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21 Secrets Hotels Won’t Tell You

Everything is negotiable.

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Hotel secrets

Hotel receptionists spill their best secrets—from how to score a discounted room to how to get that Wi-Fi charge waived from your bill! Before you book your trip, make sure you know these 10 red flags you’re about to stay in a bad hotel.


Don’t try to bargain with the reservations number we give you

The 1-800 reservations number will probably send you to a central office with set rates. If you call the hotel directly instead, you can negotiate. If you book with us, make sure to do it on the cheapest day of the week.


We don’t get everything from online booking sites

Hotels can pay a commission of up to 30 percent to online hotel booking sites. So offer me 20 percent less than the online price, and we both come out ahead. These are the 11 secrets travel booking companies don’t want you to know.

iStock/Massimo Merlini

Don’t expect a discount if we are not independently owned

Independently owned hotels are far more likely to give you a discount. Some chains balk at dropping the rate. Learn the booking secret that guarantees the best room rate possible.

iStock/Steve Debenport

Give the housekeepers time

If you show up at 11 a.m. and check-in time is 2 p.m., please don’t be upset if your room isn’t ready. I can’t make the housekeepers go any faster. And you don’t want them to rush.


Ask in private for a room upgrade

Don’t ask me for an upgrade when other guests are within earshot. Want a more spacious room without paying more? Request a corner room. Try these other secrets for scoring a free room upgrade.


Ask the front desk about excursions

Some concierges get kickbacks for sending you to pricey tourist traps. If you want an unbiased recommendation, ask me.


We all lie

Sometimes my boss makes me lie, like when the elevator’s not working and I tell you someone is coming to fix it soon. I know it won’t be fixed until Monday, because the manager doesn’t want to pay the repairman’s weekend rate.

iStock/Jodi Jacobson

Don’t call during check-in time

Don’t call between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. with a special request. Chances are I’ll have a long line of guests waiting to check out or in and will just want to get you off the phone. Looking for a unique experience? Make sure to book a stay at one of these unique hotels.


Being a maid means a lot of different things at a hotel

My official job description: errand runner, toilet plunger, bow-tie tier, towel deliverer, and chef (that free continental breakfast doesn’t appear from above). I’ve also sprinkled rooms with rose petals and dealt with dead bodies. All for about $10 an hour.


Please take the shower soaps

We love it when you steal the soap, shampoo, and lotion. That’s why we put our logo on them. But pillows, bedspreads, and irons? We’re billing your credit card. Learn what else you can (and can’t) steal from hotels.


 Keep it down

Even the best hotels aren’t totally soundproof, and I’m the one who has to send the security guard up to knock on your door when someone complains.


Save the Wi-Fi bill for checkout

It’s a lot easier for me to remove Wi-Fi charges from your bill at checkout than to agree to waive them in advance. Check out these other 16 ways to save a ton of money on hotel rooms.

iStock/Joanna Pecha

Hourly rates aren’t a good sign

No, we don’t have an hourly rate. You don’t want to be at a hotel like that anyway.


Most of us are happy to help

If you ask us to, we’ll tell callers you’re not registered at the hotel, or tell you where to park so you can’t see your car from the interstate. But we’re also talking behind your back about what you might be hiding.

iStock/Borut Trdina

Always request clean linens when you check in

We wash the sheets every day, but blankets often only get washed once a week. And the bedspreads? If there’s no visible stain, it’s maybe once a month. Find out about 13 ways your hotel room could make you sick.


In this economy, everything is negotiable

If your hotel offers a hot breakfast buffet as well as a free continental breakfast, ask if you can get the hot breakfast with your room. Very rarely will we tell you no. To avoid more costs, learn how to avoid a last-minute cancellation fee on hotel rooms.


If you travel frequently, use the same hotel each time

Get to know the staff. Regulars are recognized and treated as VIPs. You could get free upgrades, discounts, and more. Avoid these 10 travel mistakes that make a vacation stressful.


 Never use the long distance calling feature

Unless you want to pay $10 for a five-minute call, it’s best to specifically ask for it to be turned off. We’ve had situations in which housekeepers have made calls from a guest’s phone.


If you request a king bed, there’s no guarantee

No matter how confident the reservations agent sounds, call the hotel directly and make the request again a few days before you travel. Then do it again on the day of. If we still don’t have one when you get there and you’re nice about it, we may comp your breakfast or upgrade you to a suite.


Don’t act like you own the place

Our policy is to automatically upgrade people if we’ve got the space—but I’m not going to do it if you’re snarky.


It seems to have gone out of fashion to tip your housekeeper

Most are paid minimum wage with the expectation of tips. Take care of them and they’ll take care of you. Make sure you know to avoid these 13 questions you should never ask hotel staff.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest