If you frequently stay at hotels, there are things you could be doing that are putting your health, safety, personal information, and even your life at risk. Here are ten things you should never do when staying at a hotel.
10. Don’t Pay with Cash or a Debit Card
Why? Well, first of all, if you pay with cash, you’ll have a much harder time disputing your bill. Even paying with a debit card may make it difficult for you to dispute charges on your bill. So, then the question becomes ‘why would I need to dispute charges on my bill?’ Well, according to ABC News, you could end up being a target of identity theft. Another reason is that hotel bills often have hidden charges (a.k.a. unexpected fees). “Many New York hotels located near Times Square are now charging an extra $25 destination fee. Some properties add on a resort fee for amenities — even when you’re not staying [at] the resort. Then, there’s the obnoxious restocking fee for those macadamia nuts you ate when you couldn’t bring yourself to walk a block to find food,” ABC News wrote on its website.
To be on the safe side, make sure you pay with a credit card AND research the hotel’s fees prior to booking your stay.
9. Don’t Steal Anything
It’s absolutely fine to take certain things from a hotel room–the complimentary soaps, shampoos, lotions, etc. But, please don’t be tempted to take other things, like the towels and bathrobes, for example. We know they may be oh so plush and luxurious, but it’s not worth it. First of all, it’s wrong. Second, they’ll find out about it, and that means that you could be charged extra. Third, you could end up getting banned. According to Travel + Leisure magazine, NBC says that most major hotels have a computer database with a no-stay list of patrons who’ve stolen from them. Those hotels are all too happy to share that information with other hotels. That could mean that even though you stole something from the Marriott, you could also end up getting banned from the Hilton. Fourth, and probably most important, is that it’s a crime, and you could end up getting locked up like the woman in Nigeria who spent three months in prison in 2010 for stealing two towels from the Transcorp Hilton Abuja Hotel.
8. Don’t Restock the Minibar
Now, don’t get us wrong. It’s totally okay to be thoughtful and leave behind little treats for the workers–like the guests who left the fridge and cupboards stocked with groceries, or the guest who said he buys a 6-pack of beer, only drinks a few, and leaves the rest behind in the mini-fridge for the workers to divvy up. But, what we’re talking about here is trying to “fake the hotel staff out by replacing the liquor with a half-sipped bottle of Diet Coke,” Sophia Borghese, a consultant for La Galerie Hotel in New Orleans, told Reader’s Digest. “This happens more often than you might think, and those who do it still get charged for taking that $30, two-ounce bottle of spirits,” Borghese added.
7. Don’t Order Room Service if the Menu is Dirty
Last month, we told you that if the menus at a restaurant are a mess, it’s a sign that you’re about to dine at a bad restaurant and you should find some place else to eat. Well, the same thing goes for hotel room service. If the menu is dirty, don’t order anything! That’s according to the Travel Channel, who says that you should never order from room service if you notice that the pages are dirty and torn. But, even if you do decide to place an order, Reader’s Digest says that there are certain things you probably shouldn’t order from room service anyway regardless of the menu condition because they don’t hold up too well under steamy room service plates. These foods include scrambled eggs, burgers, fried foods, steamed vegetables, waffles, pizza, pastries, and pasta.
6. Don’t Bring Your Pets
Unless you’ll be staying in a pet-friendly hotel, leave your furry friends behind. And, don’t think about sneaking them in either. No matter how well you think you’ve cleaned up after your pet, chances are the hotel staff will know he or she was there. And, that could mean you’d be responsible for any cleaning fees associated with any trails–hair, smells, etc.–your pet left behind.
Not to mention that the hotel could end up finding out about it before you leave, like the time a front desk hotel worker went to a room and found four ladies gutting a seal. “Can’t imagine how pissed the housekeeping staff was about that… From the looks of it they weren’t trying very hard to keep the guts and juices from getting everywhere,” the worker said on RateMyJob.com.
5. Don’t Use the Coffee Pot
Well, this isn’t one of those “don’t ever do this” things, but it’s one you definitely might want to keep in the back of your mind. That’s because a Super 8 worker once found something pretty disgusting in the coffee pot in a hotel room they were cleaning. Apparently, someone had pooped where the coffee grounds are supposed to go and made a pot of poop water. The worker threw the whole thing in the dumpster and went to the owner to ask for a new pot but was told to go get the old one and bleach it. The worker quit right away.
4. Don’t Use the Throw Pillows
Don’t ever sleep on them. In fact, toss them off your bed immediately. That’s because they can harbor some really nasty germs. “If you notice the throw pillows on the bed or the couch have no removable sleeves, you can be sure they are never thoroughly cleaned,” Kashlee Kucheran, seasoned traveler and co-owner of traveloffpath.com, told Reader’s Digest. The hotel will replace them after the stains and smells get to be too much. But, steer clear of them in the meantime because “you can bet there have been many faces, bottoms, and other things lounging on those pillows,” Kucheran added.
TIP: Call ahead and ask that the throw pillows be removed from the room prior to your arrival.
3. Don’t Use the “Please Clean Room” Sign
Sure you want your room cleaned, but do you really want to announce to the whole world–especially to the burglars–that your room full of valuable possessions is empty? No, hanging that sign up doesn’t necessarily mean that the room is empty, but it most likely is–and thieves know that. So, if your room is in need of a good cleaning, try this instead: call the front desk directly and ask them to send someone to clean your room.
2. Don’t Sleep on the Ground Floor or Top Floor
According to The Sun, a Marine Corps veteran and former CIA detective says that it’s best to avoid sleeping in ground and top-floor hotel bedrooms. That’s because you are the most vulnerable in these rooms if by chance a terror attack occurs. “The ground floor is readily accessible to intruders and the top floor does not allow any [maneuvering] room, Drew Dwyer told The Sun. “The first or second floors allow access for most third world country emergency vehicles.” Dwyer also recommends that guests request a copy of the fire escape plan at check-in time and keep a small “escape bag” packed at all times.
1. Don’t Use the Hotel Wi-Fi to Send Sensitive Information
It’s incredibly easy to hack public Wi-Fi hotspots, so sending sensitive information over them is a definite no-no, Harold Li, vice president of ExpressVPN, told Reader’s Digest. “You might as well be yelling your passwords and bank details down the hall,” Li added. Instead, use encryption to shield your online activity when you’re logging into your bank account or sending other sensitive information. Or, if it’s not something of the utmost importance, you could just wait until you get to a location with a more secure connection.
Scary isn’t it? Especially when you think about the number of times you’ve done some of the things on this list and had no idea you were at risk. And, if you’re looking for more practical hotel room advice, find out why you should always check under the covers, under the bed, in the tub and anywhere else you can think to look when you first arrive at your hotel room. Thanks for reading, and be safe!