Annoying things to do in a hotel Cover Image

The No BS Way To Stay In A Hotel

I’ve worked in hotels since 2003. It’s been a mostly fun and challenging twenty years, and mostly enjoyable experience. I’ve done housekeeping, public areas, maintenance, Guest Service Agent, management and admin. I’ve seen it all. But on the flip side of these fun times, there are those things people do that are groan-worthy or downright infuriating. Whether you’re staying for work or leisure, a noob or a seasoned traveller, these are things you should know the next time you visit your next accommodation provider (not including AirBNB). I’ll divide this into sections to break it up a little.

1. Booking Your Accommodation

Book direct.

By booking directly with the hotel, I mean booking your hotel room via the hotel’s website, call centre or the hotel reception’s phone number. Nightly rates for accommodation are almost always the same as what’s on publicly available websites (like Wotif, etc.). By booking over the phone you can often get a good deal, especially in situations where the hotel has plenty of rooms to sell and you want to arrive in two days’ time.

If you’re a frequent traveller and work doesn’t pay for your accommodation, don’t pass up the offer to join loyalty program – you can get immediate discounts on your booking. Lastly, for independent hoteliers, booking direct means more money for small-time business operators, like your parents and friends. Sure, they advertise rooms on, but BDC takes 15% commission. Use and similar websites to compare prices and availability between hotels, and read the reviews (And how the hotel responds to feedback. Is it generic? It should address any compliments or complaints.), but dude, book your next hotel room with the hotel.

If you must book through a third party agent…

Look for a local contact number. There a some shifty websites out there you can book accommodation on. You see the beautiful hotel you’re planning to visit, and the price is $400 cheaper than any other website. That’s a win, right? No. Go back to Google. Seriously. You can book through these websites, and the booking is legitimate – the hotel receives your reservation – but that $2000 holiday just charged $3000 to your MasterCard because they didn’t tell you they’re charging in USD. Want to cancel? Good luck finding an email address or phone number.

If you must book at the reception desk…

Do it when it’s quiet, like before lunch and later afternoon, not when you see 30 people with luggage trying to check in. And don’t ask endless questions, or the rates for different weeks in June, before and after the school holidays. We’re only going to rush you, and give you the wrong information because we have 30 frustrated people wanting to get into their room and need you out of the way.

And if you’re from New Zealand…

Enjoy the holiday you’re currently on. Don’t spend two days of your 7-day holiday walking from hotel to hotel checking the price for accommodation in May next year. And no, I don’t know what bar 20 minutes away is playing the All Blacks game.

Ask questions…

You won’t know if you don’t ask. Save yourself disappointment or uncertainty by calling the hotel directly, not a call centre, not a travel agent. You can even send an email to the hotel so you have a copy of it in writing for future reference.

But don’t ask mundane questions at 3am…

No fooling, people call at all hours of the night asking how high is the car park? How deep is the pool? Is the pool heated? What time does the reception close (Dude, it’s 3am! There’s your answer!)

But the taxi driver/bouncer at the pub said you had a room available…

Hotels are legally allowed to turn away people, even when they have a booking. So it’s best to make a good impression when you come to the reception. Don’t walk in barefoot or with any open alcohol. Hotels aren’t licensed to have open alcohol in the reception/lobby area, we’ll ask you to leave it outside. And if it’s late and you sound drunk, you’re stumbling, slurring or whatever, we don’t have a room for you.

If you’re looking for a room and are calling from a party, turn the music and background voices down. Don’t say you were kicked out of home by your girlfriend/parent, we’re either automatically full or the price instantly doubles (“Hey mate, my girlfriend kicked me out of home, do you have a room for the night?” Yes, it’s the last one and it’s $650 for the night.).

Also, the taxi driver doesn’t know what hotels have what rooms available, he wants you out of his cab because you made a mess on his back seat. Same with the bouncer who’s just kicked you out of his bar. And if you have face tattoos, well, it’s terrible to discriminate, but when you’re a big-muscled, tight white t-shirt-wearing bogan with full face tattoos, a bum bag over your shoulder and come to stay with three shifty-looking friends (and you’re paying cash), the police always seem to call us two hours later asking is so and so staying here, we’ll come visit them, I’ll pop in soon to collect a room key.

And if the hotel is fully booked…

I’ve had conversations like “Can I book a room for tonight?” Sorry, we’re fully booked tonight. “What about a penthouse?” We’re fully booked, we have no rooms available. “So you don’t have anything?” No, we’re at 100% occupancy. “Really?” Yes, really. “Why? What’s going on in this town this weekend?” It’s a long weekend/sports carnival/Christmas holidays, people booked their accommodation weeks ago. “Would you have a couch or meeting room I could sleep in? I’ve been driving for 10 hours and I’m so tired.” No, sorry.

Please don’t be like this person, asking why you can’t get a room anywhere at the last minute, late at night, during a busy period. We’re full. Just accept it and look on to see which place has rooms available and give the hotel a call (as directed in my first point).

I want the best/highest room you have…

So do 300 other guests. They booked before you and are paying more, I’ll give them the higher floor. Also, there’s no such thing as the best room in a hotel. If there was, it would have it’s own category and premium price.

Celebrating an anniversary or birthday?

Sweet. Thanks for choosing to celebrate with us. Please put your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/partner’s name on the booking notes if you’re celebrating an anniversary or your/their birthday. Or call us so we know to write a birthday card for “Wendy”, or a happy anniversary card for “Tom & Janine”.  It’s way better than a generic Happy Anniversary Mr & Mrs Smith card, right? Right!

2. The Check-In Experience


Unfortunately, the check-in can be rushed, spesh when it’s a busy day. We try to judge your demeanour when you’re standing there. If you look busy, we won’t go so in-depth with the hotel facilities and all, just get you into your room. If you stand like a stiff and continuously nod and go yep, yep, a ha, yep… you’re going to call me in five minutes asking where you need to park again. If I spoke too quickly or you didn’t understand anything, ask now. Yes, you may take a pen for a souvenir.

Dude, can you transfer me $6?

Hotels charge you a security bond at check-in. It’s typically a small amount, anywhere from $2 to $200 and we call it a pre-auth (short for pre-authorisation). It shows your card is present, is active and has some money on it. The thing I hate about this, though, is even when it’s a minimal amount like $50, some people need to transfer money from friends and other accounts just to cover this. If you can’t afford to pay the security bond, you can’t afford to stay at a hotel.

Hotels need to sight the credit card you booked your room with. Bring it along with you. Same with your ID. It’s just to verify that the name on the booking matches the name on the ID and credit card used to make the booking. We do it for our security and yours. And your credit card number is encrypted. All we see is a bunch of asterisks and the last 4 digits.

Do you have any higher rooms?

Ask now. The check-in time is the absolute best time to ask for that higher floor or that upgrade you want. It’s not always guaranteed, but if we have plenty of rooms free, sure, It doesn’t hurt to ask. But don’t go to your room for an hour, go to the toilet and leave it unflushed, use a few glasses, put rubbish in the bin, mess up the bed and then ask for a higher floor, saying you haven’t touched the room. That takes a staff member another 15 minutes to tidy up. And if we can’t upgrade you, don’t go looking for problems to get that upgrade. Oh, I can smell this smell and you can’t deodorise the room as I have asthma, there’s a speck on the underside of the couch, there’s a mark on the the balcony tile under the flower pot… Ugh. 99% of the time we genuinely can’t upgrade or room move you.

The above is also valid for people who have friends staying on a higher floor, or room with a different layout, partial view, whatever.

3. Your Stay

Looking for something? Something not working properly?

When you get to the room, have a look around. There’s often useful items hiding in the kitchen/bathroom cupboard, like detergents and spare toilet rolls. Still haven’t found when you’re looking for, like that switch to get the hot plate working? Call reception. We can point you in the right direction, or send someone to your room to help. This also applies when there’s a maintenance issue. Just call down for assistance. Don’t wait until you hand the keys in on departure (or when you’re on Trip Advisor back home), get your problem solved right away and enjoy your stay.

Where can I go for a feed this late?

In a large city like Sydney or Melbourne, there’s tons of late-night dining options. In smaller cities and towns, (and hotels without a restaurant) less so. You’re pretty much limited to Uber Eats, McDonalds drive thru, 7-Eleven (although I don’t recommend their meat pies late at night). We may have some minibar snacks or a supermarket nearby, too. But please don’t be mad at us because you thought there was late-night dining in this town like in Sydney. You booked the flight that arrives at 10pm, that’s on you to do your research.

Come say hi to the team…

As you walk by reception or a housekeeper in the corridor, say hi. We like small talk. Got a compliment? Tell us. We love love love it when you come by and say beautiful room, thank you so much! Got a complaint? Like anyone, we don’t enjoy complaints, but most of the time they’re small and can be sorted quickly. So tell us if something is wrong, and we’ll turn that negative experience into something positive. We love it when you’re happy.

If things go awry…

There’s scheduled building maintenance, a pool closure, the elevator broke down, the view isn’t to your liking… when you complain, don’t say COMPENSATION. I hate when you ask for compensation. You booked a room with river views and got a room with river views, I can’t offer any more. We had to close to pool for 6 hours to attend to an issue that could be catastrophic if not immediately attended to, I’m sorry that you can’t go for a swim on that one day of the week-long stay you just happened to plan your swim on, and that you don’t want to use the indoor pool instead.

4. And some assorted bits you may wish to know

I was wondering…

Arghhh! This does my head in, because 75% of all phone calls I receive begin with “Hi, I was wondering…”

Stop it! begin your query with something else, anything else. I have a question, could you please help me with something, just a quick question, may I please ask for... There are a thousand ways you can ask a question, you just don’t need to begin it with I was wondering.

Do you have transport…

Many guests don’t have a car, they’ll get a taxi or Uber to do their travelling. Likewise, many hotels don’t provide transport/transfers. But we can assist you with getting to the airport, or the day tour to the markets and zoo. Don’t question why we can’t drive you to a restaurant or attraction. Very few hotels offer this, and those that do typically are the super-expensive 5-star resorts.

But when the taxi is slow…

Stay calm. We just press a button to call a cab for you, that’s all we can do. Our device tells us when the call has been picked up and the approximate arrival time. Calling a second taxi on this device doesn’t make the first one come any quicker. And if the tour operator is fully booked for this Saturday, I’m sorry. I can’t call them asking is the booking website correct, could you make any room to squeeze in Doris & Jenny from Tasmania? No? Okay, I’ll let them know. They said they don’t, sorry, but there’s seats available Wednesday? Oh, you go home on Wednesday? That’s too bad.

Requests are not guaranteed…

We can’t do anything other than say we’ll do our best to accommodate your request. As mentioned earlier, everyone else wants a view of the ocean or a room higher up in the building. We allocate guests with a higher loyalty membership tier to the higher floors before we do from someone who booked on Agoda. “But I asked for a room on level 14!” Meh.

Your flight arrived at 7am and you’re here to check in at 8am? Nice. But book the night before so you can go straight in. That’s called pre-reg (also let the hotel know you’ll be there in the morning so they don’t run your booking as a no show). Otherwise we can’t guarantee your room will be ready at 8am, not when there’s someone still in your bed. Here, have a key to access the pool and bathrooms, I’ll store your luggage and call you if the room is ready earlier. I know you’ve travelled from Dallas to Brisbane on a 20-hour flight and had no sleep, but I don’t have a room ready for you right now, and no, you can’t sleep on the sofa in the lobby.

You’ll hear about this on Trip Advisor…

Staying at a hotel should be a no-hassle, relaxing experience. Sometimes things don’t go your way, or the room you booked doesn’t look like the one in the photo. Just stay calm. Don’t lash out at the staff trying to hear your concern and working on a solution. And if the problem can’t be fixed, you can’t get that room move or compensation you so well deserve, don’t threaten to write about it on Trip Advisor as you storm out the door. It makes you look like a dick, and when you do write that review, we will respond stating the facts and how you rejected every option we offered.

5. The Final Word

I hope this doesn’t come across as anger or frustration, it’s just a no-BS account of everyday happenings from someone who works in the accommodation industry. I’m hoping it gives you the opportunity to learn something, and that it helps make your future travel more enjoyable. But please do your research, read the reviews and replies online, and lastly, sign up to the loyalty program, book directly with the hotel and save yourself some good cash.