6 Pieces of Advice for Hotel Guests from an Ex Housekeeper
Everyone has seen the black light specials they roll out on the nightly news programs.
Oh god, the filth! The horror!
It’s come to be expected, really. Hotel blankets are teeming with bodily fluids. So are the floors and walls. We’ve seen the less than shocking exposes. At this point, the reporters should turn the black lights on each other. Anything shows up, well that would be news worth watching.
“That’s funny Martha, your dress was clean before lunch and say, isn’t your husband out of town on a business trip?”
But it’s always just the same neon splotches of blood, urine, etcetera on the bedspread.
So if you removed the culprit comforter, you’d be all set? Sadly, no (still remove the comforter though, that thing is the blanket equivalent of leprosy).
I’ve worked at a downtown Quality Suites (believe me, Quality was a misnomer) and another unnamed hotel, even more popular than the QS, but one that wisely had me sign a confidentiality agreement.
And the Quality Suites? No confidentiality there. Not so much as a background check. Both things I’m sure they meant to get around to, but couldn’t find the time. Not that I have a criminal past to hide, just a rather big mouth when given any type of forum.
1. Always check the room for bed bugs.
They sound cuter than they are, and if you bring them home with you, it will be an exterminating nightmare. Housekeepers have entire staff meetings dedicated to the silent discovery and treatment of the bed bug; it’s a huge liability for hotels, as we’ve become quite the litigious society.
Six figure settlements were making the news, so we Housekeepers were
threatened advised to keep these situations QUIET. Find a bug, put it in a bag, and give it to maintenance; cloak and dagger entomology.
Lift the sheet and examine the mattress and box spring, particularly the seams and corners where they like to hide. Check the headboard as well, especially if it is attached to the wall. If you see what could be a smattering of spilled pepper, get your money back and check into a different hotel. The problem may not be confined to a single room. Or deal with the hassle and sue for all you can.
2. Never, under any circumstances, use the coffee maker provided in the room.
I had a special pen I kept on my cart. I never touched it past the cap. See, this was my condom pen. I would use this pen to peel condoms from the fronts of television sets, the walls, tubs, and yes, from inside the coffee pots. I lifted so many used condoms from those pots, I couldn’t brew coffee at home without suffering flashbacks. My routine was: peel off condom, spritz with yellow cleaner, rinse with hot water, repeat if sticky.
And to the guy who eventually stole that pen off my cart, I honestly hope you don’t have an oral fixation.
3. Examine the sheets/towels before use.
The thirty-minutes-per-suite quota is occasionally unrealistic. But it’s finish on time or risk being let go. So if the housekeepers were running behind, they would just pray there weren’t any dirty briefs down by the foot of the bed, and pull the old sheets taut, dusting off the visible hairs, some of which were short and curly. The sad fact is, if you’ve spent a lot of time in hotels, you’ve probably slept in the equivalent of a stranger’s boxer shorts.
As for the towels, chances are good they’d been in the room for a while. Hotels are constantly running low on supplies, especially towels. I’ve witnessed cleaning rags get “promoted” to face cloths.
4. Don’t use the glasses and mugs. At the very least, rinse them in scalding water.
At both the hotels I’ve worked at, the dishwasher was always broken. And I mean always. In fact, at the unnamed hotel, I’d never even been privy to seeing the damn thing. So the rushed housekeepers simply rinse the glassware in the bathroom sink and use a toxic, pink porcelain cleaner for those stubborn juice/coffee/lipstick stains.
The cardboard “caps” on those mugs and glasses mean nothing as far as cleanliness is concerned. I watched a housekeeper use her breath to fog up a glass and then wipe it clean on her shirt. She slapped a cap on it and moved on to the next room.
5. Don’t knock on your friend’s door and say, “Housekeeping,” in that shrill, phony Spanish accent.
This happens more often than you’d think. I’d guess as often as people told bank tellers to, “Show me the money!” the year Jerry Maguire came out, and it’s as equally funny. I’m strongly tempted to rush you with my cart as if I were an Olympic bobsledder and your legs were the finish line. It’s only a matter of time before an overworked housekeeper snaps, and it could very well be your kneecaps.
6. Camp instead.
Roasted marshmallows taste just as delicious on a bustling city corner as they do in the woods and you’ll save a ton of money on your trip.
* Stephen Colbert has referred to my city as “the worst place on Earth,” so maybe the hotels here are just uniquely bad. But probably not.