Who doesn't love the feeling of checking into a nice clean hotel room? After a day of travel, it can be the best feeling in the world to unpack your luggage and lay down on a fluffy white pillow that's been prepared especially for you. Hotels are a huge tourism staple that, despite the rise in Airbnb bookings, aren't going away anytime soon.
Hotels are typically ranked by stars and talked about by their customers, but what really goes on behind the scenes? Very few people actually know, regardless of what they believe.
Guests typically assume that they know a great deal about the hotel they're staying at when they arrive. Most guests do quite a bit of research before booking and are ready to tackle their stay.
Being a part of the staff at a hotel is like being in a whole other world, and it definitely isn't accessible to most guests. High-end hotels especially want to make the stay seem effortless, even when it isn't, and staff at hotels across the board are generally tight-lipped about any inside information.
Here are the top 20 things that the staff at virtually any hotel will keep to themselves, although some of them are things you'd probably like to know!
20 All Rooms Are Not Necessarily the Same
You might think that every standard room is just that: standard. What you don't know (and the hotel staff does) is that each room has distinct traits. One carpet may be slightly stained, while one may be brand new. One room may have a way better view, but another's window is cut short due to the layout of the hotel.
It's in your best interest to do everything you can to get a better room in the category that you've booked. Sure, if there's only one Presidential Suite then you're in it, but most likely there are hundreds of rooms in your category. Having a good room could definitely make or break your trip, and could save you from having a lot of problems that you'll have to call the front desk about.
19 A Lot of People Perish in Hotels
Think for a moment about how many people stay in hotels every night, every month, and every year. Just as typical population counts work, it makes sense that some of these people would pass away while in the hotel. That also means that hundreds, if not thousands of people, have probably perished in the hotel you're staying in.
The staff generally know what rooms have housed deceased guests, but that information isn't given out lightly, and is more of a staff secret. You may never find out the backstory to your room, but it is interesting to think about the sheer number of guests who have been marched off to the morgue after a stay at almost any hotel.
18 If You Pay Less For Your Room, You May Get a Bad Room
Did you book through a third party, such as Cheap Tickets or Priceline? Sure, you might have saved money, but you're in for a worse time. The hotel staff can see how you booked your room when they check you in, and they're likely to make adjustments to your stay based on that. Sometimes it isn't even the staff but the computer itself based on a predetermined algorithm.
If you paid less than market value (because a room was sold for super cheap on another site), then the computer might automatically give you a parking lot view or put you in the slightly smaller room.
17 The Staff Is Often Not Background Checked
Because the hospitality industry is so fast moving, it can be hard for hotels to keep a full staff, especially in popular locations like Miami or Las Vegas. The managers will need to find staff immediately to fill vacancies since guests already have reservations booked, so many staff members are never background checked.
It really depends on the position as to if the staff member is background checked, but it's not uncommon for exceptions to be made, something that isn't made apparent to hotel guests in the very least. Keep this in mind when booking at a hotel of any quality!
16 You Can Get Around Cancellation Fees By Rescheduling
Have you ever paid exorbitant hotel cancellation fees? If you wait too long, you can lose half of the money (or even all of it!) that you would pay for the room. You probably don't know that with most hotels, there is a way around this.
Instead, call the hotel and ask to change your reservation to a later date, a few months out. A few days after this, cancel this reservation, either online or over the phone. Because the date is now different, you get a lot of your money back and may even recoup the full deposit.
15 The Staff Knows Which Rooms Are Better (And with a $20 tip, they'll put you in one)
When you go to check in, the front desk staff almost always knows which rooms are good and what room they're giving you. If you want a great room, it's in your best interest to be super polite to the front desk. Tipping also never hurts! Many travelers have gotten a sudden upgrade after slipping a $20 bill to the concierge.
The front desk staff will also know where you booked, how you booked, and when you booked. If you show up at a reasonable hour, have a good attitude, and booked on the right platform, you're likely to get a great room in your category.
14 Room Service Is Generally the Oldest Food
Have you ever been super hungry late at night and thought that room service was a great idea? The hotel staff knows that it probably isn't worth it. Not only is room service insanely overpriced ($25 for a sandwich anyone?) but it's generally the oldest food in the hotel. Most hotel chains don't want to get rid of food every day from the restaurants as it's wasteful and costly, but also don't want to serve it to well-paying customers.
You'll probably get the older bread, slightly soggy fruit, and meat that's been around for who knows how long. You're better off getting takeout from a nearby restaurant than ordering room service.
13 The Staff Holds All the Cards
Although most guests don't know it, many of the people on the hotel staff have a lot of power. A staff member can change your room, offer extra amenities or perks, and even give meals away for free. They can also make your stay less pleasurable if you aren't polite or kind and don't tip well. The message is to get on the staff's good side right away.
Surprisingly, staff members such as bellboys and waiters/waitresses hold a lot of power as well. Many hotel staffs work as units, so if you offend one person you effectively offend everyone.
12 Rooms Aren't Necessarily Sanitary
Sure, every room technically gets cleaned, but what does that mean? Apparently, most rooms are actually barely get touched. The sheets are usually stripped and the bathroom is wiped down, but other than that, little is done. Way too many maids actually report taking a nap on the beds when they have extra time in the larger rooms!
Everything is done to make your room appear clean, but that doesn't mean that many germs are actually scrubbed off. One item to never touch is the hotel bedspread, which is only changed once every few years and rarely actually washed.
11 5 Star Hotels Usually Aren't the Cleanest
Most people think that paying more means you'll have a better chance of getting a clean room, but this definitely isn't true. 5-star hotels usually have the same amount of maids or cleaning staff for the same amount of rooms, so each room will have an allotted time of 20 minutes or so. How much can you really get done in 20 minutes?
Maids at nicer hotels report acting the same as maids at more inexpensive hotels. The doorknobs, for example, are almost never cleaned, and anything spilled on the rugs is simply vacuumed as long as there isn't a stain. Stay in a 5-star hotel for the other amenities, not the cleanliness.
10 The Hotel May Have a Partnership That Influences Concierge Recommendations
Maybe you've shown up to a foreign city and don't really know where to go, but think that the concierge will be able to help you out. While they definitely can give some recommendations, they aren't necessarily unbiased. Some hotels, especially in tourist spots, have relationships with local attractions and restaurants and will get a commission if you choose to head there based on the advice given at the hotel.
Others simply have the favorites that they are told by the hotel to recommend, but this still doesn't mean that the concierge actually thinks that attraction or lunch spot is worth your while and you could end up wasting your time.
9 It Helps to Call Ahead If You Want to Check In Early
Early check-ins are pretty common, but if you haven't requested one when you book, then there's a good chance that you'll show up at your hotel to find that your room isn't ready. One easy way around this is to call ahead, at least an hour before.
If you are able to call ahead on your journey to the hotel and are polite to the concierge, you're much more likely to find that a room is ready for you. You won't have any control over what room it is, but it's better than having nowhere to go!
8 Negative Reviews Won't Really Get You Anywhere After the Fact
Say you had a terrible stay and are over the top angry about it. Instead of wasting time confronting a manager or the staff, you'd rather get out of the quickly and write a review from the comfort of your home. However, this won't actually do much.
Because hotels get so many reviews, they're rarely taken seriously by the manager or staff. You're much better off talking to a manager immediately, and you might actually get some help or compensation if you do so during your stay. After you depart, there's barely any way that you can get anything back.
7 Many Things You Touch In Your Room Never Get Cleaned
Not only are the rooms not cleaned intensely on a regular basis, but many items are literally never cleaned. Your coffee maker? It probably has germs all over it and has never been touched, except by other guests, of course. The same goes for the walls, the cabinets, and the doors: they probably haven't been cleaned since they were installed, which might have been many years ago.
You'd better be careful about touching basically anything in your room that isn't routinely cleaned. You'd actually be better off touching the toilet than the ice bucket, believe it or not!
6 You Can Ask For Free Things
You probably knew that you can get some things for free in a hotel, but maybe you don't realize just how many. The mini shampoos, conditioners, and soaps in your bathroom aren't the only perks. You can also phone down to the front desk to get a huge variety of items.
If you forgot a toothbrush, shaving kit, hairbrush, or any other essentials, you can usually get those for free. You can also get bathrobes, beach chairs, an ironing board and iron, and even spare clothing at some hotels. Check to see what your hotel provides - it never hurts to ask.
5 Tip Early to Get On the Staff's Good Side
Knowing that the staff holds all the cards, it's a good idea to get on your hotel staff's good side. As soon as you arrive, be sure to tip the valet and the luggage people, then be extra polite to the concierge.
Surprisingly, waiters, waitresses, and bartenders actually talk to the other staff members quite a bit, so if you're stingy at the hotel restaurant, you can expect to get a downgrade in service everywhere else too. It doesn't hurt to give out a few extra dollars right away, and it'll be very worth it in the long run.
4 Travel Agents Can Help You Get Hotel Perks
You probably won't come by huge hotel perks on your own (unless you count a complimentary toothbrush or chocolate bar), but if you work with a travel agent, you might get some great ones. If you're a loyal customer, you can get some serious upgrades.
The best perks travel agents give out to their longtime customers include free breakfasts, spa credits, complimentary activities, and special meaningful experiences arranged directly by the agent. Some customers actually get up to $800 in perks, which is barely less than the cost of a trip itself! In some cases, using a travel agent may be worth it.
3 Higher Floors Hold a Quieter Crowd
Are you hoping to have a vacation that's filled with relaxation and a good amount of naps? If so, ask for a higher floor. The hotel staff generally books the quieter crowd on higher floors and puts the apparent partiers towards the ground, to avoid any stomping feet and to keep the louder crowd close at hand in case the staff needs to quiet them down.
You can usually request a specific level at check-in, but there's no guarantee that you'll get it. Your better bet is to call ahead of time and additionally put the request down when you book, whether online or on the phone.
2 The Hotel Might Have Openings Even If 3rd Party Websites Say Otherwise
If you're browsing Expedia, see the perfect hotel, then are upset to find that it's completely booked for your chosen dates, you don't actually have to lose all hope. Hotels typically give 3rd party websites like Expedia a certain amount of rooms that are available, then keep a few offline just in case.
If you call the hotel, you may find that there are actually some open rooms, especially if you're able to speak with a person at the front desk directly. Even if there aren't, you can usually get put on a waitlist and will get a room most of the time.
1 You Can Sometimes Get Your Price Down With Price Matching
Price matching isn't just for furniture and power tools. Many hotels actually price match as well, they just don't advertise it. Before you actually book, regardless of where you discovered your hotel, you should call the front desk and ask about price matching.
Make sure to have a lower price ready before you call so that you know what you're talking about. It's best to use either a hotel in a similar category (or with the same star ranking) or one that has better reviews, a higher ranking, or is typically more expensive (e.g. The Ritz Carlton compared to a Sheraton hotel).