A friend reported back from her hotel stay of this week that maid service happened even though she had the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign hanging on the outside of her door.

She came back to her room to find that her bed was made, the coffee much was replaced, and the towels, which were hung up according to the ‘save water and re-use towel’ request, were replaced. It was the second day of her stay.

The ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign was still hanging on the outside of her door upon her return, so it must have really been a shock for her to see the room all done up. She wasn’t happy.

I know many travelers who prefer to keep housekeeping out of their hotel room. Regardless of their reasoning – to not have anyone touch their things, worry about theft or safety, participating in Starwood’s Green Choice (though properties offering this seem to be going away) or just plain privacy – the Not in ‘Do Not Disturb’ should always be heeded.

The only reasons I have heard that this may not be the case is if a room has this sign for multiple days and there may be concern over the welfare of the inhabitant (yes, a guy was found dead in his room at a hotel I stayed at) or apprehension that there may be criminal activity going on. I heard this latter reason given by a police officer in regards to drug activity and hopefully this doesn’t relate to the typical business traveler hotel.

I am one who likes the bed made up and fresh hand towels and washcloths each day. Shower towels I’ll re-use for a day. So the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign is very seldom on my door other than for sleeping in on the weekends.

Outside of talking with the Front Desk to let them know that no housekeeping service is desired, maybe putting tape across the door or a big Red ‘X’ would work? :-) It’s got to be an international symbol since this could happen anywhere.

Your thoughts?

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Posted by Carol Margolis | 5 Comments

5 Responses to “What Part of ‘Do Not Disturb’ is Not Understood?”

  1. Gary says:

    Happened to me last month at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman.

  2. MattP says:

    I’ve had this happen to. I stick a postit on the hanger saying I don’t need service today, and that seems to work.

  3. Housekeeping would/should know when a guest was scheduled to check out. So if the sign is on the door, and the guest hasn’t checked out, please stay out of the room!!

  4. PH says:

    I routinely call the front desk to ask they put my room on a no-housekeeping list. The DND sign ought to be enough, but occasionally it’s not. Also, being on the no-housekeeping list means they stop inserting the sheet of paper under your door noting they couldn’t come in and to call for towels, etc.

    I also use a piece of tape to attach the DND sign so I can’t knock it off by accident as I leave in the morning, and sometimes I leave a piece of tape across the card key slot if the DND sign hangs on the knob rather than get put inside the card key slot.

  5. Chino says:

    This has happened to me at least a half dozen times during the past 3 months here in Asia. Most of the time it’s just an annoyance to have someone rummaging around in your room when you’re not ready for it.

    However, last Monday the worst instance of this happened to me while staying at the BelleRive Boutique Hotel in Luang Prabang, Laos. I left the Do Not Disturb sign up at 9:30am and went downstairs to eat breakfast. I came back about 45 minutes later and my room had been cleaned. Not only that, but the cash that was in my pants pocket near the front door was gone :'(

    A lengthy process ensued and neither housekeeper accepted responsibility when confronted by management. The GM offered to pay me back the amount that was missing but I declined and moved to another hotel instead (I am satisfied with how the manager handled the situation, but I no longer felt secure leaving my room with my belongings in it).

    I think it should be absolutely off limits for hotel staff to enter a guest’s room when the “Do Not Disturb” sign is up. Why or how they plainly ignore it is beyond me. My best guess is that they want to get off of work on time and don’t like it when they’re asked to clean a room late in the day.

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