The One Thing I Have To Do Before Staying At Any Hotel

When you think about staying in a hotel room, it’s amazing that we have such an affinity towards sleeping in them at all. The idea of staying away from home, in a strange room in a place owned, operated and maintained by people you don’t know sounds like it should be an activity taken with much trepidation. Back in the 1600s, staying in a building where you had food and shelter after a long day of travel had to be amazing but we’re long past the days of the roadside inn or boarding house with a friendly innkeeper offering respite after a tiring journey.

So knowing what I know about hotel rooms, what do I need to do, every time, before I stay in a hotel? I adopt a “suspension of disbelief” about my hotel room.

Let me warn you that if you aren’t able to deal with what your hotel room might be like, best stop reading now.

I know “suspension of disbelief”  is a term used for entertainment, such as movies and literature. It’s why we’re able to enjoy action or science fiction movies. We know what’s happening can’t be real but we just go with it, for a little while. Well, I feel the same way about hotels. I put aside all of the things I’ve heard, and know, about hotel rooms and choose to ignore that information. Instead, I believe a different narrative that makes it possible for me to stay and even enjoy my time at a hotel.

I choose to believe that my hotel room is at least as clean or even cleaner than I keep my own home. Just from my own experiences at hotels, I know what happens in those rooms:

  • I’ve been sick, lying in the hotel bed while hacking up part of a lung and blowing my nose constantly with tissues strewn everywhere.
  • I’ve had either food poisoning or the stomach flu (and does it really matter) and done things in a hotel bathroom that would lead me to Clorox down my entire house if it happened at home.
  • After a long day of walking, hiking or swimming, I’ll come into the room and spread my sweaty self down on whatever chair is available. I might have even taken off my shirt and put it over the back of the chair or on the table. You know, the table you eat on when you get room service or have take out or food delivered to your room.

Those are things that I thought off the top of my head. There are surely more and some I didn’t even realize were questionable when I did them. And that’s just me and I try to be considerate.

While I know these things happen in hotels, in addition to numerous other things that people do when staying in a room, I choose to believe that the room gets a thorough cleaning every time a new guest enters. Not just a quick clean and new sheets (or maybe not new sheets) and towels, but everything is replaced and sanitized. Rationally, I know this isn’t the case, but I don’t think about that.

However, there are times when reality comes for a visit and knocks me out of my delusion. For instance, I spilled some soda on the floor of a hotel room which had tile by the entrance. I didn’t want a sticky floor or invite any crawly creatures to come to visit, so I put some soap and hot water on a towel and set to clean the floor. Big mistake.

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While I’ll still occasionally walk around a hotel room barefoot, Sharon refuses to and always brings slip-on sandals to wear around the room. I’ve reconsidered that decision when I walked around a room at the Hyatt Centric in Key West for the evening in my socks.

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Speaking of crawly visitors in a room, I don’t want to think about that. However, when we visited Australia, the homeland of huge insects, we received a note in our room about the possibility of visitors and our own can of Raid bug spray.

I didn’t use it on this guy, I thought it would probably just make him angry.

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When it comes to our hotel room, Sharon is the one who will wipe down the remote control with Purell before using it. I’m considering bringing some Clorox wipes with us in our luggage to clean off surfaces.

Oh, and when I wrote about how I was bugged by housekeeping rearranging the toiletries, some of the comments reminded me that the housekeeper might have been moving around my toothbrush right after cleaning my toilet and wiping the counter down with the same rag.

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The one area where I’m relenting and checking for problems is doing a quick search for bed bugs when entering a room. Now I’ve heard of people stripping the whole bed and bringing their own sheets, but I’m not there yet.

I have no illusions about what happens in hotel rooms. I’ve seen those specials with the black lights. What about a chain like W Hotels who offer ‘nut & bolt amenity’ kits in the minibar for purchase. If you’re purchasing that, I’m sure you’re keeping your activities limited to the bed. Just as I am sure the man staying in the room across the hall from us was simply walking back to his room with his two younger daughters while he had his arms draped over their neck and shoulders.

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I don’t even think about if I’m staying in a pet-friendly hotel, what a dog or cat might have deposited on the floor or even in the bed.

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Final Thoughts

I make the choice not to think about these things when I travel. I do what I can to protect myself from obvious risks, but for the rest of it, I pretend those problems don’t exist. That way, I can endure and possibly even enjoy my hotel stays.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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