POLL: Hotel Housekeeping and My Belongings

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There are two types of hotel guests.  Those who unpack and those who don’t.

I’m in the latter category, preferring to live out of my suitcase so that all my belongings either stay in it OR get co-located to a specific place in the room.  This is so I don’t lose things or have to worry about checking a dozen different locations to make sure that everything is back in place when I dart out the door at 4 am airport-bound.

In recent years, I’ve begrudgingly made exceptions to my unpacking rule – 1. on cruise ships (where space is at a premium), 2. in shared hotel rooms when my suitcase will be in the way, and 3. when I’m staying somewhere for more than two nights (which usually also involves scenario 1 and/or 2).

But most of the time my hotel stays are one to two night affairs.  Lately, the two-plus nighters are causing me all sorts of angst.


Because it seems the hotel housekeepers cannot leave my things alone.

In the last three weeks, I’ve had multi-night stays that had me returning to my room to find one or more of the following:

  • Personal appliances (flat iron) and charger cables tightly coiled up (with the cord kinked in the process).
  • Working papers left on the desk shuffled and stacked on top of the hotel guide on the other side of the desk.
  • Personal toiletries located to another spot in the bathroom.
  • My toiletry kit removed from the small bathroom pedestal sink and set on top of my open suitcase.
  • My coat flung over a chair (near my suitcase) put away in the closet.
  • Shoes left on the floor relocated to underneath the nightstand (I had to actually hunt to find these).
  • Suitcase (which had been open) zipped up and relocated to another place in the room.

At one hotel, I experienced three of these in one day’s cleaning – and yet my room service tray from the previous evening was left untouched on a table.

My frustration has grown.  Is it the responsibility of hotel housekeeping to make sure the room is merely clean?  Or should they take it upon themselves to also keep the room organized and clutter-free?  Is it up to the housekeeper to decide where in the room my belongings go?  Does this happen frequently (something I’m somewhat immune to with so many single night stays)?

I worry on so many levels, the greatest being my fear of leaving something behind.

In the case of the misplaced coat, it was warm in the city where I was but I was headed to a very cold climate and had removed it from the top of my suitcase placed it near my bags so that I didn’t forget to pack it for the next city.

I happened to go looking for the missing shoes when I spotted them under the nightstand.

And the kinked cords, while seemingly a minor transgression, lead to having to replace appliances and chargers more quickly – plus who really wants their own cord looking like those gnarled hotel hairdryer cords at some establishments?!

Weigh in with the poll below – and share any additional thoughts in the comments!

Is it the role of hotel housekeeping to tidy personal belongings?

  • No - they should just clean the room and refresh linens/towels. (69%, 59 Votes)
  • It depends - on the hotel type, length of stay, etc. (20%, 17 Votes)
  • Yes - the room should be as tidy as possible even if it means picking up after guests. (12%, 10 Votes)

Total Voters: 86

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About Jennifer Moody

Jennifer is a management consultant and avid volunteer. Her career and volunteer duty travels have helped her log top-tier airline and hotel status annually for the last nineteen years. In addition, she embraces the opportunity to maximize her vacation time by planning extracurricular trips that have taken her to over 60 countries and 48.5 US states. Once an "every week" road warrior, she now only travels around 100 days a year. She resides in her native Fort Worth, Texas where she enjoys cooking, gardening, sewing, needlepoint, wine, and playing with her Border Collie/Great Pyreness mix puppy Harley Quinn.

More articles by Jennifer Moody »


  1. It’s hard to read minds. For most of the above, I don’t see a problem. I suspect a plurality of people would share your angst, a smaller minority of people would get upset if the room were left messy (e.g., how can you clean a pedestal sing without moving your debris?), and some intermediate proportion don’t care one way or the other. OTOH, your things should not be damaged, so the cords, and to a lesser extent, your papers, shouldn’t have had that happen. Personally, I just leave the Do Not Disturb sign hanging when I don’t want my things, well, disturbed. I can reuse towels for a day or two, and I don’t need toiletry items restocked for a two or three day stay.

  2. I’m with you on this. I also unpack on cruise ships or long extended stays, otherwise it’s all in the suitcase. I’ve recently started doing something new. I will lock up my super valuable items in the safe if one is there but almost everything else is locked in my suitcase. I bought a cheap TSA lock at IKEA and now I lock my suitcase when out of the room for more than a few minutes. Just seems like a safe idea.
    Housekeeping should come in, make the bed, take the trash, refresh the towels and get out unless there is a minibar to restock or some unusual dirty item. I also leave a daily tip on the pillow in some attempt to keep them from stealing my stuff like I would give a guy in the ghetto a $20 for watching my car 🙂

  3. I avoid the problem by putting the Do Not Disturb sign on the door.

    If the sign is missing (which occasionally happens), I write “No Service” on the back of a business card and place that in the keycard slot. It has never failed to work.

  4. I’m with you. I don’t want my stuff touched. Period. I end up “hiding” stuff in my suitcase to avoid having it moved, which is a pain and a waste of my time. Housekeeping moving work papers and hiding shoes is an invitation to disaster. Why should a guest have to go looking for their own shoes?
    Now, could you define “co-located” for me? I’ve never run across this. It sounds like something is in two places at once 🙂

  5. I don’t like housekeeping going touching my stuff so I try to avoid housekeeping when I can.

    When staying at big hotels especially I put the do not disturb sign and then if I hear housekeeping cleaning aroom nearby I will just tell them I don’t need housekeeping and ask for toiletries etc. If I don’t run into them I will call down and make that request.

    On the occasions that I do allow housekeeping inside, I try to put away most of my items in my suitcase and lock it.

  6. This is part of what I like about SPG’s Make a Green Choice – Extra points, and house-keeping doesn’t come in and “fix” my room while I’m gone; Win-Win!

  7. I am super weirded out by housekeeping potentially touching any of my bathroom stuff so I always line a drawer in the room with a clean towel and then place all my bathroom items in the drawer so that they can clean the sink area without touching any of my things.

    I also like to live out of suitcase and hate when they move any of my stuff. I have found that if I leave a pair of underwear on top of a closed suitcase (even if assorted things are hanging out) that this pretty much assures that they aren’t touching anything. I also try to line up my shoes under the suitcase.

    The paper stacking would drive me crazy! If I had a project on the desk i would just decline housekeeping

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