I Was a Motel Housekeeper. Here's How You're Ruining Our Day.
Despite having nearly limitless travel options these days -- hotels, motels, camping, glamping, Airbnb -- one thing is practically universal: when people stay somewhere, they turn into monsters. No one treats a hotel room like they treat their own home. I know this firsthand, having worked a stint this summer as a motel housekeeper. That's the sort of too-close view of humanity I can't necessarily recommend, but it sure does change the way you see hotel rooms.
And still not even I take care of my hotel rooms as I would my own home. You shouldn't have to, actually -- a lazy messiness is par for the stay. (Or at least that's what I still tell myself.) But after watching people's shared behaviors, I've come up with seven things I'll certainly never do when I travel. And I hope I can likewise warn you against these too-common misdeeds.
Casting us in your getting-caught fantasies
The people who clean your rooms are -- and I can't believe I have to say this -- not sex workers. Not even peripherally so. But you would not believe how many people just love getting walked in on. If that's your thing, great. You do you, no judging! But there's a whole Craigslist section for that stuff. I'm just trying to drop off towels without seeing your junk.
Assuming the thing you lost or forgot was due to our criminal activity
Yes, there are terrible people everywhere who give their peers and co-workers, or even their entire profession, a bad name. But how often do you find yourself looking for your glasses only to find them on your own face? Or proclaim that your wallet was stolen before remembering it's in your other coat? Or just generally lose things? Probably a lot more often than you've been burgled.
I'm not saying that no hotel housekeepers have ever stolen. But by and large, we know there's a huge amount of unspoken trust you have to have to let us into your room, and we're not abusing it. We also know, though, that you assume we are. So maybe a little mutual judgment is unavoidable.
Assuming we're your babysitters
This one's more specific to a B&B or a smaller motel with a big communal area, the type of motel where I worked. My housekeeping duties there extended to wider full-property caretaking. That meant I was basically always around (living on the property), which a lot of parents take to mean they have permission not to be. Please don't assume that just because I'm there, I'm going to keep an eye on your kids.
It's amazing how many overindulgent adults that same request extends to -- just, please, drink like you've tasted a beer before. A hotel isn't your college dorm, and I'm definitely not your RA.
Viewing hotel staff as your go-to vacation lay
When (hopefully single) people go on vacation, it's natural to want to let loose and get down. There's nothing wrong with looking for a vacation fling. But please try to keep in mind that we are not on vacation. That's not to say that -- hypothetically -- a natural attraction couldn't arise between a hotel guest and a staffer. But we're approaching that situation with wildly different mindsets. What's exciting and exotic for you is literally our job, and your come-ons are nothing we weren't tired of eons ago.
That being said, some stereotypes exist for a reason, and yup, you will find the occasional hotel staff member for whom this constantly rotating roster of randy guests is their paradise. I've worked with that guy. And on behalf of the rest of us, please stop. He's so busy getting busy that he just makes more work for the rest of us.
You would never be that person, of course! But someone, somewhere, is.
Asking how often the top blankets get washed
People always think they want to know. You don't.
No matter where you're staying, the housekeeping staff likely doesn't make anything close to what they deserve for washing sheets and bathroom fixtures caked in your bodily fluids. But for whatever reason, you're infinitely more likely to throw a couple of dollars to the person pouring your pint at the bar downstairs than the person cleaning your toilet later.
I'm not sure when or why tipping the housekeepers went out of fashion, but chances are, their salary wasn't increased to reflect the change. So think about setting aside a couple of bucks a day for the staff. To be extra cool, leave those dollars out daily, rather than all at the end of your stay, since the same person probably isn't cleaning up after you the whole time.
Using anything but a toilet as your toilet
Did you know that some people do their deuces in the shower? If not, I'm sorry to be the one to let you in on that horrifying human behavior. Shower, bathtub, sheets, curtains (seriously, WHY THE CURTAINS?), if it exists, someone will want to smear their business there. You would never be that person, of course! But someone, somewhere, is. And just guess what kind of tip they leave.
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.