7 Habits of Highly Ineffective Hotels

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old hotel

When I travel for pleasure, I’d rather part with the perks than part with my dollar, so I usually gravitate toward middle-of-the road budget accommodations.

Luxury hotels in Monaco?  Too lah-di-dah.

Skinflint shacks in the sticks? Too bad-boy on the skids for this traveler.

Inexpensive hotels or private rooms in hostels?  Pull up a chair and let’s talk — I like the cut of your jib oh safe and economical one. Not dorms though. Dorm is a four-letter word in my book. But that’s a whole other post entirely.

When I travel for work, however, I tend to stay in swankier digs with a higher star rating (who knew there were so many different rating scales?) Anyhow, it’s on the company’s dime, and they tend to frown on their employees washing their skivvies in the sink. And who am I to argue with that.

I did some math, and over the past 3 years, I’ve spent one full year in hotels. One full year. And that’s just for work. That’s not counting vacation time when I’ve stayed at “pensiones”, hostels, B&B’s, motels, and even the odd wigwam now and then when nature called.

So I like to think I have a pretty good frame of reference.

In that year, I’ve noticed a lot of exceptional hotel practices, and a lot of just plain odd, head-scratching hotelier behaviour as well. Since the bulk of my time was at the Sheraton and Hilton variety, not the Motel 6’s and Econo Lodges of the world, this post is about those upper-end hotels.

Here are the worst hotel habits that I’ve encountered:

Poor Hotel Habit #1 – Telephones: Operator, Can You Help Me Place a Call

Hotel Telephone

You’d be surprised at the number of hotels that can’t get their own phone systems straight. At a Holiday Inn in Toronto recently, when I pressed the button clearly marked Wake Up Call, I was directed to their reservations call centre. I think it may have been in India as I’m pretty sure I heard a “chai walla” in the background. When I checked out, they even tried to charge me for the call.

At the same hotel I got a fast busy signal when I called room service. Once or twice, no problem.  But busy signal for twenty minutes?  Busy cooking up excuses why they could not answer the phone no doubt. Perhaps a carrier pigeon would have delivered better results. Of course I would have probably eaten the pigeon I was that hungry. So maybe not such a good idea after all.

Poor Hotel Habit #2 – Internet: LAN-locked LAN-lovers

Old computers
Image by eurleif via Flickr

Pretty fly for a Wi-Fi. Sorry, just wanted to work that in there somewhere.

I like to multi-task, which is doublespeak for lying in bed, watching TV, and surfing the net on my laptop – the “lazy man’s three-way” as I like to call it. That’s pretty hard to do if there is no wireless connection. Having to run a LAN connection to the other side of the room is just not cool. I feel like I’m on an episode of Frontier House.

The Sheraton chain is a major culprit in this regard. Yes, Sheraton Presidente San Salvador, Estoy hablando con usted.

Poor Hotel Habit #3 – Hidden Charges: Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are

money sign

Hotel tax, convenience charge, gratuity, local tax, room service, mini-bar, hospitality fee, tourist tax, internet access fees, charges for local phone calls – it all adds up, and it’s annoying as heck. One hotel tried to charge me 5 bucks a day for a newspaper I never asked for. At least buy me a drink if you’re going to put me over a barrel.

It’s worse than advertised airfares these days — you see what you think is a great deal, but then the “plus, plus, plus” really kills the vibe.

Poor Hotel Habit #4 – Temperature: Running Hot and Cold


The water’s too hot, and the room is too cold. At least that’s my experience in the nicer hotels.  Why is there even a ‘boil” setting in the shower? I’m just trying to clean my junk, not sterilize medical equipment. And how about a programmable digital thermostat that works? I ask not much.

Poor Hotel Habit #5 – Laundry: Getting Taken to The Cleaners

Woman doing laundry in Chennai, India
Image via Wikipedia

When you stay in a hotel for an extended amount of time, you need to do laundry. It’s just one of life’s necessities. And hotel laundry prices are out of control. Pricing always starts with “highway” and ends with “robbery”. I’ve been at hotels where it cost $6 to get your socks cleaned. I’m pretty confident my socks didn’t cost that much.

Poor Hotel Habit #6 – Photos: Seeing is Believing

Internet Dating

Choosing your hotel is a lot like internet dating. It’s very rare that what you get in real life looks better than the internet profile. Sometimes on that first encounter you are pleasantly surprised, but more often than not, you’re formulating your exit strategy shortly after exchanging hellos. That’s why I like Trip Advisor so much. You can get real photos from real people, not some Photoshopped promotional image.

Poor Hotel Habit #7 – Signs: Do Not Disturb Means…Well…Do Not Disturb

Vintage Holiday Inn Do Not Disturb Signs

When I was in the Philippines, I had to work overnight to mirror the business hours in North America. At least once a week at the Makati Shangri-La I would get a phone call that went something like this:

MSL: “Sir, we noticed that you have the Do Not Disturb sign on your door, but we need to get in to clean your room”


Me: “So you saw the sign and figured it was still okay to call? I already left a message at the front desk to clean my room at night.”


MSL: “So you don’t want your room cleaned?”


Oy. Do Not Disturb means Do Not Disturb in every sense. You’d think that would be a no-brainer.

Can’t get enough of what’s wrong with accomodations these days?  Micheal over at GoSeeWrite.com posted an excellent article titled The Hostel Owners Guide: The How To’s…Please! that will have you shaking your virtual fist even more.

What are your hotel pet peeves? Any annoying hotel habits that you have experienced? I’m sure there have got to be some I missed…

I am a travel blogger and freelance travel writer. I left behind my cubicle-shaped cell to see the world. Now I inspire others to shake the shackles and escape through travel. This is my blog.

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