What Happens When Hotels Eliminate Daily Housekeeping, In One Photo

There’s a wonderful feeling returning home to a clean house. Early in my professional career I started paying a housekeeper to come, and returning home after they’d cleaned was a great feeling.

Staying at a hotel is wonderful when you get to return to your room and experience this every day. That is, at least where daily housekeeping was offered. That’s something that disappeared at most hotels during the pandemic, and big chains want to save on labor costs and eliminate it for good (Hilton, for instance, wants it to be ‘on request’ only at full service hotels.)

Checking into a hotel recently I was told there was no housekeeping available during my stay – they only cleaned rooms between guests. The Hyatt app gave me the choice to opt into housekeeping as an elite member, but the front desk explained that they do not honor this.

“If you need more towels, come down and ask us” they said. Hotels for years have been trying to get guests to re-use towels, too. Now they have an almost fool-proof way of saving laundry cost, too.

I asked what I should do about trash in my room? Many rooms have just small waste baskets. I’ll often bring food back to my room. I don’t want the smell after I’m done. “Just put the trash in the hall,” they said.

Here’s a glimpse into our housekeeping-less future, from the TownePlace Suites Outer Banks Kill Devil Hills:

Hotel service is one of the primary things that sets a Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt or IHG property apart from Airbnb. Marriott’s CEO wants guests to have sympathy for the REITs and trusts that own their hotels, paying higher room rates and demanding less so that owners incur fewer costs. That even extends to eliminating the clocks in rooms and offering cheaper breakfast at brands where it’s included for all guests.

Many guests will show their sympathy by not demanding services from these hotels, and booking elsewhere instead.

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. And another thing I dislike are those itty bitty trash cans.
    Amazon makes an amazing touchless garbage can, for $75 you get not one but 2!
    I have these garbage cans and love them.
    If the hotels are not going to remove our trash on a daily basis then I am all for putting these trash cans in the rooms. BIG ones like this one, the small one can go in the bathroom.
    With the automatic lid closure at least it closes off the order the next day from your pizza box from the night before.

  2. It’s just disgusting at some hotels now! Garbage stinks up hallways, leaves stains and wet patches on carpets, and makes it a pain in the butt to drag your luggage through these mazes. I was at the Element in Austin a few weeks back for a 5 day stay, and not once were those hallways vacuumed and cleaned.

  3. Complaining about cleanliness at places like Towneplace Suites, Element, and Home2 is like crying that sidewalks on skid row aren’t spotless. These are the secondary brands of second tier hotel categories at run-of-the-mill chains.

    Their standards were awful even before the pandemic. No surprise when the chips are down that they go into the proverbial toilet.

  4. Thank you for bringing this item to our attention.

    There are a couple items of concern with the picture provided; improper storage of combustible material and compromised means of egress.

    Our Fire Marshal will be making a visit to this establishment.

    Thank you again,

    Troy N. Tilley
    Fire Chief
    Town of Kill Devil Hills, NC
    252-480 4060 ext. 5222

  5. We recently were on vacation in June of this year. Fairfield Inn was disgusting in Rapid City, SD. Check in was delayed, dirty linens on the bed at check in, stained mattress, carpets stained, trash & dirty linens in the halls.When I requested fresh linens, no one questioned why? Or offered to change the linens! They just knocked on the door and handed us linens! Service was deplorable by the frost desk. Owner response about my complaints..Sorry about your stay, hope you’ll give us another chance”! I don’t think so. In the past you got extra points for declining service, now you’re refused service and get 0 points. Plus, hotel rates are ridiculously high. And service in down!
    Next vacation we rented an RV. If I am going to clean everything myself we might as well avoid hotels! Totally disgusted with Marriott!

  6. This hotel, and,so many others in the outer banks now are trash. One word: Yankees.
    South 12 folks figured that out years ago.
    One word:

  7. Please keep in mind, that it has been difficult to find people to show up to work. Both the hotel cleaning staff & the outside vendors just do not have people coming to work in housekeeping. I can only speak for several Florida resort locations. The hotel staff has to step in & add additional duties to their actual position. So, when you’re complaining to staff about not getting turn down service, or having to wait for your room, or you found a candy wrapper behind the nightstand, or the many whiny, spoiled complaints you may have… the people that are working hard; deserve kindness & compassion for trying to make your “elite” senses not get upset. They do care about your experience but, many of these people are berated an entire shift, day in & day out. Those same people are also showing up everyday. These people are not out to get you nor are they ruining your life by inconveniences out of their control. Be a good human & less of an “entitled” brat.

  8. @L Pedersen makes a good point EXCEPT for the fact that the leadership of both Hilton and Marriott have publicly stated that they want to reduce services, including housekeeping, in the future in order to make more money. The chains can’t simultaneously complain that customers need to “be patient with poorer service because it’s hard to hire people” AND talk about their great plan to reduce services (specifically housekeeping) to save money.

    Now of course, the heart of @L Pedersen’s point is true: Don’t blame the poor overworked housekeeping staff stuck in this mess. Blame the executives.

  9. I’m not asking for turn down service and I do understand when it takes until 4 or 5 to get the room (although I don’t like that, particularly if check out is still at 11), but I do want clean bathrooms/showers/tubs/sinks. Clean beds with sheets and covers that look like I’m the first to use them, not the second or third. Emptied rubbish bins. Sure, I bring my own cleaning supplies now (wipes and spray), but should I have to “clean” the room?
    I go a week without sheet changes, and I happily pick up clean towels as needed.
    But a clean room to start the stay? I’ve left hotels because of the lack of cleaning.
    Maybe this will get better after the stimulus add on stops next month and people have to go back to work? One can only hope…

  10. Your article “read my mind.” I spent last weekend at TownePlace Suites by Marriott at Westport where we underwent the same experience: garbage and dirty towels left to pile up in the hall with the promise staff would soon replace them with clean ones. The clean towels never arrived; we had to go in search for them ourselves. And when we got up the next morning (15 hours later), not only were our towels and garbage still there, but other guests had started to pile theirs on top of them as well. In response, I got “sorry we didn’t meet your expectations.” Cleanliness is a personal expectation?

  11. Liv- I have contacted the Fire Chief in Westport Massachusetts and inquired if bags of garbage in the hallways is a fire hazard. I will post his reply if he responds.
    I did this for you, but going forward you and EVERYBODY should do this yourselves.
    Just take a picture, look up the website for the Town/City and find the e-mail address for the fire chief, it is always listed. Everyone should report this to the Fire Marshal of the locals where Hotels are now doing this. Don’t count on me to do this for you by leaving a comment, you should do it yourself.

  12. Catherine Marie Lather- I have contacted the Fire Chief in Rapid City South Dakota and iquited if bags of garbage in the hallways is a fire hazard. Instead of simply leaving a comment here about it I ask that going forward, you do this yourself. Just take a picture, look up the website for the Town/City and find the e-mail address for the fire chief, it is always listed.

    EVERYBODY Please directly report these fire code violations to the local fire department, I am doing a couple of them to show you that it works. Going forward everyone should do this, we (the royal we) can stop this nationally in it’s tracks if we all just take the five minutes of time it takes to report this. It shouldn’t take long for this to move up the food chain and the word will go out to all these franchises that they simply cannot DO THIS. it point of fact it IS a fire hazard, there cannot be bags of garbage and stacks of dirty towels left in the hallways. If you want things to change, be that change, please take 5 minutes.

  13. Thank you for this. We just returned from a week of less-than-satisfactory lodging experiences. How disappointing it is that there now is no hospitality in the hospitality industry. Cheap skates they are. High prices and low and no services are going to kill this whole model of lodging business. I don’t mind making my own bed or using the towels for a couple of days, as long as they are clean, unstained, and have a chance to dry between uses. It used to be a “treat” to stay in a decent motel, now it’s become an unfortunate ordeal of travel. So, now I have to ‘specify’ that I want a ‘clean’ room with ‘clean’ sheets? We traveled half way across the country to attend a wedding. There were about 100 guests, all traveling some distance. I believe about half used Air B&B. Mostly the younger ones-20 and 30 year olds. I don’t believe any of them were dissatisfied, the rest of us…well..we won’t be back.Thanks again.

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