Insider Exposes Hotel Industry's Dirty Secrets

Let me apologize in advance for today's tip, because after you read it, you may never fully relax in a hotel again.

See, I recently read Jacob Tomsky's Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality.

Just like Anthony Bourdain's famous Kitchen Confidential, which revealed things you never wanted to know about the restaurants you eat in, Heads in Beds exposes some equally scary stuff about the hotels you visit on business and vacation.

And I'm not just talking about downmarket chains.

According to Tomsky, who worked for 11 years in all departments of upscale and even luxury hotels in cities such as New Orleans and New York City, no matter where you stay, there's a good chance:

Your bed has used by the staff for something other than sleeping...

Your room's drinking glasses have been "cleaned" with furniture polish...

Your clothes and other belongings have been rifled through...

And if you're rude to the staff?

Well, let's just say you better not leave your toothbrush out.

How can you tell if hotel workers are doing this kind of stuff behind your back?

Tomsky says it all starts with how you check in.

Watch the video below to see if you do these "annoying" things that immediately get you labeled as a "PITA," the hotel industry's nickname for "pain in the ..."

Thankfully, Tomsky's book also explains how we can avoid the worst of the "paybacks" described above, and it isn't any more complicated than what we were taught in kindergarten: be nice to people.

"There's nothing better than giving someone a great stay just because you like them," said Tomsky in a New York Post article about his book. "Kindness really does go a long way."

And Tomsky isn't the only person with great insights into how to make sure you get the best possible service from the staff at the hotel/resort you're visiting.

In fact, our very own Tim Gavrich recently stayed at an Extended Stay America hotel in the Orlando area for a couple nights, and was able to get the housekeeper to visit his room, even though housekeeping is normally only available on stays of six or more nights. He hadn't been made aware of this rule, so after inquiring politely about the housekeeping schedule, the hotel arranged it as a courtesy.

Bottom line: be nice, be kind to the staff even when things don't seem to be going your way, and you're likely to be rewarded. Be a jerk and things could go from bad to worse, sometimes without you even knowing it.

What do you think about the hotels you've stayed in -- do you think these kinds of shocking shenanigans are common, or are they just one man's embellished tales to help him sell books?

Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below!

Craig Better is one of the founding editors of Golf Vacation Insider. In addition to traveling to 15 foreign countries, he has twice traveled across America to play golf courses in all 50 United States. Prior to joining Golf Vacation Insider, Craig was a freelance writer who contributed to GOLF Magazine, Travel + Leisure Golf, Maxim Magazine,, and co-authored Zagat Survey’s book, America’s Top Golf Courses.
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Commented on

When I check into a hotel where I am going to be for a few days, I leave a good tip immediately in the room and a thank-you note for the room cleaning personnel. That way, I have always got good results - and when I leave, I write another thank you note and leave a second tip. Many people never leave a tip for the room-cleaners who are probably the personnel who most 'need' a tip - they work pretty hard and have a certain number of rooms to clean in a given amount of time. My system seems to ensure that they really take care of *my* room.

Commented on

It is quite absurd to give the check in clerk a $20 tip just for checking you in!!! He is providing an entirely routine, clerical service which is fully automated and you are unlikely to need his services again during your stay. It is not as if he is offering you an upgrade or suddenly finding a room when they are fully booked or, heavens above, offering ro carry your bags to the room. DId he handle your reservation in the first place or did you do it online through a booking agency.....probably the latter.

There are many other members of the hotel staff who may deserve your thanks and gratuities - when, and "only when" they are earned! A forced smile and welcoming platitudes for a weary traveller at reception do not fit into this category.

It is time to stop this nonsense.

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I travel a lot and spend many days in motels. Thank God I'm not as paranoid as you are. After all, your creator installed an immune system
In your body and activated it at birth !

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My wife and I were in Cancun on vacation. One day that week we were out most of the day site seeing. About half the day went by when I noticed I left my camera back at the room. Back at home after the trip, we had the pictures developed just to reveal room attendants sticking our tooth brushes in their greasy, hairy Mexican asses. Never leave toiletries out in the open. It may put a bad taste in your mouth.

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Ah, the "golden rule", seems to work wonders if you treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. However, many top named Hotels also have issues other than staff getting back at rude or abusive patrons. Things like nasty bacteria, viruses, dangerous disinfectants/pesticides, along with bed bugs. Lets not discuss what happens in food processing plants (what's really in my soup...possibly what's alluded to in the tooth brush section of the article, or you buy chicken wings, and some of them have shattered bones; well the chicken catcher (the person who picks up the chickens in the barn for transport) likely "stunned an over excited chicken' by whacking it against a wall, thereby breaking the wings and introducing nasty bacteria into the broken limb area.

So, the moral to this story; never eat out, buy food or stay at hotels.

Commented on

I was staying in Providence, RI, at an up-scale hotel chain. I was able to get a top-floor room where few guests had been placed. I was on my bed, in only my underwear, when the door suddenly opened and in walked a couple of starry-eyed staff members (male and female) who obviously thought the room was empty. They apologized profusely and made a lame attempt to asked me if my accommodations were acceptable. I mentioned the incident when I checked out, but nobody seemed to care!

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Real gentlemen/aristocrats know how to behave and how to treat people working for them in a serving capacity. The problem is that many first-generation well-off people somehow have the idea that "the upper classes" are rude, commandeer servants, snap their fingers and so forth and believe they must do this,too. These, alas are the people who are too grand to rake bunkers and replace divots.
I never send food back in a Restaurant - kitchen staff have ways of taking revenge; if it is not good, I may comment politely on what the problem was but also praise what was good. Otherwise, I simply never eat there again....

Commented on

I think different cultural standards of cleanliness are more often the issue with how a room gets serviced rather than malicious intent. Recently waiting in a bathroom for a stall when the custodian du jour wandered in to 'check' the bathroom. The lavatory had water all over it, so he 'rescued' a few clean looking paper napkins from the waste bin and dried it off. I saw the last guy that threw napkins in there... he didn't dry clean hands with them!

As the attendant left the restroom I noticed his badge said he was from Guatemala. I've been to Guatemala... I was not surprised. I'm sure he genuinely thought he was doing a good thing. You know, recycling. He is a 'green' attendant.

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Thanks for bringing this to light. Those that work in the hospitality industry are no different than anyone else -- if they feel slighted, they will retaliate. And if you're the type of person who talks down to them or treats them like your personal servants, well, you deserve it.

Commented on

I don't mind what the staff do in my bed. As long as they do it with me.

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