Grab your passport, pack your bags, fly across the globe, and check into that five-star hotel you booked online. When it comes to traveling, it's always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. At home, you know all the security features and cleanliness of your home. But in a hotel, there are a lot of secrets hiding behind those black-out blinds that you never hear about.
That's why knowing a few hotel tips and tricks will help make your trip much more relaxing. Whether it's for business or pleasure, your hotel stay should always be enjoyable.
Do A Quick Safety Check Of Your Room
Once you've finished checking in and head up to your room, the first thing you should do is perform a quick security sweep of the room. Look to make sure the door's lock and deadbolt work properly, and always use it when you go to sleep at night. Be sure to check that the room's personal safe works as well.
If you're traveling on your own, let the hotel staff know that you're not expecting any guests and leave an emergency contact number.
Clean Your Hotel Room Yourself
After you've completed a safety check, get to cleaning. Even though the hotel staff will change the sheets and do a quick clean, they don't reach everything. Go through the room to check for stains, trash, and stray hairs. The staff will clean as much as they can, but they will miss some things.
One thing that hotel staffs always recommend to clean yourself is the TV remote. Studies have shown that a hotel remote holds more bacteria than a public toilet seat.
Look For Bed Bugs
Bed bugs. Sadly, they are an undeniable part of staying in a hotel. After you finish a quick clean of the surfaces in your hotel room, it's time to get down to the (gross) nitty gritty. Bring a tiny flashlight and gently remove the sheets to inspect the four corners of the mattress and mattress topper.
It's also a good idea to bring a plastic bag to pack your dirty clothes in so that you don't bring any bed bugs back into your home.
Remember That You Get What You Pay For
Third-party sell-off sites like Expedia and Trivago are becoming a popular way to book hotel rooms. These sites search for the lowest price, so you'll snag a bargain rate, but it also means you'll end up with a bargain room.
Don't be surprised to end up in a room on a loud, lower floor with a bad view. If you're looking to get a lower priced room, then do it the old-fashioned way and call the front desk to negotiate.
Don't Even Think About Stealing
It can be tempting, but under no circumstance should you steal items from your hotel room. This isn't just for moral reasons. Many people are tempted to take home their bathrobe, fuzzy slippers, or a towel, but hotels have their eyes on you.
Many hotels now have towels and sheets that have sewn-in radio-frequency chips to track stolen items. If they find you, you'll end up with a higher price tag, so it would have been easier just to buy the same towel from Walmart.
Keep The Bathroom Door Closed
Many of us know to shower with the door closed, but when you're enjoying a shower at the end of the day when you're traveling alone, you might think it's okay to leave the door open. Not only is there a risk of privacy, but leaving the door open can let the steam escape into your room.
If your shower steam gets into the main room, it can set off the hotel's fire alarm system.
The Person At The Front Desk Is Your New Best Friend
It pays to be kind to your check-in clerk. When you arrive at the hotel, your room is not predetermined. It's the person at the front desk who chooses which room you get.
They often know which rooms are the best. They know which rooms are large, small, have a good view, how far they are from the elevators, whether they are noisy, and other small things that can make or break a hotel stay.
But The Concierge Is Not
The concierge's job is to make your trip enjoyable, book your reservations, and be your best friend, but they aren't. More often than not, the concierge receives kickbacks from local businesses for them to suggest a certain restaurant or taxi service.
If you want to get an authentic experience, ask the doorman, clerk, or bartender about suggestions on where to eat and what to do. They are the people who will give you an honest opinion.
Don't Always Book Because Of A Five-Star Review
Most of us would see a 5-star hotel and automatically assume that it will be high quality, but hotel rating systems vary widely. In many places, a star rating only indicates what amenities a hotel and room has. For example, you can get a 5-star rating for a large room with many electric outlets, but the hotel service could be terrible.
The ratings also vary by country. In Italy, a hotel will receive a top rating simply for having a 24-hour reception desk. It's best to book by looking at recent customer reviews.
Put Your Luggage In The Bathtub
While it sounds odd, entomologists who study insect infestations recommend placing luggage in the bathtub when you first arrive at your hotel room, not on the floor or on the bed.
The reason being, on the off-chance there is a bed bug infestation, your clothing will be safe from contamination. It is good practice to check the mattress prior to placing anything on top of it.
Beware The Duvet Cover
You already know to clean the TV remote, but another important cleaning measure to consider is changing out your duvet. Hotel sheets are usually white, so the duvets don't get washed unless there is an obvious stain.
That means a lot of bodily fluid stains can go unnoticed. If you want a different duvet, take it off the bed, call down to the front desk, and they will be happy to replace it with a recently washed one.
Remember To Tip
Tipping is a controversial topic, but the fact of the matter is that most of the hotel staff is underpaid. Tipping experts recommend giving bellhops $5 per bag, valets $2 to receive your car, and housekeepers $2-$5.
Keep in mind that the staff rotates daily, so leaving a bulk tip at the end of your visit will only go to the person who finds it. That means you should be leaving a tip daily.
Don't Bother Threatening A Bad Review
It seems like the newest trend is threatening a bad online review to get your way. While it works for some people, most hotel workers could care less what you write on TripAdvisor or Yelp. Hotel workers deal with bad customers all the time. They can't all get special treatment.
If something has gone terribly wrong, you'll get the most by speaking directly to a hotel manager or corporate office during your stay.
Plan Ahead If You Know You'll Have Extra Requests
Don't set yourself up for failure by showing up to the hotel with a laundry list of special requests. Hotel staff will always try to accommodate your requests, but if they are made beforehand, the staff can be better prepared.
If you know where you like to sleep in a hotel, if you need a hypoallergenic room, or a certain type of fabric, then call ahead so they can have it prepared for you.
Don't Be Afraid To Ask
Many people will arrive at their hotel room disappointed with the lack of extras and freebies, and do nothing about it. Hotel managers across the board agree that "ask and you will receive.” Most hotels have items like DVD players, microwaves, Netflix accounts, and more available for use if someone asks.
Getting a room upgrades is even still done by a real person, so if you want that king-sized bed instead, put on a friendly face and ask the front desk.
Even If Your Hotel Is Cheap, It Might Have Secret Free Amenities
If you did opt for a bargain room at a bargain price, then you may end up in a hotel that isn't equipped with a personal spa, pool, or sauna. To make up for this, hotels will usually pair up with local establishments and offer free use of their amenities. You may have to walk a block, but at least it's available to you.
These are not the same is the kickbacks the concierge gets, because the services are entirely free.
Be Honest If You Break Something
We're not all rockstars who trash hotel rooms, but every once in a while, accidents happen. If your kid knocks over a lamp, or you drop the coffee pot, just be honest about it. Glass, in particular, is very hard to spot and the housekeeper may not get to it. The hotel does not want to risk another guest getting hurt because of your accident.
You can often get around any fees or charges if you fess up and admit to your mistake.
Loyalty Is Everything
Hotels might not have a handy frequent flyer card, but loyalty is everything. If you find yourself traveling to the same location frequently, then try your best to use the same hotel.
Not only will you trust the staff and service more, but they will start to take notice of you. If the staff consistently sees your name and face, you'll probably end up with a bunch of free upgrades to keep you happy.
See If The Hotel Has Any Local Deals
It often goes unnoticed, but your hotel room will come with a load of local deals with attractions. Usually, these deals are available in a flyer at the front desk or in the guest book of your hotel room.
Keep an eye out for these deals especially if you're staying in a heavy tourist location like Niagara Falls, Myrtle Beach, or Las Vegas. Tourist attractions want your business and will give you discounts to get it.
Take A Moment To Prepare For Tomorrow
When you finally check into your hotel after a long day of travel, you might be tempted to hit the hay immediately. If you know you'll have a busy day the next day, take the time to prepare for your day the night before and get accustomed to the hotel.
Figure out where all the light switches are, learn the layout of the room, and consider ordering you breakfast the night before.
You might be health-conscious at home, but most hotels use the strongest cleaning products they can. Unfortunately, that means your room will be filled with toxic chemicals that aren't good for your health.
If you can, open up a window to circulate fresh air into the room. If that's not possible, fill up your ice bucket immediately and drink plenty of water.