As both a travel fanatic as well as a hotel manager, I spend a lot of time in and around hotel rooms. Hotel rooms are not created equally, and with a few tips you too can ensure that you are spending your hard earned travel dollars on a truly clean hotel room.
As a hotel manager one of my jobs is to “shop” the competition and tour the other local properties. Another one of my jobs is to inspect the rooms of the hotel that I run. Between the two I have come across just about everything you do not want to hear about inside of a hotel room. As a budget-conscious traveler I have come across the most interesting items including general filthiness, dirty sheets, discarded prophylactic wrappers, spoiled food and my personal favorite, someone else’s previously worn undergarments.
The first place that I always look inside of a hotel room, when inspecting for cleanliness, is the window sill. I know that there are more obvious places to look, such as the bathroom, however I have come to find that the cleanliness of a window sill can tell you a lot about how the property is maintained. If you find a considerable amount of dust, dirt, debris or other things that should not be there, you are likely to find that the rest of the room is in similar shape. If the window and window sill are clean, I move onto the bedroom.
The next place that I immediately look for, as an indication of cleanliness, is inside of dresser drawers. If you find that the drawers have not been properly cleaned, this is an indication that the housekeeping staff is only “lightly” cleaning between guests as opposed to actually ensuring that all surfaces and furniture are sanitized and properly cleaned. When housekeepers are only expected to do the minimum, that is what they will do.
On to the bed; the bed is likely to be the place that you will spend the majority of your time in while occupying the room. If you are in a hotel that still uses traditional comforters, you will want to remove this from the bed immediately. Not only has this item spent most of its life on the floor, but it likely only gets cleaned a few times a year. Many hotels are now moving to a system called “triple-sheeting”. This system wraps a blanket in between two flat sheets, essentially creating a barrier of cleanliness between you and the blanket. Most hotels use white sheets which make for pretty easy inspection, however do not forget to look at the mattress pad and mattress before declaring the bed is worthy of you. One of my colleagues often tells the story of checking into one of the most expensive and exclusive hotels in downtown Chicago. After a night of indulgence, he awoke to having slept directly on the mattress which had a huge stain of some-sort, most likely body-fluids. Just because you paid a lot for that room does not necessarily guarantee cleanliness.
In the rest of the bedroom you will find a host of other surfaces to inspect. My favorites include anywhere high dust could gather (such as pictures) as well as in the corner and edges of the carpet. Both of these places require some additional effort to maintain cleanliness. The final item in the bedroom area that you will want to be leery of is the remote control. Due to the electronic nature of remote controls, they are often a science experiment of past guests’ indiscretions. An innovative product has begun to immerge onto the scene to solve this very problem. Hotels that are knowledgeable about this item have begun to use “clean remotes” which allow the cleaning staff to spray liquid disinfectant onto them. From the research I have seen, remote controls that are not cleaned daily are as dirty as or dirtier than a public toilet.
Speaking of toilets, we now move onto the bathroom portion of the inspection. The bathroom is a very easy area to inspect. Here you will want to look for items like dirt in the corners, hair in the drains and the attention to detail the staff has taken when refreshing amenities such as toiletries and coffee. Attention to detail is generally the difference between a hotel that takes prides in offering a great experience and one that is more interested in controlling costs.
If you have gone through this simple process and have not found anything that makes you think twice, you have found a clean hotel room. On the other hand, if several of the items mentioned here are noticed, you may want to find another facility to spend your hard earned travel dollars in. A great site to use when doing research is Trip Advisor, they have recently published a list of the dirtiest hotels in the country, definitely places to avoid.