Hotel rooms are like bowling shoes: we hope they’re clean enough and we try not to think about the people who were inside them before us.
Everyone, at some point in their life, has or will have to stay in a hotel room. Whether you’re an elite businessman or just someone looking for a warm bed to stay in, hotel rooms are a necessary piece of every first-world town in the world. There are some things, though that hotel rooms like to keep under wraps. Publicity is the life-blood of the hotel industry. Good publicity means that more people will visit, and possibly pay more for their stay. Bad publicity can mean the end of a hotel all together. There have been multiple news reports exposing hotels for their bad conduct and hygiene, but this is something that hotels in general look to avoid.
Just because we don’t hear about it, though, doesn’t mean sketchy things don’t happen behind the scenes. Hotels want to keep anything that can be considered “bad” from the outside world, in order to rent more rooms out to customers. Be careful where you book, though, because a lot of hotels may be guilty of some of the more disgusting and reprehensible acts on this list. Do your research or you may find yourself bug bombing your apartment because you picked up bed bugs.
15. Hidden Fees
Some hotels have found it beneficial to lie to their customers in order to advertise a lower price. Hotels will often post a lower price online or in advertisements, but when it comes time to pay there are another hundred dollars worth of fees that you’ll have to pay before you can book. Things like resort fees, housekeeping fees, and concierge fees are becoming commonplace with hotels that don’t mind bending the truth if it means they can make an extra buck. This benefits hotels because they can then advertise a lower price than hotels that include all of the “fees” in their original price. This strategy started in Las Vegas and Hawaii, but it is rapidly spreading and if it’s not stopped every hotel will be forced to do it. Most people will choose the cheapest comparable option, so if hotels choose not to scam their customers, they will suffer by seeing a downturn in business.
14. Hotel Rooms Are Gross
Even in those fancy 5-star hotels, not everything is as clean as you might expect. Hotels will clean the sheets for new visitors, but when it comes to the linens, they might not clean them for weeks or even months at a time. A good way to ensure that you have clean linens is to request them when you book, but there’s no guarantee that the people on the other side of the phone care enough to make sure it’s done. Apart from that, there are a lot of items in a hotel room that don’t ever really get clean. It should be no surprise to learn that people’s hands are disgusting. Therefore, the often-touched items in the room sometimes have as many germs at the bathroom toilet seat. Items such as light switches and remote controls are infested with bacteria, so make sure you keep that Purell handy.
13. No Protection From Overbooking
If you’ve ever booked a room at a hotel, only to show up and realize that they’ve oversold and don’t have any open rooms, you probably know all too well that the hotel has no obligation to help you find a place to stay. Theoretically, in an ideal world, the hotel is supposed to arrange a room in a similar hotel nearby as well as arrange your transportation if you can’t walk there. This, however, is very rare and the hotel appears to have no legal obligation to do it. You can request that they help you find a place to stay, but if you’re rude to them they’ll more than likely tell you to go screw. Presumably, the hotel would be breaking a contract if they booked you without a room, and there could be legal ramifications if you choose to go that route, but that’s a lot of effort and it still doesn’t solve the problem at hand: where are you going to sleep?
12. People Die In Hotels
Well, people die everywhere; but people die in hotels a lot more often than you might think. Of course, death is bad for business in the hotel industry, so the bodies of the deceased are carted off as discreetly as possible. The ambulance comes to pick them up sometimes, but other times hotels have been known to sneak their deceased patrons out of a back exit. They clean and sanitize the room, as should be expected, but the turn-around time is much quicker than you may like. They usually have those rooms open for rent within the week, and the staff is prevented from telling potential customers about the death and which room a person died in. Apart from the fact that this is pretty disgusting, this is a pretty obvious reason why so many hotels have such a ghost problem.
11. Timing Is Important
The time at which you book a hotel could be the difference between a bargain and a ripoff. Usually, when you call early in the morning, the prices are higher than usual. If you wait until around 5:00 or 6:00 at night, reservations begin to drop out and more rooms become free, thus driving the price of a hotel stay down. This is a huge tip if you’re looking to save a few bucks on your night’s stay, but make sure you don’t wait too long. People who check-in around 9:00 or 10:00 will see rates go up again, because the hotel is more in-demand. There are also usually less of a selection, so you may end up sharing a double bed with your buddy. I’d imagine part of the reason prices go up when it’s later is because the hotel knows you need a place to sleep. They have all the negotiating power when they are the one entity between a nice, warm bed and sleeping in your car.
10. Don’t Drink The Water
The water itself is probably fine, but it’s the glasses that are the problem here. You’d expect the hotel maids to clean the glasses out with soap (AKA cleaning them) before the next guest arrives, but it appears that some maids just rinse them out and leave the flu virus for the next guest to find. Fox News did a bit of guerrilla journalism in 2007, and used hidden cameras to see how the maids clean up after a hotel stay. While being observed, these maids didn’t clean out the glasses in the rooms they serviced. This report was from a decade ago (which is WILD that 2007 was ten years ago), but this type of practice is just the thing that I could see hotels not changing. Sure, some people got a bit peeved when they saw the report, but I doubt it was enough to change anything. Just to be on the safe side, I’d drink bottled water while I’m sleeping away from home.
9. Bad WiFi
WiFi is at the point where it feels like a staple of life. We need food, clean water and WiFi; you can keep the rest. Surprisingly, though, a lot of high-end hotels still charge for access to their WiFi. It’s strange, because cheaper hotels are actually much less likely to charge for it. This might be because top-end hotels feel their customers are willing to pay for it, but it’s still a reality that shouldn’t be the case. Even more, the WiFi speeds in these hotel rooms leave a lot to be desired. Some of the best quality hotels have terrible WiFi, which is a deal-breaker for some people. A lot of people rely on WiFi for work, so slow, unreliable WiFi doesn’t cut it. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of ways to tell if your hotel will have a good connection. Hotelwifitest.com is a good place to start, so make sure if you need strong WiFi you do your research before you book.
8. Take The Free Stuff
Hotels expect their guests to use or take all of the toiletries they provide. While this is sometimes just a couple bars of soap and shampoo, the cleaning staff will throw away any unused toiletries and replace them for the next guest. I have to say, with all of the gross stuff I’ve been reading in regards to hotels, this is a good fact to hear. Obviously, if you make a ton of money and aren’t worried about free toiletries then you can continue to disregard them, but for those broke 20-somethings like me, a free bar of soap could be the difference between a shower and an “ehh I’ll just stay inside all day.” It’s not something that’s going to change anyone’s life, but an emergency hotel-bottle of shampoo is never a bad thing to have in your apartment.
7. Book With Hotels Directly
Finding hotels through third-party sites is one of the best ways to get reliable information about where you plan on staying. It’s a convenient and efficient way to find a hotel, but booking the hotel on that website could be costing you some money. Hotels want to keep your business, just like any company. They would prefer that you do business directly with them, and can often offer cheaper prices when compared to third-party websites. This is because they don’t have to pay any commission to the website, and have a better chance of keeping your business once you book. Hotels can directly offer deals that the other websites cannot, so while it makes sense to find the hotel on one of those sites, it is usually more beneficial to book with them directly.
6. Sketchy Partnerships
Hotels thrive on positive attention and reviews. Any bad story could kill the reputation of a hotel overnight, so it’s important to stay squeaky-clean with inspections, the law, and the media. Of course, this is made a lot easier if there is some sort of unofficial partnership between a hotel and the local authorities, fire department and media. These unholy alliances are more frequent than you may like, as hotels are often in contact with these branches to make sure that negative attention is stifled while positive attention is glorified. A hotel may have failed its fire-safety exam three times, but they if they barely pass their customers will never hear about the failures. I don’t hate the move on the hotel’s part, but it is a bit sketchy when you consider what could be at stake. This begs the question, though: if someone dies in your hotel room and you sleep on the bed a day later, if you never find out about it, did it happen? That’s a little perception question for you to mull over.
5. There Are Usually More Rooms Than Listed
Oftentimes, the staff at a hotel will say that they have no rooms available, even if there are some. This isn’t because they don’t like the cut of your jib, it’s because the room generally has something wrong with it. Maybe someone died a couple of days ago and they want to get rid of the ghost before they rent it out again. Usually it isn’t so drastic, and there is just something that requires a bit more cleaning to be presentable. Maybe some drunk guy broke the TV, so they don’t want to charge someone full price. If you’re really desperate (and don’t mind the thought of what might have happened in there) you can tell the staff that you don’t mind sleeping in one of those hidden-dirty rooms. It might not be the best decision of your life, but you might be able to grab yourself a room on a busy night that other people don’t know about.
4. Surprise Parking Fees
Parking fees are to be expected if you’re staying at a hotel in a large city or a popular tourist destination, but suburban hotels that are surrounded by a parking lot are usually assumed to have free parking. Why would you charge someone to park where there are fifty open spots? Hidden fees and surprise charges are becoming all-too-frequent in the hotel industry, so charging someone for parking out of the blue shouldn’t be completely unsurprising. This problem can often be avoided, but it’s worth mentioning because many people get bombarded with a parking fee that they thought was free. Just make sure that you clarify the parking situation before you book your room.
3. They Often Exaggerate The View
If you’re choosing a hotel room for the scenery, make sure you see pictures taken from the room before you book. It should come as no surprise that companies often exaggerate their claims, and the hotel business is no different. If you can get away with saying that there’s a “slight” view of the water, even if the water is basically over the horizon, then I wouldn’t condemn anyone for doing so. The popular one for beach communities is “steps away from the beach,” which is perfect. I’m steps away from the beach at all times; it doesn’t matter that I live a good 20 miles away, technically that’s just a bunch of steps. Just make sure that you’re not paying too much for the view. Unless you’re super rich, the side of another building is just as good as the water. You don’t go on vacation to stay in your hotel room.
2. People “Do It”
Of course people “do it” in hotel rooms. That’s not news to anybody. What might freak you out a bit is the fact that the staff might be “doing it” in a room and not telling anybody about it. Think about it: if you’ve ever worked with a significant other then you know the sexual tension can be overwhelming. Now imagine that there were multiple private rooms with beds at your work that you can discreetly use anytime you want. That’s almost too tempting to pass up. Of course, since the staff is not meant to be “doing it” while they’re working, they usually wouldn’t tell the cleaning staff what they’ve done. This leaves dirty sheets on the bed for you to cuddle up and sleep on the very same night. Yuck.
1. Bed Bugs
This one is similar to the “Hotels are Gross” point on the list, but it has become a problem all on its own. A popular hotel’s reputation can be devastated by the revelation that some rooms have contracted bed bugs, so it’s in the hotel’s best interest to keep these issues in-house and you might not hear about it. The bed bug problem isn’t always the hotel’s fault, as the bed bugs usually get there on the back of a customer, but it’s unsettling to find out that the room you stayed in last night was the same that had a bedbug problem three weeks ago. Bed bugs have become such a problem in the hotel industry that there are entire websites dedicated to reporting cases of bedbugs in a hotel. Sure, that bargain hotel room on Groupon may save you a couple of dollars, but it’s nothing compared to having your house bug-bombed, or sending the little critters to every apartment in your building.
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