Hotels: How to Deal with Overzealous Housekeeping

Hotels: How to Deal with Overzealous Housekeeping

Stellar hotel housekeeping is great; overzealous housekeeping, not so much. Exasperated TravelSort reader Paul writes “Why is it that whenever I have a 4pm late checkout and even put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door, housekeeping still tries to barge in to clean the room?! Is it really so hard for housekeeping to check with the front desk about when guests are leaving? Often I've requested late check-out specifically to get work done, which sometimes includes conference calls, and this is a major annoyance.”

There's no question that in many hotels, there could be better communication between housekeeping and the front office in terms of cleaning rooms and guest preferences. In defense of housekeeping staff, it's a very demanding job which pays little, with significant pressure to clean rooms quickly so that rooms can be turned around rapidly during a hotel's busy periods. Inevitably, there are going to be cases when housekeeping is knocking and trying to get a room cleaned for a check-in later that day, even though the guest has confirmed a late check-out with the front desk.

And recently, we had our own encounter with overzealous housekeeping when we came back after dinner to find one of our plastic bags with my son's artwork removed, which caused us quite a bit of consternation. True, we hadn't put it in the closet, it was leaning against the wall, but it wasn't anywhere near the trash bin, so it was surprising to me that it was removed without even checking with us.

Here are my tips for ways to deal with potentially overzealous housekeeping:

1. To Ensure You Don't Get Disturbed for Late Check-Out, Be Proactive: Call Housekeeping and the Front Desk

When you really need to not be disturbed, say because you're working, on calls, or trying to take a nap up until your late check-out time, call Housekeeping as well as the Front Desk, reminding them that you have a late check-out, specifying the time you're leaving, and stress that you do NOT want to be disturbed by ANY calls or knocks. And if you see any housekeepers in the hallway, it won't hurt to remind them as well. 


2. Go Low Tech: In Addition to the Do Not Disturb Sign, Tape a Big Sign on the Door 

Since many guests unfortunately forget to remove their “Do Not Disturb” signs or illuminated “Do Not Disturb” indicators when they leave, Housekeeping does often end up knocking. So in addition to proactively calling Housekeeping and the Front Desk, it will only help if, in addition to the “Do Not Disturb” sign or indicator, you also tape a big sign to your door conspicuously stating something such as “4pm Late Checkout — Please do NOT Knock or Try to Enter the Room.”


3. Put the Deadbolt on the Door 

In case a housekeeper doesn't pay any attention to your sign, putting a deadbolt on the door will at least prevent entry, although unfortunately the noise from an attempted entry will probably be pretty disruptive nonetheless.


4. Don't Leave Stray Papers Out and Put ALL Bags in the Closet

I haven't yet had housekeepers throw away key papers, but have heard of guests who have unfortunately lost key itineraries, printed directions, etc. because housekeeping threw them away. While it really shouldn't happen in any good hotel, be sure to put any key papers you need in your bags and folders, not strewn about the desk or elsewhere in the room.

Similarly, learn from our experience and put all bags and anything else you don't have time to organize in the closet. While again, I don't think housekeeping should be throwing out stuff that is not in the rubbish bin unless it is clearly trash, such as apple cores and the like, overzealous housekeeping may well throw out something that is simply in a bag leaning against the wall, as ours was. If you've placed it in the closet, that should never happen.


5. If Using an Elite Status or AMEX FHR Guaranteed Late Check-Out, Note While Booking and Confirm Late Check-Out When You Check-In

In cases where you have the right to a confirmed 2pm or 4pm late check-out, or have a benefit such as the Peninsula Hotels Pen Club PenTime flexible check-in and check-out or SPG Your24, make sure Reservations notes it when booking, and reconfirm it when you check-in. This helps the hotel manage its check-ins on the day that you check-out, and helps make it less likely that housekeeping will be trying to turn your room between regular check-out time and your late check-out.


6.  If You Don't Want Anyone Rearranging Your Stuff, Ask for Housekeeping ONLY When You Request It

I have clients that simply find twice daily housekeeping intrusive; they have me advise the hotel that housekeeping is ONLY to service the room when they specifically request it, such as when the guests know they'll be out of the room for awhile and have had a chance to put away or take with them all the stuff they don't want rearranged. Four Seasons resorts, via their Four Seasons Preferred Partner teams that I liaise with, have been especially good about honoring this request.


7. Make Your Kids Responsible for Their Treasured Items

You can bet that after our experience, I will be enlisting my son's help to ensure that on future stays, everything he values also gets put into the closet (or comes with us) when we leave the room, because I'm not about to become the designated picker-upper for everyone in my family. So if you have kids, tell them that they need to put any art projects, stuffed animals and other treasured items into the closet (and preferably in or at least on top of a suitcase in the closet) before leaving the room.


8. Compliment and Tip Housekeeping for Respecting Your Late Check-Out and Do Not Disturb Sign

Given the hard work they do, don't forget to tip housekeeping and compliment them when they do get it right, by not disturbing you during your late check-out period or when you have the “Do Not Disturb” sign up.

Do you have other experiences or tips to share about overzealous housekeeping?

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