13+ Hotel Secrets You Need to Know

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! Plus, 12 hotels where you can get a free hot breakfast.

Interviews by Michelle Crouch from Reader's Digest | June 2010
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    1. 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.


    2. Hotels can pay a commission of up to 30 percent to online booking sites. So offer me 20 percent less than the online price, and we both come out ahead.



    3. Independently owned hotels are far more likely to give you a discount. Some chains balk at dropping the rate.

    4. 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.


    5. 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 or a handicapped one.


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



    7. 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.



    8. 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.


    9. 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.


    10. 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.


    11. 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.



    12. 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.



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


    14. 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.

    15. 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.

    16. 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.

    17. 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.

    18. Never use the long distance. Unless you want to pay $10 for a 5-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.

    19. 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.

    20. 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.

    21. 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.

    Sources: current and former desk clerks at hotels in Mississippi, Kansas, Colorado, Maryland, Vermont, and Washington

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