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Etiquette for inspecting motel rooms
Old 10-08-2007, 01:56 PM   #1
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Etiquette for inspecting motel rooms

Travelling overseas on a budget, I got into the habit of checking out every hotel room before I would stay there. I found there was almost always something wrong with the room whether it was no shower water, broken AC, or unclean sheets. It was always much easier to get these issues resolved before I had paid for the room than afterwards.

This habit of inspecting hotel rooms has stayed with me now that I'm back in the USA, and I think I may have gotten a bit overzealous about it. My normal routine when inspecting a hotel room is to quickly turn on all the water sources (sink, shower, flush toilet) to make sure they work, make sure there is a working TV remote, and if the room isn't spotlessly clean, check that at least the bed sheets are clean.

Recently I was looking for a motel room in the Los Angeles area, something motel-6 level for about $70/night. Usually managers give me a key and I inspect a room on my own, but this time the manager came with me to the room and watched me turn on the water and check the sheets. All of a sudden when I pulled up the corner of the bedspread to inspect the sheets, he got incredibly offended at me and told me to leave now, saying he would not let me stay there. I've never been thrown out of a place for any reason so I was in a bit of shock. I tried to ask him what I did to offend him, and all he would say is "you know exactly what you did". So I guess he didn't like my inspecting the sheets.

I went on to another motel and ironically ended up with lukewarm shower water because I didn't bother to test the shower in my $80/night hotel room.

My general attitude when inspecting a motel room is that I'm probably going to stay there anyway, so there's no harm in having droplets of water in the shower or a slightly ruffled bedspread where I lifted it up and put it back into place. If I decided not to stay there I would tuck the sheet back in so it looked perfect, and the water would evaporate in a little while.

What are others inspection routines for hotel rooms?
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Old 10-08-2007, 02:42 PM   #2
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Well, since you asked--I think you're probably in the "slightly unusual" behavior zone. I've found problems with a room after checking in, and I'm always offered a new room. If a new room wouldn't do it, I'm fairly sure you could get your money back and be on your way as long as it had been only a few minutes since you left the front desk.

You're paying with a (cash-back) credit card, right? In the worst case if they refused to give you your money back (very unlikely IMO) you could call the card company immediately and dispute the charge.

Even the economy hotel chains guarantee your satisfaction. Mom and pop (or Patel)--no writen gaurantee, but I think they'd proably do the right thing.

I agree that overseas it is an entirely different matter. And another thing about foreign hotels: don't let the SOBs at the front desk hold your passport, regardless of what they say their "normal policy" is. "My 'normal policy' is to not be held hostage."
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Old 10-08-2007, 03:01 PM   #3
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I always bring a petri dish and a microscope. Doesn't everybody?

dirty hotels
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Old 10-08-2007, 03:43 PM   #4
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I booked the last room in a Chicago Loop hotel once. When SO and I got there, I freaked; no kidding, because there was a mega mega huge conference room table there. All in all it was a spotlessly clean and beautiful suite but it was worse than being at w*rk. I had visions of a really bad deal going down there. That fully booked hotel found us another suite, slightly smaller, but we were much happier.
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Old 10-08-2007, 03:48 PM   #5
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when stopping in roadside motels i just check to see that the room looks ok & smells clean. then i check in. then i test the tv remote.

when i stopped in charleston sc last time there was a bunch of conventions in town & finding room was difficult. i wound up at some motel 8 or something just across the bridge and in a handicap room at that. i lasted an hour before i couldn't take it any more. and it really doesn't take much to please me.

so i found a room at the nearby best western. much much better for only 30 bucks more yet still got the last room left which happened to also be the handicap room. the first hotel simply didn't run my charge through.

i think for $100 you really can't expect all that much. a clean room, clean towels that don't shed on you. a working a/c that isn't too noisy and a remote controlled tv set. i figure it's just for the night and mostly i'll just be sleeping. no big deal.
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Old 10-08-2007, 03:59 PM   #6
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If you are going with a well known hotel chain you know what you should expect. It would be difficult to "inspect" the room before committing, but I always check things out before unpacking.

On several occasions I have requested a room change because a previous guest has clearly been smoking in a nonsmoking room. Once, I found (someone else's) pubic hair in the shower at a Hilton. Got a letter of apology and an offer of a reduction "next time". [There was no next time].
And twice (once in Washington DC, once in London, England) I was sent to an occupied room with indignant guests inside!

All these experiences happened in nonbudget hotels.
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Old 10-08-2007, 04:08 PM   #7
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And twice (once in Washington DC, once in London, England) I was sent to an occupied room with indignant guests inside!
On a business trip, I once walked naked out of the bathroom following a shower to find some guy just setting his suitcase down in the sitting room,(It was a large suite in a fancy hotel). The shock was mutual.
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Old 10-08-2007, 04:17 PM   #8
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Yes, I too have walked in on a couple (uncoupled, fortunately) who were occupying the room I'd just been issued.

It is encounters like this that make me think that they frequently don't reset the room's electronic locks after each guest.
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Old 10-08-2007, 04:25 PM   #9
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Rodney Dangerfield: I tell you that hotel was a dump. In the brochure's picture of the room, the bed wasn't made.
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Old 10-08-2007, 04:28 PM   #10
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I've have finally accepted that hotel rooms are disgusting, no matter how clean they appear to be and taken a defensive approach.

My inspection (after checking in) consists of looking for dead bodies and flagrant signs of occupancy including clothes on the floor, half empty suitcases and pizza boxes. Once I've decided that the room is empty, I lower the lights (sometimes this necessitates removing high wattage bulbs) and engage in activities designed to help me forget that I am paying good money to sleep in a place I'd rather not.

The only reason I regularly refuse a room is lack of internet connection. It's surprising how often the hotel wifi doesn't hit all rooms, or the modem is toast.

When I hit the lotto - I want a tour bus with high thread count sheets, well stocked fridge, Internet in Motion (satellite internet on the fly) and a cute but silent driver! One of these days I might just buy a ticket.
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Old 10-08-2007, 04:40 PM   #11
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My normal routine when inspecting a hotel room is to quickly turn on all the water sources (sink, shower, flush toilet) to make sure they work, make sure there is a working TV remote, and if the room isn't spotlessly clean, check that at least the bed sheets are clean.

What are others inspection routines for hotel rooms?
The manager likely thought that you were a mystery shopper sent by the chain to do a quality check.

On the other hand, maybe he thought you were checking out the room as a potential stage for an "adult entertainment" video??

Seriously, I wait until I'm in the room -- but before I unpack -- to check out all the same things you do. If I'm unhappy, back to the front desk to complain. When I travelled lots while working, I usually got to stay at hotels with bellmen and I would ALWAYS ask the bellman on the way to the room if he thought this particular room was one of the "better ones." I had a few instances where the bellman said "no way" -- so I'd ask which room he'd stay in if he was going to stay in this hotel and then I'd go back to the front desk and ask for THAT room. (Usually got it, too! Or at least a similar one.)

Free4Now, you would have been perfect to travel with my last boss. When he'd check into a hotel, he'd demand to see the printed layout of the room to see for himself how close he'd be to the elevators, the ice machine, stairways, etc. THEN he'd ask for the key and he'd make his personal evaluation. Sometimes it'd take him a half hour to find a room that he found "suitable."
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Old 10-08-2007, 05:06 PM   #12
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The rooms i remember the most have not been the best. There was the outstanding location Seattle room right close to Pike's Place: Police moving a poor homeless fella on from his lobby warm spot, lamps permanently affixed to the bedside tables, and best of all, as we got to the room a guy in full face mask on his way out after spraying. He suggested we not hang out in the room for a few hours... So we went out and had a great dinner, then came back and thoroughly enjoyed the old tile work, redid the furniture placement to suit ourselves, laid out a couple old oriental rugs we'd bought - and had a memory for the future.
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Old 10-08-2007, 07:29 PM   #13
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Old 10-08-2007, 08:58 PM   #14
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Maybe he took pulling back the sheets as an unwanted 'invitation'? You didn't use a 'wide stance' to get that sheet back, did you?

Or, maybe he was just PO'd that he'd need to call in maid service if you declined the room.

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Old 10-08-2007, 09:12 PM   #15
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All of a sudden when I pulled up the corner of the bedspread to inspect the sheets, he got incredibly offended at me and told me to leave now, saying he would not let me stay there. I've never been thrown out of a place for any reason so I was in a bit of shock. I tried to ask him what I did to offend him, and all he would say is "you know exactly what you did". So I guess he didn't like my inspecting the sheets.
I'm thinking one thing: bedbugs.

Plus an oversensitive manager.

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What are others inspection routines for hotel rooms?
Well, first we make sure we actually get the room. Too many times our reservation has been "lost" to a customer who checked in earlier willing to pay a higher rate.

Then when we get inside the room, make sure it's vacant, and finish walking through we decide if it's OK. If the hotel is crowded (or there's a big event in town) we might overlook a minor annoyance. When I was at a West Point graduation I had the only remaining room in Fishkill, NY and I wasn't going to complain that the shower drain was clogged.

But cigarette smoke is a non-starter.
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Old 10-08-2007, 09:21 PM   #16
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I figure if the roaches are still alive it is an OK place.
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Old 10-09-2007, 07:15 PM   #17
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Once I've decided that the room is empty, I lower the lights and engage in activities designed to help me forget that I am paying good money to sleep in a place I'd rather not.
I'll point out that I spent a good two days trying very, very hard not to comment on this...
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Old 10-09-2007, 07:18 PM   #18
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I'll point out that I spent a good two days trying very, very hard not to comment on this...
Whaddya bet he's got a Word document with a couple dozen sleazy snappy responses....
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Old 10-09-2007, 07:30 PM   #19
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Whaddya bet he's got a Word document with a couple dozen sleazy snappy responses....
Oh, he sent it to you too?
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Old 10-09-2007, 07:31 PM   #20
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Hey be quiet or I'll tell everyone that you two and laurence put me up to it!

Come on, my impulse control is really improving...
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