What is the toughest job you can have? You could answer that question in many ways. Hotel maid would have to be strongly considered. It’s very physical work that places a lot of demands on the body. Beyond that, there are all kinds of things they encounter that can make the day tougher. There can be all kinds of messes, customers that treat them terribly or as if the hotel maid is beneath them. The pay is generally terrible. And sometimes, guests don’t intend to be rude or mean, but simply aren’t aware of some of the things the staff goes though. That’s where we come in. Here are 10 things the people in charge of ensuring you have a quality room want you to know.
10. They are vulnerable to assault
The vast majority of the people that fill this role are female. Some face unwanted advances from hotel management. Many more face advances from guests in the rooms. There have been reports of male guests answering the knock on the door wearing only a towel or underwear or wearing nothing at all. Some guests will go further, attempting to grope or even rape the maid. “These problems happen with some regularity,” said Anthony Roman, chief executive of Roman & Associates, a Long Island company that advises hotels on security matters. “They’re not rare, but they’re not common either.” Without focusing too much on the words used to describe the frequency, what remains is that this a danger they have to prepare for.
9. They’re always pressed for time
There is a certain number of rooms each person is expected to clean each day and a specific amount of time to take care of each room. This could be as little as 15-20 minutes for each room. They are regularly under pressure from the management to clean rooms faster. This is especially difficult if guests leave major messes all over the bedroom and bathroom. Some tasks may have to be left undone, such as vacuuming, scrubbing the tub thoroughly or cleaning under the bed. Speaking of guests that leave giant messes…
8. They appreciate tidy guests
With the regular pressure to clean more rooms in less time, it makes their day when a guest doesn’t create a giant cleanup job. The guest can make the cleaners’ jobs much easier by making sure all trash is in the trash can, all the used linens and towels are in a single pile and flush the toilet. Some maids estimate that 1 in 3 guests don’t flush the toilet, incredible as it may seem. And speaking of the toilet…
7. They might use the toilet in your room
Most hotels have a standard policy that housecleaning is not to use the toilet in guest rooms, but that is tough to enforce. Plus, going back to the regular time pressure, the maid may not feel like there is enough time to leave, go to the approved location, and come back and complete the round of rooms to clean. Assuming they clean it thoroughly, it’s not likely a guest is going to know. Plus, so many people have used that toilet before you!
6. There are germs everywhere
Something to consider with any space in a hotel room is that hundreds, if not thousands, of different people used the room before you arrived. The maids will do their best to clean the room each day, but it’s hard to eliminate every single germ. Most people have heard reports about a frightening amount of germs on the TV remote control. There are other areas where germs may hide, like the cups and glasses. If your room has a coffee mug and glasses at the sink, these are things that maids may take shortcuts cleaning, such as only rinsing them out or using window cleaner instead of soap.
5. They keep what you leave behind
Most hotels have a written policy for anything left in a room after a guest checks out – the item is turned in to management, there is a defined time period for the guest to claim it, and once that time passes, the items are donated to charity. A Reddit user who once worked at some 5-star hotels wrote that once the time had passed, management would take the best items for themselves, then let the maids take what they want. Hotels generally won’t contact guests to inform them they left something behind – in the past, some hotels did just that, and it exposed guests who were using the room to carry on an affair, and the cheated-on partner was the one who retrieved the hotel’s call. Hotels now generally leave it up to the guest to contact them if they discover they left something behind.
4. Ask for free stuff
Most people are aware you can get additional toiletries at no charge, such as soap, lotion, mouthwash and toothpaste (and if you weren’t aware, yes, you can get these at no additional cost). But you can also get stamps, extra laundry bags, sewing kits, extension cords, night lights, and extra trash bags just by asking.
3. They see terrible things
With so many thousands of guests every year, hotel staff are going to see just about every type of person there is. That includes people who do illegal things like drug use (many maids have found drug use items in rooms), as well as things that are just gross, such as bodily waste, blood, vomit, pornography, and yes, even dead bodies. That is extremely rare, but some of these other awful things can certainly be found.
2. They see funny things
While a maid may encounter some terrible things in this work, occasionally some very funny things will occur. A Buzzfeed user once wrote that when she went to clean a room where someone had just checked out, she thought the room smelled odd. When she pulled down the covers on the bed, the mattress was covered with coleslaw. Another maid found a baby on a bed, and upon taking it to management, it was discovered it was a robot designed to look and act like an infant. It was left behind by scientists attending a medical convention at the hotel.
1. They might go days without a tip
The pay for this work is extremely low – in the USA, the salary is usually less than $22,000 per year. With that in mind, maids need tips from guests to raise their pay. It is likely that a lot of guests don’t know that they can tip the maid. Some wait until the end of their stay to leave a tip. Most maids would prefer that a guest leave a dollar or two each day. If you are staying a week and wait for that last day, and that last day happens to be the regular maid’s day off, the substitute gets to keep the very large tip you intended for the maid that had been cleaning your room for 6 days. You can also leave a snack for your maid – a cold drink or ice cream would be welcome on a hot day. Of course, you need to leave a note for the maid that tells him or her to go ahead and have the snack.
In general, travel can be a tough thing to get through, whether you have to work through airport hassles or traffic on the highways. The hotel room presents an opportunity to be one of the bright spots of your trip. It can definitely be a bright spot knowing these things that the hotel staff wants us to know. And now that you know a little bit more about their work, you can do your best to help them have a good day at work. Treat the staff well, and you and they will be much happier.