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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?