If you’re like me and a lot of other travelers, you probably consider yourself to be pretty up to speed on basic hotel etiquette.
But even for experienced travelers, sometimes you realize that some of your routines and practices may not exhibit as much etiquette as you think.
Below are a lot of tips that I’ve gained from years of traveling and speaking with front desk agents.
It wouldn’t be a bad idea to refresh yourself with this list every now and again just to make sure that your hotel etiquette is on point.
Tips for improving your hotel etiquette
Give accurate info on how many people are staying in your room
Whenever you make a reservation, you will be asked how many adults and children will be staying in your room. It’s really important that you answer this accurately because it can dictate a few things.
For one, it can be a safety issue.
In the event emergency services need to be called, it helps them to know how many people to expect in the room.
It can also become a factor with elite benefits and it can even work in your favor to prevent you from getting walked!
Don’t assume you’ll get early check in
Getting early check-in is amazing as it makes your life much easier.
However, it’s pretty much always going to be subject to availability because rooms have to be cleaned after guests check out and that can’t always be done if you are arriving early.
So don’t be afraid to request early check in but don’t always assume that it will (or can) be granted.
Break out of the routine
When you show up at the front desk, try to greet the person working the front desk with a smile and show genuine interest in your interaction with them.
One thing that can drive people working the front desk crazy is being treated like they are subhuman bots.
If a front desk person ever attempts to strike any type of conversation with me I make an extra effort to go along with it just because I know it’s probably a nice departure from the typical bland interaction they often have.
It also doesn’t hurt that being friendly has sometimes gotten me an upgrade or two.
Delegate use the luggage carts (or don’t)
Using the hotel luggage carts can make it very easy for you to transport lots of bags to and from your room.
At some hotels, especially those on the higher end, it’s expected for the bellhops to handle the luggage carts (and for you to tip them).
This would be the standard etiquette although I personally don’t follow this because of the incident I had at a luxury hotel where the bellhop knocked my bag off the cart and broke my camera lens!
Perhaps, I’m just still bitter but I don’t think I should be forced to delegate that responsibility to anyone. But that’s just me.
Check out of the hotel
You should check out of the hotel when you leave because it helps the hotel manage its inventory better. This is especially the case if the hotel is running at high occupancy.
If you can remember, return your key card and sleeve to the front desk or at least leave it in plain sight on the bed or on a piece of furniture in your room. In case you didn’t know, some hotels reuse both the sleeves and the key cards.
Get to the point on phone calls
If you need to call the front desk, take a little bit of time to formulate your question and know exactly what it is you are trying to ask.
You don’t want to take up more time than is necessary, especially if the hotel is busy.
So just remember to be conscious of the person’s time on the other side of the phone. If they give off the vibe that they want to enter into a lively conversation then cool — but otherwise keep it short.
Always be aware how you could be affecting your temporary neighbors when staying at a hotel.
Sometimes you might not realize how loudly you are blaring your embarrassing TV selection but it could be causing a disturbance to someone in the next room.
Of course, blaring your fancy Bluetooth speakers in a hotel room can also be a problem.
After 9 PM or 10 PM, quiet hours usually kick in. From this point until about 7 AM, it’s expected for noise levels to be minimized.
If you continue to be noisy you’ll usually be given one warning. After that, a second or third strike could get you kicked out of your room.
On the flipside, if someone is being noisy, just let the front desk know because they have experience with dealing with these issues.
If you approach the hotel guest, there’s a chance it could lead to a confrontation that would best be avoided.
Basic elevator etiquette applies at hotels such as waiting for those already inside of the elevator to exit before entering.
But in a hotel you also want to try to avoid over stuffing elevators especially if people have luggage they are bringing.
On the other side of this, you might want to be extra inclusive of people getting on the elevator with you if you are in a property with a single elevator as the waiting time can quickly become pretty long.
Make life easy for housekeeping
After the pandemic, a lot of people don’t actually deal with housekeeping as often.
But if housekeeping is going to come in during your stay, you should try to make their life a little bit easier.
Consider doing the following:
- Throw dirty towels in a pile in the corner of the bathroom
- Hang towels up (if you plan on reusing them)
- Throw away anything gross and wipe up spills
- Round up all of your trash into a bin or plastic bags
- Round up your belongings so you don’t have a lot of stray items sprawled out everywhere
You’ll score extra points if you can pile up your towels to one big wad as that will make it even easier for housekeeping to scoop everything up into a bin.
And if your hotel has a kitchen, consider putting your dishes in the dishwasher and starting a cycle when you depart.
Put the furniture back where you got it
Did you need to rearrange any of the furniture so that you could plug in your electronics, enjoy your UberEats, etc?
If so, be sure to push everything back to where you originally found it and plug things like lamps and electronics back in to where they were originally plugged in.
Know which items to take and not to take
A lot of the items in your hotel room can be taken free of charge.
(In reality, you actually already did pay for these things because their cost is included in your room rate but that is a discussion for another time.)
But still, make sure that you are not taking things that are not supposed to be taken. Leave the hangers, ice buckets, etc. Take the tea, shampoo, etc.
Be patient with the hotel’s shortcomings
No hotel operation is ever going to run smoothly 100% of the time.
Situations can come up like getting walked and you never know what kind of unexpected maintenance issue could arise.
Do your best to be as patient as possible.
Don’t seek compensation for everything
I’ve written on how you can seek compensation when things go wrong during a hotel stay and I’m a firm believer in you requesting what you think you are entitled to.
But a lot of times the infraction is not worth the time or energy you have to invest in order to obtain that compensation.
So try not to go overboard when seeking compensation. Not every little hiccup is worth raising a fuss about.
Don’t tip one dollar
You may not always know exactly how much to tip but one thing you should always try to avoid is tipping just one dollar.
Tipping one dollar for a bartender or barista is one thing and usually is acceptable.
But tipping certain people like valet or concierge only one dollar can sometimes rub them the wrong way.
Tip housekeeping if you leave your room a mess
A lot of people including myself believe that you should always leave some type of tip for housekeeping.
But even if you don’t usually do that, you should definitely do this if you ever leave your room in bad condition.
What would be considered a bad condition?
Well, a lot of scenarios that shall not be mentioned could qualify as “bad condition” but this could include things like tracking in a lot of sand into your room, having lots of trash, etc.
Consider your wardrobe and the setting
Some people get really comfortable in hotels… Perhaps a little bit too comfortable.
When staying at a hotel, try to be aware of what’s acceptable and what’s not when it comes to how you dress.
Clothing that is very revealing could be offputting to a lot of guests, especially if it’s a family oriented property. Clothes should generally remain on when in hot tubs, pools, etc.
I personally don’t venture anywhere in the hotel in my pajamas or in a bathrobe but I still see people doing it and it does look goofy but to be honest I don’t really care.
Don’t go overboard at breakfast
If your hotel has blessed you with a free breakfast, try not to go crazy with taking a lot of items back to your room. You don’t want to deplete the supply before others have had a chance to partake.
Taking a few things “to go” should be fine but sometimes you’ll even see signs on the buffet table that limit the items “one per person.”
Be mindful of slamming doors
Some hotels have mechanisms to prevent their doors from slamming for both the rooms and for those exit doors but others don’t.
Once you realize you’re dealing with a door that will slam shut, consider trying to minimize that impact.
That’s because slamming doors can be a real nuisance to people trying to get rest especially if you are going in and out of your room.
Don’t ever sneak in a pet
Sneaking a pet to a hotel is a bad idea for a few reasons.
For one, you can get hit some pretty hefty fines for doing so. I’ve seen fines for as much as $400 or more.
But the bigger reason why not to do it is that some people have pretty severe pet allergies and if you were on a floor or hotel that does not permit pets, you could set off a bad allergic reaction with someone.
Don’t take out your frustrations on undeserving hotel staff
Sometimes your travels cause you a lot of stress.
Maybe your flight was canceled and you had to book a last-minute flight on an ultra low-cost carrier, your luggage was lost, etc.
Do your best not to take out any of these prior frustrations on staff members who had nothing to do with them.
When you walk through those hotel lobby doors try to start with a blank slate.
Fill out the annoying post-stay survey
Sometime after your stay, you might see a survey appear in your inbox. Take a quick moment to accurately answer this and bring any issues that you need to in order to help improve the service of the hotel.
This could help make things smoother for a future guests so it’s kind of a way to pay it forward.
It’s easy to go through your hotel visit without thinking about some of the finer etiquette points mentioned in this article. Sometimes though, it really is all about the little things.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.