Avoid This Common Hotel Mistake: The Alarm Clock Check You Can’t Afford to Miss

When you check into a hotel, always check the time on the clock in your room. Otherwise you may wind up sleeping in, or being late to get ready. Clocks are often set incorrectly, or just weren’t ever adjusted for daylight savings time – months later.

And it’s important to check whether the alarm clock has been set – never turned off from a previous guest. You may be woken in the middle of the night, when you’d hoped to sleep in. Even the most luxury hotels fail to set and reset in-room clocks when turning rooms over between guests.

Being woken up in the middle of the night during your hotel stay is a huge fail, since fundamentally the basic thing you’re paying for is a night’s sleep!

Many of you will nod and say “always check the alarm clock before you go to sleep, to make sure it isn’t on” but most people don’t, many of you will forgot, and that should be a basic item that the hotel takes care of because it shouldn’t be on to begin with unless you turn it on.

A simple item for a rooms task list is check that the alarm is turned off. And once you add that to the list, it’s easy to add “check that the time on the clock is right,” too. 

Full service hotels don’t just have housekeeping service rooms, they have a housekeeping manager go in and check the room and sign off on it before turning it over.  Someone should be looking for this, since an alarm going off in the middle of the night is such a simple thing that ruins a stay. And yet so few hotels seem to bother. This isn’t even a pandemic cut. It has been a known issue for many years.

Of course Marriott wants to eliminate in-room clocks altogether as a cost cutting measure. I suppose it’s worse to set alarm clocks incorrectly, than not to have the clocks at all. But eliminating the clocks as a solution to this problem is a failure that hotels shouldn’t accept.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. We usually unplug the clock because they tend to be ridiculously bright. Problem solved!

    As for needing an alarm, that’s what cell phones are for, right?

  2. Yeah, I made this mistake once. One 4AM alarm from some loud, obnoxious radio station was all it took to train me to always just turn it off.

  3. Yup, that was what happened to me: Rudely awaken in the middle of the night by the alarm clock set by a previous hotel guest, and then too upset to get back to sleep. The silver lining is that I’d not forget to check alarm clocks again in future hotel stays!

  4. I didn’t know people still used alarm clocks and hotel rooms. The first thing I do when I walk in is unplug it and the room phone. I rely on a cell phone.

  5. Hotels could easily save money by eliminating these clocks altogether. Even my elderly relatives use their cell phones for the alarm clock function.

  6. @ Gary — By the time I’m ready for bed, I can’t see the buttons (contacts removed), so I can’t ever figure out how to operate the stupid thing…

  7. When I absolutely have to get up, I set an alarm on a cell phone and call the front desk for a wakeup call at the right time. I used to carry a windup mechanical clock. It would tick away but I was used to it ticking. It never failed in it’s job. I hate improperly set in room hotel alarm clocks.

  8. Are we living in 2024? Why can’t hotels buy networked clocks/alarms that can be reset remotely when a guest checks out?

  9. Why do hotels have clocks bristling with buttons, none of which adjust the time? Or disable the alarm? Be sure to take the batteries out too. And don’t forget to disconnect the phone, to disable the early wake-up call from housekeeping “what time are you checking out today sir”

  10. I think years ago that happened to me. And before cell phones you also relied on wake up calls which sadly were far from 100% successful.

    I don’t know why hotels have such bright lights in the bathroom. Often you are dealing with time zone changes and waking up during the night to use the bathroom and then you are blinded with the lights. Just give me a dimmer/night light so I can avoid tripping.

  11. @rich Amen to the night lights.

    A nominally useful purpose for the clock is that is sometimes functions as a speaker, whether with a cord or via bluetooth. Many rooms now have no music outlets for guests, whether through the clock, a speaker or the TV.

  12. In 2024, there are people still using hotel alarm clocks?

    I can’t remember when or even IF I’ve ever used one.

    Back in the day, I brought my own battery alarm clock. Now it’s the cellphone.

  13. Yes just unplug those useless things. Use the cell and for the wake up impaired request a call , if phone works ( just another automated service that often fails as well).

  14. I got this experience on my last hotel stay, 6AM alarm when I was aiming for 930. Clock got unplugged and placed in the closet as a passive aggressive reminder to clear the alarms when turning rooms. I think this was the third time in 20 years of heavy travel that it has gotten me.

  15. Eliminating alarm clocks would be a customer service win.

    I’m in the unplug completely camp. Useless things.

  16. First things I do when I get in the room are unplug the alarm clock and room phone. Unless I’m staying at a Marriott property and need to check if the room was bonvoy’ed first.

  17. Agree with jns about a backup for cell phone: Too many times my cell phone decided to switch time zones in the middle of the night when I was in Amarillo, TX. I think it couldn’t decide between Central and Mountain times!

  18. I like dark hotel rooms, so the clock gets covered or the face turned down.

    Hate the extra bright bathroom lights or night lights. I carry a small but powerful flashlight for nighttime bathroom runs. It sits on the night table ready for that purpose or an emergency event where you might need your own light source. You can cup it in your hand to get only enough light to avoid room obstacles.

    Another pet peeve of mine: Why do hotels create obstacle courses with sharp corners at shin height or places to stub toes for unsuspecting guests? Flip flops have solved the toe stubs…and keep my feet off the floors, they also work well at the pool and spa.

  19. Almost all hotels now do not clocks- was in Austria last month all premiers hotels- not a clock in any of them

  20. I never rely on hotel clocks and usually, I try to unplug them. We all have phones and watches that do all that stuff with better alarms.

  21. “Full service hotels don’t just have housekeeping service rooms, they have a housekeeping manager go in and check the room and sign off on it before turning it over.”

    Full service properties employ rooms inspectors or supervisors that go in and do exactly what you’re talking about. On a day to day basis, the actual manager/director of the department is not out on the floors inspecting rooms. That position is far more administrative than operational.

    At a limited service property is where you’ll have the actual manager doing the checking simply because there is usually no one else to do it.

  22. First thing I do is unplug the clock, roll it into several towels and put in my luggage. No rude wake up alarm, next guest won’t be bothered either and I have another item for sale on Craigslist.

  23. One reason the clocks are wrong is because people unplug them. That said the one in my room is an hour off and I could not reach the plug.

  24. Doesn’t seem that long ago when you needed to call the front desk (or operator) for a wake-up call. I guess that dates me!

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