Les Clefs d’Or: What You Need to Know About Golden Key Concierges

If you’ve ever stayed at a higher end property, you may have noticed a concierge wearing a shiny golden pin consisting of crossed keys.

These members belong to an elite group of professional concierge members called “Les Clefs d’Or” and as a traveler it pays to have an idea of the level of high service these members can provide you with.

In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about Les Clefs d’Or (aka the golden key concierges).

What is Les Clefs d’Or?

Les Clefs d’Or (pronounced like “le-clay-door”) means the “keys of gold” in French and is an international network of concierge professionals who are dedicated to providing the best service possible to hotel guests.

Founded in 1929 in Paris, Les Clefs d’Or became international in 1952 and now they have over 4,000 members located in 80 countries and are found in over 530 properties.

You can always tell if you are dealing with a Les Clefs d’Or concierge because they have the crossed golden key bling on their lapels, which is pretty hard to miss.

Les Clefs d’Or member golden key pins
Image via lesclefsdoraustralia.

What’s so special about Les Clefs d’Or?

This professional concierge society stands out for a few “key” reasons.

The extensive network

One of the reasons why this society is so valuable is that they can rely on each other for just about anything (see Grand Budapest Hotel ).

These connections help facilitate requests, services, and communicate special preferences so that the concierge at another hotel (even a competitor hotel) can better anticipate the needs of that guest.

This network, which fosters friendship among members, also is a fantastic way to share ideas and experiences which help other concierge members stand out to guests.

You get the feeling that with this society, just about anything is possible.

And that makes a lot of sense when you consider that the entire society is made up of people committed to going the extra mile for guests.

It wouldn’t surprise me if this is one of the most efficient and influential organizations out there when it comes to getting things done.

Related: Using The Hotel Concierge: Your Complete Guide to Tipping & Making Requests

Image via Les Clefs d’Or.

The standards

This society also has specific standards for how the concierge should carry him or herself.

Some of these relate to maintaining a professional appearance and staying poised under all circumstances. These are not the type of hotel staff that would “lose their cool” or snap at guests.

When it comes to interacting with guests, the society puts a lot of focus on small details like responding to emails in a timely manner, informing guests of dress codes, hidden fees, and listening attentively.

They also put emphasis on protecting the identity and confidentiality of all guests, which is obviously a super important factor for high-profile guests.

One of the things I like most about their standards is that they state to never promise guest results “unless you are positive you can deliver.”

Sometimes a hotel can get ahead of themselves and commit to doing something that they aren’t able to come close to doing and it leads to a lot of disappointment.

But perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of this society is that the recommendations are never “driven by incentives or commissions from outside sources” and are always based on “first hand knowledge.”

One of the usual drawbacks of dealing with a concierge is that you might suspect that they are being driven by commissions rather than what is best for you.

So having a society of concierge members committed to not doing this is a pretty big deal.

It’s also very reassuring that if one of these concierge members recommend a restaurant to you, chances are they have personally visited that restaurant (probably on many occasions).

They also have standards for the concierge when dealing with vendors which is really important.

These help to ensure a positive relationship between the concierge and the vendors and help avoid conflicts of interest.

The service attitude

From all of the interviews I’ve watched and articles I’ve read, there is a clear attitude that these members possess when it comes to guest requests.

It’s an attitude of always striving to figure out how something can work and doing everything within their power to make it work. Not everything is possible but if there is a way to make something happen, a member of Les Clefs d’Or will generally make sure that it does happen.

What hotels have Les Clefs d’Or?

As you would expect, these special concierge agents will be found at higher-end five star and four star hotels.

The good thing is that you can search for hotels that have these by using their website (US) (international).

Some of the most high end properties have multiple golden key members and you might even find a property entirely staffed with them if you’re real lucky.

You’ll notice that most of the golden key concierge members will be found in large cities like New York City, LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas, etc.

To give you a sense of the type of properties that you can find these members at, here’s a sample list of properties valid as of early 2023:

  • Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale
  • Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel
  • Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills
  • Park Hyatt Aviara
  • Lodge at Torrey Pines
  • Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage
  • Omni Hotel San Diego
  • Fairmont Hotel (San Francisco)
  • Grand Hyatt on Union Square
  • St. Regis Resort Aspen
  • Conrad Washington DC
  • Mandarin Oriental Boca Raton
  • InterContinental Miami
  • W South Beach
  • Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World
  • Trump International Hotel Waikiki
  • Four Seasons Resort Maui
  • Loews Chicago Hotel
  • Aria Resort & Casino/Vdara Resort & Spa
  • Cosmopolitan Resort
  • MGM Grand Hotel
  • Edition Times Square
  • Park Hyatt (New York)
  • Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia
You can find lots of these concierges in Las Vegas.

How do you become a member of Les Clefs d’Or

Becoming a Les Clefs d’Or member is not so easy and there are some specific requirements.

First you have to have a minimum of five years of experience as a full-time lobby-level concierge.

Then, you will need to have strong recommendations (I believe from two people who are current members) and you will have to pass an extensive written and oral exam.

Reportedly, it can take members up to 20 hours to complete the exam which has a mixture of multiple choice, fill in the blank, and short answer questions.

These questions would cover all areas relevant to the service of a concierge including travel, food, wine, etc.

For example, they may be tested on their knowledge of top rated restaurants or chefs or perhaps have to recall the details of a decadent dish.

As difficult as the exam sounds, surprisingly only about 20% do not pass — perhaps because those who are interested take the preparation process very seriously.

Final word

A good hotel concierge can help make your stay dramatically better. But a concierge who is a member of this society of golden keys can reliably work some serious magic for guests. Look out for them on your next upscale hotel stay and see what they can do for you!

Cover image via lesclefsdor.org.

Using The Hotel Concierge: Your Complete Guide to Tipping & Making Requests

If there is one role at a hotel that is somewhat mysterious, it’s probably the hotel concierge.

What exactly does a concierge do and what can you realistically expect him to help you with?

In this article, we will talk about the role of a hotel concierge and give you some insight into what it is that they do and how they can help you.

We will also provide you with some tips when making your own requests so that you can increase the odds of having a successful outcome and not be clueless about things like tipping.

Things you should know about the hotel concierge

Let’s start off with some basic things you should know about the hotel concierge.

Understand what a hotel concierge is

A hotel concierge is someone at the hotel responsible for helping to make sure your requests and needs are met in the best way possible.

A good hotel concierge will do what they can to make sure everything goes right on your stay.

So think of the concierge as someone there to support your various needs and desires — don’t be afraid to use them.

Not every hotel has them

Not every hotel is going to have a concierge.

You should pretty much always expect there to be a concierge at a luxury property. The higher you go, the more attention to detail they will have such as remembering your name, sending thank you notes, etc.

They also may be more well-connected or skilled (e.g., speak multiple languages), especially if you are dealing with a concierge who is a member of Les Clefs d’Or.

Some of the middle-tier properties will also have one or at least someone who can perform the functions of one. This is especially the case if the hotel is located in a tourist hotspot with plenty of opportunities to make recommendations for tours and activities.

But don’t expect to find a concierge at a budget property.

How does a concierge get paid?

Hotels have different pay structures for concierges including the following:

  • Hourly rate or salary
  • Commission based pay
  • Combination of an hourly rate plus commission.

As a guest, this matters because if a concierge is getting a kickback from certain establishments, they may be more willing to recommend those over others.

Just because a concierge is getting a kickback, that does not mean that the restaurant is not good but there are some concierges out there who don’t always have your best interest in mind.

More importantly, if a tour company is paying a commission to the hotel, the hotel tour prices could be more expensive, so watch out for that.

What kind of hours does a hotel concierge work?

Some hotels will have a concierge available pretty much around the clock, which is great for people who really like nightlife.

At other properties, they may available on a more limited schedule from morning until evening.

How much should you tip the hotel concierge?

We’ve written a lot about tipping at hotels whether that be valet, housekeeping, the bellhop, or elsewhere.

Out of all of the different tipping situations, the concierge is probably the most difficult for people to estimate.

So here is some guidance:

For quick one off questions you could tip a couple of bucks although lots of people don’t tip for these quick questions. Typically these would be questions that you can find yourself with a quick Google search.

For help with a reservation or booking that’s pretty easy to figure out, the minimum tip expected would be $5 to $10. For example, if you already know the restaurant you want to eat at but just need to make the reservation and perhaps get menu recommendations, you can leave a relatively low tip.

If the concierge helps you figure out where to eat or what you want to do then the minimum tip should be $10 to $20. This is the type of travel request that you get real “insider knowledge” from so it’s worth tipping to reflect that.

If the concierge works some magic then you may be looking at a tip of $20+. This would be a situation where a concierge gets you a seat at a sold out restaurant or event. If they dazzle you your tip should be equally dazzling.

When tipping the concierge, you may want to think about tipping them before they handle your request because you might be able to get better results that way. YMMV.

How to use a hotel concierge

You first need to verify that the hotel actually has a concierge.

Usually, you can find a desk or a sign near the front desk which will say concierge and that can be enough verification for you but you could also just ask the front desk or look for the “concierge” button on the telephone in your room.

One issue with using a hotel concierge is finding them when they are available.

Hotels often only have a single person on duty at a time which means that if they are on a break or working with other guests, you cannot use them at that time.

Sometimes you might be able to leave a note with someone at the front desk for the concierge to get back to you but other times it can be difficult to track them down.

This is why email could be a great way to communicate with the concierge, especially if you contact them a few days before your stay. Some people will even contact the concierge months before their travel dates but that comes at the risk of getting lost in the mix.

The drawback with email is that sometimes you may be communicating with multiple people and not a specific person which can make it harder to accomplish what you’re trying to do.

But once you do track them down, then it’s just a matter of figuring out what you want help with.

What can a hotel concierge help you with?

A hotel concierge can help you with just about anything but you don’t always want to go to them for all of your requests.

If you need something like extra pillows, more towels, or there is something wrong with your room then you want to ring the front desk.

The front desk will either look into it or contact housekeeping or engineering if needed.

Sometimes the concierge desk is involved with these requests but I rarely have interacted with the concierge when getting these type of things sorted out.

Instead, the concierge deals more with requests related to things like:

  • Finding a taxi or a ride
  • Dining
  • Finding local services
  • Getting local insight
  • Booking things in the hotel
  • Things to do
  • Tickets
  • Packages
  • Problem-solving
  • Medical issues
  • Special requests
  • VIP welcome

Finding a taxi or other ride

One of the most common uses for a hotel concierge is to get them to help you find a taxi or some other type of ride.

Sometimes they have special connections with drivers that can come in handy when ride shares are not available or taxis are otherwise a long wait.

If you are ever in doubt about the legitimacy of a taxi or struggling to find an Uber, just hit up the concierge.


One of the most common reasons to use a hotel concierge is to get help with your dining options.

A good concierge will have many recommendations they can offer you based on your food preferences, budget, and personal circumstances. For example, maybe you are taking a client out to dinner and need a sophisticated dining spot to impress.

One of the big benefits of going through the concierge is that they sometimes have deals worked out with restaurants so that they can guarantee you a seat and a reservation.

They may not be able to get you in everywhere but they may be able to do some magic, especially if you have VIP status.

The drawback is that they could be sending you to restaurants owned by relatives or family friends. If those restaurants are good then there’s nothing to worry about but it’s just something to be mindful of.

Finding local services

If you need to take advantage of some local services like dog watching, barbers, laundry, or anything else of the sort, the concierge can provide recommendations for you.

We once had a stopover in Los Angeles on a big round the world trip and the concierge at the W gave us a really solid recommendation for a local barber. If you’re in need of a service where trust is paramount, the concierge can be a great resource.

Getting local insight

If you’re wanting to venture to a specific area of town that you think could be shady, a concierge can be a good person to talk to you to get an idea of how safe or unsafe that area is.

Booking things in the hotel

If the hotel has special services such as a spa, exclusive lounge, pool services, etc. you can talk to the concierge about these. The concierge may be able to help you but they may just refer you to that department.

Things to do

If you are curious about what type of things there are to do in your location a concierge can help you out a lot.

They can give you information on different spots to check out and perhaps some tips and insight into how to save money or avoid crowds.

I remember getting advice on how to enter the Louvre Museum through the “hidden” side entrance which saved us waiting in a really long line (I don’t think that entrance is available anymore).

If you want to book a specific type of tour, the concierge can help you with those tours as well. Just remember, they may be earning commission off of that so it helps to do some of your own independent research.


If you need to get tickets for a show or sporting event the concierge may be able to help you with those as well.

Stories abound about concierges getting last-minute courtside seats to basketball games and other amazing seats to different shows and events. Other times, it might be more about the concierge telling you what seats to avoid!

If you ever just find yourself with nothing to do on an evening but don’t think you can find something last minute, the concierge is a great person to talk to.

Tip: Make sure you are always clear on service fees or surcharges when getting a concierge to book something.


It’s possible for you to get mail and other packages sent to your hotel.

Often this happens because you forgot something or need some type of last-minute item of importance.

A good concierge will oversee the delivery process and make sure that you get your item as soon as it arrives at the hotel. In my experience, this is one area where the concierge really excels.


While I mentioned above that you typically want to voice any problems you have with the front desk, sometimes it can be the concierge who ends up helping you out.

When a hotel in London broke my $1,000 lens for my Canon DSLR (by dropping my luggage), it was the concierge who hopped in a cab with me on a snowy afternoon and took me to various local camera shops to find a replacement. Luckily, we found one just in time to catch our train!

But a concierge doesn’t always have the superpowers you want them to have.

On another trip, in Milan, Italy, I botched a tour of the chapel with The Last Supper by mixing up my dates. I tried to get the concierge at the Park Hyatt Milan (a top luxury property) to help me make a last-minute booking but they just didn’t have the pull.

Medical issues

Related to the above, a concierge can even help you with medical situations.

Obviously, I’m not talking about getting medical treatment from the concierge (although you never know), but I’m talking about getting assistance with finding medical treatment.

We once had a nightmare situation in Singapore at the Marina Bay Sands involving a broken tooth and a last minute emergency dental visit. It was incredibly stressful but the concierge helped connect us to a local dentist and we were able to get in last minute on a holiday weekend.

Generally, if there is a problem that requires a solution of going out and about, it’s a concierge who will help you.

Special requests

If you were trying to do something special for your partner, spouse, or any guest, the concierge is a great person to talk to you.

You can talk to them about setting up special decorations for the room, ordering fancy desserts, or anything else that you need to make a moment extra special or romantic.

Of course, some people also go to the concierge for more illicit requests. For example, they may make a request for drugs or escorts.

Lots of concierges have stated online that they do not offer these type of services to hotel guests but there are also some who reportedly do. It seems that lots of those requests come from people who are recurring guests or very high profile such as famous musicians.

I don’t have any experience in this department but I generally avoid asking favors of people when I suspect my request could get them into trouble with their job (or the law).

VIP welcome

If you are a VIP (or think you are), the concierge will sometimes play a role (along with other marketing peeps) in giving you a complete VIP welcome.

This could involve showing you around the hotel, giving you a special greeting, offering special assistance, or just checking up on you.

Also, as mentioned a concierge can do a lot more for VIP guests.

The typical roadblocks that may preclude something happening for a regular guest don’t always apply to a VIP guest. For example, a VIP guest could get a difficult restaurant booking that would otherwise be unavailable, all thanks to the concierge.

Final word

You won’t always find a concierge at every hotel but when you do it’s worth thinking about how they might be able to help you. With the plethora of apps we have on our phones these days, a lot of our requests can easily be taken care of ourselves.

But sometimes those apps fall short and you need to tap into local expertise or have someone help you with real-time problem solving and that is the perfect time to talk to a concierge!

How Much Should You Tip the Hotel Bellhop? (Rule of Thumb) [2023]

So you are arriving at a hotel and as soon as you pull up two bellhops approach your vehicle and start transferring your luggage from your vehicle to a trolley cart.

You start searching for some cash and luckily find some but you’re not sure exactly how much you should tip these people (if anything at all).

What exactly are the “rules” for tipping the bellhop and what is a good rule of thumb for a reasonable tip? In this article, we’ll take a close look at when you should tip a bellhop and how much is a reasonable tip.

Before we jump into how much you should tip the bellhop let’s take a look at what exactly a bellhop is and their duties so that you have a good idea who they are and what they do.

What is a bellhop?

A bellhop (also called a hotel porter, bellman, bellboy, or bellwoman) is a hotel staff member who helps guests with various tasks when they arrive and depart hotels.

Typically, these tasks would be moving/storing luggage, utilizing the trolleys, getting in and out the front doors, and helping you to get acquainted with the hotel or perhaps even escorted to your room.

If your room comes with technical features they may even give you a brief overview on how to utilize everything in your room (e.g., electric curtains, tablets, etc.).

Some bellhops may also assist with or assume other duties like: giving directions, basic concierge assistance (recommendations), valet, calling cabs, helping you find your ride share, doorman duties, etc.

Bellhops are usually found at full-service hotels and resorts and are less commonly found at cheaper hotels or motels.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

bellhop bringing luggage trolley

Where did the name bellhop come from?

Back in the day, a bellhop was usually a younger male (boy) who would be summoned by the sound of a ringing bell from the front desk. He would then “hop” to duty in order to properly serve the hotel guests. Hence the name bell-hop.

Related: Should You Tip Hotel Housekeeping?

How much should you tip the bellhop?

As a good rule of thumb, tip the bellhop $1 per bag at a standard hotel and $2 per bag at a luxury hotel or when dealing with heavy/large luggage. Try to tip at least $2 minimum in every situation as tipping $1 is sometimes not received well (it’s seen almost as an insult).

The above is just a rule of thumb, though. The exact amount you tip probably comes down to a few factors you want to consider. Let’s dive into those factors.

Related: How Much Should You Tip the Valet at a Hotel?

Level of courtesy

There is nothing worse than showing up with a lot of excitement to a hotel only to be greeted by a rude or completely indifferent staff member.

At many properties, your first contact will be with a bellhop so in many ways they are sort of the face of the property, capable of setting the tone for your stay.

Sometimes these people have to work in less than ideal conditions such as super hot afternoons or ridiculously cold nights. Other times they may be struggling to keep up with the mad rush of guests during arrival hours.

So I don’t always expect them to be the most cheerful in every circumstance. But if a bellhop is visibly rude or does not acknowledge you, that’s usually a sign that a tip should be reduced or even taken to zero.

On the other hand, sometimes you’ll have a bellhop who seems to be going over and beyond.

They greet you with a smile and make sure to do all they can to assist you with getting luggage out of your vehicle and loaded into a trolley or taken to your room. They might even be a great conversationalist with a sense of humor that makes your day or puts you at ease as you arrive in a new city.

For these type of bellhops, I’m usually prepared to give them a $5 tip once we arrive at the room or when they handover the bags. If they really went over the top and I’m feeling especially generous I might even throw them some more dough ($5 to $10+) and make it rain!

Check out: Ultimate Hotel Upgrade Guide: 17 Tips

How they handle your luggage

Perhaps the most important thing for a bellhop is that they properly handle your luggage.

This means that they get your luggage to your room in a timely manner such as when you arrive at your room or shortly after.

It also means that they do not end up delaying your luggage or have it flying off the trolley.

One snowy afternoon, we were checking into the Renaissance Hotel in London when a bellhop swiftly pushed the trolley through the lobby causing my small bag to fly off (after we had warned him about the fragile nature of the contents).

This bag had all of my electronics in it and when I checked on them afterwards I noticed that there was a broken $1,000 camera lens!

That is obviously the type of scenario that would not be ideal for a tip. (For what it’s worth the hotel helped me purchase a replacement lens at a nearby camera shop after they reviewed the footage.)

bellhop bringing luggage trolley

Level of work needed

If all you have is a small roller bag and a bellhop simply helps remove the small bag from a vehicle and places it in front of you, that’s not exactly a tall order.

In that case, you may not tip or simply leave a $2 tip basically to just acknowledge that they are doing their job and avoid the awkwardness of not tipping.

But if you are traveling as a family with many heavy bags and the bellhop is breaking a sweat trying to gather all of the luggage then consider that his work is a little taxing. That’s when you might fall into the $10 range for a tip.

Also, if a bellhop helps you all the way to your room with multiple bags typically you would want to tip a little bit extra (closer to the $10 range).

Refusing assistance from the bellhop

You don’t have to allow the bellhops to help you with your luggage.

Usually, upon arriving, the bellhop will ask if help is needed but sometimes they are very proactive (some might even say aggressive) when approaching the vehicle and removing your luggage.

Some people might like this and others probably don’t because it could be a little bit invasive.

Feel free to let the bellhops know that you can take care of your luggage yourself.

They should not have a problem with you helping yourself but sometimes they can be very persistent to the point of practically prying the bags out of your hands so be prepared to deal with that.

If you choose to go to self-help route, there really is no need to leave a tip at all for the bellhop.

Personally, when I am departing a hotel I like to load up our Jeep ourselves because we have a specific way that everything fits well on road trips.

Nine times out of 10 when the bellhop starts loading things up we have to change it so we usually refuse the service when departing.

bellhop helping out

Requesting or utilizing the bell cart/trolley

There is a little bit of debate on whether or not you should utilize the bell cart or trolley yourself when staying at nicer hotels.

The argument against using it is that it is a standard procedure at these properties for the bellhops to manage and utilize these for guests. You are essentially “assuming” their duty and in a way denying their tips.

Personally, I don’t care too much for this argument.

As mentioned above, I’ve had valuables broken by a bellman at a very nice hotel in London and so I trust myself more than anyone to transport my bags safely. If you would like to use the trolley yourself, I say feel free to request it.

Just remember to return it as soon as you’re finished.

Related: Should You Tip At All-Inclusive Resorts?

What can you request from the bellhop?

As mentioned above, the duties of a bellhop may extend beyond helping you unload your luggage from a vehicle and taking it to your room.

Sometimes they may also be able to help you with valet, directions, getting a taxi, finding your Uber or Lyft, etc. You can even ask them for restaurant recommendations and things like that (similar to a concierge).

For these random requests, a tip of $2 to $ 3 dollars is usually sufficient. Maybe a little bit more if they go above and beyond.

Just don’t ask them to help you out with illegal activities or things that could get them fired such as “where can I find some good drugs?”

When should you tip the bellhop?

It’s recommended to tip after you have received services from the bellhop unless you know that you have an impressive tip to offer.

If you pull out a $1 bill as a tip that’s going to kill the motivation for a bellhop and probably cause them to deliver the minimum level of service to you. In that case, it would be better to just wait until they have finished delivering your luggage to tip.

At the same time, if you’re dropping a five dollar bill or more that’s a good signal to them that you’re a solid tipper and you may want to do that at the beginning.

Other people may prefer to tip at the end regardless of the size of their tip so that they can accurately provide a tip based on (organic) performance.

Splitting up your tips

Sometimes you’ll have multiple bellhops helping you out and you may not know which one to tip.

If you were particularly observant then you might have an idea of how much work each bellhop did for you.

If it is equal work then maybe you can tip both of them equal amounts. Or if one seemed to do most of the effort then perhaps just drop your tip to that person.

A lot of times tips go into a pool and then get divided up based on the amount of hours worked so it often does not matter if you tip one person or the other.

Even if they do pool tips, I like to tip people individually because I think it just makes everyone feel better but that’s just me and it’s not always practical to do with something like a five dollar bill.

What if you forget to have cash for a tip?

Nowadays, I always go to the bank before a major trip and receive a band of 100 $1 bills. This makes tipping very easy but sometimes you may forget to pull out some cash and you don’t have anything to tip.

If you’re feeling especially motivated you can always let them know that you’ll come back down to give them their tip as soon as you get some cash. Just make sure that you actually do that because I’m sure a lot of people say they will but never do.

If you have no intention on doing that immediately or within a short amount of time then just say thanks and move on. Giving them your life story on why you don’t have cash on you just gets really old for them. Once you have proven yourself to not be a tipper you are essentially dead to them and it’s best to just move on.

Final word

There’s always debate when it comes to tipping at hotels.

Often you can refer to the prevailing rule of thumb for tips and in this case it would be one dollar per bag at a normal hotel and two dollars per bag at a high-end hotel or when you’re dealing with large and heavy bags. But it’s also worth considering the attitude of the bellhop and other factors.

It’s also worth remembering that you can always refuse help from the bellhop if you don’t need it or want it.

Tips on Making Romantic Requests at Hotels

Staying at a hotel on an anniversary, honeymoon, or other special occasion can already be a pretty romantic event.

But sometimes you will want to enhance the romance of your stay by making a special request with the hotel. Maybe you want to decorate the room or have items like champagne or chocolates delivered to your room.

But how should you go about making these requests and what can you realistically expect the hotel to do for you?

In this article, we will answer those questions and more, so keep reading for some helpful insight.

What is your version of romance?

When you think about making a hotel room romantic the first Image that may come to your mind is a bed full of red rose petals, kissing towel swans, a box of fancy chocolates, and maybe some champagne.

Don’t get me wrong, everybody has their own idea of what they consider romance and plenty of people would appreciate getting surprised with the above but I’d recommend not getting “boxed in” to thinking that this is the only way to be romantic during a hotel stay.

Consider that you could forgo spending extra money on those things and instead splurge on a room with a vastly more impressive view where just the two of you could sit out on the balcony and watch the sunset every evening.

Maybe one of those nights, you slip your partner a hand written letter describing how you felt the day you met them and have some music playing in the background while the Jacuzzi bubbles up.

The point is to just not think that there are only a few cookie-cutter approaches to romance during a hotel stay. Try to combine your personal touch with what the hotel has to offer.

Remember, it’s not about spending money — it’s more about you putting real thought into doing something special for the person you love. A hotel can help set the mood and get the vibe right but you still need to show up!

What type of property are you staying at?

The first thing you want to think about when making a romantic request is what type of property are you staying at?

Luxury properties are some of the most accommodating when it comes to special requests like this — you would be surprised how above and beyond they like to go. Seriously, some of the staff members at these properties live for stuff like this!

These are properties like the Conrad, Waldorf, St. Regis, Ritz-Carlton, Park Hyatt, etc. You can feel free to ask them just about anything and if they can do it, they probably will.

At your standard middle-tier property, you can still make special requests and the hotel may even have romantic packages to choose from. This is especially true if you’re staying in a romantic destination like Niagara Falls.

But at lots of these properties, your special requests will be more hit or miss. If you keep them within reason, you probably still have a decent shot of the hotel helping you out.

Then there are those budget hotels.

The worst thing these hotels can tell you is no so it never hurts to ask, but I would not expect budget hotels to do anything extra.

Perhaps if you keep it small, they can help you out but they rarely have the resources to do anything extraordinary for these type of requests.

What event are you celebrating?

Another consideration is what event are you trying to make extra romantic?

Valentine’s Day is one of the most common days when people want to do these type of romantic requests.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of doing these for a few reasons but one major reason is that lots of other guests could be making the same requests to the hotel during the same time.

Not only that, but people in general are making these requests so nearby shops and stores could be running low on items and not have adequate staff to fulfill deliveries.

This means that you could have a limited number of options or be dealing with hotel staff that is already overwhelmed and less willing to go above and beyond for you.

I would much rather prefer to make these type of requests for anniversaries, birthdays, etc. And of course a honeymoon would be a perfect time.

Be very careful about how you word requests if making a request for a special secret event.

One of the worst misfires is when somebody calls about an engagement and a staff member accidentally ruins the surprise. So be very, very careful with those delicate situations.

To be honest, I would probably try to avoid involving a hotel with your engagement for that reason.

Related: Bringing an Engagement Ring through TSA While Keeping It a Secret from Your Partner

When are you making your request?

If you want to make a special romantic request, you need to make this at least several days in advance. Last-minute requests can be honored but your options will be limited and you will be putting a lot more stress on the hotel staff.

Personally, I would try to make these requests at least one week prior to your arrival. Two or three weeks would be even better.

You can always make it very far out in advance such as a couple of months out but you will need to check back in as the date gets closer to verify that everything is in order.

Tips on making a request

When making a request, the first step is to figure out what is actually possible.

The easiest option would be to go with packages already offered by the hotel.

As mentioned, hotels have romantic packages sometimes and you can find these online or by calling. If your destination is known for romantic getaways, chances are that hotel has something.

The packages shown online are not always exactly what you will get so sometimes you just have to expect to get something similar. You can usually customize them to a degree.

You could also come up with something on your own and then contact the property and see if that’s possible.

The hotel may be willing to run to different stores to put together your request for things like balloons, champagne, desserts, flowers, etc.

But don’t be surprised if an understaffed hotel can’t carry out your requests (which again is a reason why I would avoid Valentine’s Day for these type of special requests).

Obviously, you should expect to pay for anything that they will have to purchase for you and you also may have to pay for their time to put all of this together. Some hotels are rather generous when it comes to these requests and they may do it on a complimentary basis — at least for basic items.

Either way, it would be a good idea to leave a tip for the extra efforts.

Just be aware that when you make a special request for something the hotel does not provide you may need to follow up on this several times to make sure that the job gets done. There’s a big difference between a front desk agent telling you that they can do something, and it actually getting executed.

Tip: If you are arriving early in the morning then consider booking the room for the night before your stay so that the staff can have extra time to get things situated.

Tip #2: If the hotel is making a sign for someone with a commonly misspelled name, make sure that you note that in your request!

Ideas for a romantic hotel room

My preferred options for a romantic hotel room would be a room with an unforgettable view, preferably one with a balcony that you can relax on.

The balcony can function as a place to not just enjoy the view or sunset but also a place where you can enjoy a romantic dinner or breakfast if it’s big enough.

Having a nice big tub is also a major plus. Lots of resorts with a romantic leaning will have Jacuzzi tubs for you to relax in. Bubble bath is a must.

You want to be able to set the mood with music so bringing a Bluetooth speaker or connecting to one is a good choice. Your laptop can also suffice.

You can make a custom playlist or search something like “slow dancing music” or “sexy music” depending on what the “goals” are at the time.

And finally, dim lights is always a good choice. Lots of hotels that cater to couples will have the ability to dim the lights in the room or at least near the tub but you could always bring your own LED candles.

Remember, real candles are probably not allowed in the room because they can be a fire hazard or potentially set off the smoke alarm.

In terms of requests that you may want to make, here are some traditional ideas:

  • Rose petals leading to the bed or on the bed
  • Towel design arrangements
  • Special sign or message with “happy anniversary” (could be placed on the pillows or spelled out on the bed)
  • Chocolate covered strawberries
  • Other sweets such as macaroons
  • Room service desserts such as creme brulee
  • Champagne/wine
  • Flowers
  • Balloons
  • Bubble bath

Just be mindful two things.

First, you may need to time your arrival so that your room is ready or the items get delivered when you are in your room so plan your activities accordingly.

Tip: See if the hotel can text you when things are ready so that you can be more discrete.

Second, some of the requests you may have could put a strain on housekeeping and so the hotel may not allow it or may not appreciate it.

Rose petals are a thing at many hotels but others consider them too much of a mess. And confetti and/or glitter could be frowned upon.

If you don’t have specific requests, you could probably just make a general request for the hotel to “do something romantic.” If you’re staying somewhere like the Maldives, the hotel will know exactly what to do.

Related: 9 Romantic & Special Surprise Ideas To Try When Traveling

In terms of things that you may want to bring from home:

  • Bath salts and bubble bath liquid
  • Massage oils or other essential oils
  • Other ideas here

If you ended up doing something in excess (spilling coconut oil everywhere), you could get hit with a cleaning fee of a couple of hundred bucks so keep that in mind if you are doing self decorating.

Beyond your room, other opportunities where your romance can sparkle include dining opportunities.

If you’re staying at a resort on the beach you may be able to arrange a private dinner right on the beach or in a special area of the restaurant. Sometimes you could even request someone to come and play live music.

Related: Will Hotels Charge for Stained Sheets,Towels, & Other Linens?

And of course, spa treatment is another go-to.

You can go for a special couples massage or each of you can do your own thing. It’s usually pretty easy to find a special package that includes spa treatments or credits to be used at the spa.

At some resorts, you might be able to do spa treatment inside your room or in the case of a property like the Conrad Maldives, you could have a special room designated for spa treatment!

Involve the concierge

A good hotel concierge can work wonders for your requests.

They often have experience with helping people put together romantic surprises and so they can help you come up with ideas or better execute on the ideas you already have.

As soon as you make a request or show interest in making a special request, the hotel should put you in touch with the concierge. But sometimes you can simply call the hotel directly and tell them you’d like to speak to the concierge.

Final word

Hotels are accustomed to guests making special requests to make their hotel experience more romantic. If you want to make a request, you need to:

  • Keep in mind the type of property you are staying at
  • Make your request several days ahead of time at least

And most importantly, try to put your own personal touch on the experience because that is what will end up making it the most memorable for the person you love.

Will Hotels Charge for Stained Sheets,Towels, & Other Linens?

Spend enough time in a hotel room and eventually you will probably make some type of mess.

Maybe you spill a drink on a sheet or drop some room service food on your pillowcase or you simply dirty a towel pretty bad.

In any of these scenarios, you might be wondering if the hotel will charge you for the stained linens?

In this article, we will take a deep dive and see how hotels handle this situation.

Will hotels charge for stained sheets, towels, and other linens?

Most hotels will not charge you for stains that can be removed by normal cleaning processes.

However, if the stain cannot come out or if it presents a biohazard hotels differ on how they handle this. Some hotels (usually budget properties) will charge you but others will not.

In situations where you cause substantial damage to the bedding, pillows, and linens, most hotels will probably charge you a replacement fee or cleaning fee. In some cases, that could be a couple of hundred dollars.

Keep reading below for tips on how to handle these situations!

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Different types of damage done to linens

Light damage

Let’s start off talking about “light” or superficial damage to sheets, towels and other linens.

Light damage would consist of stains from:

  • Soda, coffee, tea, alcohol, wine, hot cocoa
  • Ketchup, mustard, etc.
  • Salad dressings
  • Tomato sauce
  • Pen ink
  • Chocolate

Typically, these would be small drops or blotches but the occasional mega spill could happen with these.

Hotels use powerful cleaning agents to remove stains from linens so often times they are able to get these lighter stains out without issue.

The vast majority of hotels will NOT charge you if they can get a simple stain out their linens.

On occasion you may run into a property that will try to charge you and some people consider this to be a borderline scam.

That’s because if the hotel can get the stain out through normal cleaning and re-use the sheet then they don’t really have a basis for charging you extra. I would be very suspect of any charges for small stains that happen in the ordinary course of a hotel visit.

Unfortunately, it will often be the cheaper, lower quality properties that try to nickel and dime you for these things. Some of these properties don’t really care about bad reviews and negative publicity so it can be an uphill battle to fight them on these things.

Nicer properties will not charge you for small stains in most cases.

Bodily fluids

Now let’s talk about what is often the worst case scenario — when you stain the sheets with bodily fluids. This would be something like blood, urine, feces, throw up, etc.

Very small traces of these things can probably get by without being noticed and so you could avoid getting charged for them.

If there is something noticeable on the sheet then hotel housekeeping will probably just throw out the sheet, although some hotels have in-depth protocol for dealing with bodily fluids. Some hotels may charge you for this but others will not.

Now, if there is a situation where these bodily fluids are not only on a sheet or towel but also get into the mattress, pillows, or possibly even the carpet or couch, then you could be hit with replacement fees or cleaning fees.

In some situations a hotel may not be able to distinguish between mud and feces and so they may just assume the worst in which case you could be charged. The same could be said of ketchup and blood.

In these situations, you could leave a note by the stain to put the housekeeping person at ease but YMMV.

Stains that won’t come out

Now let’s talk about stains that won’t come out.

This could happen in certain sheets with common liquids like wine but there are some specific instances where stains are extra difficult to get out.

For example, often when people use a towel to clean things like dirty boots or the outside of a car, the towels get stained up pretty bad to the point where the hotel cannot practically get out the stain.

(Pro tip: If you ever need a towel for cleaning, just ask the hotel for a cleaning towel and they probably have one.)

Other things can cause bad stains on towels like spray tans, hair dye, and even removing some make up (some hotels offer special make up removal towels). And don’t even think about cleaning ashes or putting out cigarettes on towels because that is a sure way to ruin them.

Some hotels may consider an irremovable stain just the cost of doing business. They may even convert them to cleaning towels, maintenance towels, etc. So for these hotels, you don’t have to pay anything even when you ruin a sheet or towel.

But there are a lot of hotels out there who will absolutely charge you for these type of stains. It can be difficult to dispute the charges because sometimes they are explicitly mentioned in the contract you agree to when you pay for the room.

Substantial damage

Things change whenever the damage level is turned up a couple of notches.

For example, let’s say that you drench the bed with spilled wine. We’re talking stained pillows, sheets, and even wine seeping into the mattress. The vast majority of hotels are going to charge replacement fees or cleaning fees.

This would also be the case if you caused structural damage. For example, let’s say that there were substantial tears on the comforter and sheets from someone being reckless with a sharp object. You’d likely have to pay something.

You can also expect to be charged if it looks like you intentionally damaged your bedding or other linens. For example, if you poured paint all over your bed, that’s not going to look like an accident. In that situation, you could get kicked out the hotel or even banned.

And of course, you can expect to pay certain fines for things like your room smelling like smoke or weed.

Don’t throw your linens away!

If you ever stain up a sheet or towel don’t throw it away.

One thing that lots of hotels will do is charge you for missing linens.

You stand a much better chance of avoiding getting charged for the linen if you simply leave it in the room and let housekeeping and management decide how to handle the stain.

Some people wad up the sheets or towels so the stained linen is in the “core” of the wad. If you do that the housekeeping team may just throw that wad into their basket and by the time they dump it in the laundry room it could be difficult to trace it back to you.

This isn’t a full proof method but it can help decrease your chances of getting charged.

How much would a hotel charge for stained linens?

If you cause a stain that could not be removed in a sheet or towel, you could be paying around $25 to $75+ for a replacement. The nicer the hotel, the more expensive the linen could be.

The problem is that some hotels take this opportunity as a time to charge outlandish cleaning fees and bogus fees like this $250 fee for a crayon stained sheet. It becomes a cash grab.

Anything around the $200 to $300 range typically is a cleaning fee that is being tacked on so it is not necessarily correlated to the value of whatever was damaged.

Whenever you check in, you may be agreeing to a cleaning fee that could cover things like stained sheets or towels so it’s a good idea to review the terms of your contract whenever you book or check in.

But ultimately, the amount that you pay could come down to what management decides is appropriate.

This could be a subjective determination which means that if you have been a pleasant guest and are apologetic or were able to explain what happened, you could probably avoid getting charged in a lot of cases.

What to do if you are charged an amount you don’t agree with

If you stain up some linens and are charged by a hotel for an amount that you don’t agree with here are some steps to take.

Document with photographs

First, hopefully you were able to document the damage with photographs or video. Having evidence is always very handy.

Be aware that some hotels will also be taking photographs if they decide to charge you. Sometimes they will send you those photographs but other times you may be able to request them.

Leave a tip

If you leave a room in bad condition, consider leaving a tip for housekeeping. The standard tip is about one to two dollars per day at a standard hotel.

So if you tipped them something like $10 to $15 and perhaps left a note that might make it less likely for housekeeping to report a ruined linen or for management to come down hard on you.

At the same time, if they did end up charging you then you are now out more cash so it is a bit of a gamble.

Review the terms of the contract

Review the terms and conditions of your stay if you can locate the contract.

This can give you an idea of what type of basis the hotel has for charging you.

Request an itemized list of charges

If you’re getting charged something that you think is too high then request for the hotel to provide you with an itemized list of all of the charges.

You want to see exactly how much it costs to replace or clean whatever was damaged. Look out for hotels that charge you an amount suitable for a replacement when they actually are only doing extra cleaning!

Contact corporate

If the hotel is part of a corporate chain then that is where you want to go to launch your complaints.

These type of complaints can be be costly for properties so they often like to do what they can to put them out or avoid them.

If the charge is truly ridiculous then corporate should do something about it.

Go to social media

You can always go to social media and report the injustice. Try tagging travel bloggers to get more attention. Or if it’s a really bad situation, go to the local news and contact them.

Request a charge back

If the hotel charges your credit card on file and you don’t agree with it then you can file a charge back against the damages. Lots of people have success with this route because defending suspect damage charges is not easy to do for a hotel.

Refusing to pay

If you can’t get a charge back or settle the dispute with the hotel and you end up refusing to pay, it’s possible that the hotel could send a collections agency after you, even for what you would perceive to be small amounts. So just be aware that this can happen.

Final word

So to summarize, most hotels will not charge you for stains that can be removed. If the linens have to be thrown out, some hotels will charge you but many will not if it looks like the damage came from normal use. However, if you caused substantial damage or the damage looks intentional then you should expect to be charged.

Want a Hotel to Store Your Luggage? Read This First

It’s not always easy to time your arrival time or departure flights to your hotel check-in and checkout time.

As a result, during your travels you may find that you need to store your bags for a few hours in order to have the freedom to sightsee, get something to eat, rest, etc.

One of the easiest solutions to this problem is to get a hotel to store your luggage.

But will hotels always be willing to do this and what do you need to know about things like security and liability?

Below, we’ve broken down everything you need to know before storing your luggage with a hotel!

Will a hotel store your luggage?

Lots of hotels will store your luggage while you wait for your room to be ready or for a few hours after you check out. Some may even allow you to store your bags for several days although you may have to pay a fee.

When storing your luggage at a hotel be sure to ask where your luggage will be stored and if the hotel has any process for identifying your luggage so that others may not be able to retrieve it.

And finally, it helps if you are aware of the liability rules in place for when a hotel is storing your luggage.

Keep reading below for more details!

Luggage in hotel lobby

Common reasons to ask for a hotel to store your luggage

Room not available when you check-in

A common back up plan when going for early check-in is to simply leave your luggage with the hotel until your room is ready.

This is a common practice and it would be pretty rare for a hotel to deny your request to hold onto your luggage until your room is ready.

In fact, at many resorts you can still get your wristband and get access to all the amenities once you check in your bags so this is often a great option at all-inclusive resorts or resorts with pool areas.

For those, consider having a small bag or removing your swimsuit from your luggage before you store it.

Late check out not available

In the event you were not able to get late check out, you may request for the hotel to store your luggage until you are ready to depart. Generally, this would mean the hotel holding onto your luggage for about 3 to 6 hours.

This can allow you to get in some sightseeing on your last day of travels before you fly out so it’s a pretty common request.

This may not be honored as often as storage before check-in but every time I have asked a hotel to hold on to my bags after check out, they have been willing to do so free of charge. Still, this is a good time to leave a nice little tip for the bellhop!

bellhop using cart

Extended absence

Some properties will agree to hold onto your luggage for extended periods of time such as several days or even weeks or months!

Generally, these services are provided to frequent guests of the hotel (regulars). These are people who have a proven track record with the property and are consistent revenue generators.

On occasion, a hotel may allow a guest to store a bag with them for several days but chances are you will have to pay some type of fee.

Also, if you’re not a regular and you don’t show up at the end of your storage period then it’s possible that your bags could end up in the hotel’s lost and found.

If you are not a hotel guest, you might still be able to store your bags with a hotel but chances are that’s going to be much less common to find.

That’s because hotels might view you as more of a security risk than someone who has booked a room and provided a credit card, ID, etc. The hotel also might not want to risk running out of space for their guests by catering to “strangers.”

Where do hotels store luggage for guests?

Before you hand over your luggage to a hotel, you may want to inquire about where (or how) it will be stored.

Below are different ways that a hotel may store your luggage and these can give you an idea of the type of security your bag may have.

Ideally, a hotel will have a system where they issue you a ticket for your luggage whenever they take it but that is not always the case. If you are not issued a ticket, you may want to confirm how the hotel will keep other guests from retrieving your luggage.


Some hotels that take storage really seriously have designated lockers or safes that can fit some bags and smaller luggage.

I wouldn’t expect your checked bags to be kept in a locker for the simple reason that that would require some pretty huge lockers. However, if you had something like a backpack or small carry-on, that might be capable of being stored in a locker.

Other times, you may just be able to request that specific items get placed in a safe or locker such as your laptop. That way, only your less valuable luggage contents are not safely locked away.

Designated rooms

Sometimes the hotel will set up designated rooms for storing luggage.

These rooms may only be accessible to hotel employees but other times they will allow guests into the room to store and retrieve their luggage.

Hopefully, there will be a staff member checking tags to make sure that people only retrieve an item belonging to them but this is not always the case.

Manager’s office

It’s not uncommon for your item to end up in the manager’s office at a lot of hotels. This is an office that typically can be locked so if the manager is out of office your bags can still remain pretty secure.

Behind the front desk

If there are no other storage options a hotel may just place your bags somewhere behind the front desk or near the desk but in the lobby.

This can leave your bags exposed to the public but often times there will be a front desk agent or bellhops nearby to keep an eye on the luggage.

The hotel liable for your luggage?

Another important question you want to know before handing over your bags is will the hotel be liable if something happens to your bag?

For example, if you had an iPad go missing from your luggage bag, would the hotel be liable?

Lots of states have limitations of liability for hotels when it comes to the personal property of a guest.

For example, the hotel may only be responsible for up to $500 worth of valuables, although the limit is often dictated by whether or not negligence occurred, if a safe was used, notice given, etc.

These rules are often designed for items damaged or stolen while held in the guest’s hotel room so there could be more specific rules for when luggage is being stored.

Typically whenever a hotel takes your luggage to be stored this invokes the legal doctrine of bailment. This means that the hotel must care for your bag like they would care for their own property. In other words, they need to use reasonable care.

For example, if you give them your bag to store and they place it outside by the doorstep and it gets soaked during a rainstorm, that’s probably a clear breach of the standard of care.

It’s good to know about the limits of liability and the standard of care that the hotel must abide by but ultimately just remember that hotels don’t want to establish a reputation of losing luggage for guests.

So they have a pretty strong incentive to take a good care of your bags.

You can make life easier for the hotel and yourself by removing valuable items such as cash, jewelry, etc.

It also wouldn’t hurt to take photos of the contents of your luggage and to have a valuation of how much those contents are worth. That’s because some hotels might actually request for you to declare the worth of the luggage whenever you hand it over (for liability reasons).


If you are struggling to find a hotel that will store your luggage you can also look into finding other options. You can use some websites like this one to help you find storage locations at local facilities.

Lots of airports also have storage options for your bags although in my experience these can be very expensive. For example, for just a couple of bags you could be paying $30+.

Final word

As you can see, many hotels will be willing to store your luggage as you wait for your room to get ready or as you wait for the right time to head to the airport after check out.

It’s always a good idea to inquire about the location that your bag will be stored in so that you have an idea of the security of your luggage contents.

Also, it helps to be aware of the potential liability of the hotel in the event something happens.

Do You Have to Return Hotel Room Key Cards?

At a lot of hotels, you can’t get very far without your room key card.

You’ll want to always keep them by your side throughout your stay so that you can get in and out of your room, up the elevators, into the gym, etc.

But what should happen to these key cards at the end of your stay?

Can you get penalized for not returning them, or even worse, is there a real security risk with turning in these cards?

Below, we will take a look at how to best go about disposing of your hotel room key cards.

Do you have to return hotel room key cards?

At most hotels it’s not a major problem to not return your room key to the hotel.

However, lots of hotels reuse or recycle room key cards so it’s always a good practice to leave the key card in your hotel room or to return it to the front desk at the end of your stay.

Keep reading below for more about the potential security threats and some insight into different ways to discard your key card!

Front desk key card exchange

How much do the key cards cost at the hotel?

To better understand why discarding your hotel key card may not be a big deal it helps to start off with understanding the cost of these cards.

Your average hotel room key card that uses a magstripe key card (a card that you swipe) is not going to cost the hotel very much at all.

For example, many of these hotel room keys only cost a hotel about five to ten cents, depending on the size of the order.

Some hotels use radio-frequency identification (RFID) cards (the contactless cards) which can be a bit more expensive, although still relatively cheap. At the low end these will cost around $.30 per card but the higher quality versions may run closer to $1.

Some hotels even get key cards for free.

If you’ve ever seen advertisements (like Pizza Hut) on the hotel key card, there’s a very high chance that the advertiser paid for the key card and the hotel got it for free.

The low cost of these key cards means that many hotels don’t care if guests don’t return them because it’s not a major expense.

Plus, lots of guests do return the key cards so it typically does not become an issue for a hotel unless they have had some type of unexpected shortage.

Different ways hotel guests discard hotel room keys

Hotel guests have several different ways that they go about disposing or discarding hotel room keys.

Returning the key card to the front desk

The most “traditional” way to dispose of your key card is to return it to the front desk.

Often there is a dropbox or slot that you can drop the key card in so that you don’t have to wait.

Unless you need to talk to an agent about something regarding your check out, that’s often the way to go.

This is especially true if the lobby is busy because you’re basically just getting in the way of a front desk agent if you cause them to stop what they are doing to take your card.

Simply dropping off your card and waving goodbye is good enough in these scenarios.

Related: Do You Have to Check Out of Your Hotel?

Leaving the card in the room [the best method]

In the majority of my hotel visits, I just leave the key card inside my hotel room on the dresser or on some other type of furniture in plain sight.

I like this method the best because it:

  • 1) reduces the odds of me leaving the key card in my wallet
  • 2) reduces any need to interact with the front desk when I’m leaving (streamlines my exit)
  • 3) allows the hotel to easily retrieve their key cards
  • 4) avoids waste

If I’m leaving a tip for housekeeping, I usually put the key cards right by the tip so that it’s easy to spot.

Throwing away the card

Some people just throw the key card in the trash when they are ready to check out.

I think this is wasteful because lots of hotels reuse the same key cards. It’s much better to at least give the hotel the opportunity to reuse the key card rather than throwing away more plastic.

The only time I would throw away a key card is if it became clearly damaged or got really dirty.

Related: Hotel Room Key Lost or Not Working? Here’s What to Do

Keeping the hotel room key cards

People have different reasons for why they keep their hotel cards on them when they leave.

Lots of travelers, including myself, often just forget that they have the hotel key card in their wallet or elsewhere. You may not discover that you have the hotel key card until days, weeks, or let’s be honest even months later.

Some good Samaritan travelers have mailed the key cards back to the hotel upon discovery but that’s unnecessary in the vast majority of cases and probably not even worth the postage.

Other times, the hotel may issue a beautifully designed key card that you want to keep with you because it just looks cool. Taking these pieces of artwork with you can help you reflect on your prior travels and inspire you to take on future travels.

Sometimes you might be on the monumental trip like a honeymoon or anticipated anniversary trip and so you might think about keeping the hotel room key card as a souvenir or momento.

Hotels know that many guests will keep the cards as a souvenir and some hotels might even think of their key cards as a sort of marketing strategy like allowing guests to take the branded stationary found in the room.

Based on my own personal experience with keeping hotel key cards as souvenirs, I will say that I usually just end up throwing them away within a year or so.

So unless you have some type of specific need or goal for the key card like making a shadowbox, scrapbook, or setting a world record, think twice about if you really need your key card as a keepsake.

Chances are it’s just going to be another piece of dresser-drawer clutter that you end up throwing away at some point.

Hotels that charge for losing or not returning key cards

There are some reports of hotels charging for guests who don’t return their key cards. This, in my experience, would be a very rare thing to encounter, especially in the US.

I’ve done a lot of traveling over the past decade and not returned many hotel room keys but have never been charged for one.

Obviously, you want to be mindful of whether or not a hotel will charge you for not returning the key card but this will definitely not be the norm so usually you don’t have to worry about it.

And remember, we were just talking about key cards here. If you are issued a physical (metal) key you definitely want to return that!

Security concerns: personal information on hotel key cards?

A lot of hotel guests want to throw away their hotel key card or cut it up because they are worried that their personal information is stored on the card.

While some people mock travelers for being paranoid or out of touch with technology when they have these concerns, I think they are completely valid given how pervasive data collection is these days.

But the good news is you mostly don’t have anything to worry about.

For the vast majority of hotels the only information found on the key card is the room number, authorization type, and possibly a date and time for expiration (aka check out).

The room number and date/time are self-explanatory but the authorization type will tell the lock how to treat other key cards.

For example, if a new key card is made and swiped in the lock, the code on the new key card could tell the lock to not accept other key cards.

It’s possible that some key cards could have a guest tracker number that keeps track of the movement of guests.

This could be used to prove if someone was actually inside of a room or other facility in the event something happened.

For example, someone enters the gym at night and steals a piece of equipment. The hotel could be able to trace who accessed the gym based on the key card used.

It could also be used for things like hotel shopping, managing pool access, etc.

But the guest tracker number is just an encoded number and does not include your name or credit card number, for example.

So all of this means that there is none of your personal information stored on the card such as your phone number, loyalty number, address, name, or credit card account information.

Therefore, you shouldn’t have to worry about throwing the key card away for security reasons.

However, it is worth noting that in some regions of the world personal information could be stored on key cards. So when traveling outside the US always be mindful of that.

Time to switch to mobile keys?

If you don’t want to bother with a physical key or don’t like the pressure that comes along with keeping track of the key then keep in mind some hotels offer mobile keys.

These allow you to check into the hotel via your mobile device and you can even unlock your door using the hotel’s app and NFC technology.

Mobile keys are still a relatively new technology for some hotels so they don’t always work as well as you would like.

And people like myself find using mobile keys a little bit annoying because you have to pull up the app and rely on connectivity to get inside your room rather than just slipping a key card out of your pocket.

But this is definitely something to consider for people who are not a fan of hotel key cards for whatever reason.

Final word

Hopefully, you can breathe a little easier knowing that in the vast majority of cases, there is not an issue with failing to return your room key to the front desk.

However, I would still say it’s good practice to try to make it easy for the hotel to retrieve their hotel room key cards because some of them do re-use them and there shouldn’t be any security concerns.

Hotel Room Key Lost or Not Working? Here’s What to Do

Most travelers have had at least one instance where they are issued a hotel room key and it doesn’t work or they simply lose the key card and they need a replacement.

But what is the best method to take when this happens and how can you ensure that you can get back into your room quickly?

In this article, we will break down what to do when you lose your hotel room key or it simply doesn’t work.

How to get your hotel room key replaced and get access to your room

Properly identify yourself to the front desk

The first step to getting your hotel room key card replaced is to verify your identity with the front desk.

No hotel should give a guest a key card unless they verify their identity because that’s a major security concern.

Anybody could impersonate someone and tell the front desk that they are in room “123” and then get room access if identity verification was not being enforced.

It’s not hard to imagine how that could end up in a disaster….

Typically, you would prove your identity by showing a government-issued ID such as a driver’s license or passport.

If an agent at the front desk has seen you before then there is a chance that they will recognize you and will not request for you to provide an ID.

In the event you don’t have one of those you may be able to show credit cards with your name on it or perhaps a photo of your ID if you have it on your phone.

You might be able to negotiate with the front desk and ask them to accompany you to your room if your ID is in the room.

You can then show them your ID as soon as you get access to the room. But if the hotel is busy and short staffed they may not be able to do this for you right away, so try to be patient.

Be aware that some hotels have policies that require them to treat you as someone trespassing if you repeatedly refuse to provide an ID!

Hotel Room Key door

Asking help from housekeeping

Sometimes you might realize that you don’t have your key card when you are just outside your door and you may see housekeeping down the hallway, just a couple of rooms down.

In the past, I have asked housekeeping to let me into my room because I don’t have a room key and they have let me in on a few occasions.

It’s possible that they could have seen me walking through the halls earlier that day or on another day and so they knew I was not trying to sneak into a room.

Or, they could have just assumed that I did not look like a criminal and they felt sure I was just a regular hotel guest.

But generally, that’s a security risk if housekeeping allows someone access to a room without them proving their identity. Don’t be surprised if they don’t do it.

Related: Should You Tip Hotel Housekeeping?

Why doesn’t my hotel room key card work?

If your hotel room key card does not work, there are several scenarios to consider.

It does work

Some hotel doors are not very intuitive the first time you use them.

They have an awkward handling or mechanism that just does not feel right.

It can be difficult to know how to unlock these doorhandles when you first encounter them and as a result you may think that the key card is not working when it actually is.

So try to be patient.

Try swiping your key card faster or slower because sometimes you need to swipe it just the right speed for it to work.

Also try moving the handle every direction that it can go and give the lock enough time to unlock before you try moving the door handle.

Most of all, don’t storm down in an angry rant to the front desk because if the problem is just that you could not figure out how to use the door, you’ll be left in a pretty embarrassing situation.


One of the most common reasons why your room key does not work is because it got demagnetized.

Many hotel key cards use mag stripes which contain microscopic iron particles that get magnetized in a specific pattern so that they can be recognized by readers.

But if you expose the magstripe to a magnet that pattern can be affected so that the reader is not able to recognize it.

This often happens when you keep the room key close to something magnetic like a TV in your hotel room. There is debate about whether or not phones can demagnetize a hotel key card but given the recent prominence of magnets they probably can.

Even if the magnet is weak, if the magstripe is exposed for an extended amount of time that can cause it to be demagnetized.

Got worn down

The magnetic strips on hotel key cards are not typically as durable as the magnetic strips on credit cards because they have less “coercivity,” maybe only about 300 Oersteds (Oe) compared to a credit card strip that would have 2,750 Oe.

In other words, magstrips on hotel key cards are more susceptible to erasure or damage.

For this reason, they can get worn out and fail to work more often. Sometimes, they could get worn out during your stay and the only thing you can do is replace them.

Coding or hardware problem

It’s possible that whenever the agent at the front desk is creating your key card that something goes wrong.

For example, the encoder could be in need of a cleaning or the key card contains the wrong code so it will not work on your door. There also could be an issue with the reader on the door or perhaps the lock is on low battery.

Using the wrong hotel card

If you’re doing a lot of traveling it’s possible that you may have multiple hotel key cards stashed in your wallet and you could be swiping a card from another hotel. (Not that that’s ever happened to me before….)

Late check out

If you are ever given late check out then a lot of times the room key will stop working at the standard check out time.

This is why I always make sure to stop by the front desk on my way out if I know I’m going to get late check out. It saves me a trip later on because they are able to extend the validity of the key card until my late check out time.

Separate reservations

Related to the above point, if you had separate reservations that you linked together then there is a good chance that the room key will stop working after check out and that you will have to go and get a second key issued or your key card recoded.

Botched reservations

Sometimes a hotel may have screwed up your reservation dates or not programmed the dates properly and that could be why your key card is not working. Or, maybe even you have the dates wrong!

Will the old room key work after you get a new one?

Hotels use different types of systems to manage their key cards, so the approach to dealing with lost key cards is going to vary.

But a common approach is for the locks on the doors to no longer recognize older keys after the newer keys are used.

There are some layers of complexity to this that I might get into in a later article but what it basically means is that when you are issued a new key, the old key that was lost could still be used to open your door until you use the new key to unlock the door.

This is why it is a good idea to immediately use a new key when it is issued to you.

Something else you can do to improve your security is to not walk around with the sleeve that holds your room key.

That’s because the sleeve usually has the room number on it and if you lost it, somebody with bad intentions would know exactly where to try your room key.

Final word

Having a key card that does not work or losing your key card is a pretty frustrating experience.

But you can easily get back into your room by verifying your identity which is why it is always good to carry around an ID with you when making your way around the hotel.

When you don’t have your ID you may be able to work something out but just be patient because hotels have to make sure they are not creating a security risk by allowing unidentified guests to access and occupy rooms.

How Does a Hotel’s Lost and Found Work? [Tips for Getting Your Item]

If you do enough traveling, eventually you probably are going to leave something behind at a hotel.

But what exactly happens to your item whenever you leave it behind at a hotel and what are the odds of you getting it back?

In this article, we will take a deep dive into how lost and found processes work at hotels and give you some insight into the process along with tips to help you get your item back.

What happens when you leave an item in your hotel room?

The usual process for a hotel is for housekeeping to come in to clean the room after you check out, so housekeeping personnel are typically the first people who will discover your lost item.

Every hotel may have a slightly different process for what happens next but generally housekeeping (acting in good faith) will bag or collect the item and then eventually bring the item to the front desk, the housekeeping manager, or some other designated individual.

(Some properties may require housekeeping to notify security who will then retrieve the lost item.)

The item should then be logged in a book or software application and then perhaps tagged and placed in an office bin, safe, or storage closet.

The name or phone number of the guest and the room number along with the reservation dates may be included in the log and hopefully on the tag for easy recognition. Other details like where the object was found and who found it may also be included.

After logging the item, the hotel could choose to reach out to the guest but some hotels have a strict policy that does not allow them to do that.

The reason is that some people stay in hotels on a “confidential” basis.

They could be up to something shady (cheating on a spouse) or could be in need of secrecy for some type of safety reason which is why hotels don’t like to get involved with communicating with guests after they leave.

So for the most part the hotel will wait for you to call and inquire about the lost item.

At that point, they may ask you some questions to verify that you are the owner but if they have the details of your room and stay dates, it should be really easy to verify you are the owner.

Related: 19 Tips for Enjoying Your Hotel Stay & Avoiding Problems

Things you need to know about hotel lost and found

The initial waiting time

If you contact the hotel directly after checking out of your room, that might actually be too early for you to recover your item.

Don’t get me wrong, if you can’t quickly make it back to the hotel, I would recommend calling as soon as you realize you lost the item but your lost object may not be added to the lost and found until after the room is cleaned.

Until that happens, the only way you might be able to get your item is if an employee is willing to go to the room and search for it.

This is when customer service comes into play.

Some hotels may not be that helpful but you’d be surprised how some hotels go above and beyond to help you retrieve your lost item.

Speak to the right person

When you contact the hotel about a lost item you want to make sure that you are talking to the right person at the right time.

Some hotels may designate a single individual as the person who oversees lost and found. For example, this could be a housekeeping manager or even a member of security.

If you call and that individual is not available, the person over the phone may not be able to help you much. In those cases, you may need to call back a few hours later and try again.

Some hotels are not very organized

Some properties may not keep good records which means that they won’t have an accurate log of lost and found items.

So when you call in there could be no record of the lost item!

Even if the hotel has a record of your item, they will still have to locate it.

This could come down to an employee having to go search through a storage closet that could potentially contain hundreds of items.

Unless that employee is particularly motivated to search thoroughly for your item, they could end up giving up rather quickly with only a superficial search.

So if the hotel is not organized and employees are not sufficiently motivated to search, it could be difficult to get your item back even if the hotel is in possession of it.

Related: Is It Safe to Use a Hotel Safe?

Hotels that use apps

More and more hotels are now using software applications like ileftmystuff, Chargerback, or Quore to help manage their lost and found.

These make it easy for guests to submit a lost item and for the hotel to manage and track these down.

Some of them even allow the shipping process to be set up making it ultra convenient to get reunited with your lost item.

If a hotel has invested in lost and found software like this, chances are they will take your lost and found claim seriously.

Your item may be thrown away

Some hotels may send certain items directly to the trash or only hold onto them for very little time before they dispose of them.

These would be items that present health risks like pillows, blankets, and clothing. Hotels don’t want to risk bringing in bedbugs or potentially spreading viruses that could have been living in these.

Other times, if an article is particularly dirty or gross (certain adult toys) a hotel will not hesitate to throw it away. Drugs including weed presumably are thrown away and alcohol is poured out (or split among hotel staff).

It’s also possible that if you brought a pillow it could have been mistaken for one that the hotel owns and they could have put it in the laundry cycle.

The holding time

Just how long a hotel will store your item will depend on a lot of factors.

First, some hotels just have very short holding policies of only a couple of weeks to 30 days. They do this so that they don’t have to spend a lot of time keeping up with lost items from many months ago.

These properties won’t always tell you that they have short holding times.

The worst offenders may even act like they are searching for your item when they know they have already disposed of it!

The typical length of time that a hotel will hold onto your item is three to six months. Generally, the more valuable the item the longer the hotel will store it.

For example, something random like a pair of sunglasses may be held for three months while a phone may be held onto for six months. On occasion, a hotel might even hold onto something even longer especially if they think it is very valuable such as an engagement ring.

Hotels do love to keep around chargers though because they can loan these out to guests (who don’t always return them).

Sometimes there are state laws that require a hotel to hold onto items for a certain amount of time so you can always look into those if you think a hotel is not complying.

Related: What Can You Take From A Hotel Room?

Unclaimed items

If your item is never claimed then hotels have a couple of different ways they will handle it.

Sometimes they will give it to the person who discovered the object or to any employee interested in taking it home. But other times they could simply donate the item to a local charity or place it in some type of auction.

If the item contains confidential information such as a phone then they may have a policy for disposing that type of item to prevent any kind of liability with leaked data.

And for anything nobody wants, they will just throw it away….

Getting the hotel to ship you the lost item

If your home is far away from the hotel then your best bet will probably be to have the item shipped to you.

For the most part, expect to have to pay for the shipping of the item. You can do that by sending a prepaid label (sometimes via email) or by just allowing the hotel to charge the card that they had on file. Also, as mentioned some of those software applications allow you to pay for the shipping.

Every now and again, you may encounter a hotel that will ship the item to you for free, especially if the shipping cost is pretty low. Consider yourself #blessed if that happens.

What if your lost item is located in a room that is now occupied?

If your object is not found in the lost and found, there’s a chance that it could still be in the room that you stayed in even after new guests have moved in.

This actually happened to us one time when Brad could not find his passport.

It was underneath a room service binder in the hotel room and because housekeeping does not move those binders, they did not discover it underneath there when they cleaned our room.

After searching extensively, we had a strong suspicion that it was still in that room so we asked the hotel to check but the current occupants were not in their room to consent.

That would not have been a problem except we had an international flight to catch in the morning and this was already in the evening time. So we only had hours to spare.

It took some convincing but we were finally able to get someone from the hotel to enter the room and search for the passport. Within seconds they found it.

So if you believe that your lost item is in a hotel room occupied by someone else, you might be able to convince the hotel to give it a search but this may only happen in pretty dire circumstances (like the one we were in).

Final word

When you have a lost item at a hotel the process is not always so straightforward. You want to make sure that you are talking to the right person and that you don’t wait too long to contact the hotel. Finally, be prepared to pay for shipping to get your item back.

Can You Get Extra Blankets and Pillows at a Hotel? (Tips on Asking)

When staying at a hotel, comfort is a top priority.

Unfortunately, hotels don’t always offer the most comfortable blankets or pillows to help you get a good night’s sleep.

Sometimes you may find yourself needing to request an additional pillow or blanket and you might be wondering if the hotel will actually honor that request?

Below, we will take a look at how hotels handle these requests and how you might be able to increase the odds of getting a hotel to agree to provide you with more blankets and pillows.

Can you ask for extra blankets and pillows at a hotel?

Lots of nicer hotels will happily provide a guest with an extra blanket or pillow upon request.

However some properties, especially cheaper hotels or motels, may refuse your request on the basis of limited inventory or suspicion that you are bringing more people into the room than allowed.

Therefore, it helps if you have can you communicate some type of personal reason for needing the additional blanket or pillow to the staff when making a request.

Keeping below for some tips on how to get this done!

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Your pillow and blanket options

If you need an extra pillow from a hotel, here are the options you may have.

The extra pillow and blanket in the closet

Lots of hotels provide an extra blanket and possibly a pillow that can be found in the closet. Often this is up on the shelf so you have to look up in the closet and you’ll probably find it.

Sometimes these blankets are not very comfortable and you always wonder how long it’s been since the last time they were washed.

So you may not always be comfortable utilizing these but the hotel may first refer you to the extra blanket and pillow in your closet if you call in and make a request.

Extra hotel blanket and pillow in closet
Extra blankets and pillows found in a hotel room closet.

Basic pillow and blanket selection

The hotel may simply give you the same type of blanket or pillow that came with your room.

Full selection of pillows

If you’re staying at a full service hotel they may not only offer you an extra pillow, but they may have a full selection of different pillow types!

You could choose between a soft or firm pillow, down pillow, memory foam, or even request a special body pillow. This may even be a complimentary service.

As you would expect, you will likely only have a “pillow menu” at nicer hotels and resorts.

Why a hotel may refuse your request

If you’re staying at a cheaper hotel or motel, that property may refuse your request for extra blankets and pillows. This can happen for a variety of reasons.

Limited inventory

First, it’s possible that because the property is so small that it has a limited inventory and they could be running low on blankets and pillows.

Perhaps they have not been running things smoothly or maybe they recently had guests steal some of the pillows or blankets so they are running extra low.

Either way, they would rather deny your request of an additional pillow than not have a pillow for a new guest.

Bad customer service

Sometimes hotels, especially limited service hotels, are just severely lacking in customer service.

It’s possible that the person working the front desk at night may not want to leave the desk since they are the only staff member on site.

So when you make your request, they may give you some type of excuse like the hotel is out of pillows or unable to accommodate your request solely because that worker does not want to leave their post.

They suspect you are up to something

Hotels always want to know exactly how many people are staying in each room.

For some hotels, it’s about generating extra revenue as they increase the price with more guests.

For other hotels, it’s more about abiding by the fire code so that other guests are not put at risk and the hotel is not in danger of getting in trouble for having too many guests in a room.

Either way, if you request additional blankets and pillows this is a sign that you could have brought additional guests into your room.

For example, let’s say that you booked a room with two queen beds for two people.

Those two queen beds should be able to accommodate four guests pretty easily in most cases. Now let’s say that you get on the phone and request an additional blanket and pillow.

At this point, it’s as if you have at least five guests in your room.

If the hotel already provided an extra blanket and pillow in the closet, then it’s like you are requesting bedding for six or more guests!

That could definitely raise a red flag for the hotel.

They may deny the request or they could possibly investigate the situation and ask you to pay more for the additional guests.

Related: Hotel Rollaway Bed Guide: (The Costs & Free Locations)

How to successfully get extra pillows and blankets

If you want to increase the odds of a hotel honoring your request for additional pillows or blankets there are certain ways you can go about asking for these.

Make a request ahead of time

If having an extra blanket or pillow is really important, you can contact the hotel ahead of time and make your request (phone or email).

If they have multiple options they may even be able to provide you with a selection to choose from.

Offer to pay extra

It’s possible that a hotel may want to charge you extra for an extra blanket or pillow. If you really need an extra blanket you can make it clear to the hotel that you are okay with paying for it if you have to.

Give a specific reason (possibly related to a medical need)

If you want an extra pillow, try to give the hotel a specific reason for your request that would make them look very bad in the event they chose to deny the request.

For example, a lot of times hotel pillows can be very thin or just not supportive for your neck. If you have an extra pillow, you can stuff it in the pillowcase of another pillow and create a much more supportive pillow.

If you have neck issues and require more support you could let the hotel know that and tell them that if you had an additional pillow it would help you properly support your neck.

Or maybe you need to place a pillow under your knees when you sleep as recommended by your doctor.

There are lots of medical related reasons why you could require an additional pillow — don’t be afraid to bring those up!

If you struggle with maintaining a warm body temperature then you could always request an additional blanket on the basis that you run very cold. This could especially be the case if the hotel does not have good temperature control in the room.

And even if the hotel room does have good temperature control, sometimes turning up the heat means getting dried out and that can be problematic for certain people who are sensitive to dry conditions.

Be aware of the “code word”

Apparently requesting an “extra pillow” with a concierge at a hotel is codeword for requesting a prostitute.

This sounds like an urban legend type of myth but there are online reports of people taking this seriously.

I’ve never personally encountered this “on-demand service” at a hotel stay but I guess if you were staying at a property known for that type of thing, you might want to think twice about how you word your pillow request.

Bring your own bedding

One of the best ways to make your hotel room more comfortable is to bring your own bedding.

There’s nothing like having your comfy blanket from home to help you feel relaxed in your hotel bed.

Plus, you don’t have to worry about the fact that your mattress probably has not been washed in a while.

I always make a point to bring my own blanket when traveling on road trips.

But when traveling via air, it’s harder to bring your pillows and blankets because of the limited amount of luggage space you have.

If being comfortable in your hotel is a high priority then it could be worth it for you to simply allocate one suitcase to holding your pillows and blankets.

It may seem a bit ridiculous and it could add to your baggage fees but ask yourself if $60 (in round trip baggage fees) is worth the additional comfort you will be able to have for several nights?

I think a lot of people would actually answer yes to this question.

If you don’t want to deal with the extra luggage or baggage fees, another option you could do is to purchase a blanket from a store like Walmart.

For $30 or under you can get a pretty comfortable blanket which could be half the cost you would pay in baggage fees.

At the end of the trip you could take the blanket with you if you have room, donate it, or even return it (although some people question the ethics of returning a used blanket).

Final word

Lots of hotels will provide you with an extra pillow or blanket in your hotel room closet so you may not have to make the request for additional bedding in the first place.

However, if you do have to make the request it’s possible that some limited service hotels will refuse to provide you with extra pillows or blankets based on a variety of reasons.

To increase the success of a hotel honoring your request, consider trying to make your request as personal as possible, and if you can, relate it to some kind of medical need.

Otherwise, just try to stay in nicer hotels and they should be more accommodating.

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