When you think of 5-star hotels, like Park Hyatt, St. Regis, Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons, etc., what comes to mind? Most people will say things like personalized service. No detail is overlooked. Premium dining options. A place for the rich and famous, and for people who know how to get lots of points.
For the most part, each one of those is probably right. However, people who work at 5-star hotels have a totally different view of those luxurious accommodations, as well as the people who stay there.
A while back, someone on Reddit asked, “People who work at 5 Star Hotels: what type of s**t goes on that management doesn’t want people to know?” That turned into a discussion with over 13,000 comments. The replies went from the “secrets” of these hotels to the people who stay at them. A couple of famous names were dropped, too. Some of the answers were definitely eye-openers.
Replies edited for adult language only.
— From Eco-reddit:
A friend of mine works for a small luxurious hotel in London.
He told me the concierge system there is absolutely absurd. Money buys everything.
Anything the clients want, clients get. They are told never to say no, worst case they say “I don’t think this is really appropriate”
Obviously drugs and escorts are a classic. He showed me 20 phone numbers of drug dealers in his phone to be able to get whatever drugs to the customers (he never buys though, only gets people in contact).
And for harder tasks, he goes through professional concierges who charge A LOT.
– You want a new Prada dress at 2AM for the party you are about to attend? Sure thing, let’s wake a few people up, charge triple the price and split the benefit between people involved. Have a good night madam.
– You want tickets for the Wimbledon final that takes place tomorrow? You have £20k? Enjoy the game, sir.
But in some cases, they can’t satisfy the customer. So when a couple of clients came back drunk asking him to have sex with the wife while the husband was watching and filming, he felt like it was a good time to say “I don’t think this is really appropriate”.
— From Skinconcernss
I used to work at a five star hotel in Miami in 2001. There was a lot of damage done to the rooms by very entitled rich and famous people but it was a beautiful hotel and still is. Stunning. There was a lot of sex parties though. A lot of cocaine, pills and sex.
I have a cool celebrity story. Outkast stayed there for two days, andre 3000 and big boi.
I’d met a lot of famous people but none were as kind as them, absolutely none. As a young woman at the time, I dealt with a lot of inappropriate things in that hotel which included famous men and women propositioning me. I had more women proposition me for sex than men oddly. And some were celebrities and socialites, others were just super rich or girlfriends of athletes or artists.
On the first night Outkast were there with a team (rented 8 deluxe rooms for their team and whoever else), a couple of women were harassing me in an elevator because I wouldn’t give them the room number for either party. I got spat on and shoved in there. I was really shaken up and cried hysterically when I got down to the lobby. Low and behold, Andre was down there talking to some fans very nicely. He just had came back in from exploring the city around 2am. He went searching for a vegan spot (he was ahead of the curve).
He saw me crying and came over to where I was standing to ask if I was okay, firstly I couldn’t even make words out because I love Outkast and I felt humiliated. He sat down with me and the same women harassing me in the elevator from the 12th floor to the lobby just observed and called to him for his attention. “Why are you with that ugly cheap bitch (referencing me), she’s a rude desperate bitch. Wouldn’t let us come find you!”
He had a look of disgust on his face and just told them that I was his close friend from Atlanta. The funny thing is that I am from Atlanta and earlier in the day we checked them in, I told them how much they meant to me as a girl from Atlanta. He actually ended up speaking with me most of the night in the lobby and we went on the rooftop after I got cleaned up. My manager was very cool and handled everything. She had gotten those girls escorted off the premises which was a relatively painless thing. Within the hour, thanks to his complaint (Andre) they were gone.
After I got cleaned up and they left, we just hung out most of the night. I was still on shift but my manager was just so understanding. We must have spoke until 7am.
I never forget them. Andre gave me 5 free tickets to a sold out show they were doing the next night. I brought my friends with me. Have us backstage treatment and a ride there. Hung out in his bus after and hung with big boi too. They had separate tour buses and andres didn’t have any liquor or drugs. He was vegan and holistic at that time. He had his chef make us a chickpea salad and it was one of the best moments of my life. I’m probably the only person with a photo album they keep up with now, but I look at the pics I got developed from that night. There’s a picture of Andre and I hugging and making a stupid face. I look at it sometimes because I remember how happy that experience made me. I was supposed to work that night but my manager gave me a free pass for the weekend lol. She stepped in for me.
Funnily enough, years later I was in Ireland for a friends wedding and him and I stayed at the same hotel. He was shooting the Jimi Hendrix movie. We were on the elevator together because we stayed on the same floor. He actually said hello and we got to talking, he just said I looked familiar to him. And I told him we met years ago. It was a come to Jesus moment in my life lol. We hugged for so long. This was maybe 2012.
Saw him again by chance in Philly in 2019 (where I now live). Took a picture and this time swapped numbers! I never text him but I’m so glad this came out of the hell of working in a hotel 20 years ago. I would never work in a hotel again but this was an experience I’m So thankful for.
— From SpaceCatMatingCall:
My husband worked at several luxury hotels and residences (rich people who live at the hotels) and besides how absolutely disgusting everything inside the rooms actually is…I was most shocked by the behavior of the ultra rich.
I’m not talking businessmen and doctors. I’m talking Saudi Princes and Heirs to Dynasty families. The level of comfort and technology these people have come to expect is things we cannot imagine.
“What do you mean there isn’t there access to intercoms next to the bathroom for when I need services while going potty?” “The television inside the shower is only a 40 inch and there is no gold in this room I need a better suite”. “I’m gonna need you to go out, buy me better bedding, remake my bed, and then do it again tomorrow because I won’t sleep on the same bedding twice”.
And that’s just the tip of the icebergs.
— From Duwinayo:
I spent 10 years in the boutique and 5 star hotel world. Got stories for days. But here is my favorite that sums up hospitality (former anyways).
Our concierge was Les Clefs D’or, had all the connections, this dude could get you into the French Laundry same day. He would often greet guests with sangria and sprigs of mint from his garden. Sometimes he had lemon slices from his tree too! He loved to tell guests all about his garden and they ate it up.
Yeah that’s all bulls**t. Mint, lemon, and any other garnish we got from the local grocery store. The sangria? Cheapest boxed stuff we could find. But he sold the story like no other. At the end of the day, it worked.
— From KaneMomona
Dead people. In some places there’s a reasonable chance somebody has died in your bed. Obviously it varies with the type of hotel and its clientele, but some places you get deaths weekly (not that the hotel is unsafe but unfit old people over exerting themselves). One place I worked maybe 40% of the beds had been died in.
Bedbugs. They happen in every hotel. You might be paying $5k a night but your luggage was in the hold with everyone else’s. If there’s only one or two bugs and none in the adjacent rooms (diamond style, so above, below, and both sides) then you brought them in.
You know what I never saw happen? Maids stealing. Everyone always points at the maids when they lose stuff but we always found it. No way the maids are risking their jobs over your used iPad or mall jewelry. With tips they make pretty decent money.
— From datguywild
I worked at a 5 star hotel in England as a bartender. Hosted events and stuff. One thing that was common was my manager would just spam extra drinks onto the bill at events to make more money. Or for example if a big wedding ordered 50 bottles of champagne, they’d only give them 30 and would keep 20 back and if they ran out, they’d have to buy more. I reported this to Senior management and they just laughed saying it’s normal. I actually got told off for not taking part in this.
— From wobuxihuanni
Actual bomb. In the driveway on the other side of the wall from my bar. The cops set up blocks within a two block radius. Mind you, we were a massive hotel in a downtown center directly across from the convention center. Management had us clear everyone from the bar but we had to stick around ‘just in case we had to reopen and serve drinks to guests’. Finally after many hours of hiding in the corridors they let us go because it was near last call and no money was to be made. Above us, many sleeping guests were clueless until they finally evacuated the hotel at 4 in the morning. The bomb was real. The threat was real. And to save face… they put us all in danger just because. I got a taxed $50 gift card. Eff them.
— From Triddy
Management wants things to be automatic for you. A person there when you need them and every item you could need, before you need it. But the scale of that is purposefully hidden.
For example, You see your housekeeper.
You might see that there are 5 other Housekeepers on that floor, a Houseman per floor and a Special Request Delivery person, if you look closely.
You don’t see the 4-6 desk workers manning the radios so that we know when to enter certain rooms, who wants special pillows, how we manage the 3 rooms that all want service at 1PM or replacing rooms that asked for no service.
You don’t see the 6 supervisors spot checking check out rooms for cleanliness. Nor do you see the laundry teams, plural. (Sheets and Guest Laundry are separate, and Guest is split into Dry Cleaning and Non Dry Clean) You might see the public Parlor attendants, but you probably won’t see the team cleaning the pool or deep cleaning the gym sauna.
At 7:30AM every morning, the service area just explodes with activity, like you kicked two ant nests at once. 60 housekeepers on a single shift? Guess it’s a slow day.
And that’s just housekeeping.
We have three industrial scale kitchens for various purposes! Four if you count pastries! Security teams! Contact companies for large events! Teams of engineers in every specialty. I don’t even know where the IT office is, but we do have one! I’m one of the more knowledgeable on where to find items for special requests and I still find new storage rooms every other week. We found a 1930’s printing press nobody knew we had!
Its fucking wild how many moving parts there are. Flipping 500 rooms in a day while setting up for 2 $1,000,000 wedding simultaneously. Fulfilling 100 Room Service Orders while catering those weddings while running our restaraunt. Fixing a leaky shower head in the pool while ensuring a Guest had an extra couch in their room for the kid that just loves couch beds. All of this together is called “An average Tuesday in Summer.”
— From vamptholem
I am a subcontractor that works in the It business and the W hotel in Miami beach has seen some shit. One day I come in to work and there is a big scramble at the upper floors( that is were the penthouse are) Seems this kinda known millionaire, had a little too much coke and god knows what else and was destroying the room. He was actually throwing furniture out the balcony, ripped everything out of the fridge, might of even thrown a mattress out the balcony. It was a big deal at the time but they keep it hush with no police involved, a guy that’s paying 9k-13k a night is not going to be arrested. When the team finally got into the room, there was cocaine all over the tables, bottles everywhere, and a couple of high class call girls that were in true fear. Next day they book the same room to Jennifer Lopez.
— From NaniBakaNani
We don’t bat an eye at prostitution or whatever goes on in the rooms as long as it doesn’t affect other guests. Half the women that come to the bar are working girls looking for a sale. The only thing that the hotel industry ever really reports is human trafficking. There are tell tale signs and if something doesn’t add up we do report it to local authorities.
I don’t know about all 5* hotels but I’m sure this happens at most of them. Front desk/reservation staff will basically stalk you online if you’re a notable VIP and your picture will be shared internally to ensure everyone recognizes you so you feel special when you arrive and everyone already knows who you are.
— From mchop68
I worked in security for one and housekeeping called us all the time for drugs they’d find in a room. The first thing we’d ask for is the room number and we’d look up the name of the guest. If it was a VIP or someone important to us we’d tell them to leave it there and “we’d take care of it.”
If the guest was someone we didn’t know and not important to us we’d go up there and take it out of the room, then threaten to evict them from their stay if they did it again.
The clues/hints we would use: -what’s their status tier? Diamond members almost always got a pass -how did they book the room? If it was a 3rd party like Expedia…no pass -how many times had they stayed at our specific property? 5 or more…pass -how much had they charged up? If they were spending money on property outside of the room rate…pass
Basically you could have cocaine in your room if you spent enough money.
— From fletchindubai
I wrote travel guides to places in the Middle East (Dubai, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, etc) and have stayed in lots of five star hotels around the world for work.
THe whole five-star system is murky from the start.
The manager at a top-class London hotel told me that the hotel grading system in general is “utter nonsense”. The problem, he said, is that the list of criteria to reach each of the star ratings is little more than a tick sheet, albeit with around 500 factors to consider. For example, one criterion for being considered five-star is fresh flowers being present in guest rooms, but there’s a huge difference between a big ornate display of orchids and a bunch of daffodils. The presence of either would technically tick the box and in theory you could fulfill all the required five-star criteria yet be hugely inferior to the hotel next door that offers all the same things but at a much higher quality and standard.
The Forbes Travel Guide gave just six London hotels a five-star rating (including the one my insider works at) but that means that fantastic hotels like The Ritz, The Langham, The Berkeley, and Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park are “only” four star. Are they really 20 percent inferior to the five-star-rated Al Bustan Rotana in Garhoud in Dubai which is basically a business hotel near the airport?
It’s also difficult to maintain a consistent roll-call of criteria, as modern demands change. For example, Wi-Fi in the room is a relatively recent expectation and what we expect as standard has changed over the years, so what constitutes luxury now has altered accordingly. When Savoy Hotel in London opened 1889 it was boasting about features such as electric lifts, “speaking tubes” to link each floor, and fully plumbed bathrooms.
Now though, in the era of Internet, crowd sourcing is often the most reliable way to judge somewhere. When hundreds of people on sites like TripAdvisor say a place is overpriced and terrible then it doesn’t matter what the official book says. And if a one-star hotel gets nothing but praise from 90 percent of the people commenting? There’s your consensus of rating right there.
— From FranzLuciferdinand
I don’t work in one anymore, but used to. This isn’t really shenanigans, but: the staff is not nearly so impressed by famous or rich people as some of them seemed to think we should be. It was a fancy hotel. We had rich and famous guests all the time. And it was usually the ones nowhere near the top of the ladder who tried to be the most imperious and expected the most deference. If you have to try to convince us you’re high status, you aren’t. We’d provide polite, professional service for all our guests and try to be helpful and accommodating, but being a C-list actor or whatever isn’t going to get you a table in a full restaurant or an upgrade to the already-occupied fancier suites. And if there’s a severe blizzard and the airport is closed, we can’t open it for you because you’re too special to have to wait to fly out. Even if you’re a Very Important Businessman.
— From tokalita (in reply to FranzLuciferdinland)
Can confirm this. The truly rich and famous are in fact rarely ever the ones who make a fuss of their status and can be some of the most polite and sensible ones. It’s the influencers who are clawing for deference. This was a few years back but of the many stars who have stayed at one of my hotels,, the most memorable was Lady Gaga.
When fans found out where she was staying they flocked over to the hotel hoping for a glimpse of her or to get her autograph, but as you can imagine when the crowd gets too big it can cause operational headaches. Gaga was very aware of this and took initiative to manage her little monsters, as she calls them. She tweeted and asked her fans to be good and kept them under control. Even ordered pizza from the hotel kitchen for all of them waiting outside in the driveway. We couldn’t have asked for a more considerate guest of her stature. In the words of my GM (general manager) she is “incredibly switched on”.
— From mrstincan
I’ve been working in a 5 star Hotel for about 3 ½ years. There’s plenty of stuff going on that we pretend to do on the outside and in front of guests but we actually don’t.
“first in first out” – you know, how you’re supposed to take out the things that expire first and not the newer drinks/foods to make sure you’re not wasting food? I don’t think anyone did that. I am pretty sure the kitchen staff even put meat on the buffet that was past it’s “best by” date.
Overbooking – during big events or fairs or festivals, the hotel will sell more rooms than they actually have just to make more money. It works in a way that Bc of that time period of an event, you pay in advance and you can’t cancel your booking. Meaning, if you don’t show up, you still pay. The hotel expects people to not show up so they try to book as many people as possible and a few more.
Secret signals – I used to work at the front desk the most time. It’s more or less the first impression and the one place everyone goes. Guests, scammers, robbers, you know. If we were threatened or received a call of someone threatening us or the hotel, for example, saying they placed a bomb inside the hotel, we had to subtly let our coworkers know. The signal for “help” at the front desk was dropping a stapler. For F&B, when harassed by a guest and in need of help, the go to was dropping something, like a glass, and making noise like loudly apologising. Draw attention from other guests and employees so the guests will stop. It was considered rude and unprofessional to just tell a guest to stop harassing you.
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