A light sleeper’s lament: six things you shouldn’t do in a hotel

I used to be able to sleep well in the humblest of places. But the older I get, the harder it is for me to get a good night sleep while traveling. I don’t know if it’s because I usually travel with two toddlers, or if travelers are becoming increasingly ignorant of basic hotel etiquette, or if I’m spoiled by my Tempurpedic mattress at home, but I often find myself sleeping like a baby while on the road. That is, waking up every few hours and wanting to cry.

Here are six things you shouldn’t do in hotels.

Sleep Crimes

Hit the snooze bar. As a light sleeper, I don’t think hotel rooms should come equipped with alarm clocks, and certainly not ones with snooze bars. I’ll never forget a truly diabolical traveler sleeping in the room next to mine in a hotel in Charlottesville, Virginia, a few years back. His alarm clock woke us up at 5 A.M. on a Sunday morning. It went off, like a siren, for about 30 seconds before he finally turned it off.

Eight minutes later, there it was again. And eight minutes after that. And again, eight minutes after that. We called down to the front desk and they sent someone up to the room, but their pounding failed to rouse the slumbering maniac. The alarm-snooze-alarm cycle continued until 6 A.M. when our neighbor finally decided to grace the world with his consciousness. But even then, it was hard to get back to sleep, because I was so irate.

Travelers’ kangaroo court verdict: ten years in prison in a cell that shows nothing but Samantha Brown reruns on the Travel Channel.

Converse loudly in the hallway outside my room. It’s amazing how oblivious people can be when it comes to the sound of their own voices. I once had the misfortune to say in a hotel with a huge group of senior women who belonged to a club called the Red Hat Society. On a Saturday morning at 7 A.M. two red-hats were conversing loudly about how annoying someone else was, directly outside my room. I could hear every word. I sat up in bed and listened for about ten minutes, assuming they’d soon go away. They did not, so I got out of bed, and confronted them, bleary eyed in boxers and t-shirt.

“Excuse me, but we’re trying to sleep,” I said. “Do you think you could keep it down, or go in a room, it’s 7 A.M.”

One of the red-hatted women (they really did wear red hats) smiled broadly at me and chirped, “7 o’clock, it’s time to get up!”

Travelers’ kangaroo court verdict: banishment to a monastery that requires a vow of silence.Call me. During a recent one night stay at a chain hotel in Ocean City, Maryland, I fielded more phone calls from the front desk than I’ve received from various family members over the last year. Right after check-in, they called to ask if I liked the room. No worries. Around 8 p.m. they called again, as we were working on getting our children to sleep, to ask if we needed anything. No thanks. At 10.30, about an hour after we’d finally managed to subdue our little ones, the phone jolted them back awake.

“Mr. Seminara, we’re calling to remind you of the hotel’s no smoking policy,” the woman said.

“You’re calling to remind me about the non-smoking policy at 10.30 at night?” I asked, incredulous.

“We’ve had a complaint from someone on your floor who smelled smoke,” she explained.

“So rather than come up to investigate, you’re calling everyone on this floor to remind them of the no smoking policy?”

“That’s right,” she said.

It made perfect sense to her, but then again, she wasn’t going to have to put my kids back to sleep.

Travelers’ kangaroo court verdict: 30 days of solitary confinement.

Banish your children to the hallways. I would rather gouge my eyes out with a monkey wrench than stay in a hotel on a floor with a youth sports team, who are the worst offenders to this rule. I can deal with people who wake me up, but when you spend hours trying to get small children to bed and then they are roused awake by marauding teens and tweens, living it up on the night before their soccer tournament, it’s hard not to get into a homicidally crazy frame of mind.

I once asked a group of little monsters, who were running up and down the halls knocking on doors at random near midnight, what room their parents were in.

“They’re in there,” one said, pointing to a room down the hall. “But they told us not to come back until twelve.”

Travelers’ kangaroo court verdict: for the parents- sixty days in a North Korean labor camp.

Hygiene Faux Pas

Emit uncovered hacking coughs or blow your nose near the breakfast buffet. This should be common sense, shouldn’t it? But why do I see people who look like they’ve got Bubonic Plague fingering every roll on the breakfast table?

Travelers’ kangaroo court verdict: 90 days of eating bizarre foods with Andrew Zimmern.

Discharge bodily fluids on the bedspreads and blankets. An ABC News investigation of hotel chains in 2006 found bodily fluid stains on the floor, bedspread and walls. Really folks, if you must discharge bodily fluids, do so in the toilet or on the sheets, which are actually changed.

Travelers’ kangaroo court verdict: 60 days of baths in an open sewer.

Image via Fairy Heart on Flickr.

Galley Gossip: 10 deep, dark, dirty, hotel secrets

How dirty is your hotel room? Very. Surely you’ve seen those undercover news reports where investigators use a black light to show us things we never wanted to see like body fluids all over the walls and bedding. And what about the video clips of house cleaners unknowingly being filmed using the same rag they used to clean the toilet rim on the bathroom counter. One news team even caught a maid spraying Windex inside a drinking glass – and she didn’t wipe it off!

Now you understand why flight attendants never touch the duvet and wash out the mugs in scalding hot soapy water before drinking coffee! I have a flight attendant friend who covers the television remote with a shower cap and wouldn’t be caught dead walking around her bare feet. But hotels aren’t the only ones to blame. What about hotel guests?

Hotels are a lot like airplanes in that people do things they would never in a million years do at home, like leave wet towels all over the floor. Even I have a deep dark dirty secret that only happens at layover hotels. Two words. Tanning lotion. I’d hate to stain my own white sheets a slight shade of orange. I’ve heard rumors of flight attendants using coffee pots to clean pantyhose. Not so sure I believe that. But one flight attendant told me he uses the pot to heat up soup. I’ve tried using it to make oatmeal but it turned out completely inedible. Better doublecheck the bottom of the iron before pressing it against your nice white shirt since it may have been used to make grilled cheese sandwich. Did you know you can even heat up restaurant leftovers using an iron and a little tin foil? It’s true.

Well all of this got me thinking. Besides the obvious of course, I couldn’t help but wonder what other kinds of disgusting things people were doing in hotels rooms. So I sent out a tweet asking people to confess their deep, dark, dirty, hotel secrets. The responses came pouring in, many of which I’m unable to share here. We’re keeping it clean, people!Hotel patrons share 10 deep, dark, dirty secrets:

1. I let my kids run around without a diaper on. I’m a mother of three. Accidents happen.

2. I “borrow” the towels.

3. Bodily fluids and what not (toe jam) I’ve left on the underside of furniture, bottom of desk, and above top dresser drawer

4. Supergluing the toilet freebies to the counter and the hangers to the rack is fun.

5. Hide all the $5 water bottles in the closet. On the last day put them all back and then deny the charges at the front desk.

6. Towels under the door plus a hot shower equals a free sauna.

7. I don’t want any accidental stains in my home bathroom so I only color my hair in hotels.

8. Those huge mirrors with the bright lights are great for plucking, especially gray hairs. You can get a great back view with some of those door mirrors!

9. Booked a hotel room just so I could use the swimming pool for my daughters fifth birthday party. The hotel found out and was kind enough to let us use the conference room to eat cake and open presents.

10. I leave the bathroom a mess on purpose so the maids have to give it a good scrub for the next guest!

TripAdvisor reveals America’s dirtiest hotels

You’ve heard about the bed bugs, the dirty sheets and grimy carpets, but have you actually stayed in one of these hotels? Thanks for your fellow travelers you can avoid sharing bed sheets with the guests before you (and before them, and before them). TripAdvisor announced the top 10 dirtiest hotels in America, based on comments from customers and travelers on the popular travel review site.

Grab your antibacterial gel, hold your nose and watch where you step – these 10 hotels are sure to gross out even the most carefree traveler (there’s a reason health codes exist, folks). These hotels just make you just want to scream, eewwwwwwwww and run for the showers (which are hopefully clean, wherever you are).

Here are the 2010 Top 10 Dirtiest Hotels in America, and a few comments from the guests who stepped foot inside the rooms:

  1. Heritage Marina Hotel, San Francisco, California: “This hotel is like in a horrible horror movie! The bed was a nightmare. It smelled like urine and had strange spots.”
  2. Days Inn Eureka/Six Flags, Eureka, Missouri: “If Hell had a hotel it would be something like this.”
  3. Tropicana Resort Hotel, Virginia Beach, Virginia: “We called the Virginia Beach health department and filed a complaint. We do not recommend this Place to any human being.”
  4. Super 8 Virginia Beach/At the Ocean, Virginia Beach, Virginia: “I am still recovering from my stay in this hell-hole.”
  5. Quality Inn, Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania: “Our room looked like something from a very bad horror movie. I was scared to sleep in the bed. Just looking at it made me want to itch.”
  6. New York Inn, New York City, New York: “We were greeted on our arrival by a cleaner sitting on our bed smoking and watching TV.”
  7. Parisian Hotel & Suites, Miami Beach, Florida: “I had been bitten on my chin several times, my hands, forearms, legs and feet. At least 15% of my body was covered in red, burning, bites.”
  8. Capistrano Seaside Inn, Capistrano Beach, California: “We spilled water on the floor and cleaned it, and the towel turned brown from all the dirt on the ground.”
  9. Desert Lodge, Palm Springs, California: “Mold smell and bugs! Unavailable staff. Dirty sheets and bath tub was gross.”
  10. Continental Oceanfront Hotel South Beach, Miami Beach, Florida: “I felt more dirty getting out of the shower than getting in.”

Gadling blogger Mike Barish tempted fate at the Hotel Carter, last year’s winner of the dirtiest hotel award. Have a hotel horror story? Share with us the worst place you’ve ever stayed.

Your hotel remote may be covered in semen and urine

Who here doesn’t love investigative reports on TV? Twin Cities ABC5 visited several local hotels armed with swabs and a blacklight. Their results? Semen and urine on the remote control, and a host of other nastiness that lit up when hit with the blacklight.

Seriously, this is pretty disgusting, but the results are hardly surprising. For starters, there are still too many people who don’t wash their hands after a bathroom visit. And secondly; those porn movies provided in the room are big business, and it takes a remote to order one. You do the math.

If you are now too scared to handle the remote, carry some disinfectant wipes or spray and clean the remote before using it. While on the topic of disgusting hotels, why not check out our own investigation into the “dirtiest hotel in the United States“.


Lancaster, Pennsylvania hotel must stop operating under Days Inn brand

As the Clinton and Obama campaigns crisscross Pennsylvania in advance of next month’s key primary there, we all can be reasonably assured that one place aids and campaign vols won’t be staying is the Days Inn Lancaster.

Why? Two reasons, really. For one, it’s the dirtiest hotel in Pennsylvania. And for another, it technically doesn’t exist anymore.

Days Inn Lancaster ranks ninth in TripAdvisor’s annual who’s who survey of the dirtiest hotels in the U.S. Now it seems that the Wyndham Hotel Group, which owns the Days Inn chain, is doing something about it. The company has handed the Days Inn Lancaster a cease and desist order from operating under the Days Inn brand.

The hotel had been independently owned and operated in a franchise arrangement. Wyndham spokesman Rich Roberts tells the Washington Post that the move was a result of the hotel “failing to meet quality standards.”

Ah, but this doesn’t mean that this sleazy place is shutting down entirely. The Post called the hotel, which confirmed that it would continue to operate, just without Days Inn signs, logos, etc.

My recommendation if you find yourself in Lancaster, hard up for a place to stay: Sleep in your car.