Hotels are puzzling. Simultaneously safe and terrifying: a home away from home that’s oddly foreign. There’s no way to know what happens before we get there, but—admit it or not—we’re curious. You need wonder no more about hotel mystique, thanks to this question posted by user Smadisond on Reddit on Tuesday: “Hotel staff of Reddit, what is something that hotels keep from their guests?”
Retired and active hotel employees from around the globe jumped at the chance to reveal what goes on behind the scenes. From cringe-worthy cleaning sessions to savvy money-saving tips, here are the 12 things—with the tipster’s handle attached—that you should know before your next stay. Germaphobes be warned: it’s not good news.
1. “Check the seals”: Roslagen
Mini bar; major yikes. A hotel worker in Sweden once stumbled upon a guest’s sneaky attempt to dodge a minibar bill—by refilling an empty whiskey bottle with urine. At once brave and repulsive, it was likely a desperate attempt to dodge the inflated costs of hotel snacks. A+ for effort.
2. Beware the coverlet: Hunnids
Not the first hotel worker to bewail the putrid nature of the hotel “coverlet,” this employee mentioned cleanup training that was complete with the direction to simply “wipe” a suspicious white stain off the duvet with a “damp cloth, until you can’t see it anymore.” Wise words from the traumatized hotel trainee: steer clear of anything but the sheets.
3. Water glasses: NeoCoN7
Don’t be fooled by clear glasses. They may look clean, but at least in some places, they aren’t. One former housekeeper admits to simply rinsing them in the bathroom sink then drying them with a clean pillow case—and that’s only if they looked dirty. A lipstick stain could be the least of your worries.
4. Humans are hairy! Weirdeyebrows
If walking into a freshly cleaned hotel room seems scary, imagine a hairy one. One hotel maid says guests can leave behind an almost unimaginable amount of hair. Dirt is one thing, but locks are another and when they “just keep coming,” it becomes nearly impossible to leave the room hair-free. Finding a hair in the tub isn’t fun; imagining how many were there before is even worse.
5. It pays to pick up the phone: bbnjbc
Online travel sites can be a huge help when trying to streamline multiple reservations. But as a top-hotel employee explains, “If you are just reserving a room, you’re getting the short stick.” Third parties often charge more than the hotel’s actual rate. One more reason to book directly; if there are vacancies, they’re willing to bargain.
6. For hotel cleaning staff, time is the enemy: cyphered
There are only so many hours in the day, and for a hotel housekeeper, this means a certain number of rooms. One user says the hotel where they worked allotted only 15 minutes per room. Things don’t look as if they’d been cleaned? It’s likely, then, that they weren’t.
7. Postpone, then cancel: Druumer89
Need to cancel a reservation at the last minute but scared of the fee? No fear, Reddit is here. Behold a clever solution from behind the hotel receptionist desk. Step one: call the hotel and push your reservation forward a few weeks. Step two: call back later that day and cancel. Voilà! Room canceled, fee bypassed, integrity (virtually) unharmed.
8. Continental breakfast, in the bag: Jazzminkey
Breakfast is the best part of waking up ... in a hotel. Unless, reveals one user, you’re eating a sausage egg breakfast that began in a bag. There’s a reason the eggs are runny, and it’s a mystery no longer.
9. Late-night front-desk phone calls? Likely foul play: avmenza
Hackers have gotten lucky lately posing as front-desk workers calling late at night and persuading half-awake guests that they suddenly need a credit card. This doesn’t make sense, for good reason. The front desk won’t call late at night. Ever.
10. “If you just ask …”: Billclinternet
Meet the secret BMOCs of hotels: the bellmen. One such worker at a Hilton in Arizona says these are the people who hold the power of hotel perks at their fingertips. From free water bottles to cigarettes, shuttle rides to pizza, the name of the game is service, or would be, “if only people would ask.” Our advice? Try it!
11. Ritz-Carlton goes the extra mile: Junglepiehelmet
In the world of hotels, “Ritz” is royalty. If the rumor of their “$1,500 special employee allowance” (to be used at their discretion for improving a guest’s stay) is true, it’s likely to stay that way. One former employee even reveals witnessing the purchase of a new Rolex for a guest whose own watch had gone missing days before. Money talks; the Ritz is listening.
12. Exceptions: Bioya11
Not all hotels are created equal. The bottom line, says a front-desk worker at an immaculate four-star hotel, “You get what you pay for.” “We clean everything: duvets, sheets, mattresses, glasses, toilets, tubs. Take what you read here with a grain of salt.”