Overall, hotel staff are quite honest but, as the video below proves, there are always exceptions.
We should say that the maid in the video doesn’t steal anything. But she does perform a virtual colonoscopy on this guest’s belongings. It makes you wonder how often this happens.
According to Jacob Tomsky, author of Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality: “… in any business it’s possible to unwittingly hire criminal-minded employees. However, in my ten years of experience, I’ve found housekeepers to be family oriented and dedicated to the job. And part of that job is respecting guests’ belongings.”
Regardless, I’m not a fan of allowing housekeeping into my hotel room. I’m a huge proponent of the ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door – even when I’m not there. I just keep my room clean and, if I’m only staying for a couple of nights, I don’t need daily towel changes and a chocolate on my pillow. I’m a big boy. I can make my own bed.
It’s not that I’m worried about my things being stolen. I just hate the idea of someone going through my stuff. Like this …
There have been a few times when I’ve stayed long enough to require some suite spritzing, so here’s how I safeguard my belongings from the prying eyes and hands of hotel personnel.
1. I take my valuables with me
If I’m overseas, I take my passport, wallet, phone and camera with me wherever I go. I also take my notebook that contains article ideas and story notes. I do this even when I go down to breakfast or dinner. It may not be worth anything to anyone else, but it’s worth a lot to me. If I don’t have the pocket space, I’ll leave my things in my room, but I’ll bury them in a pocket deep inside my bag. If you’re a trusting type, you can leave your valuables in the room safe. This leads me to …
2. The room safe
Some will say that the room safe is the safest place in the room. Here’s a tidbit on these supposedly safe safes: they’re not always so safe. Some hotels give the concierge or any number of staff the reset codes for room safes. So, if you forget your special four-digit code, they can come and unlock it for you. Here’s a tip: when you arrive, enter your four-digit code, then, an hour or so later, call down to the front desk and tell them you’ve forgotten your code. If they send the security manager to reset the code, that may mean that’s the only person who has the code. In that case, your room safe should be secure. If you’re concerned about keeping something secure, ask the front desk if you can stash it in the hotel’s lock-box.
3. Stick around
If you’re a little paranoid, you may like to physically be there to keep an eye on the cleaning crew. I’ve never done this on purpose, but I have stumbled in on staff cleaning my room and I ended up sticking around until they were done (I needed to charge my phone). They were lovely: very quick and very thorough and I was able to tip them directly for their work.
4. Put it away
If you don’t want people looking at your frilly whites or knowing what you bought in SoHo, then put it away and keep it out of sight. If staff have to work hard to find it, then chances are, they won’t bother looking. Don’t keep cash on your bedside table, bury your camera beneath your clothing and zip up your suitcase. Don’t leave temptation in plain sight.
5. Keep your room clean
The cleaner your room is, the less time they have to spend cleaning it. If hotel staff see a clean-ish room, they see it as a quick job, which means they can get it out of the way and knock off sooner. And when I say knock off, I mean finish work.
For many hotels, policy demands that rooms be cleaned every three days. So, when you’re walking around and see housekeeping staff at work, check that they do so keeping the door open and placing their cart in the doorway. This is a sign of honest housekeeping and good hotel cleaning policy.