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Some Helpful Advice: What NOT To Do in a Hotel

February 27, 2013 at 2:58 PM | by | ()

We're gonna assume that if you've ended up here on our site, which is all about hotels, then you've stayed in one at least once before. Yet even frequent hotel guests can always use some helpful reminders of Things Not To Do When Staying in a Hotel.

Don't Expect an Early Check-In: Hotels have check-in times of 2 to 4 pm for a reason--they need time to get the room ready for the next guest. That said, hotels aren't always fully booked so if you arrive at 11am and want to check-in, staff could feasibly accommodate you. But...don't count on it in advance.

Don't Let The Hotel Walk You Unless...: They pay for your room and your transportation to the new hotel. If you aren't familiar with the term "walking", it essentially means the hotel doesn't have a room for you and must send you to a different property. This often happens when you book through third-party travel sites. But if you reserve directly through the hotel and they still don't have a room for you, then the hotel needs to pay for your stay elsewhere and any reasonable transportation (cab ride, car service) costs to get there.

Don't Use the Bedspread: We're just not going to apologize for our germaphobe stance on this. The stats are in and the covers have gotta go. Here's our suggestion: Take a hanger from the closet, use it to lift the top blanket off the bed and drop it on the floor. Thankfully, many hotels are taking a No-Comforter approach in the guestrooms, but a few are still insisting on those dreaded floral bedspreads that probably haven't been washed in a queen's age.

Don't Walk Around The Lobby In Your Robe: We get it. The robe is so comfortable. The spa is just downstairs. Your room is just a quick elevator ride away. You paid for this experience, dammit. But aside from quick jaunts to the spa and back to your room, there is no need to walk around the lobby in your robe. There just isn't. (Feel free to debate us on this in comments below.)

Don't Ask the Concierge These Questions: Depending on the concierge's mood, you might be sent to a real stinker of a restaurant/show/bar/store.

Don't Touch the Minibar Unless You're Absolutely Sure: The days of guzzling down a vodka bottle and filling it back up with water hoping the hotel won't notice that you cracked the seal are long gone, thanks to these newfangled mini-bar sensors. If you even so much move a Coke bottle from the rack, you will get charged. Instead, opt to stay at hotels that aren't so strict about their minibars like Andaz Hotels and Kimpton, which offer goodies and non-alcoholic beverages gratis.

Don't Get Intimidated By Room Service Bills: Room service charges can be a source of major anxiety during a stay. We explored this angst in an OpenThread. There's a nice server in your room who so politely looked the other way when your robe slipped open a little bit. They've set up the table, poured the syrup on your pancakes and coffee into your mug, so you gotta tip them right? Not necessarily. The room service bill includes a delivery charge and a gratuity charge. There's an extra line for another tip but only if you think it's necessary.

Don't Leave Your Room Service Tray in the Hallway: The last thing we want to see when we return to our hotel room for some R&R is whatever you ate for dinner last night. Pick up the phone and call room service to remove the tray. It's as easy as that. Besides, you might end up like this guy.

Don't Stiff The Maid: While extra room service tips are debatable, tipping the housekeeper should not be, especially if your stay is two days or longer and you've been an outright slob. You don't have to tip everyday but a nice tip at the end of your stay is a good idea.

Don't Expect a Late Check-Out: Late check-outs are like the Holy Grail of hotel stays. They are practically impossible to get. That's because, again, housekeeping needs the time to get that room ready for the next guest. Of course, it doesn't hurt to ask. Sometimes the hotel will oblige and give you an extra hour. You could also pay anywhere from $25-$50 to stay a few hours longer. Otherwise you can squat and wait until hotel security forcibly removes you from the room. You know, if you're into that.

Don't Stand for Poor Service: Calmly let the manager know what dissatisfied you during your stay. Hopefully, they will do the right thing and please you whether it be an upgrade to a suite on your next stay, removing a charge from your bill or offering a spa/restaurant credit. If the manager doesn't care, then come talk to us.

Don't Skim Through Your Check-Out Bill: With express check-outs now available through the room TV, email and even on the hotel's own smartphone app, it's so tempting to just click CHECK OUT and have the final folio sent to you later on. However, these bills often contain mistakes like double charges for movies, minibar items, room service or WiFi. It's a real pain to have to sort these mistakes out by phone once you've returned home. But if you make time to review your bill while you're still on site, you can have the front desk correct the charges right then and there.


Don't Pay for WiFi: We're typing this sentence from Starbucks where we paid $2 for a water. A hotel that's charging $100+ a night can find a way to get you free WiFi (especially when the HoJo's internet is gratis). Let's not give in to these charges any longer! For more on who's charging for WiFi and who's giving it out for free read our annual WiFi report right here and be on the lookout for our 2013 report.

Got your own DON'Ts of staying in a hotel room to share? Drop them in comments below!

Archived Comments:

agreed on nearly all points

yes, please don't wear your robe around the hotel lobby, you look sloppy, the staff, in pressed over the top uniforms will note your causualniess and probaboy snicker at one another

Room service tip yes the is a delivery charge and an auromatic gratuity but the delivery charge goes to the hotel and in some cases the hotel take part of the gratuity. if the service charge is 20% sometimes 25% of that will go to the hotel.

Also please don't order food in the restaurant and ask that it be delivered to your room and not tip. that is the tackiest, most rransparent move ever.

Room service tray in the hallway? well it depends... if you are staying at a high end property, for sure you should call to get it picked up and expect it to be picked up but mid tier properties even 4 diamond, don't count on getting your tray picked up in a timely fashion. higher end brands, do you really want to get a knock on your door and have to let someone in to do this? call then, don't tell the person who answers (as the server might take thoer sweet time) that you'll be pushing it outside your door.

Am I the only one that tips daily?

I was always told that you never know what housekeeper is on shift (especially on weekends), so I leave a few bills daily. Imagine not tipping until the end of a visit and the person who cleaned your room for the first few days thinks you stiffed her/him? :-/

Daily tip

Yes that a good point. I guess I always tip at the end because I don't ever stay more than two days in a hotel but it would be a shame if that tip went to someone who just cleaned the room that morning and not the other five days. So daily might be better although it's hard to remember that all the time and to have cash on hand. But anything is better than nothing!

Do's / Dont's


-Tip HK daily. Chanize is correct. It is likely you may not receive the same HKer daily. One thing I do when away if I run into the HKer is ask "will you be the only one servicing the room or do you rotate sections?" If the HKer says "just me," she lands a big fat tip on day 1 (watch the magic of extra amenities and that little extra care and attention to detail in your room magically appear), and then again on c/o. Otherwise, small daily increments.

-Let management know how your stay is going. Good? Bad? Likes? Dislikes? Staff stood out? We are interested and always listening... (an e-mail, quick phone call, or meet and greet for 5 minutes is all it takes)


-Expect an upgrade if you have no status (or worse, booked 3rd party... gross). Tipping the Front Desk Agent and asking for them to "do their best" on your behalf, on the other hand, will almost always work. Entitlements, not so mucho...

-Yell at staff. Like, EVER. You will be red-flagged and treated harshly from that moment on... unless you apologize in a self deprecating manner, then all will be forgiven.

-Confuse HOTEL and HOME or forget people can SEE you. Do us all a favor. Beyond walking through the hotel in your robe (yeah, don't do that), at least put forth an effort into making yourself look quasi-presentable when entering any public spaces. We don't need our lobbies looking like scenes from THE WALKING DEAD at 6:00am because you think our place is business is your literal place of residence.  The bedrooms are upstairs, and have full-length mirrors. Check yourself. :)


i always leave the tray outside because i don't want to call for someone to get it and have to pay another tip. also, i may be in my pants.
and leaving it outside and calling, that just seems a bit Lady Muck to me - like i only make contact w staff when necessary.

am i thinking too much?

Free Wifi is not a Right

I've never quite understood the notion that Wifi should be free while other hotel services can garner a cost.  What the "Internet Should be Free" crowd often forgets is that not everyone needs/wants internet access.  Saying that all $100+/night hotels should have free Wifi makes as much sense as saying all $100+/night hotels should offer free breakfast.  If you don't want to pay for internet, choose a hotel that includes it.  Just don't force me to pay for something I don't need (by forcing it into the room rate).  After all, isn't that the argument against resort fees?

Also, it's important to note that the internet provided by hotels is significantly different than places like Starbucks.  Hotels need to buy more bandwidth because they have to provide access to hundreds more users.  Plus, those users are more likely to use bandwidth-heavy applications/streaming media.  (Not sure what I mean?  Check out your internet provider.  You'll probably see that they offer various plans.  The higher the bandwidth, the higher the price.)

A trip-over risk

I also think of the room-service tray issue in another context. Here, a tray left outside your door, especially after a room-service dinner, can be a trip-over risk. This is more so when people come along the corridor after dark (they could be very tired or have had a bit too much to drink) or you could have guests who don't have good eyesight such as older people. These people could easily trip over that tray if it hasn't been cleared up quickly.
Personally, I would let RS know when you have finished and they could knock on your door so you can hand it to them.


Paying for Wi-Fi is absolutely ridiculous!

Don't skip the quick room inspection.

When arrive to hopefully fresh and set room always take a moment to do a basic inspect of your room. Do the locks on the window/patio door work? Is the seal on the mini-bar intact if so equipped? Are there any strange lingering odors? Does the room look reset such as clean towels and no dirties in the tub? Motel "1" or a premium resort if the TV has a giant cracked screen it is much better to alert a manager about a problem when you first arrive.        


As a Diamond Member with Hilton I have no problem with my fellow travelers taking some downtime and using a hotel as their second home. Believe me it is hard at times for me to adjust when I see hotels sell access to the executive and diamond lounges. However, this weekend I was very happy to share a table over coffee in the lounge after my morning swim with a Hilton Employee traveling with his family. All I ask of fellow guest is for you to enjoy your stay, remember that it is about your family in the end and have respect for the hotel staff.

Now to touch on some of the concerns addressed in this blog from my point of view. Personally, I do not leave food in the hallway; however, if you do I have no problem as staff is busy and don't bother them to brag about your meal just to pick up a tray. Seriously, they my be hungry, too. Instead place it out of the walkway as best you can, placing a tip for cleaning up 'your' mess under the cloth napkin that you used to cover the mess! Yes, my little pet peeve is showing :) ... just cover the leftovers with the napkin as I have watched toddlers try to grab stuff from those trays left outside.

I have only been bumped once from a hotel even when using my 48 hour guarantee service of the last 20 years as a Diamond Member and it was an optional bump. The hotel was packed with teenagers and the front desk upon my arrival mentioned they were sold out; however, had a room available for our family in the hotel. I was completely fine. There were people standing around hoping for no shows. ... The next comment amazed me! They said the owner of franchise wanted to ensure our family was taken care and relaxed of during our vacation and was offering to host us at his private estate. I was lost for words. They were wonderful hosts and come to find out actually former neighbors.

It really comes to respecting people. Just because you have a status does not give one power to demand service.

Great points on know what you want when asking for recommendations. Good ones know the town and menus. Was in San Diego a month ago and wanted exotic foul for dinner. She warned us about the entrance looking like a nightclub and once I was done eating duck soup I took pictures outside and then I had flashbacks to college life. So yes they know their stuff but you got to know what you want. They are not your counselor.

On to ROBES! Sorry, I have to disagree on this one. Please wear them! I do not want to see bare chests coming though the lobby from the swimming pool or waiting at the bar for a drink before heading up. I am not homoprobic. Again, respect. Keep it at the poolside without covers. Even my daughter, who wears a one piece, wears a robe to the lobby, lounge or pool. Once she is ready to enter the pool THEN she walks around in a bathing suit. I did not check into the beach. Plus it drives me insane watching everyone grab 2 or 3 towels ... Why? To stay warm after getting out of the pool. Hello! Use a ROBE!

Another pet peeve is pajamas, onesies, rompers (?? half legged pajama onesies), etc in the morning. I have no problem with kids under 11/12 or his/her parents as a mother/daughter or father/daughter time wearing onesies to breakfast. Trust me I have seen a lot worse! However, this is where that ROBE comes in handy. I totally understand the idea of breakfast before shower. Get out of bed with your pajamas, put on the robe then exit the room. Too many times I have seen underwear, bras, butt cracks and even teenagers in pull up diapers showing on the outside if their clothes. No offense on the diaper comment, I get it they have bladder issues... just try to be respectful and just throw on the robe.

And finally the bill issue! I finally encountered the nicest man who knew he was having money issues. Did not even attempt to deny it. Very respectful and just asked to try a couple cards or break the amount between the two cards. Just the tone, manner and professionalism was over the top. I hope he enjoyed his gift.

To all those that walk up and start arguing about every $15/20 charge should find a campsite next week. I can count the number of times in 20 years as a Hilton Honors Diamond Member that I had issues on one hand. The first was my kids pulling things out of the fridge in New York (where parking was more than the room). I took the items to the front desk and begged for forgiveness. They enjoyed the laugh and had to managers approval to correct it. They handed me a couple extra snacks for the kids to keep their hands busy. :) If there is an issue send a quick email after check out just to check. Example the front desk upgraded me (traveling solo) to an extended suite because I forgot to comment "Std Room: no rm upg request". Normally all upgrades for Diamond Members are free except suites. It was only $45 and I dropped a quick email on the charge and within 20 minutes it was resolved. However, my email was a question not a request so now I feel guilty booking at that DoubleTree in Sacramento as they are amazing staff.

So to close. Respect the staff. Respect your fellow guests (and yes, I too am still working in this area) and enjoy your downtime at the hotel. For some of us it is our second home.