27 Things You Should Never Ask a Hotel Employee
Staying at a hotel? Whether you’re traveling for business or taking a well-deserved vacation, your hotel should feel like an escape. But too many travelers, in their quest to make their stay as perfect as possible, end up making the hotel staff feel like they need a vacation, too. The front desk staff won’t mind if you ask for a few freebies. (No worries if you forgot your toothbrush.) But if you pester the hotel employees with rude or annoying questions — even ones you didn’t think would be a problem — you’ll sabotage your chances of getting any special perks or preferential treatment during your stay.
Check out 27 of the worst questions you can ask a hotel employee.
1. Can I pay for my room in cash?
Want an easy way to creep out the hotel staff or make them suspect you’re up to something illegal? This is it. Even if you’ve got nothing suspicious in your bags and no motive other than kicking back by the pool, asking to pay for your room in cash immediately sounds weird.
Many hotels don’t allow guests to pay cash for their rooms. And if they do, the hotel often requires a deposit and credit card on file just in case you do major damage to the room. You’ll raise fewer red flags if you just use your credit card to pay for your room.
2. Can I order something that’s not on the room service menu?
Having food delivered straight to your hotel room? Count us in. It’s easy to think because the kitchen is making your food to order, you can probably request anything you want. But you really shouldn’t try to order things that aren’t on the room service menu.
Chances are good the kitchen doesn’t have the right ingredients in stock. And even if it does, there’s no guarantee the kitchen staff has the time (or the patience) to prepare things properly. If you want a meal that’ll actually taste good — and not a half-baked version of what you requested — stick to the menu. And perhaps steer clear of the items hotel insiders never order from room service.
3. Can I get an upgrade?
When you booked your reservation, you chose the room you wanted (and the price you were willing to pay). Upgrades still happen — but not usually because you ask. Unfortunately, your chances of an upgrade are pretty low if you booked the cheapest room in the house. But if you ask politely and discreetly, an upgrade isn’t completely off the table.
Don’t check in early. (You’ll just get the first room available, not the nicest one.) And don’t check in too late. (Then, you’ll just get the last room available.) Tell the staff if you’re celebrating a special occasion. Be polite when you check in. And if you must ask for an upgrade, do it quietly and discreetly when there aren’t other guests around to follow suit.
4. Can I check out really late?
Hotels set their checkout times and bank on guests leaving according to schedule (or at least checking out no more than a few minutes late). Asking for a late checkout can throw off the entire schedule for housekeeping. But if you need more time, the hotel staff definitely wants you to ask instead of staying late without notice.
If you call and request extra time, the hotel might be able to accommodate. However, you’ll probably only have an extra 30 minutes or maybe an hour. At most hotels, you can’t check out hours late and avoid getting billed for an extra night.
5. Don’t you have any rooms for rewards members?
When the employee at the front desk tells you the hotel has no rooms available, that means the hotel has no rooms available. You might wonder why you even bothered to sign up for the hotel’s rewards program. But trust us: the hotel really has sold out. The front desk agent isn’t hiding rooms from you. And even though you answered all those annoying questions when you enrolled in the rewards program, that doesn’t entitle you to rooms other guests can’t access.
6. May I speak to a manager?
Asking for a manager sounds like a good tactic to get a problem resolved. But you should only ask for a manager when you have a truly serious complaint. Asking for a manager to resolve minor issues won’t make a good impression at the hotel. And unfortunately, it probably won’t get you what you want. At many high-end hotels, employees have a discretionary budget to solve problems for guests. So it’s quite likely any minor issues can be resolved without calling a manager.
7. Can you tell the valet to get my car?
Valet parking gets confusing, especially if you aren’t accustomed to the system. But you don’t want to unintentionally annoy the front staff each time you need your car. Here’s how to use the system. If you’re using the hotel’s valet parking, you’ll usually need to head down to the valet station to get an employee to retrieve your car.
Some hotels will give you a phone number to call the valet station directly. But if they don’t, then don’t call the front desk to send someone to the valet station for you. That’s not a part of the usual workflow and will typically send somebody scrambling.
8. I stay here all the time
Although it’s not technically a question, hotel employees hear this one all the time. Guests assume they’ll get special treatment, or get away with something a “normal” customer wouldn’t, by telling the concierge they frequently stay at the hotel. But that doesn’t usually work. The hotel staff will recognize you if you actually stay at the property regularly. In fact, they’ll probably even remember your name and say hello to you. So if you have to tell the concierge you stay at the hotel “all the time,” you probably don’t.
9. Can the airport shuttle take me [anywhere other than the airport]?
The hotel has an airport shuttle for one reason: to transport guests to and from the airport. Even if things seem pretty quiet, don’t ask the concierge or the shuttle driver to make a detour for you — especially if you just want a free ride to a bar or a restaurant. The shuttle runs on a strict schedule. And no matter how much the staff likes you, they can’t risk deviating from that schedule. If the driver takes you someplace not on the regular route, he might accidentally inconvenience other guests who are relying on the schedule. Do yourself (and the driver) a favor, and just call a taxi or an Uber.
10. Why do I have to show my ID to get a special rate?
Whether you want a government, military, AAA, or senior citizen’s discount, you need to be prepared to show the proper identification. Hotels require off-duty police officers, for instance, to show their government ID. That way, they can prevent other people from unfairly taking advantage of those discounts. The staff probably doesn’t suspect you of abusing the system. But rules are rules.
11. Do you have to charge me for extra people?
If you booked a room for two people and show up with six, most hotels will charge you an added fee for those extra people. (You should also expect to pay extra if you want roll-away beds.) Some customers try to sneak in extra guests through a more discreet entrance. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t, but the hotel staff will just look the other way for you. But if the front desk staff does decide to charge you for those additional people, it definitely won’t help to argue the fee.
12. Why can’t I check in hours early?
Just as they carefully select their checkout times and set their schedules accordingly, hotels choose their check-in times for a reason. The employees at the front desk will probably sympathize if you’re jet-lagged. But your room might not be ready if you show up to the hotel hours early. All of the rooms need to be properly cleaned. And housekeeping operates on a strict schedule. You can always opt to sit out the wait at the hotel bar or find a nearby coffee shop.
13. What’s close by?
You probably had a good reason to choose your hotel. Maybe it’s downtown, near all the restaurants and museums you want to check out. Perhaps it’s close to the airport. Or maybe — we’ve all been there — it was just the cheapest option in the area. Regardless, the hotel staff doesn’t know why you’re in town or what you like to do.
You can ask the concierge for advice on what to do nearby, but you’ve got to give them a little guidance. You can ask for recommendations for a restaurant, a bar, attractions, or shopping. But it’s always a good idea to do your own research if you want to know what’s in the area.
14. Do you have a meeting room where my kids can play?
Wouldn’t we all rather sit at the bar, decompress in the hotel gym, or zone out poolside than deal with kids who are bouncing off the walls with excitement about staying in a hotel? The hotel staff definitely understands your predicament. But you can’t expect them to say yes if you ask to leave your kids in an empty room for hotel staff to watch. Staff might do lots of things in their capacity at the hotel. But babysitting isn’t one of them.
15. What’s the weather looking like?
When you’re on a trip and not operating on your normal schedule or in your familiar climate, it can be tough to remember to check the weather before you leave your room. But most of the time, the hotel staff isn’t the best source for the day’s weather report. Employees might not have checked the forecast before heading in to work.
If you have a smartphone — or even a newspaper — in hand, you can probably find the forecast pretty quickly. Plus, there’s a TV in your room, and you can almost always find a weather channel to check.
16. Do you want to get a drink with me?
If you’re always on the road, you might not think twice before flirting with the front desk staff. But you should avoid it. Don’t ask a hotel employee to recommend a bar or a restaurant and follow that question by asking when their shift is over or whether they’d like to get a drink with you. It’s against hotel policies for employees to fraternize with guests. And though you might think the attention is flattering, some employees would disagree.
17. Why are you charging me for Wi-Fi?
When you compared options and booked your hotel, your website or app of choice outlined what was included in your room rate and what would cost extra. Whether they made that information easy to find or legible without a magnifying glass is another story.
It’s true some cheap hotels offer free Wi-Fi and a complimentary breakfast, while some expensive properties charge exorbitant fees for both. That doesn’t necessarily make sense. But arguing with the front desk staff won’t change the hotel’s policies.
18. Why does breakfast end so early?
Some people wake up early in the morning. Others don’t. But only one of those groups can take advantage of the free breakfast at most hotels. Even though many hotel employees hate those early-morning alarms as much as you do, they can’t do much if you complain about the early breakfast hours. Just head downstairs in your bunny slippers. Or ask the staff for a recommendation on the best places to purchase your breakfast at a slightly later hour.
19. Would you bring me an extra key?
Most of us would be a little sheepish if we realized that we misplaced the hotel key (even more so if we’re standing outside the room with a bucket of ice and a Diet Coke). But the staff will think it’s obnoxious if you call them to bring you another key — or let you into your room — instead of walking down to the front desk yourself. Don’t be afraid to make a joke about it, and you’ll be back in your room in no time.
20. Why do I have to pay the city tax?
When you stay at hotels in different locations, you’ll learn pretty quickly some cities charge different tax rates. Some of those taxes get pretty expensive. But you won’t make much headway by arguing those charges with the employee who assists you at checkout. The staff probably hears those complaints all the time. But they can’t do much about local legislation. End your stay on a positive note, pay your bill, and thank the employee for their help.
21. Do you know how many friends I have on Yelp or how many followers I have on Instagram?
People with influence, such as bloggers, are a big deal for hotels. In fact, many hotels offer free stays for people with large social media followings. But if you have a few hundred or even a couple thousand followers on Instagram that’s probably not enough for the hotel to give you special treatment. And threatening to write a negative review on social media about minor inconveniences probably won’t get you anywhere.
22. Can I get a larger bed?
When you booked your room, you compared the options and chose which one you wanted (and which you were willing to pay for). If you booked a room with a full bed, don’t ask for a queen when you check in. And if you booked a room with a queen, don’t ask for a king.
Most hotels offer a dizzying array of different rooms and rates. And though they’ll certainly be willing to let you pay extra for a different room, they might not even have another room available. You can always ask what other rooms they have — as long as you realize you might just be stuck with what you booked.
23. Why do I have a view of the parking lot?
Everybody hates getting to their hotel room and throwing open the curtains to reveal a magnificent view — of the parking lot. But it’s just a reality that whether you booked a hotel at the beach or in the middle of a major city, some rooms have a good view, and others don’t.
Chances are when you made your reservation, you could choose whether you wanted a great view, often for more money. You can always ask nicely whether a room with a better view is available. But unfortunately, it’s entirely possible you’ll be stuck with that boring view.
24. Why would I want a room with 2 beds instead of 1?
If you’re traveling with your significant other, don’t get upset when your room has two beds instead of one. The hotel staff doesn’t expect you to sleep in separate beds. It might be nice to have a king bed instead of two queens. But the hotel might not have any of those rooms available. Fortunately, you can pretty easily ignore an extra bed while you get comfy in the other.
25. Why do I have to pay for parking?
Staying in a city where you’d usually have to pay to park? Then, unfortunately, your hotel likely charges for parking, too. So factor the cost of parking into your planning when you pick a hotel. (Most booking sites alert travelers of those fees.)
Even though parking might add an extra cost, you can take advantage of your freedom from feeding the meter and worrying about your car. After all, it’s really not so bad to pay to park in a dedicated lot or garage or to have a valet retrieve your car for you when you need it.
26. Why are you accusing me of smoking in my room?
If you’ve been smoking in your room, it’s time to come clean. (And avoid making a scene.) The employee helping you with checkout is only telling you the room needs to be deep-cleaned because housekeeping knows you’ve been smoking in the room. You might think the odor is undetectable, especially if you smoked in the bathroom with the fan on. But nonsmokers can definitely smell it. And unfortunately, you have no choice but to pay up.
27. Why is there an adult movie on my bill?
The answer to this question is always simple: because you chose to watch an adult movie. It’s not the hotel staff’s fault if you were drunk when you made the purchase or regret spending that money later. But things will always end badly if you pretend you didn’t watch a movie when you really did. Even if your significant other is upset about your taste in adult features, wouldn’t you rather argue about it in the car than embarrass yourself in front of a lobby full of strangers? We thought so.