28 shocking hotel secrets they don’t want you to find out

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Slide 1 of 29: Hotels are supposed to be relaxing, calm and, most of all, spotless. But once you start looking beneath the surface, you might be shocked at what you find. We’ve taken a look at some interesting – and some less than appetizing – hotel secrets that hoteliers definitely don’t want you to know.
Slide 2 of 29: Research by Today found the dirtiest item in the rooms of five top hotel chains across the USA was the TV remote control, with the phones coming a close second. When tested by a bacteria expert, every single remote control was found to have sky-high levels of bacteria. One even had traces of E. coli and another MSRA, a dangerous bacterium that can cause painful skin infections.
Slide 3 of 29: You might think if you pay big bucks to stay in a luxury hotel, there'll a better standard of hygiene but that isn’t always the case. A study by Travelmath found that not only is the average hotel room dirtier than a home, aeroplane and school, but that 3-star hotels were much cleaner than 4-star and 5-star hotels.
Slide 4 of 29: A hotel maid working in a 5-star hotel in Florida told Trivago that the cleaning staff sometimes have a nap in hotel beds if they are “really tired and have the time”. She said: “For example, if we are doing a large suite and are given longer to clean it, we will have a nap in the beds.”
Slide 5 of 29: When you consider how many people pass through hotels, it’s perhaps not surprising that deaths aren't infrequent. Hotels go to great lengths to keep the unfortunate occurrences discreet. According to a Thrillist article, once someone dies in a hotel room, a crime scene cleaning team comes in to clean it all up, throwing away anything with a permeable surface like sheets and mattresses. In some circumstances, the room number is changed but often guests are none the wiser.
Slide 6 of 29: Think twice before drinking from glasses in a hotel. An investigation by Fox News found that glasses in hotel rooms were not being properly cleaned, with employees using potentially unsafe chemicals to spray glasses, wipe them and put them back.
Slide 7 of 29: According to Jacob Tomsky, author of Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality, if you book a discount room, you’ll get a discount experience. You’ll be the first to move hotels if they’ve overbooked and you’ll get the worst room. This is because hotels want to save their best rooms for loyal guests and big spenders.
Slide 8 of 29: A hotel maid confessed in an interview with Trivago that cleaning staff will occasionally use the guests’ toilets. “Sometimes… we use the toilets in the guest’s bathroom, but only if we are super busy and don’t have enough time to go to the staff toilets,” she said. “It is something we are not supposed to do, but many do it anyway.”
Slide 9 of 29: While sheets are washed daily in most hotels, all the other cozy items on your bed are not. A former housekeeper told the Mirror that blankets, bedspreads and throw pillows are not washed frequently or changed between stays. Ask your hotel for fresh ones when checking in. Another anonymous worker admitted that the blankets only get washed once a year in the hotel they worked at. 
Slide 10 of 29: This could be an urban legend but, either way, we’re going to be more careful about making cups of tea in hotels from now on. An Express article claims that hotel guests use kettles in their room to wash their dirty underwear.
Slide 11 of 29: According to a Mirror article featuring confessions of hotel workers on 'secrets' app Whisper, someone might have had a bite of your room service before it gets to you. One employee allegedly confessed: “We never bring or buy lunch, because we pick off plates before they go.”
Slide 12 of 29: According to Quora user Anubhav Karanseth, you should stay away from the teacup or glasses in your room because they “have probably been wiped with the same cloth used to wipe the WC".
Slide 13 of 29: If you’re rude to staff, expect some bad karma. One employee confessed on the Whisper app: “When guests annoy me, I deactivate their key cards just for the inconvenience." Another admitted: “If you're cool at check-in I'll hook you up (room upgrade, drinks, free breakfast), but if you're mean, you're getting a room by the lift with no view."
Slide 14 of 29: While it’s cheaper and more environmentally friendly to make coffee rather than going to a café, we’d recommend making an exception when you’re in a hotel room. Research from the University of Valencia tested a number of Nespresso machines, a common brand found in hotel rooms, and found that all the coffee makers were full of bacteria because they weren't cleaned properly on a regular basis.
Slide 15 of 29: According to Quora user Anubhav Karanseth, “When you leave your luggage intentionally or unknowingly, we keep it at the bell desk, in a small room, not visible from outside. There, your luggage is manhandled in the worst way possible. If it's big enough, we sit on it. If it's small enough, we play football with it.”
Slide 16 of 29: A 2015 Bugs with Borders survey found that the number of bed bugs is higher than 15 years ago, and that hotels and motels are one of the top three places for bed bugs.
Slide 17 of 29: You’re in an unfamiliar city so you go to the concierge for advice on where to eat and things to do, right? Well, maybe you shouldn’t. Often, recommendations by a concierge aren’t entirely unbiased. A New York Times article suggests that, in exchange for recommendations, a concierge could get a free meal, a referral fee or even a percentage of the client’s bill. 
Slide 18 of 29: If you annoy hotel employees, it'll come back to haunt you. “When you make a request for something, we go to our seniors to check your personal folio,” says Quora user Anubhav Karanseth. “If you turn out to be a bad tipper or are badly behaved, or sometimes in general if we do not like you, we get our orders as, ‘Let the guest wait.’”
Slide 19 of 29: Taking towels, bathrobes, kettles and books from hotels is totally unacceptable. However, you are allowed to be light-fingered with the toiletries, as the hotel can’t reuse half-full shampoo bottles. Steer clear of everything else though – stealing towels is actually crime. Some hotel chains have even installed electronic tags to catch out guests stealing sheets, bathrobes and more.  Find out what you can and can't steal from hotels, planes and cruise ships here. 
Slide 20 of 29: You might think that once you check in, you’re totally anonymous. Not true. According to a Quora thread, the hotel does know what you’re up to. User Stacy McClouse wrote: “Yes, we host gentlemen and ladies who are having affairs. Yes, we know who you are. No, we don't really care! So long as your payment goes through and you don't cause permanent damage to the room we don't really care. We're not there to make moral judgements; we're there to make money."
Slide 21 of 29: In one particularly disgusting confession on the Whisper app, a hotel worker said: “Sometimes I don’t strip the beds and put on new sheets, I just remake the bed and take off the hairs with a lint roller. Cuts my time in half on cleaning the rooms.” Another employee confessed: “When people are being obnoxious late at night, we replace their sheets with the most repulsive person’s sheets.”
Slide 22 of 29: When you order alcohol in hotels, you might not always get what you expect. Quora user Anubhav Karanseth claims: “We know how to recork wine bottles, and when to start serving a drunk guest cheaper whisky and charge the same.” When it comes to unlimited drinks, he says, “Almost all have the alcohol bottles watered down.”
Slide 23 of 29: If you’ve left something in your hotel room, some hotels won’t call to let you know. One hotel worker revealed why: “We never called a guest if they left an item in their room and it was found after they checked out… We never knew when Mrs Smith was going to answer the phone and tell us that Mr Smith wasn't at a quaint Vermont inn last weekend, he was at a dentist convention in Toledo. That lesson was learned the hard way. And only once.”
Slide 24 of 29: Even if you carefully lock all your belongings in the safe, don’t think you’re the only person who can get in there. Staff can come in and open it without your combination code. It’s safer to keep valuables in a locked suitcase in a cupboard or under a bed.
Slide 25 of 29: There are all kinds of things going on behind the scenes that you don’t know about, according to Quora user Anubhav Karanseth. He writes: “Sometimes when you are waiting for your room to be ready, your room is in fact, perfectly ready. The housekeeping department won't release it because of some previous vendetta against front office. These wars keep going on.”
Slide 26 of 29: Think checking in always takes ages? According to a post on Quora, there are about 26 steps to go through before you get your key. Most of this involves logging information about you, including verifying your identity, checking you qualify for the rate you’ve been given and selecting your room based on your requests.
Slide 27 of 29: According to confessions made on the Whisper app, some reception workers can’t be bothered to go the extra mile. One confessed: “Sometimes when people call up to make a reservation I tell them we are booked up because I'm too lazy to make the reservation for them.” Another admitted: “'I work at a hotel that doesn't allow pets. Every time someone calls I refer them to a hotel five miles away and I honestly have no idea if they allow pets... but I sound professional.”
Slide 28 of 29: If you have strict dietary requirements, look away now. There can be a lax attitude in hotel kitchens. According to Quora user Anubhav Karanseth, “Vegetarian food isn't really vegetarian if you have a look at how it's prepared. Sauces are prepared using chicken or veal stock, the same utensils are used for everything and we really do not know if a piece of minced meat went into your dish.”  It's not just hotels with secrets: read these top tips from baggage handlers about how to look after your luggage at the airport. 
Slide 29 of 29: Many housekeepers are paid per room they clean, so keeping things tidy is more than helpful and considerate. The messier your room, the longer the housekeeper will have to spend cleaning it. They’ll have less time to do other rooms, and will therefore get paid less.  These 55 industry insiders' tips will change the way you travel.

Secrets of the hotel industry, revealed

The remote control is probably contaminated

Research by Today found the dirtiest item in the rooms of five top hotel chains across the USA was the TV remote control, with the phones coming a close second. When tested by a bacteria expert, every single remote control was found to have sky-high levels of bacteria. One even had traces of E. coli and another MSRA, a dangerous bacterium that can cause painful skin infections.

A 5-star hotel doesn’t guarantee a clean room

You might think if you pay big bucks to stay in a luxury hotel, there’ll a better standard of hygiene but that isn’t always the case. A study by Travelmath found that not only is the average hotel room dirtier than a home, aeroplane and school, but that 3-star hotels were much cleaner than 4-star and 5-star hotels.

Cleaning staff sometimes snooze in your bed

A hotel maid working in a 5-star hotel in Florida told Trivago that the cleaning staff sometimes have a nap in hotel beds if they are “really tired and have the time”. She said: “For example, if we are doing a large suite and are given longer to clean it, we will have a nap in the beds.”

Hotel deaths aren’t exactly infrequent

When you consider how many people pass through hotels, it’s perhaps not surprising that deaths aren’t infrequent. Hotels go to great lengths to keep the unfortunate occurrences discreet. According to a Thrillist article, once someone dies in a hotel room, a crime scene cleaning team comes in to clean it all up, throwing away anything with a permeable surface like sheets and mattresses. In some circumstances, the room number is changed but often guests are none the wiser.

Your glasses may not be entirely clean

Think twice before drinking from glasses in a hotel. An investigation by Fox News found that glasses in hotel rooms were not being properly cleaned, with employees using potentially unsafe chemicals to spray glasses, wipe them and put them back.

You’ll get the worst room if you book on a discount site

According to Jacob Tomsky, author of Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality, if you book a discount room, you’ll get a discount experience. You’ll be the first to move hotels if they’ve overbooked and you’ll get the worst room. This is because hotels want to save their best rooms for loyal guests and big spenders.

Your bathroom isn’t just for you

A hotel maid confessed in an interview with Trivago that cleaning staff will occasionally use the guests’ toilets. “Sometimes… we use the toilets in the guest’s bathroom, but only if we are super busy and don’t have enough time to go to the staff toilets,” she said. “It is something we are not supposed to do, but many do it anyway.”

You should always ask for clean linens

While sheets are washed daily in most hotels, all the other cozy items on your bed are not. A former housekeeper told the Mirror that blankets, bedspreads and throw pillows are not washed frequently or changed between stays. Ask your hotel for fresh ones when checking in. Another anonymous worker admitted that the blankets only get washed once a year in the hotel they worked at. 

You should stay away from the kettle

This could be an urban legend but, either way, we’re going to be more careful about making cups of tea in hotels from now on. An Express article claims that hotel guests use kettles in their room to wash their dirty underwear.

Someone might have snacked on your room service

According to a Mirror article featuring confessions of hotel workers on ‘secrets’ app Whisper, someone might have had a bite of your room service before it gets to you. One employee allegedly confessed: “We never bring or buy lunch, because we pick off plates before they go.”

Cleaning equipment used by staff can be unsanitary

According to Quora user Anubhav Karanseth, you should stay away from the teacup or glasses in your room because they “have probably been wiped with the same cloth used to wipe the WC”.

Your behavior makes a difference

If you’re rude to staff, expect some bad karma. One employee confessed on the Whisper app: “When guests annoy me, I deactivate their key cards just for the inconvenience.” Another admitted: “If you’re cool at check-in I’ll hook you up (room upgrade, drinks, free breakfast), but if you’re mean, you’re getting a room by the lift with no view.”

The coffee machine is filthy

While it’s cheaper and more environmentally friendly to make coffee rather than going to a café, we’d recommend making an exception when you’re in a hotel room. Research from the University of Valencia tested a number of Nespresso machines, a common brand found in hotel rooms, and found that all the coffee makers were full of bacteria because they weren’t cleaned properly on a regular basis.

Your luggage is used as a football

According to Quora user Anubhav Karanseth, “When you leave your luggage intentionally or unknowingly, we keep it at the bell desk, in a small room, not visible from outside. There, your luggage is manhandled in the worst way possible. If it’s big enough, we sit on it. If it’s small enough, we play football with it.”

Bed bugs are on the rise

A 2015 Bugs with Borders survey found that the number of bed bugs is higher than 15 years ago, and that hotels and motels are one of the top three places for bed bugs.

The concierge isn’t always unbiased

You’re in an unfamiliar city so you go to the concierge for advice on where to eat and things to do, right? Well, maybe you shouldn’t. Often, recommendations by a concierge aren’t entirely unbiased. A New York Times article suggests that, in exchange for recommendations, a concierge could get a free meal, a referral fee or even a percentage of the client’s bill. 

Hotels will hold grudges

If you annoy hotel employees, it’ll come back to haunt you. “When you make a request for something, we go to our seniors to check your personal folio,” says Quora user Anubhav Karanseth. “If you turn out to be a bad tipper or are badly behaved, or sometimes in general if we do not like you, we get our orders as, ‘Let the guest wait.’”

The toiletries are yours to keep

Taking towels, bathrobes, kettles and books from hotels is totally unacceptable. However, you are allowed to be light-fingered with the toiletries, as the hotel can’t reuse half-full shampoo bottles. Steer clear of everything else though – stealing towels is actually crime. Some hotel chains have even installed electronic tags to catch out guests stealing sheets, bathrobes and more.

The hotel knows if you’re having an affair

You might think that once you check in, you’re totally anonymous. Not true. According to a Quora thread, the hotel does know what you’re up to. User Stacy McClouse wrote: “Yes, we host gentlemen and ladies who are having affairs. Yes, we know who you are. No, we don’t really care! So long as your payment goes through and you don’t cause permanent damage to the room we don’t really care. We’re not there to make moral judgements; we’re there to make money.”

The sheets aren’t always changed

In one particularly disgusting confession on the Whisper app, a hotel worker said: “Sometimes I don’t strip the beds and put on new sheets, I just remake the bed and take off the hairs with a lint roller. Cuts my time in half on cleaning the rooms.” Another employee confessed: “When people are being obnoxious late at night, we replace their sheets with the most repulsive person’s sheets.”

Alcohol may not be what you expect

When you order alcohol in hotels, you might not always get what you expect. Quora user Anubhav Karanseth claims: “We know how to recork wine bottles, and when to start serving a drunk guest cheaper whisky and charge the same.” When it comes to unlimited drinks, he says, “Almost all have the alcohol bottles watered down.”

If you’ve lost something, you won’t be getting a call

If you’ve left something in your hotel room, some hotels won’t call to let you know. One hotel worker revealed why: “We never called a guest if they left an item in their room and it was found after they checked out… We never knew when Mrs Smith was going to answer the phone and tell us that Mr Smith wasn’t at a quaint Vermont inn last weekend, he was at a dentist convention in Toledo. That lesson was learned the hard way. And only once.”

Don’t think the safe is foolproof

Even if you carefully lock all your belongings in the safe, don’t think you’re the only person who can get in there. Staff can come in and open it without your combination code. It’s safer to keep valuables in a locked suitcase in a cupboard or under a bed.

There’s plenty of politics behind the scenes

There are all kinds of things going on behind the scenes that you don’t know about, according to Quora user Anubhav Karanseth. He writes: “Sometimes when you are waiting for your room to be ready, your room is in fact, perfectly ready. The housekeeping department won’t release it because of some previous vendetta against front office. These wars keep going on.”

There’s a reason why check in takes so long

Think checking in always takes ages? According to a post on Quora, there are about 26 steps to go through before you get your key. Most of this involves logging information about you, including verifying your identity, checking you qualify for the rate you’ve been given and selecting your room based on your requests.

The staff might be lazy and lie to you

According to confessions made on the Whisper app, some reception workers can’t be bothered to go the extra mile. One confessed: “Sometimes when people call up to make a reservation I tell them we are booked up because I’m too lazy to make the reservation for them.” Another admitted: “’I work at a hotel that doesn’t allow pets. Every time someone calls I refer them to a hotel five miles away and I honestly have no idea if they allow pets… but I sound professional.”

Vegetarian food sometimes isn’t vegetarian

If you have strict dietary requirements, look away now. There can be a lax attitude in hotel kitchens. According to Quora user Anubhav Karanseth, “Vegetarian food isn’t really vegetarian if you have a look at how it’s prepared. Sauces are prepared using chicken or veal stock, the same utensils are used for everything and we really do not know if a piece of minced meat went into your dish.”

It’s not just hotels with secrets: read these top tips from baggage handlers about how to look after your luggage at the airport. 

If you’re messy, you’ll affect the maid’s salary

Many housekeepers are paid per room they clean, so keeping things tidy is more than helpful and considerate. The messier your room, the longer the housekeeper will have to spend cleaning it. They’ll have less time to do other rooms, and will therefore get paid less.

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