Does housekeeping staff rifle through your stuff?

Overall, hotel staff are quite honest, but there are some criminal-minded maids about.

hotel maid cleaning a room

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.



    To make a comment, please register or login
    11th Mar 2017
    Although we've never had a bad experience anywhere in the world, we always have been careful about our personal items when leaving our room, or cabin. As a general rule, we only take out things we need when unpacking and everything else stays 'locked' in the suitcases. Never trusted the in-room saves either. Keeping the room tidy also means less time they need to spend in it. It's only common sense that you must always look after your own things, as you never know who is likely to be in your room when you're not there. Also, you are only inviting trouble by leaving personal items on display.
    11th Mar 2017
    When I emigrated to Aus in 1985, I stayed in Singapore in a family hotel for 3 or 4 nights. When I got to Aus I was missing a lot of stuff. Summer dresses, big carrier bag of all my perfumes. I thought maybe I had left the dresses behind in UK, I got someone to check my house in UK, no dresses. I stayed in a Holiday Inn in Seaport, New York , October 2013. Someone had given me a bag of unusual perfumed tea which I had doubts that I could bring to Australia, that disappeared. I moved to another hotel in New York and never found the tea! A friend had quite a few things stolen from a very good hotel in Melbourne, the management recompensed her to a certain extent. They even took hair product, she was ropeable as she has very curly hair and will not go out without using product to straighten it. It is a concern travelling as its known that baggage handlers at airport often have a dip into your cases. I leave jewellery at home. Keep my money and passport close to me.
    11th Mar 2017
    In china we observed a funny situation, there was a hotel safe but it wasn't bolted to cupboard - so in theory someone could walk out with the whole safe - bizarre.
    11th Mar 2017
    The main tip is don't take anything with you you can't afford to lose.

    If I am in a hotel for just a night or two, I don't unpack (except for toiletries) and keep my bag locked and put away. I take anything else of value with me. However, I have used the room safe on occasions and never had any problems with it. I have also used the hotel safe at reception on occasions too. No issues there either.
    minnie orb
    13th Mar 2017
    most housekeepers have not got time to look through your stuff. They are on such a tight schedule for cleaning, getting the work done in the time allocated is hard enough let alone spending time looking through luggage. There are always exceptions to the rule......
    13th Mar 2017
    Yes they do. I returned to my room in Rockhampton after taking some rubbish out and found hotel services servicing themselves out of my wallet which had been sitting on the bed. I was only gone a few minutes and came back to catch her with the wallet in her hands going through it. She tried to run past me and I blocked her escape, asked her what she was doing (well it was obvious really)and I told her that I would have to report the incident. The management assured me they would deal with it and offered me a room upgrade.
    13th Mar 2017
    No matter which way you look at it, it pays to be always vigilant and never, ever leave things around where they can be found by hotel staff. In particular, passports (when o'seas), mobile phones, cameras, tablets, jewellery and cash. But then, it's only common sense, isn't it?

    14th Mar 2017
    You have posted a detailed document having full of latest information. I read this whole content and really liked it. Thanks for sharing.
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    27th Apr 2017
    Thank you for your post, I look for such article along time, today i find it finally. this post give me lots of advise it is very useful for me
    happy wheels
    8th Feb 2018
    Sorry KatiaGratz, I think you meant to commend on a different article. This is all about hotel staff snooping through your luggage and private items. Cheers!
    10th Feb 2018
    You're right Zeus ...

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