The Sad State Of “Daily Housekeeping” At Hotels That Pretend To Still Offer It

IHG Hotels has a training video for housekeepers that explains how to move through a room quickly for ‘daily housekeeping’. Just because a hotel says they offer housekeeping during your stay – either automatically, or only “on request” – doesn’t mean you’re getting the service you think.

Daily housekeeping is no longer cleaning, it’s now branded as the “Daily Room Refresh” at IHG One Rewards properties (like Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, and related brands). Instead it’s “designed to minimize the amount of time housekeeping spends” per room. Here are the (5) elements:

  1. Remove trash
  2. Restock towels
  3. Make bad using existing linens
  4. Replenish amenities (like coffee)
  5. Spray odor neutralizer “to ensure the guest returns to a fresh smelling space”

Here’s the video:

Note that they are clear: “[t]he daily room refresh doesn’t typically include wiping down all surfaces” but housekeepers are permitted to address stains and debris.

In contrast a “full stayover clean” only happens on day 5 of a stay, which involves changing linens and “thoroughly cleaning the bathroom and sleeping areas.” Your bathroom isn’t really getting cleaned as part of a “Daily Room Refresh.” That’s probably good, because the housekeeper in the video is doing all the cleaning with the same gloves.

But what’s most striking to me about the 5-step daily refresh process is the freshener spray at the end of the service. Spraying a smell that signals clean – which usually comes from cleaning supplies being used – seems like great marketing when cleaning supplies are actually used. Spraying the smell to communicate cleaning supplies were used when they weren’t just seems dishonest.

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. You missed the real story, Gary. The video said, “A full clean SHOULD always be performed after a guest’s departure.” Emphasis on SHOULD. Should is NOT must.

    It looks like IHG uses the same graphic designer as One Mile At A Time. Same colors, font, etc.

    And why is it that people think gloves are magical and never have to be changed?

  2. FNT Z Delta Diamond has a good point.
    I find that last step absolutely disgusting and I agree that it’s totally dishonest.

  3. Gary – what is the big deal? Seriously the room is cleaned between guests (I assume and frankly don’t lose any sleep over how well it is done). If I’m staying why should they need to wipe down or disinfect the room. Also to change the sheets is wasteful. Frankly I typically opt out of housekeeping even when offered (and hotels I am staying in right now in Italy offer both daily housekeeping and nightly turn down service) since I really don’t care and prefer people don’t come in my room. Maybe you are more entitled than I am but have no problem asking for towels or shampoo if needed. I don’t need, nor want, daily housekeeping regardless of what is done and those that do come off as really out of touch in today’s world.

  4. Gary is hyper concerned about cleanliness that is of no consequence, such as (not mentioned here but in numerous past articles) the putative risk of shared large format soap bottles.

    Hotels are dirty and housekeeping has forever (since before Covid) worked under time pressure to turn over rooms and make them appear clean regardless of whether they are.

    Check your linens. Check your towels. With your eyes and with your nose. Use your own disposable cups to brush your teeth, and bring your own disposable slippers if the hotel does not provide them. Beyond that, get a flu shot and bivalent covid booster shot!

  5. This is abominable, and a great illustration of why despite being comped IHG One Diamond status, I have yet to actually stay at an IHG property. I wish IHG weren’t so uncompetitive–lord knows the hospitality industry could use more competition–but such is the current state of affairs, like it or not.

  6. p.s. – yea, Fauci, “get a flu shot and bivalent covid booster shot” but it is not incumbent upon me to check the work of hospitality businesses. Either they do a good job or they don’t; and in this case the bar is set at “who the fuck cares” so I can only imagine what the lived reality is going to be. Get your shots, but for christ’s sake don’t let that deter you from demanding the excellence you pay for.

  7. They should have rotating heavily seasonal scents to tell you they’ve witnessed your shame. Look what you did to this washcloth pumpkin spice things like that.

  8. This is news? This has been going on for many years. Probably since shortly after the first hotel was built and occupied. The do exactly the same thing at JW Marriott, Crowne Plaza, Embassy Suites, etc. That is making the assumption they do any daily service at all.

  9. Same old comments expecting bad service and excusing it. I pay and i expect. This is not entitlement, this ia basic service , a world americans and their cotps have not been introduced to

  10. I get where you’re coming from, but I’m usually in hotels 5-10 days at a time and I prefer no one come in the room during my stay and always pass on housekeeping. I live tidy enough that it works for both the hotel and me. If I need towels or anything else it’s easy to get upon request. If the room is clean when I arrive, I’m a satisfied customer.

  11. If true, this training puts IHG at a disadvantage in many places outside the U.S. at least. Ignoring the sink, shower and toilet for four days is absurd. I wouldn’t put up with that at the IHG competitors I stay at.

  12. When I was a kid back up in NY, one of the local NYC area stations did an investigative reporting segment on how filthy hotel rooms really were. I came across it and watched it, and it stuck with me. They investigated hotels from the Plaza to Caesars Palace. Used the black light, inspected the sheets and towels for hairs, etc. looked under the beds… bottom line and this was the mid 90s, all of the hotels were found to have some surprising levels of nasty.

    Honestly, my biggest concern are properly laundered linens, carpets/tile being cleaned, and bed bugs.

    I enjoy staying in hotels, and lately I’ve definitely noticed more lax housekeeping. But a room refresh is legit all I care about when I’m staying there. If you have truly dirty sheets and request a change of sheets, they WILL do it. But in an age where how much of the country is in a severe drought, we don’t need brand new sheets every freaking day. They’ll give you new towels if you ask for them. I don’t think asking you to sleep on the same sheets two or three days in a row is shocking.

    I definitely raise and issue when there’s visible filth, like if my feet are sticking to the tile floor or there’s a dirty toilet (both have happened in the past year) but some of this is a non-issue. Remember, a hotel is nonetheless a dirty place. Even with thorough housekeeping, you’re often getting an “illusion of clean-“ are they for instance wiping down lamp shades; drawer handles, scrubbing the bathtub between each guest? I guarantee you they are not and never have. And certainly not if you expect an elite perk like 5pm checkout and 12pm checkin.

    Also let’s be pragmatic. The job market continues to be tight- is housekeeping a job you’d be tripping over yourself to do in a job seekers market? Initially it may have just been Covid theater. But even in hotels I’ve stayed in that promise and seem to truly want to offer full housekeeping, I’ve noticed a huge discrepancy in the quality over the past year. It’s only as good as the employees.

  13. Like cruise ships, most hotel rooms are filthy petri dishes given the lack of real cleaning and the sheer use by patrons. Even 5 star hotels skimp on cleaning. It’s all about the money. Best bring your own slippers, disposable cups, coffee mug, gloves, laundry detergent (for sheets and curtains and towels), vacuum cleaner, mop, bucket, broom, sponge, paper towels, Pinesol, bleach, Windex, paint, tile grout, tidy bowl or Lysol, toilet brush, apron, sanitizing wipes, pajamas and a full body condom to sleep in at night. Then you’ll feel safe and clean – perhaps, unless you also take off the vent covers and clean the HVAC ducts which breed viruses, sources for growing molds, bacteria – think Legionaires Disease. And don’t forget the shower head. faucet as if these are not first run with water to flush them out – you don’t know how long it has not been used – i.e. the bacteria (think the bacteria that cause flesh eating disease) that has built up, and if you get it in your nose or swallow it then it’s curtains. Look it up on the internet if you think this is all off base.

    The black light test will reveal the full horror that you can’t see. Filthy, dirty, bacteria laden, diseased and it’s been that way for a long time. America too is the third world when it comes to cleaning, but even in Germany the situation is truly sad where once there were high standards at the good hotels. No longer. Only a very few hotels in the entire world are worthy of the word ‘clean’.

  14. Was at a Holiday inn express for a night and they left old water bottles under the bed and the shower had a slow drain… Otherwise was decent

  15. For those of you who think we should accept dirty or poorly cleaned hotel rooms, what about hotel bars and restaurants? Should they be allowed to ignore basic food safety and health code procedures?

  16. @Nick Thomas – not saying accept anything but it is, IMHO, entitled and wasteful to expect daily housekeeping and change of sheets and towels. Do you do that at home? The rooms are cleaned between guests and there is no reason for full fault cleaning or to switch out linens. I stay in very nice hotels and almost always decline housekeeping. I have no problem getting towels or toiletries if so need them. No reason to feel you are entitled and have to be waited on hand and foot. Those days are gone so accept it (which Gary apparently can’t)

  17. @AC: I do change out my towels every days. I used to get ringworm and skin rashes. My doctor said those things can be spread more easily by repeatedly reusing a towel. A moist towel hanging for days I. moist bathroom is a petri dish. I also change my sheets every three days.

  18. Hotels face rising labor, property tax, food and beverage, distribution, and now debt service costs. At luxury hotels, rates are very high, but at some city hotels and general select service hotels, rates haven’t recovered. And in many of the areas with a ton of Holiday Inns, the labor market is the tightest, with no help from immigration in site. So if you want old style, daily housekeeping, expect room rates to go up. And no, Airbnb isn’t more attractive in this environment, as you often claim – Airbnb is often adding on the cost of rental cleaning directly on top of the bill, and doing a worse job between guests (mainly because it is impossible to clean whole houses and apartments thoroughly between guests in homes that do any real volume).

  19. I don’t want housekeeping in the room once I check in. If I need something I will ask for it. But sometimes they enter anyway and that just sets me off, especially when they use the spray. It is awful for people with scent allergies!

  20. Well, of course spraying a room so it smells like you cleaned it is dishonest … but you didn’t think your hotel room got cleaned every day, did you? I’ll bet they’ve been doing this for years. I dunno, I never let housekeeping into my room. Having a total stranger in there with ‘my stuff’ when I’m absent is not a benefit I’m interested in. From a Candlewood Suites to an InterContinental, housekeeping is still a bunch of strangers that may or may not have experience or been vetted or had their information verified.

  21. Now whenever I have to stay at a hotel I end up going to target and buying a set of sheets, pillows and a blanket because every hotels linens and pillows reek like dirty greasy hair. The pillows are so bad that you can’t cover the smell with a clean case it just makes your clean case stink. I have tried 5 or six formerly nice hotels in the past year and they all have this problem. I never go to a hotel now unless I absolutely have no other choice. Nobody seems to be complaining about this which makes me very disappointed in what modern society has devolved into.

Comments are closed.