The Rudest Things You Can Do At A Hotel

Etiquette experts share faux pas to avoid while staying at a hotel, especially during the pandemic.
The travel industry has been struggling during the pandemic, so patience and understanding go a long way.
Ziga Plahutar via Getty Images
The travel industry has been struggling during the pandemic, so patience and understanding go a long way.

A hotel can feel like a luxurious home away from home, but that doesn’t mean you should always act the way you do in the confines of your actual abode.

Recently, The White Lotus illustrated the kind of rude behaviour many hotel guests display on a regular basis. And while the show was entertaining to watch, it should not be a model for acceptable traveler etiquette – especially as the hospitality industry struggles amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Travel is picking up and hotels are finally getting back to business,” said Diane Gottsman, an etiquette expert, author of Modern Etiquette for a Better
Life and founder of The Protocol School of Texas. “Do your part to keep the experience pleasant for fellow guests and hotel staff.”

To that end, HuffPost asked Gottsman and other etiquette experts to identify some rude behaviours they often observe at hotels and advice for avoiding these faux pas. Read on for 13 examples.

Trashing Your Room

“The housekeeping team should not encounter an unconscionable mess upon entering your room,” said Thomas P. Farley, the nationally syndicated etiquette columnist Mister Manners. “Ensure the habitation is presentable and hygienic before hanging the ‘please make up room’ tag on your door.”

Beyond the state of your room, you can also be considerate about cleanliness with your room service tray or cart.

“When it comes to room service, ask the hotel when you’re ordering what you should do with the tray or trolly when done,” said Nick Leighton, an etiquette expert and co-host of the Were You Raised by Wolves? podcast. “Many hotels would rather you call to have it picked up rather than have you just leave it in the hallway.”

Raiding The Housekeeping Supply Cart

Hotels offer lots of different amenities and supplies to make your stay comfortable, but that doesn’t mean you can help yourself to anything you see.

“Don’t raid the hotel housekeeping supply cart. Ask for what you need, so supplies don’t mysteriously come up short during the housekeeping shift,” said Patricia Rossi, a civility expert, keynote speaker and the author of Everyday Etiquette.

Getting Greedy At The Buffet

“The complimentary breakfast buffet is not an all-day extravaganza,” emphasised Jodi R.R. Smith, president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting.

Don’t treat the breakfast buffet as an invitation to stock up on enough sustenance for multiple meals.

“When breakfast is included, know there’s a fine line between grabbing an extra banana to take back to your room and loading a full set of Tupperware with food to have for lunch and dinner later,” Leighton said.

Not Getting Dressed Before Leaving Your Room

“Don’t wear the bathrobe or your pyjamas to breakfast,” Leighton advised. “While a hotel is like a home, it is not actually your home.”

Gottsman echoed this advice, noting that footwear is also important.

“Dress appropriately,” she said. “No bathrobes in the lobby, and wear shoes ― don’t go barefoot through the hotel. Yes, people sometimes do this!”

Disrespecting The Staff

“Whether for a single day or a week or more, a hotel room is your temporary home, and should be treated as such,” Farley said. “You should be likewise considerate toward the hotel staff. Front-desk employees are there to ensure your accommodations are comfortable and that your stay is a pleasant one. they should not be addressed as if they are indentured servants.”

In addition to being plain rude, speaking disrespectfully to hotel staff is also not going to get you a free upgrade or anything beneficial. And sometimes the thing that is bothering a guest is completely out of the staff’s control, especially during the pandemic when the hospitality industry is short-staffed.

“Since the advent of Covid-19, hotels have had to change, alter and even curtail some of their services,” said life etiquette expert Juliet Mitchell, aka Ms. J. “Please do not yell and scream and pout. Nothing good will come of it.”

Making Lots Of Noise

“Whether you are traveling for fun, a family obligation, or business, you must remember your hotel is a shared space,” Smith said. “Other guests should be blissfully unaware of your comings and goings.”

She recommended modulating the volume of your voice, the TV and your music while in the hotel room. Be mindful of door slamming as well, especially if you’re departing for an early flight.

“The amount of noise you generate is of primary concern in the hallways, elevators and lobbies, as well,” Smith said. “You may be a loud-talker at home, but screaming in the hallways is very jarring. Having your children yodel while racing to the elevator may be rather amusing to you, but can be very disruptive to others.”

Hotels are communal spaces, so it's important to be mindful of noise.
valentinrussanov via Getty Images
Hotels are communal spaces, so it's important to be mindful of noise.

Skimping On Tip

“Don’t skimp on tip,” said Rossi. In the US, “tip $3 to $5 per day for hotel housekeeping. Leave it by bathroom sink or on the pillow with a simple note that says, ‘Thank you, housekeeping.’”

It’s also important to tip the valet, bellman and concierge for their services. Tip as directly as you can.

“Tip housekeeping each day – not at the end of the stay – to ensure that the correct individual receives a gratuity for the work done to refresh your room.”

Hogging Amenities

“For the shared spaces, use what you need, when you need it,” Smith said. “Putting your towel on the exercise equipment to hold it for a friend while others are waiting, or getting up at 6am. to claim lounge chairs at the pool that you will not be using until noon, is simply rude.”

Generally speaking, your gym behaviour shouldn’t change simply because of the location.

“Hotel gyms are still gyms, so don’t hog machines if other people are waiting, use headphones if you want music, and be sure to wipe down your equipment and benches after use,” Leighton said.

Wasting Energy

Vacation is an indulgent time, but that’s no excuse for completely ignoring basic environmental etiquette.

“Conserve energy,” Gottsman said. “Just like you would at your own house, strive to be energy efficient, reuse your towels and don’t let the water run endlessly.”

Making Unreasonable Demands

“Travellers should manage their expectations,” Farley said. “If you are staying in a £1,000-per-night suite, your anticipated level of amenities and service is going to be rightly higher. On the other hand, pulling a diva routine and making grand requests of an overworked and underpaid team at a £79-per-night motor lodge would be laughable if it weren’t so… inconsiderate.”

Wherever you’re staying, you need to be patient at times and understand that things might not always happen as quickly as you’d prefer.

“Businesses across America, hotels included, are short-staffed and simply do not have the personnel to accommodate speed housekeeping and room service requests,” Mitchell said. “Since your room service requests may be limited, slow or nonexistent, be mindful and be prepared to seek other sources for your meal.”

Sneaking A Smoke

Most hotels today do not allowing smoking indoors, so if you’re staying in a nonsmoking building, don’t flout the rules and light up anyway.

“It surprises me that some people still try to ‘sneak’ a smoke,” said Mitchell. “As recent as 2020, there have been reports of hotel fires due to cigarette smoke. If you are caught smoking, you may be asked to leave.”

Treating Check-In And Checkout Times As Suggestions

“Don’t expect to arrive hours early and your room to be ready,” Gottsman said. “Asking for a late checkout may not be possible, so make arrangements in advance.”

Failing to request a late checkout and simply assuming it’s an option is also highly inconsiderate, as the hotel staff might need to clean and sanitise your room quickly before the next guests arrive.

“Remain on top of check-in and checkout times and don’t overstay your welcome by sauntering up to the front desk to depart an hour or more after the stated checkout time,” Farley said.

Crowding People

Although Covid-19 cases are currently dropping, it’s still important to be mindful of the health and safety precautions as the pandemic rages on. That means giving people space in communal areas.

“Keep your distance,” Gottsman advised. “When entering an elevator, if you notice a car with several guests, overcrowding is not appropriate. Be mindful of other guests’ comfort level, and when in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask.”

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