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Sometimes, staying in hotels can give me a little anxiety. I appreciate the pampering and the independence of having my own room. Yet what follows is the burden of deciding upon which hotel to book, wondering about the security of my room, and the hotel etiquette of tipping hotel staff… So I wanted to share some essential hotel tips.
Watch my video response instead of reading it
I’ve been getting questions from some of you about hotel stays and a couple of months ago, I got this comment on YouTube from Fiona R. Here’s important tips for staying in hotels, so you can enjoy your future stay without the stress!
Travel Guide to Staying in Hotels
Travel Survival Guide to Staying in Hotels
1. What are tips for choosing your hotel?
• Location, location, location.. stay in the city.
Like many travelers, I like to navigate the city quickly and easily. I don’t want to stay somewhere far outside of the city, where I have to take taxis to get into the city. Aside from convenience, I often stay out late filming and staying away from public transportation means costly dollars spent. Instead, I like to be located in the city. I like to walk out on the street and the town is right there.
• Research hotel reviews.
I always check hotel reviews if I’m interested in booking a hotel. Most of my Asia travel, I book with Agoda and they’re great. Most accommodation booking websites have a place for reviews and there’s also Tripadvisor.
• Convenience to public transportation and sightseeing landmarks.
Having a metro station or bus stop located five minutes away is ideal to me. When I arrive after a long flight or bus ride, I just want to go straight to my hotel. The last thing I want is to be walking around the city for an hour, dragging my luggage around.
2. What is your security tip for entering and leaving a hotel?
Obviously, I would not book a hotel I don’t feel safe in. But let’s say I book a hotel whose security is questionable. If my room has a chain lock on the door, I’ll use that when I’m hanging out in my room or sleeping.
3. Do you use a doorstop ?
I take a doorstop with me for guesthouses. For most of the hotels that I’ve stayed at, I’ve not needed a doorstop.
4. Do you leave your stuff in your room?
Do you unpack your clothes, keep it away or toothbrush or other item so that it wouldn’t get stolen? Once the cleaners get an idea that you’re staying alone will they steal from you? Should I fake that someone else is staying with me by having an extra pair of shoes maybe men’s shoes. What if my suitcase gets stolen with all my clothes, what should I do?
• A thieving maid is probably the exception than the rule.
Having worked in the hospitality industry for a brief stint, I know that workers are very dedicated to the work that they do and they try their best to create a good experience for people. Nobody wants to lose their job. Nobody wants to be accused of stealing.
• Don’t leave your valuables out as temptation.
I do leave my stuff in my room. But I will pack all my stuff away. I will not leave any valuables out. Leaving money, valuables like your computer or camera equipment out; those are things I would probably pack up in my bag or at least, cover and hide a little.
• Take your valuables with you.
If I’m staying at guesthouses or hostels, where I feel like the doors feel a little flimsy and easy to open or the hostel locker doesn’t feel stable… I will take all my valuables with me (that includes my laptop!). I will pack it in my daypack and take that around with me sightseeing.
• Put your “Do not disturb” sign on my door, so your room won’t get cleaned.
When I used to work in television as camera crew, I was staying on one hotel room from days to a month. I wanted my room untouched. I had a lot of expensive equipment in my room. I didn’t want anyone to tamper with anything, clean or organize. I also I didn’t want to pack everything up my belongings every day, before I left for a shoot. So I put out the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign.
• Always do a once over of your room before checking out.
I always go through all the closets, drawers and look under and on my bed to make sure I don’t leave any personal items behind.
5. Are hotel room safes safe?
I think hotel room safes are safe, but I’ve never used them. It’s personal preference. I don’t like using hotel safes, because I like to keep my things organized and in very visible sight. I don’t like to put things in spaces where it can be concealed and I can forget them, like drawers! As I said, it’s personal preference.
If I’m running late for my plane, but I forget that I’ve left stuff like my passport, in the safe… a passport is a pretty valuable thing. It means I’m definitely making a trip to go back.
6. What’s a good time to be off the streets?
Hard question. Personally, I don’t come back to my hotel until it’s midnight, because I’m filming . I want to make the most of my trip. I practice travel street smarts often. I don’t take anything for granted and I pay attention to my surroundings, especially if they’re foreign.
But if you feel like you know the place is sketchy or you don’t feel confident traveling at night, a good time to be off the streets is 7pm-9pm. If you’re comfortable then maybe 10pm. There are other travelers, who will suggest not going out at night.
But there’s so much stuff that goes on at night. To completely remove evening activities from your itinerary is removing a part of the culture and lifestyle of that city. When I was in India, I was in Darjeeling. At night it gets dark. Very dark. But the streets are lit up and people roam around as if there’s a street festival. Shops are open and tourists are buying souvenirs. Families are going out for dinner or they’re just walking around strolling. It’s really up to your comfort level.
7. Tipping Etiquette in Hotels
I feel tipping should be personal preference, based on budget and cultural etiquette. It’s up to you how you want to set the tone of your trip. In the U.S., tips are expected . Americans believe in tipping in hotels, cafes, restaurants, deliveries, apartment doormen, a lot of places! Many of us think it’s due to the fact employers don’t pay their staff well enough and place the burden on the hotel guests to pay housecleaning their full share. It’s a social etiquette and practice that turned grossly into an expectation and horrible societal practice enforced by bad employment practices.
Generally, being American, I tip on a sliding scale depending upon the country’s dollar value. I know that house cleaning work is effort and it’s not fun to clean after piggy or dirty people. In some cases, when maids see they’re being appreciated, they give a little extra effort or leave extra toiletries. Some travelers like to leave a tip daily, whenever they request their room cleaned or some tip a lump sum at the end of their stay.
If I’m going to Las Vegas, I tip about a dollar a day to the hotel maid; if it’s a nice hotel and there’s a lot of pampering or extras they bring, I might tip a little more. But a hotel in Cambodia, I might leave a few cents or tip what’s considered a dollar in their currency.
True, there are no tipping countries where tipping is considered offensive or is already included in the final bill and is not expected. Asians coming from Asia, will stay at American hotels and don’t tip. Australians might be taken aback by the idea, as companies pay a high minimum wage. In the end, it’s up to you as to how you enjoy the hospitality staff and how generous you feel.
8. What if you don’t have the budget to tip every single day, but you feel pressured.
I put out the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on my door and I don’t let the cleaner clean my room. If you don’t have the budget, you don’t have the budget. It happens to us all. I also believe in being eco-friendly and avoiding waste. I don’t need fresh towels, my bed to be fluffed or new toiletries and soap everyday. That Do not disturb sign is the one fix for everything. A safe room, no excessive waste and I don’t have to tip every day.
Watch my Hotel Routine
There’s a standard drill-like routine I go through whenever encountering a new hotel room. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a budget guesthouse or luxury hotel…
If you were writing a travel guide to staying at hotels, what would some of your tips be?
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