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. Lack of daily housekeeping service, especially when traveling as a family, has been frustrating. Recently stayed at the Hyatt Regency Orlando…they came in daily while we were out to make the beds, but didn’t replace towels or remove the garbage.

  2. Perhaps the best response to this is to ask what their charge is for RV hookups. If the hotel is as acting like that perhaps I should bring my own room and cooking facilities.

  3. In the middle of a long-term stay at a higher-end Hilton property in Los Angeles. This looks like our hallway. We’ve seen food and trash bags in the hallway for several days. After this trip, I’m done paying twice as much for a room that gives me poorer service and fewer amenities than a lower-end hotel.

  4. My first experience with “Just put the trash in the hall” reminded me of my first trip to New York City. Wait, people just put their trash bags on the sidewalk? We’re all New Yorkers now!

  5. I’d take them literally and empty the bin, with sweet wrappers and who knows what else, straight into the middle of the hall. I’m betting they’d soon revise the “trash in the hall” policy if people did this.

  6. Do you think we’ll ever get back to pre-COVID types of hotel services? Or is this the new normal?

    Right now, a lot of hotels are full, so they likely don’t care.

  7. I get so mad when I read this sort of entitled post.. I work in a hilton hotel.. we CANNOT get help!!!!!!! We are begging for help.. Nobody wants to work for $15 an hour.. they all want to stay home and get unemployment.. I am shocked hotels can even stay open.. then we hear these BS comments from whiners about how dirty the hotel is or how they didnt get good service or how there is not a good enough breakfast.. I want to scream at these people and tell them to have some empathy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. With the higher rates and additional taxes and fee several things come to mind bed and breakfast, a cabin at a RV park if needed have to clean up myself and the pricing is near the same. I did a little research and as far as clocks in the room have you ever tried to reset one of them !!! For 3.29 Marriott could get logo digital wall clock for each room that is all we need

  9. I can’t imagine this being a permanent solution. The increased costs for pest control, new hallway carpeting (spills, stains, wear and tear), stained hallway walls, odors, are all counterproductive.

    And wouldn’t this become a health code violation? Fines, fees, shutdowns.

    If I want self-serve standards then charge me self-serve prices.

  10. So Gary, who assumes liability when someone has to leave their room, perhaps for ice, in the middle of the night and trips over bags of garbage?

    Will there be additional room charges for rodents attracted by the garbage piles?

    In 2019 the average price paid for a hotel room in the United States was just under $98.00. That means that a majority of guests were sleeping in accommodations at night with no housekeeping staff or security on-premises. Usually, there is one employee in these hotels during the critical evening hours. Now, at least, guests may be provided “pets” on a comp basis.

    How typical is it that hotel management feels that the proper response to a pandemic is less cleaning and a decline in “luxuries” such as fresh sheets and trash collection.

  11. Yeah, this pic is like every limited-service property in most of 2020, and apparently now until the end of time. It’s ridiculous for folks to pay more than before and get far less. It’s pandemic theatre, like all of the chain stores that cut hours so they could “deep clean” every day. Translation: they were cleaning their workers’ paychecks to minimize costs.

  12. Pretty much the way the hallway looked at out Hilton property in Williamsburg last month.

  13. You want hotels to clean up the hallways and bring back housekeeping? Simple. Go find a local convenience store, pickup a 6 pack of the cheapest condoms. Open up a couple of them, drop them on the floor around a couple of the hallway trash piles. Take some pictures, post on social media complaining about how nasty/dirty the place is. Unless you’re in Vegas, that problem will be resolved immediately.

  14. At the Four Seasons Resort in Dallas we had full housekeeping services every day last week. Of course, breakfast for two in the LAW restaurant was … $78. I wonder if there’s a positive connection between these two things.

    [ For the record, we’re usually in cheaper accommodations with garbage in the halls and make your own bed and fetch your own towels but we splurged for our anniversary celebration. ]

  15. Ann. If the hotels cannot offer service on par for what they are charging guests than they need to close or limit the amount of rooms that are made available. Don’t tell guests who are paying full price to have empathy esp in regards to something so basic as daily housekeeping.

  16. Recent stays of 4-11 nights at Hilton and Marriott properties where I managed to get clean towels only begrudgingly. I use towels once at home, then I wash them. I get that you dry your clean body with a clean towel but the damp towels hanging around aren’t what my skin wants. And we change our sheets regularly at home too. Trash goes out every day. Why can’t I live to the same standard away that I do at home? My Hyatt experiences were better than Hilton and Marriott.

    For the reference of the person who feels they’re short staffed because people wanted to stay home on unemployment, I too have been carrying the workload of more than one person and my heart goes out to you. I don’t think unemployment is lucrative. I think people are still not comfortable being away from home if they or those they love are immunocompromised. If anyone is curious – my stays have been both domestic and international. Cleanest experience over the past year? A Hyatt Place in Mexico.

  17. With pictures like that becoming more common (we’ve all seen this) you know that rats are also moving in.

  18. @Ann – then reduce rates to compensate for the lack of service. It isn’t displaying a lack of empathy to complain about this when rates are higher than they’ve ever been.

  19. Here’s an idea:If they cut their margins and took slightly lower profits by paying housekeeping staff a fair wage to risk their very lives in Covid times,they surely would get more employees.
    Typical hotel moron response,hope he’s out on the street soon.

  20. Looks like the hallways at Caesar’s palace Las Vegas where housekeeping was by request only. Such a juxtaposition to the lovely and clean hotels I had on my trip to Greece recently where rooms were serviced daily.

  21. @Ann,

    Your comment doesn’t make any sense. It seems like both you and the guests are complaining about the same thing? Why would you get “mad” at the guests for the same thing that you and your staff realize is a problem? You are “begging for help” because you realize it is a problem. Then when someone else complains that it’s a problem you get “mad”?

    If nobody will work for $15/hour, pay more. I don’t know about your property, but staying at hotels lately and looking at rates, occupancy is high and rates are high. The hotel in Gary’s picture is SOLD OUT for tonight, and the lowest rate for tomorrow night is $303! For a Fairfield Inn, in the middle of nowhere!

  22. I’d expect better from a Hyatt.

    @Ann – As an employer myself, I appreciate your situation. I guess the real questions is: If you can’t provide a certain minimum level of service like housekeeping on days where requested, what are you doing for your customers to rescue the situation? Do you offer free breakfast to everyone? A price break? A nice welcome gift? Free on demand movie? Or are people paying full rate but not getting full service and being told that they effectively don’t matter?

  23. @ Ann – I am very sympathetic with this predicament, but the simple answer is to raise wages, raise prices, or some combination of the two.

    In the last several months, as several people have noted, limited-service properties are charging upwards of $200 a night when they can. That’s the demand part of supply and demand. Why can’t they make it work for wages?

    I don’t know ANYONE sitting back and waiting for unemployment benefits to end in two weeks time. But for many, breaking one’s back in a trash-strewn corridor in a hotel that is at 95% occupancy with maskless patrons wondering why the free breakafast that they paid for doesn’t exist – well, I can hardly blame them.

    As someone booking a hotel for next week in Salt Lake City, it’s hard to pick between bad or worse. $200 on a Sunday night for no restaurant, no breakfast available, no pool, no housekeeping, no parking, and a 200 sq ft room with a view of a parking lot?

    Sadly, the ball is in your employer’s court.

  24. At Ann: I’m sick and tired of these complaints about unemployment. The Federal unemployment boost is over and people still won’t run back to their housekeeping jobs. Why? Housekeeping is all women. Women had to stay home with their kids because no school. Now school is opening up but they’re worried about all the mask debates. And kids 12 and under have no vaccine and despite Gary’s claim they don’t get sick, well, yes they do. There are still people in this world who worry about their kids health. And nobody “got rich” on unemployment. It did allow at lot of middle class workers to keep up with their bills. I bet “Ann” is the manager of that hotel…..

  25. @Gary, stayed there a few times last summer. It’s a nice property on the outer banks. Great use of Bonvoy points considering each room is $400+ on weekends. They are pretty good at removing the garbage. A bigger issue is having a broom to remove all the sand you bring back to your suite. And it’s a TownePlace Suites so many cook in their room or grill outdoor, hence all the garbage.

  26. Yep…excuses and cop outs by hotel management. Being an A hole, I will not tolerate paying full price for minimal service. If the service and conditions were not satisfactory and the same as before Covid, I break something in the room that they will not notice for awhile. Is it childish?, yes it is. Tit for Tat.

  27. I can go along with no daily housekeeping, I don’t like it but I can live with it.
    What I can’t accept is garbage in the hallways.
    I just can’t accept that.
    I think these obstacles in the hallways are a fire hazard, in case of a fire people will be falling down the hallways. Going forward if you stay in a hotel like the one pictured, send a picture to the fire marshal of that city and ask if garbage bags in the hallways meet fire codes.
    If everyone did it, it wouldn’t take long for the hotels to change the policy.

  28. Since June 1 I have stayed at 13 hotels (Marriott, Hilton, IHG). None of the halls looked like this picture.
    However, I did occasionally see halls with lots of trash in the decades before Covid.

    Cherry-picked anecdotal experiences are not normative.

    Last Sunday I found a $20 bill on the ground outside the pizza place where I ate. Does that mean the new normal during Covid for pizza places involves cash being tossed on the ground for anyone to grab?

  29. Call the health department as well as the fire department in these cities. These trashed hallways are heath hazards as well as fire hazards. What’s wrong with the management picking up this stuff. I don’t mind reusing as towel, in fact, I usually do. However, I don’t like filth and this hallway is filthy.
    Perhaps I should take a few large trash bags with me and just dump all my trash on the front desk?

  30. I wrote to Fire Chief Tilley in Kill Devil Hills NC with a link to this article and asked him if this is a fire hazard or not. I also requested that he forward my e-mail on to City Code enforcement if he thought that this was an attraction for rats and the code enforcers might want to have a look.
    I also suggested that since so many of you wrote that you se this regularly that he check all the hotels in his city if he thinks leaving bags of garbage in a hotel hallway is a fire hazard.

  31. Most guests accept covid has brought changes such as reduced housekeeping and amenities. However, prices remain high and there is no communication or goodwill from the hotel – where to get clean supplies, complimentary coffee or water station in the lobby, etc. Hotels are making guests feel like intruders.

  32. I seriously cannot believe the blogger complains about having to use a towel more than once. Wow what a snowflake.

  33. 1. Vote with your wallet. Only stay at Hotels with Daily Service and cancel membership with chains that do not.. If 10-thousand members suddenly cancel with Hilton and tell the Company it’s because of room servicing, that’ll get their attention. Don’t just complain HERE. Make it count.
    2. If you end up with a corridor like that, drop a dime with the Local Health Department. File a “hazardous” health condition.complaint. Garbage breeds rats. Let the local management defend those complaints. They’ll get it.

  34. Maybe a deeper dive into the “why” services have been cut back would be helpful Gary. Talk with people who grind it out at the hotels each day Instead of pointing out the uncontrollable flaws of services that are trying to be delivered. Remember that hotel employees were essential through this but were not treated as such and forgotten when vaccines came out. People in this industy are not coming back to work for MANY reasons. Mostly because the jobs suck regardless of pay and employees are not treated well. Even worse is that industry will lose more as time wheres on. Why? Because of the entitlement of travelers in this pandemic, the unrelenting demands of the management, the brands non support of employees and the greed of the ownerships (reits). Lets not forget that it is a 24 7 365 industry and u r ALWAYS working. Keep knocking the workers who suffer mental abuse from elite guests and the grueling days of hard labor, long hours and little appreciation, the damages will be felt for years. This coming from someone who lives it first hand.

  35. I have simply stopped staying at the three hotels with which I have points and some type of status (Hilton, Marriott, IHG). I now rent apartments for all my stays (I don’t have one night stays like many of you). I’m happy to make my bed, take out trash, etc.). I always have access to a kitchen, especially a fridge which almost no me of the chains will provide even a mini-fridge. I’m so much happier. F*ck all of them.

  36. I have never been angrier than to come back from a day’s outing toward 10pm and find out the RITZ CARLTON SANTA BARBARA didn’t tell me the loud, boisterous crowd of maids who woke me up that morning getting carts and kibbitzing outside my room wouldn’t be lifting a finger to clean or restock our room because this service was not being provided except by explicit reservation.

    As I sat there drying off from my shower with that morning’s crumped damp towel from the floor of the bathroom, my wife informed me that the front desk had no sympathy and no maids on duty, and so it would be a $300+ stay which compared unfavorably to staying over at my relatives’.

    The next morning, I complained politely to the desk clerk as we were checking out (early), and was told he would try to talk the manager into 35,000 Marriott points since I wasn’t advised of their “situation”. I got a message on my phone later from a “manager” saying she was truly sorry for my experience but offering nothing. I called back but she was gone for the day, and didn’t bother to return my call. I am still furious that Marriott customer “service” serviced me by ignoring my complaint, and I have exactly ZERO empathy for poor hotel owners and operators selling out a property when they have no intention of providing basic hotel services. And Ann, if you’re reading this far, please don’t try to rationalize a hall full of garbage. If you can’t assign someone to keep the place at least sanitary, then you simply shouldn’t be open. Period.

  37. I sidestep this situation by only staying in hotels for 1 night at a time. In Santa Barbara as the above commenter mentioned, Motel 6 is a good choice as the very first ever Motel 6 is still operational and pretty clean.

  38. I definitely am sympathetic to hotel owners who suffered from government imposed standstill because of excessive restrictions that criminalized personal decision making/individual liberty/free movement.

    Before 2020, we did hear the same issues the hotel owners have with the chains regarding complimentary breakfast for elite members and high costs of the award redemptions who pay hotels $100 a night for a $500 room (some resort fees exist because a hotel that provides $50 in pool/beach/towel/beach chair/umbrella services needs to recoup that from award stays). The cost of increased waitstaff and food can add up for cheaper hotels that get paid $20 from the program for a $100 a night room. Cheaper hotels could be losing money on these stays.

    If higher room rates are necessary for hotels to offer housekeeping service, pay higher wages (a good thing), and other necessary features, they should raise rates. Hotels should compete not just on price but on service.

    The hotel chains should do a better job of working with the hotel owners so that they are happy. The hotel chains shouldn’t complain to the public and guests. They should just be honest and say higher costs mean room rates have to go up. They shouldn’t offer reward benefits they can’t deliver on and maybe should discount some of them for any new member of the rewards program. The chains should take hotel owners into account when they design their rewards program, and hotel owners should not sign up for the chain if the cost structure isn’t helpful.

  39. I have to laugh that hotels can’t hire staff. Hello? You’ll need to pay more. Or reduce the nightly room rate. I’m paying you 100% and you’re saving $15/hour/housekeeper? Your choice is not to hire anyone and offer no housekeeping service? Do the math. Apparently hotels think that their guests are idiots. Even a hotel executive could make the rounds with a cart full of fresh towels and pick up the trash bags in the hallway 3 or 4 times a day.

    For the record, I never admit housekeeping to my room. I use a towel, let it dry, use it the next morning. I fluff up the pillows and make the bed. I find a big trash can and put my trash in it, or hand it to a housekeeper. I go find a maid in the morning and ask for whatever I need. I was not raised in a household with a personal maid. I don’t like to think about a perfect stranger with an unknown background having full access to my hotel room.

  40. This entire column is making me think that buying ABNB stock–currently deflated, even though profits were higher than anticipated–is the way to go.

  41. @Rob Ben I totally agree with you. These chains and hotel owners are charging top dollar, usually more than pre-Covid times. To me it seems that everyone in the travel industry is trying to make up for profits they lost during the lock-downs. That is wrong! These huge companies have cash for contingencies. They can declare losses on their taxes. Things that individuals cannot do! But all of these comments make me want to stay in limited service type properties and not bother with regular hotels.

    @ann If this is what your Hilton looks like. I can stay somewhere else! You know that, right? Maybe the greedy owners need to change their attitudes!

  42. ann says:
    August 14, 2021 at 10:40 am
    “I get so mad when I read this sort of entitled post.. I work in a hilton hotel.. we CANNOT get help!!!!!!!
    ….then we hear these BS comments from whiners about how dirty the hotel is or how they didnt get good service or how there is not a good enough breakfast..”

    Entitled? Whiners? While empathy is likely there for the individual team members, hotel management must remember that the paying customer is just that, PAYING the establishment for lodging (and the conditions related to it), and your establishment isn’t on the low end of the price spectrum. Dial your righteous indignation back a bit. Those brands/locations that find a way to maintain levels of service in spite of decreased personnel will be worth the increased lodging costs. The alternative as some posters stated is that if lower degrees of service are the norm from here on then there is no longer an advantage to pay for your higher cost hotel.

  43. @ Cmorgan
    Yes, you are correct. Just because I have not experienced what Gary’s one photo shows does not mean it never happens…AND…just because Gary posts one photo does not mean it happens everywhere, all the time, to everyone. But Gary claimed his one photo spoke for everyone. I did no such thing.

    Gary makes his living off click bait and hyperbole. I can choose to either agree or disagree with him.

  44. As usual, the original article by Gary was balanced and factual- I do not think he was slamming the hotel for not offering room service, just pointing out that one of the biggest differentiators for hotels from AirBnB is daily room service.

    Some of the comments on the other hand are pretty outrageous- scatter condoms? Ewww – people, have some consideration.

    I do think that hotels need to bring back room service sooner rather than later, or else face a drop off of guests who will opt elsewhere. At a minimum, you gotta take out the trash, even if you have to have a manager roll a cart through the halls, picking up…

  45. Unfortunately, the lack of housekeeping seems to mean that even when there is service, it is often less than stellar. I have just checked into 15 hotels. Seven rooms were (well, appeared to be) clean. The rest were sloppily cleaned with other people’s trash (and even their food and clothing items) still in the “specially cleaned” “cleanstay” rooms of major chains. Ugh!
    One of the hotels had what appeared to be pre-used sheets on the bed, which I made them come and change. Only one hotel was apologetic and even embarrassed. The others blew it off with a “things happen” (dirty sheets????).
    And breakie? Don’t get me started when they tell me that a frozen bagel and a toaster is a hot breakie…..

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