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Hotels aren’t our homes — and that’s exactly why they shouldn't end daily housekeeping

Nov. 19, 2021
5 min read
hotel housekeeper placing fresh towels on bed
Hotels aren’t our homes — and that’s exactly why they shouldn't end daily housekeeping
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If you’ve stayed at a hotel during the pandemic, you’ve probably noticed that things are, to put it lightly, different.

While there have been a number of changes directly related to the pandemic, and staffing and supply shortages have been causing service issues around the world, changes to daily housekeeping services really have people in a frenzy.

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Right now — and maybe forever — hotels have altered how they approach housekeeping, with many only offering services every other day (even at pricey Disney World Resort hotels) and “light” housekeeping, like removing trash, in between.

Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta noted the new state of reality last week at a hospitality conference.

“When you’re at home, do you change your sheets every day? Do you wash your towels every day? … No.”

Well no, of course, we don’t. But most of us don’t live in hotels.

For many people, staying in a hotel is a luxury; a chance to escape our ordinary lives at home and the responsibilities that come with it, such as washing our dirty towels, figuring out how to keep a fitted sheet on the bed and how to pluff up pillows exactly like they do at the five-star properties we splurge on.

Where it gets confusing is understanding why hotels are shifting away from the housekeeping services we were used to before the pandemic. Obviously, issues with labor are playing a significant role, but the everyday traveler doesn’t control how much a housekeeper gets paid.

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The other key player is sustainability, and hotel brands around the world are keen on visibly promoting sustainability efforts, which for many seem to include reduced housekeeping services — but at what cost to the guest experience?

Isn't it, after all, the responsibility of hotel brands to find ways to reduce their carbon footprint while delivering consistent service?

And shaming people into refusing housekeeping services or taking away the services altogether certainly won’t solve every problem — or save the world.

Sure, you might not change your sheets or towels every day at home, but you’re also not paying a nighty fee for access to your room or bathroom. Above all, the expectation that guests should think about how they use linens at home seems just like asking diners to help do the dishes after ordering a meal at a restaurant.

Here at TPG, we all have our own thoughts on the current state of hotel housekeeping. Some travelers are totally fine just having their trash taken, while others say that housekeeping perks, like turndown service, are one of the best parts of the hotel experience.

(Igor Vershinsky / Getty Images)

As one TPG staffer put it, “A home is so different from a hotel,” and daily housekeeping service should be available if the guest chooses to request it.

Another questioned how much the pandemic actually factored into these changes, saying, “It is kind of ironic that, in a time when cleanliness is more important than ever, housekeeping is [available] less and less.”

It’s true that even before the pandemic many people ignored those little cards and signs promoting sustainability by asking guests to hang their towels for reuse, or to place the card to reuse the sheets. But most of us agree we’d rather have our beds made up with sheets we’d already slept on than not have the bed made at all.

It's worth noting, too, that some major hotel brands have actually tried compensating guests for skipping housekeeping, proving our point that housekeeping does have a tangible, monetary value.

Back in 2019, TPG reported that Hyatt was offering just 250 World of Hyatt points per night to guests who were willing to skip housekeeping. Marriott's discontinued "Make a Green Choice" program offered 500 Bonvoy points to guests.

But were those points values worth it? No.

And, as another TPG editor put it, will the lack of these amenities push people away from hotels? “Leaving your hotel room for the day and returning later to clean sheets and fresh towels is why I sometimes opt for hotels over Airbnb.”

Bottom line

We understand that, as we’ve heard over and over again, we’re living through an unprecedented time. Pretty much everything we know has changed one way or another since the pandemic — especially for travel.

But at what point does it stop? Hotel brands say customers need to change their expectations, but hotels aren’t changing their prices.

Yes, we all need to do our part to make travel more sustainable — but is totally overhauling housekeeping the best way to do that? If hotels could meet travelers in the middle, say by making beds every day, hanging up a dirty towel left on the floor and simply giving them the experience they don’t get at home, it might put a little magic back in the experience.

Or, have the hotel brands made their metaphorical beds when it comes to housekeeping and are ready to lie in them?

Additional reporting by Melanie Lieberman.

Featured image by Getty Images/iStockphoto
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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Rewards Rate

5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 150,000 points
    120,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.