If My Hotel Room Doesn’t Get Cleaned, What Should Happen Next?

If My Hotel Room Doesn’t Get Cleaned, What Should Happen Next?

So this is entirely #firstworldproblems, but I’m curious to see what readers think: I came back to my hotel room in Houston today and found an apologetic note, explaining that the room had not been serviced because of a staff shortage.

Here’s what it said:

Dear Valued Guest: Due to unforeseen circumstances involving shortness of staff, we will not be able to service your room today. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience however, if you require any replenishments with toiletries or amenities, please do not hesitate to contact the front desk. We thank you for your patience and once again apologize. Regards, Hotel Management

Obviously, the world is still turning. Pulling up my bed took me five seconds, there are plenty of towels, and I can easily get more coffee from reception if I want it. There’s no real inconvenience here.

On the other hand: this room is costing $360 a night (that’s the TechEd effect). At that price, I can’t help thinking that there should be a bit more involved than just an apologetic letter. Perhaps a small credit for room service?

For now, I’m just chalking it up to experience. But if I get the same note tomorrow, I suspect I’ll be less happy and asking for something. What does the Lifehacker community think I should do?


  • Complain, It’s $360 a night, staff shortages are the hotels problem to sort out, get the front desk staff cleaning as well, do what you have to do to service the paying guests. You’re paying to stay there.

    This would really annoy me a lot, yes sh*t happens, but that’s a problem for the hotel to sort out. I’d maybe cut some slack if this was some small independent boutique hotel run by a family or something but a chain like Hilton. No dice.

    • Unfortunately the hospitality industry doesn’t work like that, in these instances there is really nothing more the hotel can do to clean more rooms if they are understaffed, and as to “get the front desk staff cleaning” how is that going to help…. you’ll then just complain there was nobody at the front desk and create more problems and upset guests….
      In this instance, leaving a note is the best action to take, however the hotel should have offered offering the guest additional points, or a small percent off the total.

  • Most hotels I stayed in ranged from $200 – $400 a night in the Australian capital cities. In some hotels I have been able to place a paper note shaped like a “tree” on the bed, which told the staff not to make up the room each day. The hotel offered a discount of $10 for each day of my stay that I did this. Whilst this has not been available in every hotel, I have from time to time come back to the room to find it not cleaned and I had wanted it to be cleaned, and inquired to the front desk only to find they had simply missed the room, and they offered me a small discount compensation and in one case a breakfast voucher.

    Another hotel presented me with a poorly cleaned room at check in. (We’ll ignore the time I was given a key to an occupied room, that’s always a little uncomfortable). They apologized and assured me that it would be cleaned the next day – and it was, however the day after that it wasn’t cleaned, further inquiries discovered that their policy was to clean on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Saturdays only.

    Given the letter head of the hotel your staying at, I would ask if a discount on your stay.

  • (Being one of the universal air travel currencies to compensate travelers when something goes wrong, maybe it would work in a hotel, too.)

  • Complementary breakfast instead? But we’re short staffed, so there’s no eggs. Complementary coffee for the inconvenience? But there’s not milk cos we forgot to go to the shops! Oh, maybe a complementary smile and a wave? Oh wait, we’re short staffed, so you’ll have to do without the wave, and we’re over worked, so don’t expect the smile either.

  • exercise your choice by not staying there next time, not your perceived right to complain and be compensated

    these are human beings that couldn’t come to work, have some humility and make your bed TWICE

    • Wrong, wrong, wrong. He is paying top dollar for a service that they aren’t fulfilling.

      If you paid me to clean your house, and I didn’t do it because of staff shortages but still charged you, would you not exercise your ‘perceived right to complain and be compensated’?

      • $360 a night is not top dollar for a night in a hotel. Far from it.
        And as he hasn’t checked out yet, you don’t know if he’s going to get recompensed or not.
        Your first three words are strangely prophetic.

        • Not sure what hotels you are staying in but $360 per night is expensive in my books.

  • I worked in a hotel for several years, and I would definitely recommend complaining. We charged closer to $150 a night, and we never missed cleaning a room, even when the front desk staff and the manager (and even the owner and his wife) had to come in and clean rooms. There is no excuse for them not cleaning the room, especially at that cost.

    Another way of looking at it is this: The cost of cleaning the room is built in to the price you pay to stay there. If they aren’t cleaning it, either the price goes down, or you should be compensated in some way.

  • Jesus, for that price, I’d be demanding a full room service/clean every day, if they can’t deliver that the should give you the night for free. If they don’t have the staff to service the rooms, they shouldn’t sell them. They’re keen to get all the conference money, yet won’t provide the basic services you’re paying for?

  • I work at a hotel called lakeshore in Dhaka, Bangladesh, as the sales exec. If we were short on staff, I would have gone, along with the front office staff to freshen up the room ourselves. The first priority should always be guest service.

  • Whilst part of me agrees with the prevalent “I’ve paid for this service” argument, a large part of me argues that I am letting money rule how I react.
    If it was a $36 a night establishment, would I react in the same manner ? Probably not, and thus it is not a core value, but rather an expectation.
    What I would do, is speak with the front desk/management, and establish two things – that I hope the staff member(s) that were unable to complete their tasks were OK – for all I know, they may not be there because of a death in the family.
    It also clears any doubt that the cleaner hasn’t just left a note on my bed as ‘management’, just because they are having an off day.

    The second thing I would check is if I would be expecting to see a similar note on my bed the next day, and if the answer was “Yes” (highly unlikely), then I would politely ask if they could make some other arrangement to have my room cleaned.

    Yes, it is a service I’ve paid for, but I’d like to think my goodwill could/would extend past $360 (or part thereof), and I am unlikely to know the real reason why the room wasn’t cleaned, but I don’t have to be an asshole about it and start demanding stuff I am not entitled to.

    I’m sure with a bit of good grace on your part, the hotel will certainly make sure you have plenty of reasons to come back, without having to demand recompense.
    If not, a polite letter to their management should remedy that.

    • I think this comment rather underestimates the gap. Yes, I’ve let it ride — but you’re suggesting that even though it costs 10 times as much as your bottom price, I shouldn’t care at all. And I have let it go for today, but tomorrow may well be a different story. This is not a venue dependent on a handful of staff.

      • The point I was trying to make, is that for me, the price isn’t the determining factor, but my core value, and it was more of a reply to the other comments than directly at you.

        Let me try and explain it in a different manner.
        If someone offered me $36 to go and torture someone, naturally I’d say No.
        If someone offered me $360,000,000 to go and torture someone, naturally I’d say No.

        My core value is not driven by the monetary factor, but rather the fact my core value is that I do not wish to inflict terrible pain on someone else.
        Likewise, I would not be so incensed by having my room missed in the housekeeping service that I need to go address some imbalance by demanding offerings and trinkets.
        The question I would find myself asking is “Am I really that shallow/emotionally fragile ?”

        Whilst the above is an extreme example, the essence is that we as a generation, appear to have lost the ability to take a knock on the chin and move on with life, and instead seem to get too worked up over small things.

        If tomorrow there is another note, then likewise, I’d be having a chat with management, but unlike so many of the other respondents, my expectation would be for them to do the job, not for some perk or other offering.
        If I may put it in another way, imagine going home and fuming to your wife that the room wasn’t made up, her reaction is most likely going to be “So what ?” -and those two words seem to keep it in perspective.

        It’s your money, so your call.
        All the same, it would be interesting to see what the outcome is if you say nothing about it, and see if the hotel makes an effort to keep you as a customer.

        • Wouldn’t that apply to the Hotel as well? Hotels at that price are not just selling a room for the night, they are selling service. If their regular cleaning staff can’t clean he room then management should pay to get a temp cleaner in. I’m sure there are plenty of unemployed people who would love a job for the day.

          However, I suspect money was the deciding factor in the Hotels decision not to pull extra staff in to help with cleaning.

  • I would have had the do not disturb sign out the front and not wanted them in my room in the first place. I don’t want you making the bed, or touching my stuff, I don’t do anything in a hotel room in one night that means it needs to be cleaned that morning. If anything, I just leave any rubbish in a bag outside the room.

  • Slightly off thread, but it seems like the hotel industry operates in a reverse market where the more you pay for a hotel room, the less you get. I’ve stayed in plenty of backpacker hostels that will provide free wifi and a decent breakfast for pennies, whereas a night at the Hilton and you’re paying an additional $30 for crappy internet and the same again for an average buffet breakfast. In this frame of mind I would want some crisp new sheets, because i don’t see them providing much else other than a roof. /endrant

  • Check with the local legislation and regulations. There are plenty of jurisdictions that require hotel/motel rooms to be cleaned on a daily basis while they are occupied unless it is clearly stated during the reservation process that rooms are only cleaned on certain days, wont be cleaned until you leave or call us when your room needs cleaning.
    Having said that, for $300+ per night, I would want my room cleaned every day plus my suits/laundry/etc.

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