During my 23 years as an international flight attendant, I’ve checked into hotel rooms at all hours of the day and night. Over the years, I’ve come up with tried and true ways to ensure a safe and comfortable stay. Here are a few of my suggestions for checking your rooms before you close the door behind you. While most of these are safety precautions, I also use them to check for the cleanliness of the rooms.
1. Prop Open The Door Upon Arrival
Once you get your room key, prop open the door with your luggage to begin the search. I do this in case someone hasn’t checked out yet or I was given the wrong room key. A few times, I opened my room to find someone else’s suitcases still there, and on two rare occasions, the previous guests had not checked out yet.
2. Check The Bathroom
The bathroom is almost always next to the door, so I start there. I check the tub and open any drawers to see if items were left behind. You can shake out the towels to make sure nothing was left or put inside of them. It’s also a way to see if you have clean towels or need fresh ones.
Pro Tip: When I’m traveling alone, I will usually put a towel on the floor of the tub to prevent slips or falls. International bathtubs are higher than American ones and it helps to give you more traction when getting in and out.
3. Check Closet
If your room has a closet with doors, just open them up and look around. It sometimes helps to use the flashlight on your phone to check everything. Once you’ve looked it over, leave it open so you know you checked it. It’s a good checks and balances system.
4. Check The Bed
Now it’s time to check the beds. Pull the covers back to make sure the bed is empty and the sheets are clean. I always ask for an extra sheet to put over the fitted sheet as extra protection.
Now, we’ve all seen the investigations uncovering bed bugs in luxury hotel rooms. It’s not a pleasant encounter. But, there are products you can buy. Several stores sell bed bug spray to ease your concerns. If you don’t have any, you can also use toothpaste. I just lift the covered sheet and put a little on the corner of the mattress. If they are there, it doesn’t take long for them to show up. At that point, I would definitely ask to switch rooms.
5. Review Evacuation Plan
This is probably the flight attendant in me, but it is important to review the evacuation plan. Once you close your door and are inside, review the emergency evacuation sign and diagrams. These are usually posted on the back of your door. Get familiar with the exit route and look for the exit closest to you.
6. Check Dresser And Nightstand Drawers
The last areas I check are the dresser and nightstand drawers. Make sure to look around lamps, clocks, TVs, and any electronics that might be around. If something was left in the drawer, it might be an indication the room wasn’t well cleaned.
Pro Tip: I typically only have maid service every other day. If I need more towels or toiletries, I just call the desk. Also, I don’t find a need for a room cleaning the day before I’m checking out. Each time you have maid service, you have to pick up your things so they can clean. If you don’t have service the day before your departure, you can double check to make sure you packed everything up.
7. When To Ask For A Room Change
If the room is not to your satisfaction, you can request a change. Most of the time, they can accommodate. If they cannot, I have asked them to have the room cleaned while I was in it. This way I know it was properly cleaned.
8. Unpack My Hotel Must-Haves
Now that the room is ready to go, I unpack a few of my “never leave home without them” favorites.
The SABRE door handle alarm or SABRE HS-DSA wedge door stop security alarm can be purchased for under $15 on Amazon. For added security, I use a rolled towel at the base of my door that helps block the light from coming and also helps with keeping smoke out of my room should a fire start in the hallway.
She’s Birdie is a personal safety alarm that you may like to have while you are out sightseeing and touring the city.
Gallon Ziplock Bags
Gallon Ziplock bags or reusable storage bags have become my new favorites. I suggested in earlier articles that you keep a selection in your carry-on. I use them for my ice bucket ice to keep my water bottles cold while out of my room. You can also put ice inside one and use it while you’re out touring or for leftover food from that great restaurant. They are easy to clean and can just be left in your luggage after you return home. Ready to use for that next trip.
Clothes pins are used to help keep the light out by closing window curtains while you sleep.
I recently purchased the S’well Teakwood Mug for use while in my room. I can use it for my coffee, cocktails, water, and even while out touring. When I get home, I clean it and put it right back in my suitcase.
You want to have a comfortable, relaxing stay while spending time away from home. A few of these may help you sleep better so you can enjoy your trip.
For more travel tips, check out these articles: