Adulting Keepin' It Real Travel Tips

Why I Stopped Letting Housekeeping Tidy Up My Room

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Bangkok, Thailand |
Bangkok, Thailand

Being on vacation means that sometimes the hardest question you’ll have to ask yourself is ‘how soon is too soon for cocktails?’ and ‘do I keep the “DO NOT DISTURB” sign on so housekeeping skips over my room?’ 

I empathize to the deepest degree with your dilemma.

And after a couple random run-ins and a few chats with housekeepers here in Brazil, it led me to ask my Facebook network about their thoughts which you could see/read their responses in its entirety here.

I adore my Facebook friends and followers, because they’re made up of people from over 100 countries and such varied lifestyles, professions, and travel backgrounds.

And some people brought up some great points that I wanted to highlight before chiming in with my own thoughts.

So, do you like housekeepers to “tidy up” your room? Here’s what you guys said…

Why I Stopped Letting Housekeeping Tidy Up My Room |

Overall, your answers matched my presumptions, and 55% of you agreed that you rather not have a housekeeper tidy up your room and run the risk of your things being tampered with, while 27% of you said yes, it’s part of your vacation, you’d like to always return to fresh linens, and lastly 18% who agreed that while they don’t need a daily fix up, a drop in every few days doesn’t hurt.

Absolutely reasonable! And before I dive into my reasons, I just wanted to add some context.

Housekeepers, I think, have one of the most thankless jobs in the tourism industry Click To Tweet

In many cases, they’re overworked and underpaid, and despite what some might think, you choosing to not have your room made up doesn’t take away from their salary.

They’ll be paid regardless of you choosing to have your room cleaned or not, as it’s something that’s part of their overall duties and fixed salary, not a pay-per-room type of situation.

That said, I did like how someone mentioned, that on your last day, leaving a note and a tip for them to collect is a nice token of appreciation.

Here’s some of my favorite commentary, and my two cents to add to each…

Bangkok, Thailand
Novotel Bangkok Platinum Hotel | Bangkok, Thailand

No. I personally do not like housekeepers to clean my room. Although it is a service included in the fee of a hotel, I have had housekeepers steal from my room. From the lounge and the safe 👀  (locked safe) — Diamond Z.

Unfortunately, all it takes is one nightmare experience to change your mind on this. I was pretty indifferent about housekeeping, but back in Greece last summer, there was a nice, Bulgarian woman who was the housekeeper, who accidentally threw away my Invisalign retainers.

This was my current and last set of retainers that I wasn’t going to be replacing until 4 months later when I got back to the U.S. for my new ones.

They are so pricey to replace and despite it being next to my toothbrush and toothpaste, she had mistaken it as trash.

It was a harmless mistake, but when I went to reception to make them aware, their response was that I should’ve locked it up.

Not only that, but by the next day when I confronted the lady about it, she completely denied it, which I think she thought she’d be in trouble for, which wasn’t my intention.

And finally, after a few back and forths, they pointed me to where the big trash dumpster was on the corner, as if I should dumpster dive to retrieve it. *side eye*

It took one incident of a housekeeping disaster to remind me that though a majority of housekeepers are honest people who do their job well, letting them in your room while you’re away, runs you the risk of them tampering through your things and possibly throwing something of value in the trash by mistake.

Again, I don’t think she stole it (these are my disgusting retainers we’re talking about), so it was obvious that me wrapping them in a paper towel led her to believe they should be discarded.

Chiang Mai, Thailand |
Chiang Mai, Thailand

Another person said…

No. I prefer to pick up after myself. I try to guide my behavior by the principle that my actions should be scaleable with a positive impact on the world (the world needs less maids, not more).  — Mariza P.

I absolutely loved this answer, and again, this isn’t to guilt people who DO like their rooms tidied up. There really is no right or wrong answer to this question.

But growing up in a strict, Nigerian household, if my bed wasn’t made the second I took a step outside of my room, there would be hell and a half to pay.

I grew up doing basic chores, learning the importance of keeping your environment presentable, and basically there isn’t a Nigerian kid in the world who wasn’t making their own beds, doing their own laundry, and other basic house chores from the day they learned how to stand, LOL.

Chiang Mai, Thailand |
Panviman Resort, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Here’s a cup of perspective for you…

As a former housekeeper I appreciate all this. Seeing a ‘do not disturb’ sign is such a relief, especially if it is a particularly busy week. — Rachel Y.

100% girlfriend. It was nice to have a couple housekeepers and family members of housekeepers chime in with first-hand perspectives.

And to be honest, who needs a new towel every day anyway? Rhetorical question, lol.

Beach days aside, I think we can manage to rub our filth over ourselves reuse our towels at least one other day.

I also now travel with several thousands of dollars of electronic equipment for work that I don’t want to always lock up or hide when I’m gone.

And sometimes I might come back from a long day out and toss my clothes to the other side of the room and jump in bed naked. My room, my rules. Cease the judgments please, lol.

Then the next day I wake up early to explore and I hate going through the mental recollection of whether I forgot to pick up my draws or not, LOL.

Even being in hostels, there are housekeepers. And most hostels have a communal kitchen and despite there being a sign that says, “PLEASE WASH YOUR OWN DISHES” every morning after breakfast, I will find the sink with an avalanche of dirty plates and cups left for — yep, the housekeeper to do.

People can be so sloppy and inconsiderate, and I don’t care that this is what they’re paid to do, if skipping over my room is one less task for their day, I will have them skip over me every single time.

Need new linens or another roll of toilet paper? Oh goody, hey room service! A 10-second phone call will fix that right up.

Bangkok, Thailand |
I’m never above asking for another sessy, little robe though! Ha

And while I understand we all have different styles of travel, and quite frankly different priorities and stresses, sometimes returning back from a long day of sight-seeing to a freshly-made bed is all part of the experience and luxury of traveling.

But as a full-time traveler, it’s something I no longer need or require to enjoy my hotel amenities.

Got any stories or opinions on this to add? Drop them below in the comments!

Why I Stopped Letting Housekeeping Tidy Up My Room |
You in it to PIN it? Thought so! 😉
Facebook Comments

  • Lula Dolz

    Interesting read, thanks Gloria. Really nice to hear about local people when travelling, as usually it’s just our (the writer / tourists) perspective isn’t it. I tried to do that in my piece recently on Rio carnival if you’re interested 🙂

  • Love this! I always leave the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign up, mostly because I feel bad for anyone who sees the tornado I create in every hotel room I’m in, and secondly because I don’t want anyone touching my stuff! I actually walked into my room once when it was getting cleaned, and the guy cleaning it had left my door open to go get something (with my valuables inside), and had put all the old wet towels on top of my open suitcase!!

  • Alina Linca

    I prefer not to have housekeeping, one of the reasons being that I sometimes have expensive stuff with me (work things etc), and one of my colleagues once had the experience that there was a fingerprint in one of her face cremes and the kind you take with a spatula, so wasn’t her print. Hotel totally denied anyone getting inside the room (claiming the lock wasn’t opened by anyone else than her, with her entrance card), and that was with a DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door. Sadly, even the sign isn’t enough, I have often had reception calling me numerous times asking if I’d like my room to be cleaned (I have the sign on – so probably also calling is not a good idea!), and housekeepers getting in even when I have the sign, knocking etc, when I am stil sleeping. That being said, I myself worked one summer as a housekeeper in a hotel, so I can just chime in on the tips – I was a poor student at the time and those few euros from the guests really made my day, as the hotel owner was paying me way below minimum salary (so I get how some rooms leaving tips will have bathrobes and slippers appearing after you leave a tip!). And I would really strongly advise against leaving any cards of the type “we don’t believe in tips so here is a ‘thank you’ card with a rainbow”. Just don’t. Please!

  • Angela Milton Michka

    One more reason to skip the housekeeping: environmental impact. Fewer linens to wash = less water consumed and fewer chemicals used. Yay!

  • jacklyn.

    I love this post glo! I personally skip housekeeping, except requesting new face towels each day. Usually I ask for a stack of them in the beginning so they don’t even have to come to give me the fresh face towel re-up each day.

    I also make my own bed out of habit and it’s one of the rare morning rituals I can have both at home and when I’m abroad. As such, I don’t need them to make the bed! And I also can’t stand tucked sheets and comforters and I pull all their hard work right out anyway.

  • YES!! I’m totally the same way. Once I get settled in, I like it to stay that way. I don’t need housekeeping to come in and remake my bed for me to just tear it all apart a few hours later! It makes me so happy to see others doing this as well – I definitely though I was an odd duck for it!

  • Stephanie Mayo

    Such a great round up about housekeeping! I’ve always been on the environmentally friendly side of it. I don’t need my towels and linens cleaned every day, it’s wasteful and unnecessary. I know they have plenty of other things to do and if my do not disturb sign can ease that, all the best!

  • Brooklyn

    I always pick up after myself. I just feel weird having someone else do it!

  • Oh that must have been a nightmare with your retainers- I know how expensive and pricey they are! I get my room cleaned maybe every 2 days or so. I always tell them to just leave the sheets as it’s not so eco friendly to change and wash them everyday. When we do, we just make sure to lock up all valuables!

  • Evan Jackson

    Its interesting to hear different perspectives… I’m the exact opposite. I actually dislike Air BNB because there is no housekeeping.

  • This was a super interesting read for me simply because I had never considered NOT having my room cleaned! I will definitely be thinking twice next time I stay in a hotel!

  • Such a great post! You made so many points I didn’t even consider. Will definitely think twice before letting anyone clean my room again!

  • Alaska

    Exactly! I always get really paranoid about having someone come in and go through my things. It’s not about them possibly stealing my stuff (although, yeah, in more dicey areas, I worry about it) — it’s about a lack of privacy and the fact that they might accidentally throw away something I actually wanted. The housekeeping in a hostel actually threw away a whole bunch of pamphlets on my bed that I’d wanted to keep to explore the city with, and use for writing future blog posts. It was unfortunate. I just prefer to clean up after myself. I mean, come on, we’re all adults. If it’s not in the trash can, it means it’s not trash. At least, that’s my two cents on it. Thanks for sharing!

  • Ann Marie Johnson

    I have been doing housekeeping for 11 years now and I have seen a lot of things , one day I found $6000 dollars in a guest room I didn’t take it I call my supervisor told her about it and gave her the money and the customers clothes . I can tell you , you have good housekeepers and you sure have bad ones . When I clean a guest room I do my very best and just think about myself staying at same hotel where it feels like home .I can understand from everyone’s point of view .

  • Jessica Elliott

    I love when I forget to put the do not disturb up and see how they’ve tried to tidy up the absolute disaster area that all of my stuff has become. There is no need for anyone to put up with the messes I make!

  • Great post. I always put the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign at my door too. This didn’t happen to me but the housekeeper stole jeans (!) from my friend’s room. At the reception desk they told her to lock them in a safe next time 😀

  • My reasons for not having my room cleaned are mostly environmental. Clean sheets and towels means another load of laundry which uses more water and power! I do worry about my things being stolen too, particularly if there is no safe!

  • Totally agree with everything said! I work in a large hostel and have heard some pretty terrible horror stories about things that they’ve found, and they’ve expressed that having those light days are so important to keep things balanced out. I find that sometimes, people forget that the mess the leave needs to be cleaned up by another (oft underpaid) human being- with feelings and a gag reflex. Also, totally on board with not wanting to worry about what they’ll see when they walk in… hostels I can keep it contained but I definitely like to make myself at home in hotels lol

  • If I’m in my room when housekeeping come knocking I almost always say no thank you, or leave a do not disturb sign on if I’m out. The only exception is when I’m staying in one place for longer than a week – then I like the room to be cleaned at least once, mainly for the change of towels!
    It’s funny though, when I was in India I stayed in one place for almost 3 weeks and every single time I told the cleaning ladies that I didn’t need them that day, they got really sad and quite insistent that they come in and clean for me. One day I went out and despite telling reception I didn’t need any cleaning that day, when I got back there were the tiniest traces of the team having been in my room. I’d made my bed that morning but it was suddenly a lot neater. The lid on my toothpaste had been put on. The curtains had been opened fully. The stack of free newspapers I never read had been tidied up. The changes were so subtle it was actually kind of sweet – like they really, really wanted to look after me but didn’t want me to get mad about it.

  • This is a really interesting post! I’ve worked as a housekeeper for years, in resorts, hotels, hostels, campgrounds, etc. as a way to work and travel at the same time. Based on my experience as a housekeeper, I rarely request that the cleaners “tidy up” my room. I just put the do not disturb sign up so that there is no confusion (if the signs not up, housekeepers will knock & assume you want tidying up if you’re not there).

    It’s reasonable to want housekeeping service every other day or so, but daily sometimes seems unnecessary (unless you’re really using up every towel and filling your trash bin, etc). It’s actually nice to have services to do on a slow day, but on a busy day, these services can really take up a lot of extra time that we need to change over rooms for new guests.

  • Lisa

    Just found this site and I won’t get dinner on in time, so the other half has gone out for pizza! Not sure how I got here really and my story is only just begining…but this article reminded me of the time I was on a RTW backpacking trip as a solo female with a 7yr old boy in tow. It’s okay I had actually given birth to him erm…7 years before.
    We’d been driving and camping down the East Coast of USA heading for Miami, there I was going to try to fly out to Jamaica as I’d bought, on a whim, a cut price deal for a beach hut in Negril. 7 year olds can be cranky and great company at the same time, mind you it helps if they are your own I suppose. Anyhow, back to the point somewhat.
    He lost his third tooth, this time naturally. The first was stolen by a jolt on a local London bus hand rail on the school run a few months before we set off, the second, due to the injury needed to be extracted too. So this was a milestone – his first proper wiggly tooth- and it came out whilst we were in a hostel in Miami. He cried. “Mum, the tooth fairy won’t know where we are now!” he howled. Teeth were usually around £1 a go, but as this was special I slipped $5 under the pillow. He was so very chuffed and left her a note to say thank you – how sweet he was back then!
    A long wonderful day trip out canoeing in the mangrove swamps wore us out. We got back to the hostel tired but happy. Then…. “Muuuuuummmm…. the tooth fairy took my $5 backkkkk!”
    I realised the housekeeper must have missed the note and thought it was a tip. So I pretend searched the bed with him and slipped another $5 in. This was turning out to be an expensive dental drama, but he was worth it and am sure the housekeeper was chuffed. So lessons learnt a) don’t overprice teeth, b) don’t expect housekeepers to know about tooth fairies, c) always tip the housekeeper.

    p.s. was a funny conversation when he was older and realised tooth fairies didn’t exist, but oddly enough he refuses to believe that Santa is not real and he’s now 23.

  • Tamara Burgess

    Love your take on this Glo and I’m with you all the way. Funnily enough, EXACTLY the same thing happened to my invisalign retainer: i.e. the housekeeper threw mine out. Luckily for me, I was finishing that set so was able to just move onto the next one.

    I dislike housekeeping making up my room. Changing towels every few days is one thing, but I certainly don’t need my linen changed every night! I would rather save their energy, and the world’s energy!

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  • Darklight1216

    “… there isn’t a Nigerian kid in the world who wasn’t making their own beds, doing their own laundry, and other basic house chores from the day they learned how to stand, LOL.”

    Is this true for boys too or are girls given the brunt of the cleaning expectation?