Housekeeping Faux Pas?

I'm currently staying in a Hampton Inn in Bowling Green, Ohio, where I'm attending a book festival with some of my students. The hotel's about the best of the bunch around. In my students' room, we find a note: "Dear Guest, I could not make your bed because you left your belongings on it. Sorry. Housekeeping."


HUH??? The girls had left a pair of jeans, a shirt or two and a scarf on the bed. Not a rock star-worthy mess. I asked the front desk and they said it's policy not to make a bed when someone's stuff is on it. I asked if this policy is posted and the front desk manager said no, but didn't understand how that was relevant. She then said, "Well, this hotel is privately owned." As if that makes it okay to have random policies about not cleaning up after guests. She was also very condescending, asking, "I don't understand what you want me to do about it. Do you want me to make your bed right now? She said, 'Sorry!'"


I truly don't get this. Doesn't housekeeping have to touch your stuff in the bathroom when they clean it? What's the difference? Anyone ever encounter anything like this before?

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  • The point is the book festival. And mentoring those kids. An unmade bed is not a big deal. I personally don't like folks handling my stuff. The houskeeping staff is going to be in hot water with someone whether they make up the bed or not.
    Travel writers can learn a lot from the locals. Everybody likes to be treated with respect.
  • Viv, I agree that hotel rooms are probably not the cleanest places. However, when part of your bill goes to upkeep and housekeeping, cleaning it yourself is not the answer. Nor is training your staff to leave little notes that get your back up. The point is--that you make yourself--they do touch your stuff all over the room. So making it a "policy" to not touch belongings on an unmade bed is anti-productive. Teaching employees to touch belongings with respect--now that would work. Even though, as I can imagine given what you've told us, it's probably an ideal that's nearly impossible to maintain.

    I'd like to update you, though. The general manager called me, not once but several times, until he reached me in person. He then comped me the night for when the bed was unmade and apologized profusely for the front desk manager's attitude. Yes, he confirmed the policy is to leave the bed unmade, but also confessed that it's a catch-22 situation. Some guests don't want their stuff moved. Some will complain money is missing or stolen. Others, like me, don't leave valuables in loose clothing anyway and whatever they leave on the bed is most likely laundry. The lesson I take away from this is make your preferences clear by keeping your room in a respectful state. Of course that's nearly impossible when traveling with teenagers, especially when they are not your own and you can't yell at them (too much, lol). But in the end, the Bowling Green Hampton Inn was kind enough to recompense for the unwelcome attitude of the front desk, and I appreciate that.
  • As a former Executive Housekeeper at a leading hotel and 20+ years in the hotel biz, my experience has been that room attendants should not touch or move a guests belongings. It just opens up a whole can of worms for the RA as many guests will then complain that money went missing from pockets, jewellery was taken, stains appeared on clothing, etc., etc., etc... You name the story and I've heard it and had to deal with it from both the guests point of view and the RAs.

    I think that the RA did a nice job of handling the situation. The guest then has the option to call down and have the bed made once they remove their belongings. There isn't a manual provided to guests of all the things that hotel staff do or don't do - each department have their own policies.

    The front desk may be aware of housekeeping policies and vice versa, but most times they will not be. In your instance, the front desk was aware - that's a surprise in itself. Whether the hotel is privately owned or not seems to be the irrelevant part in my opinion. All that really was required was for the guest to request their bed be made after they removed their stuff and for housekeeping to send somebody to do it. It shouldn't have turned into such a big deal with the Front Desk Manager - seems that she didn't handle it very well.

    On another note: Hotel rooms are one of the dirtiest places on the planet - and I don't care how many stars or acolades they have. Room attendants very rarely wash their hands between cleaning toilets and doing anything else in the room. Glasses are often just rinsed in the bathroom sink and possibly dried with a hand towel of questionable cleanliness. That bathroom floor that you think is clean and walk on with your bare feet... well, let me tell you that it's probably been wiped down with the same cloth they used on the toilet.

    I personally can't stand it when a RA touches any of my "stuff" in a room, and many times they do even when they have no reason to. For the most part, once I check into a room, I do my own sanitizing of everything I'm going to touch, the DND sign goes on the door and a call is made to the housekeeping department to inform them that I will not require service for the duration of my stay. If I require fresh towels, I make a call to housekeeping and have them delivered when I'm there and do the change out with them. And, don't get me started with bedspreads...

    Call me paranoid, but it's more a case of knowing what exactly goes on from working in the industry - I could write a horror story about what goes on in some of the world's leading hotels!

    Bottom line - if you are upset with the Front Desk Manager's tone, that's a whole other thing. But to me, the bed not being made and a note explaining the reason why isn't much to gripe about.

    Happy travels;-)
    • Viv, you've done a good job explaining this from the other side of the desk. The issue that seems paramount to me is not that they didn't make Jen's bed, but that the desk clerk or manager was curt instead of explaining this as well as you did. Rudeness in the hospitality industry is, or should be, a contradiction.
  • Amazing. Just another example of the USA falling behind in the basics. Keep us posted on the response from Hampton Inn corp. It will be interesting to see if they care.
  • Never, ever has this happened to me, whether in a Motel 6 or a Ritz Carlton. At a resort In Malaysia, they took my clothing off the bed, folded them onto the couch, tucked frangipani blossoms in the folds, and made my bed.

    I think you should write to the franchiser (Hampton Inn corporate), not just the motel owner. They should know that they have a squirrely franchisee!
    • good idea Susan!
  • Jen, I'm not a travel writer, but I am a writer who does a lot of traveling. I have never encountered anything like this in any hotel, any country, any point along the price spectrum. Hampton Inn is not Four Seasons, but whatever it is or isn't, this owner/manager is not fit to be in the business. I think most people who read your post will be astonished and maybe even tongue-tied, but maybe someone else can shed more light on this ridiculous rule than I can.
    • Thanks Sam. I'm certainly going to complain to the owner. Just curious to see if there's any precedent for this. Even Charlie Sheen probably had his bed made after his little tantrum. I can see why some guests might flip out if if their stuff was moved inappropriately, but not making the bed at all doesn't seem to be a solution.
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