Does A Hotel Owe You Compensation When Your Room’s Alarm Goes Off During The Night?

A reader recently asked, “Should a hotel offer compensation when the alarm clock goes off in the middle of the night, or just blame the previous guest?” This one seems easy to me – the hotel is responsible – see what you think.

The fundamental thing you’re buying from a hotel is a safe, comfortable night’s sleep and a place to shower in the morning.

  • A basic responsibility for any decent hotel would be to check that the bedside alarm clock is not turned on, as part of turning the room between guests.

  • If they fail to do that, and the result if you aren’t able to get the comfortable night’s sleep you purchased, then they haven’t earned their money.

Several years ago at the Hyatt Regency Jersey City a water main broke and there was no water when I woke up in the morning on a one night stay. They put out flats of water bottles in the hallway. I used a water bottle to brush my teeth. I got one flush of the toilet only (used it judiciously). And I couldn’t shower.

This ‘wasn’t the hotel’s fault’ but they still did not provide what I was paying $359++ for the night to get. They were selling me a package that included use of a shower and couldn’t provide the shower. They offered nothing at all proactively, but when pushed gave me points equal to a free night at the property. That’s how the Sheraton LAX handled a similar issue.

Here the alarm clock going off in the middle of the night, set by a previous guest, is actually within the control of the property so the hotel should own the mistake and improve its procedures so that checking the alarm clock is part of the checklist for turning over a room.

Then again Marriott wants to get rid of alarm clocks in rooms entirely to save money, maybe asking them to invest in better housekeeping procedures isn’t in the cards at least for that chain.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. 4u2Know – I see you are tossing out all of the liberal catch phrases, i.e.” hate speech” and “hatred, hostility”, etc. You obviously are well trained (brain washed) along liberal lines that “someone owes me something” because you found something else/new to bitch about. You liberals are never happy unless you have taken advantage of somebody or something in order to reap unwarranted benefits that you have not earned. I see you have also used the ” have the last word” phrasing that all of you use as a way to shut people like me up. Forget it – I will always speak up when confronted with the lying liberal wailings about unfounded mistreatment that you wrongly perceive has happened to you. As for the “conversation” about an alarm clock goes, whomever figured that they are “owed’ because a clock came on – well, that is pathetic.

  2. Robin Rosner, I understand your point of view however as frequent Business Traveler I have learned not to trust my fellow man or woman to be as courteous or thoughtful as I try to be. Being over 65, I find your comments about the elderly interesting. Having been woken up in the middle of the night whilst staying in a Hotel at ORD. It was a tornado alert which sent my phone into overdrive. Hotel informed me the topology of the land meant they never came through the airport and they were right. You cannot win them all though. My rule of thumb has always been check the Clock, if in doubt unplug it, then sanatize the tv remote and the phone (did this before Covid) then check the TV and the internet work (ethernet cable for preference as more secure). Now if my internet or TV do not work, I would expect the Hotel to compensate me.

  3. How can I get compensation for my belongings burned during Hampton Inn by Hilton hotel fire in Brooklyn Ohio on February 16, 2022. Hotel re-address issue to Grange Insurance company, insurance company brushing me off to my personal tennance insurance. I don’t have any tenant insurance in the US, I live in Canada.
    Any advice?

  4. @Mike – It’s a pain in the butt, but file in small claims court. No attorney required. Ask for the maximum, which is usually around $2K. They’ll either settle out of court or get hit with a summary judgement when they don’t show up for the court date and you do.

  5. This issue has been brought up before. And it does seem petty on the one hand, but as a totally leisure traveler who wants little more than some peace, quiet and sleep, it is an interruption. Mistakes happen. Personally it’s not the end of the world no, but also an interrupted very expensive night of sleep that I am paying big buck for the pleasure of. Besides the obvious point that how do you prove you yourself didn’t deliberately set it to go off so you’d get some compensation? I think it should be added to the check off list for housekeepers, or a their supervisor when making a run through. It’s a pain no matter what. As for compensation? A free breakfast or meal? A small token gift of an edible with a handwritten note of apology?

    What about when the fire alarm goes off and one must physically take action? This is for our safety so how dare we complain? And something for those of us who believe in taking responsibility for ourselves…we COULD check the damn alarm clock on arrival and make sure it is off…but I’m not in the habit of that. For what little travelling I do, I have had my share of fire alarms go off…One I will never forget was at the Lowe’s Anatole in Dallas…It was apparently prom night and someone did it as a prank (set the alarm off). It was the first time I realized/learned that speaker looking thing in the ceiling WAS a speaker and scared the you know what out of me when a voice boomed into the room “…it is not an emergency”. I bolted upright to see 10-12 minimum fire engines rapidly approaching the front the hotel along a very long driveway leading up to it, and wound up in the lobby with assorted guests in their jammies. At most they offered a coffee/tea pot while they confirmed all was well. By time some years later it happened it Toronto at my beloved Sheraton, I had learned quite a bit…The Toronto FD guys are great for starters, and that the reason it often happens in the early morning hours is because so many people are up and taking showers so the water pressure drops and that could be a big problem in the event of fire, so the alarm goes off because of that. I admit after so many I became a bit casual…and on the day I returned back with a blister on my foot and having walked miles in the heat–or what my dear friend Michael refers to as a “humidityfest”, I had JUST sat myself down on my balcony, propped my foot up on a pillow on the side table and just could not move. I took a gamble on it being another false alarm, and being on this balcony about 2 floors up from the ground I figured they could come get me if need be. But I never in any of these cases and more asked for compensation.

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