Hotels Cut Back on Housekeeping

room service at hotel
Daily housekeeping is a thing of the past at many hotels. Photo: cottonbro via Pexels..

During the pandemic, many hotels stopped offering daily housekeeping citing health and safety reasons. This was largely understandable at the time, but it now appears that many hotels have no intention of resuming this service for their guests. And no, prices haven’t come down proportionately.

I’ve stayed at many hotels this year in Australia and overseas, and found that many – even some expensive 4 or 5 star properties – are now only offering housekeeping “on request”.

Not everyone needs daily housekeeping, so this would be fine if it was clearly communicated to all guests when they check in. But I’ve stayed at several hotels recently where I was only informed of this policy after asking reception why my room hadn’t been serviced the previous day. This even happened when I had hung the “please make up my room” sign on the door – apparently this is now meaningless.

Meanwhile, some hotels are now only offering housekeeping every 2, 3, 4 or even 7 nights. So, if you only stay two nights, your room won’t be serviced at any point during your stay. Some hotels with this policy will still let you request housekeeping after one night for a fee, or make an exception if you ask nicely or have elite status, but not all.

Again, this would be fine if it was communicated to guests – preferably at the time of booking. Often it is not.

At some hotels lately – even ones that advertise enhanced cleaning procedures due to COVID – I’ve also found that my room hadn’t been cleaned that well after the previous guest. For example, last month I found someone else’s hair all over the floor of the bathroom when I checked in.

I’m definitely not the only person to have observed this trend. A lot of recent Tripadvisor reviews for many different hotels have mentioned that they weren’t happy about not receiving housekeeping service – and more to the point, that they didn’t know it wouldn’t be provided or that they had to request it.

Australian Frequent Flyer members have also noticed this trend. Here are just a few comments on a recent forum thread about this topic:

Hotels are doing this to save money. Let’s call the spade the spade. I would understand if they reduced the rates and were upfront about it, but a lot of the time you actually find out when you arrive.
Cybella

Ok, so I must be an old fuddy duddy. If I pay top dollar for a five star hotel I expect to be treated extremely well. Luxury means getting treatment far and above what I get at home, otherwise I might as well stay home and save my money. I like nice, crisp fresh sheets – it’s one of the pleasures of a luxury experience. These reductions in services have not come along with a reduction in cost – quite the opposite. I expect and will demand full room service in a 5* hotel. I don’t mind the same sheets for two days but any more is taking the p if you are being charged a premium.
Lynnelanne

That is annoying not to be informed of that at check in. voco simgapore we turned on the make up our room sign as needed an extra towel. Hadn’t been done so asked at the lounge that evening to be told it is only done every 2 days and you are only staying 2 days.
drron

I stayed at a hotel last month where housekeeping were still going after 9pm. At another, the housekeeper said mine was her 29th room for the day. Some hotels just haven’t ramped up staff as quickly as their increase in bookings.
I had one hotel which said they only did housekeeping on demand and then didn’t bother to do it even when requested. However, on a positive note, one of the hotels that I stayed at recently which had signage saying that housekeeping was only being done on demand was in fact doing it every day.
Kremmen

Interestingly though, not everyone thinks this is a negative change. Another member wrote:

I like the trend of scarce housekeeping. Saves me from putting the do not disturb sign on my door. Saves me from having to unmake my bed every evening.
Stealthflyer

Before the pandemic, many hotels offered an incentive such as bonus points or a food & beverage credit for each day of a multi-night stay that you opted out of housekeeping. Now, it’s the other way around. The onus is on the customer to opt in, and there are no rewards if you choose not to.

Some hotels have cited COVID-19 or environmental reasons for reducing housekeeping services. But we all know why they really want to do this. It’s obviously to save money on labour costs.

Admittedly, a large part of the problem also seems to be a lack of staff. Labour shortages are affecting many industries right now – not just hospitality. Some hotels just can’t get enough workers to service every room daily (notwithstanding that offering higher wages might help to attract more staff).

This probably explains why the housekeeping staff didn’t get to the rooms at my end of a hotel in Sydney last week, which was fully booked, until after 6pm.

I don’t personally need housekeeping every day and would often opt-out if I was just staying two nights. But if this service is only going to be provided on request, this should at least be communicated at check-in. And if it’s not provided even on request, especially at premium hotels, this information should be provided at the time of booking.

The pandemic and labour shortage will be temporary, but it seems the reduced levels of housekeeping are here to stay. It’s not a change that most guests requested, but you know what they say about wasting a crisis…

 

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Is hotel housekeeping a lost art?

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

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Community Comments

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It's probably a lack of staff like every other business...

You are probably right in they have taken the "Green" way to reduce services.
But I dont think everyday housekeeping is needed in 3 Star places...I would rather a cheaper rate.
I am quite capable of hanging a towel and washing a cup.
Who washes their sheets everyday at home?

Five star place probably should do it...

Reply 4 Likes

It's probably a lack of staff like every other business...

You are probably right in they have taken the "Green" way to reduce services.
But I dont think everyday housekeeping is needed in 3 Star places...I would rather a cheaper rate.
I am quite capable of hanging a towel and washing a cup.
Who washes their sheets everyday at home?

Five star place probably should do it...

My recent stay in 5* IC Lyon said they changed sheets every 2 days. I only stayed there 2 nights

Reply Like

On the other hand, while I appreciate that housekeeping is not always so great:

I've stayed in countless 4 and 5 star hotels that for towels request: If you hang it, it will stay another day - If you leave it in the shower or bath, it will be changed.

I've done the former hundreds of times yet the hotel has almost always done the latter.

Reply 14 Likes

Yep, mostly cost-cutting, but the thing I object to most is, if they going to do it, housekeeping done late-in-the-afternoon. Unless you stay out all day, you know at some stage you are going to have to leave at some uncertain time (which is the worst part) to allow housekeeping to do their thing. I'll grit my teeth for 3 star, and 4 star for one night, but for 5 star, I'll ask that everything be done before 2pm, or earlier, as I usually leave before 9. Usually they do as I ask.

Question for people who travelled in the 80's and 90's - was there ever a golden era where you could just rely on housekeeping simply being done without issue?

To be honest back then, I cared less (age) and expectations were probably lower.

Reply 1 Like

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I prefer to pay less for my hotel stay.

We only request cleaning/replacing towels every 2nd day but we ensure that we still get coffee/tea and water the other days.

Come to think of it for the first hotel (2-3 star) I don't think they changed the top sheet/blanket at all during our 8 night stay. We don't mind as we do the same at home except for longer.

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washing a cup

What do you wash with though? Soap?

Reply 1 Like

It's been enhanced. A word that no longer means what it did as recently as 20 years ago.

Reply 5 Likes

Question for people who travelled in the 80's and 90's - was there ever a golden era where you could just rely on housekeeping simply being done without issue?

Back then, at a 5 star hotel in Asia, you would generally see housekeeping 3 times a day. Once in the morning after you got up when they would change sheets and replace towels and vacuum, dust, clean the bathroom etc, once in the afternoon to tidy the room before you started getting ready to go out, and once in the evening for changing wet towels, bed turndown service, curtains drawn, chocolates put on the pillow etc.

The constant attention sometimes used to get a bit annoying if you forgot to put the do not disturb sign on the door! But it's all changed now. My pet hate is the hotels where you can indicate by a sign (electronic or cardboard) that you want them to make up your room now, and you go out at say 9 or 10am and come back mid to late afternoon and the room still hasn't been done.

Reply 7 Likes

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Back then, at a 5 star hotel in Asia, you would generally see housekeeping 3 times a day. Once in the morning after you got up when they would change sheets and replace towels and vacuum, dust, clean the bathroom etc, once in the afternoon to tidy the room before you started getting ready to go out, and once in the evening for changing wet towels, bed turndown service, curtains drawn, chocolates put on the pillow etc.

The constant attention sometimes used to get a bit annoying if you forgot to put the do not disturb sign on the door! But it's all changed now. My pet hate is the hotels where you can indicate by a sign (electronic or cardboard) that you want them to make up your room now, and you go out at say 9 or 10am and come back mid to late afternoon and the room still hasn't been done.

Yeah, I get annoyed about using the sign, then nothing done until late arvo. Crown Towers Melbourne comes to mind for a recent stay.

Or the ones with no sign, and you wonder when they are going to turn up.

Reply Like

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I stayed in a few US hotels this week (4 star hotels that were not cheap), and none of them provided housekeeping unless you specifically requested it.

It does seem like many other hotels have also been trying to cut costs by scaling back housekeeping. Personally, I don't need it every day - but I feel this should be something you can opt out of, rather than needing to opt into.

At none of the hotels I stayed in this week was I informed that housekeeping was "on request" until I enquired afterwards as to why I hadn't received it.

Reply 1 Like