10 Things Your Hotel Housekeeper Won't Tell You
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Behind the Scenes1 of 11
Get the inside scoop on what your hotel housekeeper isn't telling you thanks to this Woman's Day piece by Amanda Greene.— Glo
For many people, arriving at a hotel means it's time to relax and unwind. They also make it easy to forget all the hard work that went into making them look so good. We spoke to hotel housekeepers and experts to find out what really goes on behind the scenes.
1. Not So Soft2 of 11
Those luxurious beds are wreaking havoc on my back. The same hotel amenities guests love, like lavish mattresses and stacks of pillows, actually make a hotel housekeeper's job a lot more difficult. Brigida, who has been a housekeeper for 19 years at a hotel in Toronto, has to change the linens on 8 pillows in the 16 rooms she cleans on her usual shift—that's 128 pillows a day! “Plus, each time we shake out the new plush blankets, dust and fluff fly everywhere," she says.
2. Beyond the Call3 of 11
Yes, it's our job to clean your room, but some of the messes you leave are beyond the call of duty. While some guests are so tidy housekeepers can hardly tell, others go overboard. "I've cleaned rooms where there's soda all over the walls and pizza on the ceiling," says Brigida. And sometimes the messes guests leave in the bathroom are so bad "it's like, 'How could you do this to us?' It's made some of my coworkers cry."
3. Eco-friendly?4 of 11
We wish you'd think twice about participating in eco-friendly programs. Many hotels are now offering green initiatives by letting their guests opt out of a daily room cleaning. And while the programs seem great, in some cases they can deprive housekeepers of much-needed work—and pay. "If 100 guests choose not to have their room cleaned, then the next day six to eight housekeepers get a call that they don't have to come in to work," says Brigida. "It's really hurting people."
4. Knock, Knock5 of 11
We don't want to wake you up by knocking on your door in the morning, but we have to. On average, housekeepers clean 13 to 15 rooms a day, but it can be as high as 30 at some hotels. And they're expected to clean them all in one eight-hour shift. So, even if you do put your "Do Not Disturb" sign out, sometimes they still have to knock. "If you're due to check out that day, the housekeepers must clean your room first [so it's ready for new guests]," explains Weiss.
5. Low Pay6 of 11
There is no standard hourly wage for housekeepers—even within the same chain. Because of unions, hotel workers’ wages vary widely. "In a city like Chicago, where the majority of hotels are unionized, housekeepers make $14.60 an hour," says Strassel. "But in a city like Indianapolis, where there are no union hotels, a housekeeper at that same chain will be making about half that. There's a very wide range."
6. Dangerous Work7 of 11
We have the most dangerous job in the hotel. According to Unite Here, housekeepers have a 50 percent higher injury rate than all other hotel workers, and a survey of more than 600 hotel housekeepers in the U.S. and Canada revealed that 91 percent have suffered work-related pain. "The worst is lifting the mattresses," says Lisa,* who cleans 22 to 30 rooms a day. "My coworkers complain every day about leg pain, knee pain, arm pain, everything."
7. Tip Your Maid8 of 11
We'd love it if you would leave us a tip. According to Brigida, most people don't tip housekeepers. "If people leave money on the dresser or table without a note, we won't take it because it isn't clear that it's for us," she explains. "But leaving money on or underneath the pillow usually means it's for housekeeping." So always leave a note with your tip to be sure it gets into the right hands. Lisa says, "If every room left just one dollar a day it would be great."
8. We're Watching9 of 11
We see and hear everything. Just because the housekeeping staff is discreet doesn't mean they don't observe your bad moods or rude behavior. Brigida reports taking all kinds of attitude: "When we knock on their door and they don't want us to come in, they sometimes yell and swear at us. I try not to take it personally, but it's the kind of thing that can stay with you all day." She also reports many brushes with indecency: "Some people answer the door naked."
9. Pick It Up10 of 11
We aren't trying to make it hard for you to find your things. If you're the type of person who prefers to keep your belongings in a pile, don't be surprised if your room is more organized when you return for the day. "If someone has stuff lying all over the place, it is typical procedure for housekeeping to pick up the clothes, fold them and make a stack," says Weiss.
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10. Tons To Do11 of 11
There's a lot more to preparing for a new guest than making the bed and stocking clean towels. Have you ever arrived at your hotel early and huffed and puffed because your room wasn't ready? Preparing a hotel room for a new guest can take twice as long as cleaning a room for a guest who is staying over. "For a new arrival you have to go through the full inspection list, which may have 100 check points," says Lara Weiss of K Hotels.*Some names have been changed.