Staying in a swank hotel over the holidays? Be advised - that swarm of ultra-competent service staff who meet your every hospitality need are complex human beings, seeking your respect and tips (sometimes in that order).
After a decade-long career in the hotel industry, Jacob Tomsky wrote the tell-all ‘Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles and So-Called Hospitality.’ Tomsky’s tips can get you better service and also help you avoid common hotel staff ploys for punishing bad behavior, like getting the room by the elevator.
Tip #1 – Beware the Valet
The valet parking staff has less face-to-face interaction with hotel patrons, says Tomsky, so they’re more inclined to play fast and loose with your property.
“There’s a lot of joy riding,” he says. “Garages can be pretty tight so there’s a lot of scraping of the vehicles and driving them a little errantly. A couple of my coworkers were just stealing things from the vehicles.”
One guy stole CDs from cars, and sometimes change.
“When he would run down from parking a car he’d be all jingly jangly,” says Tomsky.
Tomsky recommends doing a quick walk around of your vehicle to check for scrapes and scratches before you leave it with the valet. Keep all valuables in the trunk, and out of sight.
Tip #2 – Avoid Minibar Glasses
Astronomical markups aren’t the only pitfall of the minibar. The glasses are crystal clear, but you may not want to drink out of them.
“Those mini bar glasses stay in the room,” says Tomsky. “You’re not going to see any dish soap on a housecleaners cart. What you do see is shampoo. Often times, they’ll let the glasses soak in shampoo, and obviously, most importantly you want a spot-free glass. The best way to achieve that goal is to use a little bit of furniture polish and just wipe it down with the rag and it’s going to shine. It’s going to look clean. It just might have a lemony taste.”
Tomsky suggests giving the glasses a thorough rinsing before use.
Tip #3 – Tip Early
You shouldn’t worry about leaving the room a bit untidy – housekeeping staff expects it. But you do want to leave a tip early in your stay.
Tomsky says to write a note along with your tip – “I’ll be here three days, I really appreciate your work,” etc. And leave it with your tip in an envelope addressed “housekeeper.”
Tip #4 – Hotels Are Staffed By People
Aside from protecting hotel visitors from car scratches and minibar toxins, Tomsky hopes you’ll change your attitude toward the hotel staff. And that “the next time you walk into a hotel you just have a different feeling in your heart about them and don’t think of them as a bother or as someone who’s rude and wants your money, but that they’re human beings and are trying to make a living,” says Tomsky. “That would be a supreme victory, if I can make that understood.”