We’ve all heard a horror story or two from friends who have had terrible experiences in hotels. Traveling is already difficult and stressful. Living a hotel horror story won’t help.
There are things you can do though to minimize the risk of living a hotel horror story. And, no, it does not require staying in a five star hotel.
I’m an experienced traveler because of the type of work I do. We travel to some large cities where hotel choices are abundant but we also travel to very small towns in which there might be one hotel.
What do I do to ensure I have a good, if not even a great, hotel stay? I’ll tell you.
I’m a big believer in staying at a hotel chain with a reputable brand. My brand of choice is anything by Hilton. Specifically, I try to stay at a Hampton Inn whenever possible.
Why do I stay at this brand above others? There are a few reasons.
First, Hilton hotels are consistent. I can count on clean rooms, friendly service and the price is not extravagantly high. It’s good for me and my clients.
Second, the rewards program is very good. With all my hotel stays, I accumulate rewards points quickly and get to use those rewards points for personal use. This is almost like a bonus to my salary!
Third, there is a Hampton Inn in several of the smaller towns I visit. Therefore, I’ll have similar experiences with each hotel stay.
If you choose the wrong brand or a local hotel to stay in, you may end up living a hotel horror story. I understand the lower cost hotels serve a purpose but for business travel, it’s worth it to spend a little extra to be comfortable.
When traveling, make reservations early. I’ve had co-workers (and I’ve been guilty once or twice too) who consistently waited until the day of check-in to make a hotel reservation. In many cases, that doesn’t work out well.
Either there will only be high-dollar rooms available or the hotel might be at full occupancy. The latter has happened to me before and I had to stay in a low-budget hotel for one night. Yuck!
All the hotel chains have websites on which you can make online reservations. If you create an account and sign up for the rewards program, you can create a profile on the site. This saves me so much time.
When I make a reservation at a Hilton hotel, all of my information, including preferred credit card data, is already stored on the secure site. It literally only takes me three minutes to make an online reservation. That’s valuable time saved!
When you first walk into your room at the hotel, there are certain things you should do to reduce the risk of needing to change rooms later. It’s frustrating to unpack and then discover you need to change rooms.
1. Turn on the air conditioner/furnace – I need my room extra cold when I sleep. If the room can’t get down to around 65 degrees when I’m in bed, I’m going to be very uncomfortable.
To ensure that will happen, I adjust the thermostat as soon as I walk into the room. I want to see if it will work in the way I need it.
2. Turn down the sheets – This is where you can keep several types of hotel horror stories from happening. I’m going to give two examples of real hotel horror stories. Thankfully, neither of these happened to me but instead to friends of mine.
One hotel horror story occurred when my friend climbed into bed at the end of the night. He snuggled under the covers and felt something under the sheets at the foot of the bed.
He found his feet entangled in someone’s “underpants,” as he puts it. If you want to keep your feet out of strange underwear, turn down the sheets!
The second hotel horror story is even more disgusting. This friend sat on top of the bed working on his computer. All seemed well and clean.
He got up from the bed and pulled back the covers to climb in. When he did, he saw a scattering of several hundred baby spiders!
He had been sitting on this bed for quite a while but was thankfully on top of the covers. Can you imagine how disgusting that was?
For some reason, he didn’t demand his money back and go find another hotel. I would have definitely done that. Instead he just climbed in and slept the night away.
No, I’m not serious. He didn’t climb in with the spiders. He demanded another room.
3. Deadbolt the door – The first thing I do when I walk into a hotel room, even before adjusting the thermostat, is lock the deadbolt.
I’m not necessarily worried about my safety. Instead, I’m trying to keep other hotel patrons from walking into my room. How could that happen since the doors automatically lock? Well, it’s pretty simple for this hotel horror story to occur.
Sometimes, the hotel systems mess up and assign occupied rooms to new guests. I’ve walked into someone else’s room in the past because that is the room to which I was assigned.
Thankfully no one was in the room when I walked in but I noticed their luggage in the room and immediately walked out.
4. Check out the bathroom – You may be comfortable with a little grunge in your shower at home (hopefully not though) but you definitely expect a clean shower in a hotel.
If your shower is nasty, you’re not going to be happy. Check it for cleanliness right away and request a new room if it’s not up to snuff.
I’d also check the sink, especially if you like to trap water in the sink to shave. This is one of my several pet peeves of hotel stays. You can see the other hotel annoyances here.
5. Don’t oversleep – I typically don’t sleep well in hotels. It’s just a curse, I guess. Regardless of how comfortable the bed is and how cool I make the room, I just don’t sleep well.
Because of that, I’ve overslept once or twice (or more) through the years. To decrease the risk of oversleeping, I set two alarms by using my phone and ipad.
Still, just in case I do oversleep, I do the following two things to make my mornings as efficient as possible.
a. Iron at night – If you need to iron any clothes for the next day, do it the night before. For professionals, looking shabby by wearing an unironed shirt can damage your reputation and influence.
I’ve also had instances where the iron was so dirty that it ruined my white dress shirt. So, best practices here are to pack an extra dress shirt and to test the iron on a wash cloth or towel before ironing your clothes.
Don’t take chances with your clothing because you only get that once chance to make a good first impression.
b. Pack as much as possible at night – If you’re checking out of the hotel in the morning and you wake up late, you’re going to be stressed enough. Don’t elevate that stress by having to also pack everything you have.
Pack as much as possible the night before. I can have everything packed except my toiletries and night clothes. Even the clothes I’ll wear the next day are hanging on hotel hangers so my personal hangers can already be packed in the garment bag.
6. Do not disturb – Regardless of how long I stay in a hotel, I do not permit hotel staff into my room to clean. From the first time I leave my room, I put the “do not disturb” sign on the door. If I need additional towels, soap, etc., I’ll call the front desk later.
I’m generally a trusting person. However, I understand one side of the fraud triangle is “opportunity.” To keep people from having the opportunity to steal something of mine and create a hotel horror story, I just don’t give them the opportunity.
There have been times when I’ve had the sign on my door but my room was serviced by hotel staff. I’m compelled in those situations to inform the front desk manager. While I’m not accusatory in regards to theft (because I’ve thoroughly checked my room already), I do want to make sure the staff understand the risk at which they put themselves.
If you do like to walk in each evening to a made bed and fresh towels, either take your valuables with you or use the room’s safe.
If you use these six tips when you stay in a hotel, you’ll definitely reduce your risk of living a hotel horror story. Of course, these do not guarantee a terrific stay because other people are involved. However, you will be more likely to enjoy your stay.
Question for you: What do you do to decrease your risk of becoming the main character in a hotel horror story?