If you’re going on holiday, you need to be able to tell if your hotel room is actually clean. We give you our top tips – from a hotelier’s perspective.
At Wyndham, we take holidays seriously. We want you and your family to have an incredible experience, from the moment you set foot in the lobby to the moment you check out. We take pride in the high standards of our resorts and hotels, and we love it when we exceed the expectations of our guests.
Unfortunately, not everyone in the accommodation industry feels the same way. As an avid traveller, you’ve probably had your share of bad hotel experiences.
Dust-shrouded rooms, dirty linen, bathrooms with sticky, unwashed floors … the list is pretty much endless. Properly cleaning a hotel room requires elbow grease and attention-to-detail, and, sadly, some hoteliers don’t feel their guests are worth the effort.
If you’re reading this, chances are you stay at Wyndham properties anyway, but what if you want to holiday somewhere different? You never know what unpleasant surprises might be waiting for you in that cheap room you got as part of a package deal, so we’ve put together some ideas you can use to avoid a nasty holiday stay.
Why Choose A Clean Hotel?
We know, we know – who wouldn’t choose a clean hotel? The thing is, not everyone is a meticulous holiday planner with an unlimited budget, and sometimes we rush our bookings or go with low-star hotels because they’re a little bit cheaper.
Our advice? Don’t skimp when it comes to accommodation. There can be serious health implications for you and your family if you stay in a hotel room that hasn’t been cleaned properly. If you’re a germaphobe or you can’t stand gross things, skip this part.
Dust – both the particles themselves and the accompanying dust mites – can impact your general wellbeing in a number of ways, including:
- Dry eyes
- Sore throat
- Asthma attacks
Dust mites can also cause runny noses, rashes and breathlessness, and irritate pre-existing respiratory/dermatological conditions like eczema. Young children and elderly people are particularly at risk.
Note: Even if the furniture looks clean, you may still be exposed to dust if the hotel’s air conditioning systems aren’t regularly cleaned and maintained.
Bed bugs are common in places where the bedding and mattresses aren’t washed and cleaned with each stay. These small, brown bugs range from 4 to 5mm in length, and can infest houses, aeroplanes and personal belongings.
They feed on human blood at night, and leave small, red welts that can result in skin rashes and blisters. They are typically transferred from infested areas to new areas via clothes, luggage or wild animals.
Bed bug bites can cause anxiety, insomnia, anaphylaxis, asthma, urticaria rashes and bacterial infections – a woman in 2016 actually died from sepsis brought on by bed bug bites.
The room might be dusty, and there might be bed bugs in the mattresses, but the most horrifying place in a poorly-cleaned hotel is the bathroom – specifically, the shower floor.
If a shower floor hasn’t been scrubbed and sanitised with industrial-strength cleaner, it might be harbouring infections like athlete’s foot, wart viruses, HPV, MRSA and various fungal infections. We’re not going to go into too much detail here – to be honest, it’s pretty nauseating – but you can read more about them in this article from the University of Utah.
These are some of the more common problems, but it’s also quite possible that you’ll encounter other, more serious parasites or infections, particularly in unregulated accommodation that isn’t subject to industry standards or regular inspections.
How to Tell if Your Hotel Room is Actually Clean
So now you know that staying in an unclean hotel room can be harmful to your health, how are you going to avoid it? It’s okay, we’re about to tell you – keep reading.
Do Your Research
In the age of social media and online review platforms, it’s pretty standard to Google a business before you use them. Whether you’re hiring a plumber or going out to dinner, you’ll probably have checked Google Reviews, Facebook, Zomato or TripAdvisor to get a sense of what you’re walking into.
Your holiday shouldn’t be any different. Before you book your accommodation, scope out the hotel or resort online, and see how former guests feel about them.
Navigating online reviews can sometimes be tricky, especially since established businesses will have many. Remember to take outliers with a grain of salt – if a hotel has dozens of 5-star reviews and a couple of 1-star reviews, chances are it’s a problem with the guest rather than the accommodation.
The same goes for poorly-rated hotels with a few glowing 5-star reviews – it’s quite possible these are fake reviews generated to deceive potential guests. Also pay attention to why the hotel was given the star rating, as this could impact whether it’s the right match for you.
Check the lobby and elevators
As you walk into a hotel, the first two places you’ll encounter are the lobby, followed by the elevators. These two areas are the most frequented places in the building, and their cleanliness is a good indicator of whether or not your room is going to be sanitary.
Are the floors clean? Is the reception desk shiny, or is it smudged by grease and hundreds of fingerprints?
Can you smell any unpleasant odours? Is the air con cool and crisp? How do the couches look? Can you see any rubbish or dirty dishes lying about? Is everything dusted?
Elevators, in particular, are often overlooked in poorly-cleaned hotels. If there’s glass or mirrors, check if they’re clouded with smears and prints, and pay attention to how clean the buttons look.
Check handles and metal/glass surfaces
Once you get up to your room, you’ll probably notice a couple of things straight away – the door handle, the lights and the smell of the room. Is the door handle clean, or does it look excessively grubby? A few prints from the cleaners/hotel staff is normal.
Light switches are another good place to check, as are windows and metal/glass surfaces like fridges and kettles. If these have lots of prints or smudges, it means they haven’t been cleaned since the last stay, which is a red flag for the rest of the room.
Pay attention to the smell of the room, too. A non-odour to a light fragrance associated with cleaning products or freshener is good.
If there have been a few days between guest stays, the air may smell slightly stale, as the air con probably won’t have been turned on. If you can detect strange or bad smells, this can often indicate the presence of mould or mildew.
Also be wary if the room smells strongly of freshener, as this can be a way to cover up unpleasant odours without actually dealing with the root causes.
Check down the sides of furniture
A quick test to see how well your hotel room has been ‘deep-cleaned’ is to peek down the sides of couches, behind the fridge, and in other hard-to-reach places. While most hotel cleaners won’t move the furniture after every stay, deep-cleans should be conducted regularly to ensure good hygiene.
If these places have rubbish, food crumbs or thick coatings of dust, it means it’s been too long since the last deep-clean, and the room is more likely to attract pests like cockroaches and rats.
It’s also just plain gross – nobody wants to find crumpled chip packets or old pairs of underwear stuffed between the couch cushions.
Be wary of pillows/bedspreads
Pillows and bedspreads aren’t normally cleaned in between guest stays, so be wary of these, particularly if they look old. Take off the pillow covers to check the condition of the pillow – if it’s stained or yellowed, make sure you request a new one from hotel management.
Both can harbour bed bugs as well as dust, dust mites and human skin cells, so sometimes it can even be worth taking your own pillow.
Make sure bed sheets are clean
Your skin’s having direct contact with the bed sheets, so it’s critical that these are clean.
There are a few ways you can check, but the easiest is, of course, a visual scan. If they look stained, crumpled or have hair on them, ask for a change immediately (or, better still, find a different hotel).
Your nose can also be useful here – if they smell, it’s a no-no.
Check to see if the sheets have fold marks, and whether they feel crisp or soft and sticky.
If you’re an extra-cautious individual, use a blacklight. These cheap-buy lamps can be switched on in a dark room and highlight stains from bodily fluids and certain cleaning chemicals.
Make sure couches are clean
If you’ve got a TV you want to watch or you’ve brought your kids, it’s a good practice to check out the couches, since it’s quite common for cleaners to skip these.
Leather is generally safer than fabric, but both can still be unhygienic. Watch out for stains or general dirtiness, and pay attention to the feel and the smell.
Does the couch itself have an odour? How does it feel to touch? Is it slightly sticky?
It’s also a good idea to check under the cushions – be alert for food scraps and hair.
Be extra cautious in the bathrooms
As you’d expect, bathrooms can make or break a room, and a lack of proper cleaning here can be fatal to your holiday experience.
Obviously, hair, soap scum or general dirt isn’t acceptable, nor are prints or smudges on mirrors or handles – this indicates they haven’t been wiped down since the last guest’s stay.
Check around crevices like the toilet bowl, shower corners and sink edges for any signs of mould. On metal appliances, corrosion or rust should be noted – if possible, ask to have the appliance changed.
Again, smell is a useful sense – if the bathroom smells damp, it probably means it hasn’t been cleaned properly, as the cleaning products used for hotel bathrooms are generally quite strong and have a recognisable chemical fragrance.
Have you got any additional ways to check if your hotel room has actually been cleaned? Tell us about them on our Facebook or Instagram!
And remember, review platforms exist for a reason – regardless of whether you’ve stayed in a beautiful hotel or filthy hotel, make sure you give it a review online so your fellow travellers are aware of your experience.
Reward hoteliers who care about you, and name and shame those who don’t. It’s your holiday, and you deserve to be treated right.