Hospitality by Any Other Name

I shared a motel room with a toe nail once—not mine. To be fair, I saw the clipping on the third evening, peeking out from under the table near the window. I notified the office the next morning. When I returned from my client’s site that afternoon, the toenail still smiled at me. Two weeks later, I returned to the same small town, the same motel, the same room, and, you guessed it, the same crescent of someone else’s pedicure winking at me from beneath the table. Yuck!

Last week, I shared a hotel suite with a chunk from a chocolate chip cookie. Again, not mine. The all suites hotel—think high-priced—didn’t live up to the typical standards I associate with it's brand name. The room, although spacious, exhibited a worn, tired look. That alone, not even counting the cookie chunk, made me leery of the suite’s cleanliness. I notified the front desk when I checked out:  about the lingering cookie crumb, and the clock/radio and TV remote that didn’t work.

You might ask why I didn’t just dispose of said toenail and crumb. Or why I didn’t notify the hotel of these infractions earlier. I travel a lot for business. For the most part, the accommodations are great. No alarming features or surprises, but when I can’t be in the room to tell housekeeping myself—therefore creating a relationship with the person—I prefer to not give management the opportunity to botch the job and turn their employees against me. I have to stay in the room for several more days, and I’d rather operate with some awareness of what’s wrong instead of worrying about additional issues. And I draw the line at what I will touch once I know to question the barriers of cleanliness.

Plus, I must admit a certain level of curiosity.  After a day with the cookie chunk I wonder.  Did they do a better vacuuming job today?  Will it be there?  It becomes a bit of a game.

Now don’t get me wrong. I do report problems when they occur, which, by the way, are less than 2% of the time for me. For instance, I had to ask a hotel to remove the used bath towel that still hung from the bathroom door when I checked in. And, well, the toilet in the center of the floor, unattached from any plumbing fixtures definitely could NOT be ignored.

The locations where these things happen surprise me more than the fact that they actually occur. The toilet? One of Disney’s finest resorts. The towel? An upscale hotel. I’ve stayed in two and three star hotels that are spotless and found frightening results in some four and five star locations. Granted, it’s rare to run into problems in the higher priced hotels, but it does happen. Plus, I do try to be understanding of the difficulties of keeping a busy hotel up and running, especially if I’m part of a large conference that week. The toilet sitting in the middle of my room, for example, I found quite amusing, as did my friends. And, yes, the front desk found me another room, blaming an oversight in maintenance records.

So, I travel and try to keep my sense of humor. I wash the obligatory glasses in the room (you don’t want to know why) and I wear something on my feet at all times. At least, I’m not as paranoid as one colleague. He traveled with his own sheets and towels, and not only did he remake the bed, but he spread extra sheets over every surface that he might touch: floor, chairs, etc.

Now that’s going a bit overboard, don’t you think?


Shannon Nelson said…
I love it!
Irony of ironies, I received the hotel's evaluation request email within seconds of posting this blog!
Henry said…
I stayed at one of those fancy, all-suite hotels several times when traveling to Atlanta on business. After checking in one trip, I went to my room where I discovered a couple was already staying in the room. Fortunately, this was one of those hotels where the rooms had windows facing the corridor. I saw them moving around in the room before simply opening the door.
Chris Evers said…
While I agree that it is important for the rooms being stayed at to be clean, I believe bringing your own items such as towels and sheets is taking it a little overboard. We may not be aware of how clean the items within the hotel are; however, I am still a believer that germs are everywhere and being a germaphobe in our society makes life much more difficult. Several of my co-workers take time each morning to wipe down their desk and chairs prior to starting their day just to make sure that the area is free of germs. I take little steps throughout the day such as using hand sanitizer to eliminate some germs, but not the extent that they do. I know this information is coming from a messy person so it is easy for me to say this; however, it does not take me an additional 10 minutes to start my day each morning having to wipe down my desk with Wet Wipes just in case someone came into my desk area over night :-) (But if I found a toenail in my desk, I might start to worry...)
Yeah, Chris, I remember your apartment during college. Without Haley, what would your home look like?
Valerie said…
I once walked into a room I'd just registered for in a four-star hotel to find a man in his boxers inside. Not sure who was more shocked. Another time, I found a pile of red, glue-on fingernails just under the bed. Nasty! Hate those expose shows about hotels--I always wonder if I'm in the hotel where they rinse the glasses (after the previous guest) and put them back out. And I don't want to know what one of those blue lights would reveal!
Oh...only you would notice said toenail or cookie crumb :) It is a lot easier to not worry about these things in my opinion...I haven't died yet from the germs I encounter on a daily basis. I love hotels, for what it's worth, even the two and three star hotels. There is just something about going somewhere where you don't feel the need to clean at all times, and the showers are usually amazing!

Gwen would be very disappointed to hear about the problems with the Disney resort!
Heidi Cox said…
I'm sorry but a toe nail would gross me out a bit. But, I'm not too icked out by hotels. The last one I stayed at in Las Vegas was nice-ish... It was your basic hotel but it had a weird grimy feeling to it...and a very very very faint smell...We were being put up there by the Shakespeare company we were working for. But on the 3rd day we changed locations and that MORE than made up for the first place. When you can afford it, always go for the 5 star vacation villas :))

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