We’ve all heard the nightmarish stories from people who’ve had a bad stay at a hotel before. Anytime you pay your hard-earned money to stay in a new place, it can be disappointing when you get there only to realize it’s far from what you had expected.
Whether it’s clearly soiled sheets left over from a previous guest, rude service, or an utterly drab room compared to the pictures online, anything less than what you paid for can really dampen your exuberant ‘I’m on vacation!’ spirit.
If you’ve ever gotten the shaft while staying at a hotel, you’ll be glad to know that there are some tips-of-the-trade that turn all your hotel-stay-negatives into positives. Here is a list of 35 hotel secrets the front desk doesn’t want you to know!
1. Hotels Overbook On Purpose!
Don’t let the hotel staff fool you when they act like it was a mistake that they overbooked. They did it on purpose. Not, of course, to put a deliberate kink in your stay, but because they are trying to account for lost business due to daily cancellations, which equates to roughly 10%.
Before you go ballistic on the bearer of bad news and storm out the door to write a nasty Yelp review, ask what their policy is for incidents where you were promised a room that they can’t provide.
Generally, they will pay for a similar room at a different hotel to make things right. There’s even a term for it! It’s called getting “walked”.
2. Book Your Room Through The Hotel’s Website
There’s nothing wrong with scoring deals on hotel rooms through 3rd party websites like Travelocity, Kayak, or Hotwire. If you want a bit of say-so in the details of your room, though, you might not want to take this route.
The thing is, the reason you score those rooms so cheap is because they are the “leftovers”, so-to-speak, of the hotel rooms that didn’t get booked.
So if you’re jazzed up about a balcony with a jacuzzi or a room with a view, you’re best off booking through the hotel directly to get your pick of the litter.
3. There’s A Loop-Hole To Getting Charged For A Cancellation…
It’s happened to thousands of us. You’re all set and ready to go on your long-awaited trip only to have something crop up suddenly that has to be taken care of right when you’re about to leave. It could be a sick kiddo, a work emergency, or your funds are desperately needed elsewhere.
No matter what the reason, it’s always a huge bummer and to make matters worse, you’re likely going to get charged for a late cancellation notice! Being forced to give up your vacation will always suck, but the good news is you can play a little trick on the hotel to get around the fee.
Simply give them a buzz and request to rebook your vacation for a later date. Call back the next day to cancel, and you won’t have to pay that pesky late cancellation fee!
4. You Can Request A Different Room If You Don’t Like The One You’re In
After you get to your room, but definitely before you unpack, take a good look around. If you notice something about your room that will bother you during your stay, like it seems unclean or has a leftover smell from whoever graced it before, you don’t have to just deal.
Believe it or not, you can actually request a different hotel room if yours is somehow substandard to the one you were promised. Just be nice about it, because the last thing you want to do is piss off the hotel staff.
5. Always, Always Be Friendly To The Staff
If you want the best experience you can possibly have while staying at a hotel, the number one thing to do is make sure you are always nice to the staff. All of them.
Not only do staff members have a wealthy supply of tricks up their sleeves for making your trip the worst, but they also have the ability to make your stay unforgettable…in a good way.
Whether you’re trying to score tickets to that sold out show, or you just want to use wi-fi without paying insane fees, the hotel staff can hook you up if you are nice to them and they feel like returning the favor.
6. Ritz Carlton Staff Have $2,000 To Make You Their BFF
That is not a typo. The Ritz “empowers” their employees to spend up to two grand to make sure you enjoy your stay with them if they want you to come back.
So, even if you’ve just had the worst day of your life, if you’re nice to the staff then they might just be inclined to bust into that budget they’ve been given for you and make your stay a whole lot better!
7. Fall Asleep To The View Of Under Sea Life
Did you know you can rent a room under the sea and watch the fish swim through the coral reef? There are plenty of undersea hotels peppered throughout the world, offering you an intimate view into sea life.
Be prepared to spend a good chunk of dough on this trip though, as it runs about $15,000 per person for a one week stay.
8. Try Not To Get Yourself “Key-Bombed” By Hotel Staff
When you’re staying at a hotel, it’s a good thing to try and remember that access to your room is controlled by the hotel staff. If you upset them, they can easily “key-bomb” your card so that you can’t get in no matter what you do.
A word to the wise; always be nice…especially when you don’t feel like it.
9. If You Want Clean Sheets Go With A 4 Or 5 Star Hotel
This is one scenario where the adage ‘you get what you pay for’ rings true. There are tons of anonymous hotel employee confessions on the internet where they fess up to not always cleaning the sheets at every checkout….sometimes for months.
The good news is that this seems to mostly happen in 3-star or under hotels. So if you’re truly traveling on a budget, it might be best to bring your own sheets or shell out the extra cash for a better-rated hotel.
10. If You’re Going To Drink From The Minibar, Be Sure To Check The Seal
It’s unfortunate but true. The whole point of the minibar is that you can have a drink if you want, but sometimes people go a little beyond just enjoying a cocktail.
One Reddit user recalls discovering a hotel guest had drank a whiskey shot and refilled the bottle with his pee before resealing and putting it back in the refrigerator.
So yeah, always check those seals!
11. Stop Hanging Your Used Towels
If you think you’re doing the hotel’s staff a favor by hanging your used towels back up to keep them off of the floor, think again.
Unless you want to use the same towel throughout your stay, go ahead and toss ’em on the bathroom floor. This is a silent and perfectly acceptable way to communicate that you would like a fresh towel.
The employees actually prefer it to you coming up to them at a busy time later and asking them to stop what they’re doing and go grab one for you.
12. Glove Up To Watch TV
It’s true what they say about TV remote controls in hotel rooms. They never get cleaned.
So if you’re planning to watch TV during your stay, either glove up before grabbing the clicker, or give it a good cleaning with a serious disinfectant first. Maybe a couple of times.
13. You Don’t Want The Concierge’s Opinion
If you’re looking to get a feel for the culture in the place you’re staying, don’t ask the concierge where to go. This is for the same reason you don’t want to buy a car from someone who gets paid commission, they get kickbacks for sending you to certain tourist traps. Instead, ask the valet, cleaning staff, or bellhop for suggestions.
Their answer about the best restaurant or private beach will likely be more honest than a concierge. If you do like the places you end up, make sure to leave the employee a tip for sharing local secrets.
14. It’s Easy To Pick Up Bed Bugs At A Hotel
Hotels attract thousands of people from all walks of life. That means those mattresses sleep all kinds of hosts, and more of them are carrying bed bugs with them than you think!
Before you drop your luggage and dive-bomb that fluffy bed, grab your flashlight (or use the one on your phone) and thoroughly check for bed bugs, paying extra close attention to upholstered seams and behind the headboard. If you find any, leave.
15. The Hotel Staff Fill Many Roles, But Babysitting Isn’t One Of Them
Remember, hotels host people from all lifestyles, and they don’t run background checks before offering them a room. So while hotels can be a fun place to bring the whole family, you should always keep a close eye on them, even if they’re just outside in the hallway.
Another precaution you should always follow is to make sure your door is locked when you leave or go to bed at night. Much better to be safe than sorry in this scenario.
16. Yes, Housekeeping Sometimes Take Naps In Guest’s Beds
Hotel staff can get ran around pretty hard throughout the day, especially if it’s busy. So if they ever find themselves with spare time for an allotted room, yes, they sometimes take a quick snooze in the bed.
This is most likely to happen in a VIP room, as the cleaning staff is generally granted more time to get the room “perfect” than they are the other guest rooms.
17. ALWAYS Tip The Staff
One of the most important unspoken laws of staying in hotels is to always tip the staff, all of them, every time. They put up with an awful lot in a day, and just because you tipped the last cleaning person or bellhop doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tip the next.
The person who helped you before may have closed out their shift, and now you’re dealing with someone entirely new. Tipping is a great way to ensure you get the best possible treatment they can give you, from little perks to insider information, it’s worth it.
18. Yes, They Keep Items That Are Left Behind
If you’re in a hurry to make check out, and you get down the road before realizing that you’ve left something behind, call the hotel right away and inform them. Things get left behind all of the time in hotel rooms, a lot of them very valuable. Some have even scored electronic devices, jewelry, and cash.
While most of the time staff is supposed to report what they’ve found and wait for it to be claimed, they often don’t. Not because they want to keep you from retrieving it back, but because they know if they turn it in to be claimed then managers will likely get to it first.
19. You Can Haggle For A Better Deal
While scoring a discounted rate on your room through 3rd-party travel sites like Expedia don’t always earn you the best room or service, you can still get a discount and the experience you are looking for by haggling. Believe it or not, there is something known as “the magic number” where you find the lowest online rate and reduce it by 20%.
That way, the hotel is still receiving more money than they would if you’d paid the full “discounted” rate from the 3rd-party, and you get an even bigger discount than the one you found online. It’s truly a win-win for you and the hotel!
20. Upgrades Are Always Worth Asking For If You’re Nice About It
Of all the things one might try to get a free upgrade out of the hotel front desk staff, being nice to the person is by far the most effective. In fact, it’s so effective that it beats bribing them with gifts, food, drink or even cold hard cash.
Just make sure that when you do ask, it’s not at a busy time and no one else is within earshot. They aren’t going to risk their livelihood just to get you a perk, nor should they.
21. Your Hotel Room Cups And Mugs Probably Aren’t The Cleanest
Before you reach for a mug to grab your morning coffee, you might want to consider thoroughly washing it first.
Hotel employees are the very definition of busy bees, and when they’ve got a literal laundry list of tasks to complete in multiple rooms, and in a specified time-frame, your hotel room mugs generally take the backburner to other more obvious tasks.
At best, your mug is getting a quick wipe-down with an already dirty cloth, and that’s only if it looks like it’s been used.
22. Get More Space For Free
If you’re looking for a room with space, but don’t want to pay extra, consider requesting a corner room. These are generally quite a bit larger than the other rooms and are positioned away from busy elevators.
Alternatively, asking for a top-floor room in a high rise will get you the taller ceilings and put you far away from the noisiest parts of the hotel.
23. “No Vacancy” Doesn’t Necessarily Mean You Can’t Snag A Room
If you pull up to yet another hotel sporting a “No Vacancy” sign don’t panic just yet, all is not lost. Often times if a room is experiencing some sort of maintenance issue, they will treat it as if it doesn’t exist.
If minor issues don’t bother you in the face of possibly having to spend the night in your car, go ahead and ask the front desk if one of the rooms is in disrepair. If they are, chances are they will not only rent it to you if you’re willing but will probably give you a sizeable discount on it as well.
24. It’s Not Always Cheaper To B.Y.O.B
If you think you’re cutting costs by bringing your own drinks and snack items to stock the mini-fridge, you might only be wracking up even more charges.
A lot of hotels will charge you for storing items in their fridge, so before you spend extra money to avoid extra charges, make sure there’s not a catch in the mini-fridge fine print.
25. The Safe Isn’t Always So Safe
Almost all hotel rooms come with access to a personal safe included. The only problem is, these safes aren’t always the most effective way to secure your belongings, because most of them aren’t insured in the event of theft or damage, such as those caused by fires or floods.
If you’re packing along some truly valuable items with you, consider requesting to store them in the hotel safe. All employees don’t have access to it the way they do to your rooms, and the hotel safe is insured.
26. The Agent At The Front Desk Knows How To Get Their Revenge
OK, you’ve had a long day full of unexpected and unwelcome surprises. While you might think it will make you feel better to unload by screaming at the hotel’s front desk agent, or at your spouse or business partner in front of them, you’re only making things harder on yourself. Front desk employees know how to get their revenge.
You might end up getting severely downgraded without even knowing it, or you might end up getting random drunk phone calls from other guests because they can’t figure out how to call out and the agent put you in a room with a number that matches the area code. That would most likely be after you finally get back into your room with your new key card because you got “key-bombed”.
27. You Never Have To Pay To Drink From The Mini-Bar
It may be less than honest, but if you want to avoid the insane charges from the hotel for drinking from the minibar, simply dispute the charges. According to one person in the industry, minibar charges are the single most disputed charge by hotel guests.
With the demands on time and due to countless errors or mishaps, the person you are complaining to will not want to waste precious time trying to figure out if the charges are accurate, and will write them off. That is, of course, if you aren’t being rude about it.
28. Like The Minibar, Never Pay For An In-Room Movie
As easy as you can get minibar charges removed from your bill, you can also do the same with in-room movie purchases. All you need is a good excuse for the charge and a friendly temperament.
It could be something simple like accidentally pushing the wrong button on the clicker or technical complications during playback. Whatever the “reason”, you can likely get the charge removed.
29. The Front Desk Has Some Go-To Lies For Every Situation
Like with any customer service oriented trade, there are some basic lies they have waiting for just about every situation. These lies can emerge for several reasons, but usually, it relates directly to your guest behavior.
If you are constantly coming across as a jerk, then don’t always trust that your messages will get passed along, that they will go out of their way to provide you superior customer service, or that larger rooms really aren’t available.
30. Take Advantage Of Hotel Loyalty Rewards
If you’re a frequent traveler and a lover of discounts, perks, and upgrades, consider signing up for your favorite hotel’s loyalty rewards programs. You can earn points for staying when you already would be anyway, and you can even include little tips about your likes and preferences.
Did you recently get married? Get a recent promotion? Include that info about yourself and you might find some bubbly in your room.
31. Dig In On The Details Of “Daily Amenity Fees”
When you’re checking into your hotel, consider taking some extra time to thoroughly read any print about the daily amenity fees. You might think that free Wi-Fi, a continental breakfast, and parking are all a given at a hotel.
While they are available, a lot of hotels tack on extra fees for these. This included the dreaded “resort fee” some hotels carry, which can be up to an extra $120.00 for a one week stay. If you are aware of the fees, you won’t go into shock when you go to pay up, and you might even be able to negotiate your way out of some of them.
32. Always Put Your Toothbrush Away Before Leaving The Room
No matter how nice you think you were to hotel staff, always put your toothbrush, as well as loofahs and other personal items away before leaving the hotel room. It’s sad to say, but there are countless confessions from hotel employees online about scrubbing foul places like the toilet or bathtub with a guest’s toothbrush.
Who knows? Maybe they didn’t like the way you snapped down your credit card or they felt insulted by the way you tried to haggle, or maybe you kind of deserved it (we all have bad days), but if you want to ensure you’re never a victim of this particular brand of revenge, put your things away.
33. Hotels Want You To Take The Goods…Sometimes
You might feel like you’re “stealing” when you take souvenirs from the hotel without asking, but most of the time it’s a behavior they welcome. Certain hotel freebies are a given, like the shampoos, moisturizers, and toothbrushes, but there are other items they consider complimentary that you wouldn’t always think of.
For instance, most hotels want you to take those slippers home with you. They can’t reuse most of them, and if you take it home that’s free advertisement for the hotel. A lot of the time this is true of the bathrobes, too, especially at luxury or resort hotels. Just make sure to ask if it’s not clear so you don’t end up with an unexpected charge.
34. Be Smart And Use The Liner In The Ice Bucket
Hotels provide a plastic liner for the ice bucket for a very good reason; they see what goes in them when guests have checked out, and it’s not just ice and water.
Ice buckets have been found by cleaning staff filled with anything from urine to vomit, to condoms. So even if it looks spic and span, it’s better to just go ahead and pop the liner in. It makes less mess for everyone and stops the spread of filthy germs.
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35. Let Staff Clean Your Room In Peace
No one likes to feel like someone’s staring over their shoulder while they do their work, and cleaning staff is no different. It not only gives off the vibe that you don’t trust them to be in your room, but it also gets in the way of them meeting their deadlines for each room.
If you’re sitting in there with your things sprawled out they have to work around you which, believe me, takes more time than you might think. If you’re worried about the security of personal items, take them with you or ask to put them in the hotel’s main safe, or hang a “Don’t Disturb” sign and they won’t enter.