mistake will be prevented from happening again.”
if you have medicine that needs to be refrigerated, don't show up and assume all the rooms have fridges. Also, don't get all bitchy at the staff for not being responsible for your insulin/allergies/ etc. A lot of hotels have rooms without fridges ( Holiday Inns, Hampton Inn, Ramada, etc.) and will typically have several to rent out. Call ahead and be responsible with your condition.
Been working in a big-name chain hotel for a year. Biggest piece of advice is to just be polite to the front desk person, and we will go the extra mile every time. Bottle of wine, freshly baked cookies in your room, late check-in, hints of the best local eateries, whatever.
Also, don't be afraid to try and talk the front desk person down a little for a lower rate. Don't be obnoxious about it, as we'll lie and say it can't go any lower!
Wow, after browsing this thread and seeing other housekeepers comments/warnings I'm shocked. Especially about using windex/dirty rags/guest towels to clean coffe cups and such.
I am a housekeeper/head housekeeper (laundry and room checks) at a fairly small 3star independently owned hotel. We take pride in our work and strive for customer satisfaction. And this is probably because we arent involved in a corporation and don't have to deal with BS because of it.
Here's a run down of what gets done in your room at our establishment;
Every bed is completely stripped once the guests check out and we wash all the sheets that are stripped everyday. Even if it seems like only one out of two beds was slept in, we still check them for hair/dirt ect and strip sheets if anything looks "dirty"
Blankets aren't washed everyday but still often enough to not be dirty.
All towels and rags are washed daily.
For "stay overs" (guests staying multiple nights) housekeepers are required to remove all used towels as replace with fresh ones, and to generally clean the room as if it were a "checkout". So that means we clean your bathroom, give you a new roll of TP if needed, clean your vanitys, dust vaccum and straighten up your bed. We also rinse out used coffee pots, REPLACE used cups with clean ones ( all dishes get run through dishwasher) and stock any amenities you use up. We take out your trash and turn off your lights. Then the head housekeeper checks these rooms later for thoroughness.
We never use guest towels to clean things and use a few different rags in every room, so that we always have a fresh one. Once a guest towel is stained or even just worn out we use it as a rag. We are required to clean such small details you wouldn't even think of those things as being dirty.
We serve a hot breakfast everyday and have a hot tub/steam room that gets cleaned an maintained regularly. We are the only hotel on our side of town that is staffed 24/7 at the front desk so there is always someone to help you.
Of course all of these perks and guarantees are possible because the hotel is independently owned and small ( about 40 rooms)
We take pride in our jobs and our hotel and it shows. Our guests are very happy. It has a "home-y; comfortable" feel. We are familiar with the motels across and on either side of us; as trust me, their quality is significantly lower; but you get what you pay for I suppose.
So for those of you that have the chance to stay at an independent hotel on your travels, I can almost guarantee it is a better value than a fancier, corporate establishment.
Edit: oh, and we don't charge you for any "extra services". Everything is included in your price of the room; regardless of if you need extra attention or not. The only things we DO charge you for are for stupid things people do, like smoking cigarettes In the room ( you can't hide it!), or lying about having pets (it's much cheaper to be honest about it and pay the extra fee to have them to be charged later for "excess cleaning"). And if you trash the room or puke/p**s on our s**t, or break/steal ANYTHING you will receive a hefty fee. And we have had some very angry parents/card owners complain because things like this happened on thier dime. So be respectful
Often you can find "treasures" left behind by former guests. Rip the room apart! Look under mattress and box spring. In vents. move the night stand and dressers. just be sure to put it back together before you leave. If you stay in enought hotels and do this you will find something left behind. House keepers generally have 10-15 min to clean each room.
Dont forget to tip!
former housekeeper here.
No longer a hotel worker but: do not use the provided glasses. Or, if you need to, wash them yourself first.
Stayed at a Four Seasons over seas in North Africa. Recently opened. While the male housekeeper was cleaning my bathroom, I cold see him as I sat on the bed. He wiped the toilet, windows, and then cleaned out my drinking glasses with the same towel- FOUR SEASONS hotel.
if a hotel is "smoke free", and you smoke there, you are liable to get pinned with a $150 or more damages fee. happened at the hotel that i worked at every time someone smoked inside.
A room can have bedbugs even if you see no evidence of them on the mattress itself. If it's not attached to the wall, looking on the backside of the headboard is always a good idea.
Well for starters:
Don't ask us to bring you your wine because we haven't had that spirit here since 1969
As a person who stays in hotels and... well... I'm Canadian... I wonder if there's anything we can do to make it easier on the housekeeping staff?
I always tear the sheets and blankets off the bed and leave them in a bundle at the foot, with the pillowcases. I also throw all used towels in the tub/shower, as requested.
I never touch the extra stuff, like the cups, so they never have to replace any of that s**t, but I always take the shampoo for future traveling that may not include a hotel.
I leave between two to ten bucks (depending on the length of my stay) on the nightstand with a thank you note, and I always make sure to take care of any of the bending - for example, if I've put anything in the trash can, I will take the bag out myself, or leave the trash can on the desk/table. I have a bad back, so I know how much it can suck to have to bend over constantly, every day.
Is there anything else I could be doing?
If you have a pet and are looking to stay inexpensively, try a La Quinta. I do not have any affiliation with them, but they've never charged me a pet fee or for trumped-up damages after checkout. They also allow more than one pet per room. May vary based on location, but it is a general rule on their corporate website that they accept animals.
If anything in the restroom is dirty or seems 'off' to you, it means housekeeping is slacking and/or their morale is low. This is likely the result of negligent management, owners, etc.: The place is rotten to the core, and other rooms aren't likely to be any better.
I have held many hotel positions, all in luxury locations. Tip the front desk agent as soon as you walk up. They often keep the best rooms in their back pocket for problem/super awesome guests. Most of the time these room don't cost more (think corner room with more windows). The valet/bellman will run to the store for you to buy cigarettes/booze/anything else. A$k nicely. Ask the valets/doormen about nightlife/restaurants. They are often the ones who actually go out frequently and enjoy the scene. Many concierges will only recommend places that they receive incentives for. And pleasepleaseplease fill out comment cards and use hotel employees names who were good at their job. You have no idea how large of a positive impact this has for the employee.
Don't bother leaving negative reviews on Trip Advisor. It's hard to change an issue and make your stay better after the fact, and especially when you're bitching online and not directly to the hotel. Let the front desk and/or management know about the issues with your stay WHEN THE ISSUES HAPPEN. It's so difficult to help people or solve what is going on when they let you know as they're leaving or when they leave a shitty online review! If the front desk and/or management genuinely refuse to help you and are just generally shitty unhelpful people, then sure. Let it all out on Trip Advisor. I once had a lady who came in telling her daughter she was ugly, proceeded to scream at me because the person on the 1-800 number she called quoted her a lower rate than what showed up on my screen. She told me I was shitty at my job and pathetic for not knowing what was going on with "my company" .. when she called some call centre in god knows where. This bitch was so rude that she made me cry.. I can't say a lot of guests have made me cry. We take a lot of shit at the front desk. I gave the woman like a 20% discount lower than what was quoted to her on the phone and she still called me pathetic, bitched about our continental breakfast, and wrote a Trip Advisor review stating that I (she mentioned my name!) had the worst customer service she's ever experienced and she is outraged by our terrible breakfast and it's a lie that our internet is free. I had even gone to this woman's room to help her type in the password for our FREE wifi, so I don't even know what crevice of her ass this was pulled out of. But yeah. Just.. don't be a raging asshole.
The smell of smoke is a red flag. If you can smell smoke, it's one of those hotels who says they don't allow it, but do.
If something did not meet your expectations (slow internet, cold water, dirty room), complain about it (NICELY). You might get free points for the inconvenience (sometimes as many as the value of one night stay). If you are staying at a hotel of a chain, and the front desk offers only an apology, call the hotel brand (e.g. reservations/customer care). Hotels of the popular chains are typically franchises, and the management company loves to receive feedback, because a sub-par hotel can affect the reputation of the brand.
Currently work Front Desk for a little over 3 years.
--Don't be a d**k. I can make your stay pretty shitty.
--If you watch a movie and say that you didn't, I can see how long you watched it and what you watched so be careful if you're trying to get some free movies, expecially if it's on a work account. I will fax that s**t straight to your boss.
--If you have your Do Not Disturb sign up all day and take it down at 7:30 pm, don't expect to have your room cleaned. Call the desk and we will give you the extra linens, toiletries etc.
--At least speak a little bit of the language of the country you're in. It's really f*****g frustrating to use hand signals and draw pictures while trying to get your information
--If you have a problem with your room, don't wait until the morning to complain and try to get a discount. If you didn't call the desk for help, then obviously it wasn't a big deal and you're just being cheap.
--If you book through a third party site and you don't specify what type of room you want, you will get whatever is leftover. It will most likely be a smoking room or handicapped accessible. Can't blame us, blame the third party site. If you want the proper room at least call the hotel to verify your reservation information.
Wear sandals in the showers. PLEASE. And bring your own pillows and blankets. You'll feel better.
Front desk staff are people too, don't treat us like animals. We also accepts tips.
A little tip from someone who runs a hotel:
It's fine if you find hotels through sites like expedia, priceline or hotels.com but once narrowed down you should try and call the hotel and get a better rate. I pay a commission for every room booked through a travel agency and I pass that cost down to you by raising rates on those sites. I know most of the hotels in my area do this and if they won't offer you a cheaper they'll often times give you an upgrade.
I don't really do this for big holiday weekends like July 4th so YMMV then.
Worked night shift at a lower-end chain hotel for a while. If you're going to check in very, very late/early (2-4am), try to call to let us know a couple hours ahead of time. Many hotels do the night audit around 3am which effectively turns the day over, so checking in around then can be inconvenient and irritating for both of us, and I can pretty much do whatever I want in that case.
For instance, you come in at 2am Saturday morning, but I haven't run the audit yet, so to the computer it's still Friday. Technically, I'm supposed to check you in, charge you the regular daily rate, and you have to be out in 9 hours for check out Saturday morning (again, to the computer you're just checking in very late on Friday).
However, I'm happy to give you a room key, let you get settled, then have you come back in half an hour after I've run audit to officially check you in then, so instead of 9 hours, you pay the same for 33 hours. There's also an early check-in fee that - providing we're not booked solid - I'm happy to "forget" to key in as well.
Do not use the ice bucket without a liner. It may have been used as a puke receptacle.
A lot of those competing hotel websites are actually owned by the same people.
Don't try to screw over a hotel. Don't skip out on paying, or refuse to leave a room. If you have property in a rented room and you do not pay your rent, the hotel is under almost no obligation to let you retrieve your things out of said room. Most hotels have a shit list, and sometimes we share them. If you are a big enough prick there could be dozens if not more hotels that wont rent to you.
Learn how Debit cards work for Christ sake people! It doesn't work the same as a Credit card and will get taken right out of your account so the hotel knows they will get paid. You also get authorized for more money on top in case of incidentals and no they will not take it off, they don't know you and are not going to take that chance. Also if you want to pay with cash expect to put a $100 deposit down for the room. All of this is management rules. Not the desk you are not going to gain anything by yelling at them.
When you book with a website (not the hotel's), you often can't change your reservation with the hotel because your contract is actually with whatever site you used. Cancellations, refunds and the like are out of our hands. It usually doesn't matter, but it's always good to know. Prices can also vary, you won't always get a better deal on the travel site. You essentially now have two people making money off of you instead of one. It really depends on availability and nightly rates, which change all the time.
Know what services the hotel has before you arrive. I work at a limited service hotel where our 3 major perks are free internet, free breakfast, and free local calls.. it's pretty basic and gets really annoying when guests are outraged by the fact that we don't have a pool or a restaurant or a gym. It takes a two second Google search to figure this out and saves you from looking like an idiot when you're angry about something you should have known in the first place.
As a frequent business traveler and a frequent drinker, I have found out that the bottom of the ironing board can usually be used as a bottle opener.
"When the towels and linens smell mostly like bleach — red flag."
We give free toothbrushes, deodorant, slippers and rubber ducks to anyone who asks. If you go to the front desk late at night when the auditor is working and ask, "can I have some free stuff?" They will probably give you something.
Perhaps a little late to the party, but I'd **strongly** suggest you carefully read where you're making your reservation. Most hotels now have their own website and, more importantly, imitators. You're not (very) likely to get your credit card stolen, but you are likely to be getting overcharged and/or have your reservation bungled. I've had probably hundreds of bizarre requests offered to people which we physically cannot fulfill -- by third-party agencies that would claim to be working for the hotel.
TLDR: Make sure you're checking the website for the hotel, not an advertisement that looks like their hotel.
Look at the bathroom in the pictures on their site. If it is super nice, usually the rest of the hotel is, too. If it’s just a standard looking bathroom, dig deeper before booking
If you need a crib, call ahead. At our hotel, we only have eight cribs, and it isn't all too uncommon for them all to be lent out on our busiest days. Call ahead and see if we have any available or if we can set one aside for you
Be nice to concierges, seriously. We can help you make it one of the best nights you have in our city, impress your SO or generally hook it up for you. Be a jerk and I will drag my feet to do anything for you.
Not a hotel worker, but I have some advice:
Wipe down parts of your room when you get there with some Clorox wipes.
You have no idea how many people don't wash their hands after going to the bathroom and touch that handle you just touched before you started eating your food.
Do you want someones shitness on your sandwich?
I've worked in 2 different hotels. In both, the coffee was never changed between about 11 am and 4:30-5 am the next day. If you want a cup of coffee between those times, ask. I'll be more than happy to brew a fresh pot for you.
My friend and I stayed at 9 different hotels in 10 days, and we always asked the price and discussed it between us before agreeing to stay - every single person said "this is the last available room for tonight"
It truly made us wonder if this was a universal trick for all hotels
If you encounter a problem, do not deal with it all night and then demand a discount in the morning. We want to fix problems, not compensate for them. Plus, if you stayed the whole night with, as you say, the loudest heater in the world, then to me, it couldn't have been that bad; otherwise you would have wanted it fixed right away. Waiting until the next morning tells me the problem was either not a problem at all, or just enough of a problem to leverage for a discount. Either way I won't take it seriously. However, call me as soon as you notice something unsatisfactory (this is why it helps to check everything you intend to use in the room before unpacking) and I WILL fix it for you, often upgrading you to a nicer room because I feel bad.
Maybe everyone knows this, but if you want fresh towels you should put the towels on the floor. If you hang them they will not be changed and you'll have to ask for new ones.
Anything left in the rooms that is taken to the lost amd found is considered up for grabs after a week.