The 30 Worst Decisions You Can Make in a Hotel

As the owner of a 20-room resort in Texas, I’ve stood on both sides of the hotel front desk. And I can tell you that, like most travelers, you’re probably making a mistake. It may be something as simple as not getting better rooms or service, but you could also be making mistakes that put you and your loved ones in danger.

Here are the 30 worst things to do on your next hotel stay.


Smile and ask nicely and you just might land yourself a room with a view. (Photo: Acalu Studio/Stocksy)

Not asking for an upgrade

When you arrive at the check-in desk, you greet the person behind the counter warmly, state your name, and your purpose thusly, “Hello, I’m John Smith. I have a reservation and am here to check in.” The very next words to leave your mouth should be, “Do you have an upgrade available?”

Not asking for a better rate

If you already got an upgrade, skip this step. Do a happy dance. Give thanks to the keeper of the room upgrades and do not mention the rate. If you strike out on an upgrade, always ask if there are any applicable discounts that you missed when you made your reservation.

Not telling the front desk about special room needs

If there is anything at all that would improve either your stay or the comfort of the guests around you, ask now. It is far easier to move you to the top floor before you settle in, than to deal with your lack of sleep six hours later when the couple above you is throwing a party.

Related: What Is She Doing? Hotel Guest Secretly Tapes Maid Messing with His Belongings


It only takes one person to check in; let it be the most pleasant one in your group. (Photo: Roy Hsu/Blend Images/Corbis)

Letting a grouchy companion anywhere near the front desk at check in

The rule is that one person in your room steps up to the counter. One. The most pleasant one. The one not stressed from the traffic. Not the one carrying the crying baby. And definitely not the one under 13, unless you are traveling alone with them. In that case, do not check in until you have appeased all under-13 needs.

Ignoring the rules

It’s possible that the hotel’s rules really don’t apply to you, but that’s probably not the case. Instead of going rogue, if there is something you feel like you really need to do, just ask.

Lying about the number of people in your room

We’ve all done this. I once shared a hotel room in Las Vegas with a whole other family. We slept in shifts. The reality is that today’s hotel climate is not conducive to that. Hotels see it as a serious attempt to cheat them out of revenue and an even more serious security and safety problem for you and the other guests.


Unless you’re vacationing in Siberia, take a walk outside for a smoke. (Photo: Marija Mandic/Stocksy)

Smoking in a non-smoking room

These people have your credit card number, remember? You really want to give them a reason to use it?

Stealing anything besides a bottle of shampoo

Some hotels are actually putting RFD trackers on room towels. If you take something, they will know.

Related: They Took What? The Craziest Things Stolen From Hotels


Maybe think twice before throwing a rager in your room. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Damaging the room

How many times do we have to remind you? They have your credit card number.

Ignoring the wealth of information from hotel staff

No matter how many times you have visited an area, you may not know everything there is to know. Make a habit of asking people who work at the hotel where they eat and spend time. You may find your new favorite hangout in town.

Treating the staff like staff

They are people. Treat them accordingly and maybe they won’t wash your drinking glasses in the toilet.

Related: Are These the Dirtiest Hotels in America?


If it’s important, take it with you. (Photo: Mattia Pelizzari/Stocksy)

Leaving valuables in your car

Not. Even. For. A. Minute. Seriously. If you can’t carry it all in one trip, take portable electronic devices first, then the luggage.

Doing your banking on a Wi-Fi connected device

That bank transfer you intended to make before you left home? If you can’t do it without hotel Wi-Fi, then make an old-fashioned phone call, use an ATM, or find a trusted network. Hotel Wi-Fi is never to be trusted with bank information.


Free Wi-Fi a little slow? Maybe not worth getting into a tizzy. (Photo: Guille Faingod/Stocksy)

Complaining about free anything

The Wi-Fi is free and you are actually going to call the front desk and complain about getting dumped off of your binge streaming of Mad Men?

Emptying the mini-bar

The opposite of “free” is “mini-bar.” Look it up.

Ignoring your children

If you need a vacation from your children, take one. Taking them with you, then ignoring them, is bad for everyone around you — including the kids.


This is never okay. (Photo: Dejan Ristovski/Stocksy)

Sending your children to the pool alone

It does not matter if your 12-year-old is a wonderful swimmer and she promised to watch her little brother. This is wrong on about 13 levels. Don’t do it.

Threatening the front desk with a bad review

There rarely is a connection between the front desk clerk and TripAdvisor. That’s a marketing issue. Not her department. Threatening her will get you nothing except an angry front desk clerk.

Forgetting to check the bed

Even if you aren’t afraid of the germs surrounding you in a hotel room, the whole bedbug issue should have you pulling back the covers in every hotel room you set foot in.

Forgetting your flashlight

It’s not just for safety. If you are brave enough, try shining it in corners and under beds to see the real dirt in a hotel room.

Related: Can Staying in a Hotel Make You Sick — or Even Kill You?


Always have an exit strategy in case of an emergency. (Photo: Gabriel Diaz/Stocksy)

Not knowing where the exits are

The flashlight is a moot point if you can’t use it to find your way out in an emergency.

Not tipping the room service waiter

The dude brought you waffles and orange juice at midnight and you can’t cough up a tip?


Pro tip: tip in advance. (Photo: Amy Covington/Stocksy)

Not tipping the parking attendant

This is worse than forgetting that the front desk has your credit card number on file. This guy has your car.

Not signing up for rewards programs

Hotel rewards are the most off-radar travel perk out there. At the very least, membership might get you that upgrade you were asking for at the front desk

Not using rewards programs you are already signed up for

Work the system. Cross check your hotel rewards and air miles for perks that you might have forgotten about.

Related: The Experts Give Credit: Best Rewards Cards for Travel


If you can see them, they can see you. (Photo: chadloethen/Twenty20)

Putting your eye to a peephole

Besides the ick factor of someone else’s makeup-smeared eye having previously been there, it’s a dead giveaway to the person outside the door that you are in there.

Opening the door to a stranger you were not expecting

Forget the peephole and just don’t open the door if you weren’t expecting someone.


Beware the late night phone call from “the front desk.” (Photo: Getty Images)

Giving personal information over the phone

Scammers call hotel rooms, pretend to be the front desk, and ask to verify your credit card details. Just like that, you’ve been taken.

Ignoring other people’s personal space

Don’t hang out in front of other room doors. Don’t crowd people at an uncrowded pool. And don’t let your kids do it, either.

Waiting until check-out to complain about things that could have been corrected at check-in

There are times when you arrive so late and so exhausted that you would sleep with cockroaches. Every other time, if something is wrong with your room, ask for another room or a fix of the problem as soon as you discover it. Beats the heck out of threatening the front desk with a bad review.

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