As someone who has worked has worked in the service industry, I believe that it’s so important to treat the people who work at the restaurants, hotels, and businesses that you visit while traveling well.  Today, a friend of mine who worked as a hotel maid (or housekeeper) is here to dish why your hotel maid might hate you—and how to be a better hotel guest.  

Thanks to Jacky from Nomad Epicureans for her blood, sweat, and tears and for enlightening us about her years in the hotel industry.

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Do you know that feeling when you finally fall into your luxuriously soft hotel bed after a long day of exploring a new place? Even if you are a budget traveller, you’ll stay at a hotel sooner or later. And dang, are hotels amazing! You don’t have to clean up after yourself, and you don’t have to drag yourself out of bed early to prepare breakfast.

Admittedly, I have been a bad hotel guest in the past, but working in the industry for a while certainly opened my eyes. Housekeeping is hard, grueling work. And yes, housekeepers get paid to do their job and many actually enjoy their work. However, once in a while you come across a guest who makes you hate your entire life. If you would like to know how to make a housekeeper’s life just a tiny bit easier, read on…

Mistakes that hotel guests make at hotels

Call us a hotel maid

We hate being called hotel maids.  It’s sexist and outdated.  Call us housekeepers.

You answer the door naked

Smiling housekeeper about to open the door worrying that someone is naked behind the door. #travel

Please don’t be naked

I know, I know. Sometimes the housekeeper will knock on your door at the worst possible time. Maybe you’re just stepping out of the shower or maybe you are still fast asleep. In any case, for the love of God, do not open the door.  You think it’s awkward for you? Think about us. This happens often.

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Many people don’t think about this and open the door out of reflex. While this is understandable, it puts your housekeeper in an extremely uncomfortable situation. They will be required to ask you if you wish your room to be cleaned. At the same time, they are instructed not to put themselves into unsafe situations. And entering a room with a naked customer does not evoke a feeling of safety, does it?

How to be a better guest in the future: You have two options. Either make sure that the “Do Not Disturb” sign is on your door while you’re in the room. Or just call through the door and ask the housekeeper to come back later.

You feng shui your room

Hotel rooms are beautiful and carefully designed for maximum comfort. Or are they? Because many travelers seem to have the need to feng shui their room during their stay. Perhaps you do have a valid reason for moving a 100 kg bed to the other side of the room or stack your bedside tables on the desk…

Do you know who will have to carry that bed or those bedside tables back to their original place? Exactly, your housekeeper. And how some people think one person alone can move heavy furniture is way beyond me. Never mind the fact that this is clearly not in a housekeeper’s job description.

How to be a better guest in the future: Most likely your housekeepers will happily accept any rearrangement of furniture during your stay. However, please move back anything you have rearranged before you leave 🙂

You forget what a trash bin is

Surprisingly, most people do not throw their trash in the bin. I’m serious. Seems like such a simple thing, right? No housekeeper will mind picking up a piece of trash you dropped accidentally. If you leave a piece of trash on every single surface, your housekeeper will not like you. They have to bend down to pick up every single thing. Just imagine doing that 500 times a day, not fun.

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How to be a better guest in the future: Please put all your trash in the bin. Simple!

You think rules don’t apply to you

Annoyed hotel maid looking at guest staring at her phone. Read what not to do when staying at a hotel. #travel #hotels

I think that we can all agree that you want to make the most of your holiday. So naturally, you would want to relax in your hotel room for as long as possible. However, hotels have check-out times for a reason. If your hotel’s check-out time is 12:00, housekeepers expect you to be out of your room at 12:00. Not 12:01, not 12:05, and certainly not later than that.

This may sound pedantic, but if you have ever seen a housekeeper, you may have an idea of how much stuff they are carrying around. Mop, vacuum cleaner, cleaning agents, fresh towels, linen, and more. If I am carrying them towards your room, it’s because I assume your room is empty. If it’s not, I need to carry everything back again, re-check my list, and find another empty room.   Even if this only takes me 3 minutes, just remember that a housekeeper will make 1-2 beds in 3 minutes. 3 minutes can make a big difference.

How to be a better guest in the future: Please leave the room by check-out time or inform the front desk in a timely manner of your late check-out.

You help yourself to goodies from the housekeeping cart

Hotel maid with cart refilling a room. Read what to do when staying a hotels.

It’s tempting to pass a housekeeping cart full of goodies in the corridor. You could treat yourself to a year’s supply of soap bars if you wanted to. Or grab 10 fresh towels, just in case. Apart from the fact that this is plain theft, it’s a pain for your housekeeper. Towels are often counted out exactly to the number of rooms they are going to clean. If you take two additional soaps, it means that your housekeeper will have to go back to their storage room and get more. Storage rooms are often far from the rooms. As housekeepers are on a tight schedule, this can be a problem.

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How to be a better guest in the future: Ask your housekeeper if you need anything. They will never refuse any of your requests if you’re nice about it.

You’re not who your parents raised you to be

Read about mistakes that travelers staying at hotels make with what not to do when staying at a hotel. #travel #hotels

Yup, it is somebody’s job to clean up after you. To a certain extent. I have seen things in hotel rooms, you wouldn’t believe. Dog poop in the middle of the floor. Shower doors covered in soap from top to bottom (including the outside?). Towels stuffed down the toilet drain. A collection of used condoms under the bed. A whole loaf of soggy wet bread in the bathtub. At least once a day, I found myself scratching my head and asking myself “Why?!”.

Whenever you’re about to do anything in a hotel room just ask yourself: Is this acceptable in your own home? If the answer is no, then maybe you should reconsider this behavior.   In most hotels housekeepers will have a certain number of rooms they have to clean. In addition to inconveniencing the housekeeper, you might also be causing them troubles with their superiors. That’s because targets are based on the best-case scenario of what a room should look like after your departure. Not a worst-case scenario. And just to put it into perspective, disinfecting a poop-stained floor will take more time than is allotted to clean an entire room.

How to be a better guest in the future: Be your best self and try to keep your room tidy.

You forget to show appreciation

Housekeeper day dreaming in a hotel room. Read what not to do while staying at hotels! #travel #hotels

In many countries, the profession of a cleaner or a housekeeper is looked down upon. Even in the Nordics, guests would sometimes refuse to greet me and give me a dirty look instead. Housekeeping is not an inherently fun job, but housekeepers are customer service professionals and most of them enjoy being of your assistance. However, only a very small percentage of your room price goes towards the cleaning of your room and only a part of that goes towards your housekeeper.

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How to be a better guest in the future: There are many simple things you can do to show appreciation to the person who literally cleans your crap and to be treated with respect. Start with a friendly “good morning” and mention good housekeeping in any feedback you give to the hotel. It is also nice to leave a note for the housekeeper simply saying “Thank you”. Just ask directly if you need anything. 🙂

If you want to go the extra mile, you can leave a tip. I don’t quite understand why it’s customary to tip a person who serves you a drink, but not the person who makes your bed and cleans your toilet.

If you are wondering how much to leave as a tip for your housekeeper, I go by the “coffee” rule: The minimum amount I leave will be enough to buy a decent cup of coffee (1-3€/day). If you have booked a suite, something in the 5€ range is a lovely tip.

Not everyone realizes that housekeepers are rotated frequently, so try to leave a tip daily.  Just make sure to also put out a “Thank you” note at the same time as otherwise we are not going to touch any money in your room.

Have you learned anything about hotel maids?

Read more travel tips on Jacky’s blog!