Last summer when my family was road tripping to Montana we arrived in Great Falls late one night. The kids had fallen asleep in the car, so my husband went and checked-in while I stayed with the kids. When he returned with the room keys, we coaxed our groggy children out of the car, through the hotel, up the elevators and into our guest room. We kept the room dark, leaving only the entry light on, and quickly tucked the kids into bed hoping they’d drift back to sleep.
My husband went to put our waters in the mini-fridge only to notice some beers. That’s weird, he said and I agreed, but having discovered left-behind drinks in hotel fridges in the past I didn’t think much about it. I figured the housekeepers had forgotten to check it. In the meantime, my husband ran to the store and I went into the bathroom to get ready for bed. As I washed my face I look down to see cardboard beer containers in the trash. My spidey-senses kicked into gear as I felt my heart begin to pound.
We were in someone else’s room!
Now panicked, I checked the door lock to make sure no one could walk in (keep in mind, I was in my night clothes of silky shorts and tank-top). Next, I opened the closet. Nothing. I then went to the dresser drawers. Nothing. My eyes scanned the door room’s floor and there it was: A black bag that looked like one of ours. But it wasn’t!
I immediately called the front desk and they respond with an “OMG! This is not good!”
By now the kids were wide-awake, jumping on the beds as I was frantically trying to stuff all of our things back into our oversized suitcase.
A half-hour later we were settled into a new room without having the awkward encounter of meeting the other hotel guests assigned to the room.
This could have all been prevented had I followed my own advice of checking the room before settling in. After all, this isn’t the first time I’ve walked into someone else’s room. In fact, on more than one occasion I’ve had people walk into my room while I was in there. Sometimes the door has been double latched, other times it hasn’t.
But checking for an occupied room isn’t the only thing you should look for as I will explain below. Speaking from experience, here are the top things to check when you check-in your hotel room:
1. Under the bed, behind the drapes, in the closet and bathroom. When I first became a flight attendant I was taught to search my room, with my luggage holding the door open, to ensure no one was hiding in my room. Flight attendants and pilots have been targeted in hotel crimes so most airlines (but not all) insist crew members ensure everyone’s room is “clear” before retiring for the evening. You should do the same.
2. Dresser drawers. If your room is occupied by someone and there aren’t any obvious signs…this is where you find out for sure since some bags can be stored in a dresser drawer. You may also find a toiletry bag hanging on the bathroom door.
3. Alarm clock. This little piece of equipment can cause quite a bit of pain if it goes off at 4 am while you’re on vacation. Make sure the alarm is “off” every night of your stay since a housekeeper could accidentally set it to “on” while cleaning.
4. Toilet, sink and shower. During another family trip my son used the bathroom not long after arriving in our hotel room only to find the toilet didn’t flush. We had already unpacked and had to welcome a plumber into our room for an hour. But that’s not all, also check to make sure you have hot water. I’ve encountered rooms with cold water only which doesn’t make for a pleasant morning shower. And while you’re at it, ensure the drains actually drain. Standing in five inches of shower water is disgusting, especially when it’s not your own shower.
5. Door locks. The connecting room and balcony door need to be checked for two reasons: first you don’t want any intruders and, second, if you have young kids you don’t want them wandering out of the room when you’re not looking.
6. Phone. Another experience I’ve had was a phone that didn’t work. People were trying to call me and I wasn’t answering. This can be a bummer if you’re awaiting a phone call or relying on a wake-up call. Tip: Always have two or three options for wake-up calls.
7. TV and remote control. And finally, if you’re a television watcher, check to make sure your TV and remotes works. I don’t need to explain this if you watch TV before bed. I don’t, but I know there are some people who have to have the TV on to fall asleep. If this is you, press that button!
And those are some items to check when you check-in to your hotel room. Do you have any wild hotel stories to share?