15 Things Your Hotel Won’t Tell You

Booking and checking into a hotel has never been easier—so why does it sometimes feel like such a fraught moment when you get to the front desk to check in? It could be because we are aware that the hotel folks know a lot more about what we are in for than we do, an unsettling feeling for sure.

Most hotels and hotel employees want you to have a good stay, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t keeping a few things to themselves as they peer into the reservation computer screen and encode plastic door keys for you. Here are some of the things your hotel won’t tell you, and maybe doesn’t want you to know.

1. If you booked a cheap room, you’re getting a cheap room.

In these days of fully computerized booking, the person at the front desk knows where you booked your room, how much you paid and what amenities you specified—and they likely have instructions on what to do when rooms have been booked for very low rates. So if you booked your room at a rock-bottom “name your price” rate, you shouldn’t expect the best room with the best view in the hotel.

2. They know which are the best rooms.

When you are checking in, the front desk person chooses a room for you, and he or she knows if it is a good one or not. Hotel staffers know which rooms are large or small, are far from the elevator, have bright lights pouring in, have good or bad views, are noisy, etc.

3. “No vacancy” might not be true.

Only the front desk staff knows the true, up-to-date inventory of the hotel, as they are privy to the most recent cancellations and know if certain rooms are being withheld from the main reservation system for any reason. Centralized reservations systems, whether online or at an 800 number, often do not have the same updated information. Calling the hotel directly can sometimes result in a booking when no other method is working.

4. Staff is often underpaid.

When you are upset, tired, or in need of something, it is helpful to remember that the hotel staff is probably underpaid to some extent, that they have managers looking over their shoulders, and that they are just trying to get through their shift doing a good job. They aren’t trying to cause you problems, ruin your stay or make you a king. They’re at work.

5. Staff may not have been background checked.

Given how much stuff the majority of hotel visitors leave lying around without incident, it is clear that most hotel workers are plenty honest, but keep in mind that not all staff undergoes a thorough background check, extensive vetting or tough checks on references. Be sure to stow your valuables in the hotel safe rather than leaving them out.

6. Concierge recommendations may not be entirely unbiased.

It is a fairly routine practice for hotels to recommend some establishments and not others when guests ask. The property may have a deal with a local restaurant, or the hotel owner may own the restaurant as well, or the employees may have been told not to give out information that would lure folks away from the hotel restaurant or bar, or the concierge may be getting paid to recommend specific establishments.

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