As with so many things in life, a bit of blind faith is required when checking into a hotel. You must simply trust that your room has undergone a thorough cleaning after the last guest before treating it as your home.
That the sheets have not been changed since Joe Bloggs wallowed in them would not ordinarily be betrayed. Unless, however, someone leaves a note.
This appears to be exactly what happened to one user on Reddit who claims that, after climbing into bed, they felt a rustle and discovered a note that said: "If you're reading this, then house keeping did not change your sheets."
And just like that it became apparent that the bed had only been remade and the sheets were the same as the night before.
The note, seemingly found at an unknown Courtyard Marriott hotel (it was written on branded paper), prompted other users to report some of the less-than-spotless hotel rooms they had discovered on their travels – much of which, for decency's sake, can't be repeated here.
"My husband found a pair of used underwear and a couple bottles of nips [miniature spirit bottles] in the bed side table," said one.
Another replied: "I walked into a hotel room once with an unmade bed, a half-drunk case of Busch [beer] under the sink, damp towels everywhere and the TV was on. It wasn't even the wrong room. Housekeeping just didn't even go in that day."
Another user said they found a small toy Lego head under the pillow, while another advised guests to strip the bed before leaving, so housekeeping remake it with fresh sheets (it would be the same effort to put the old ones back on).
Marriott has yet to respond to a request for comment, but the hotel chain's founder, JW Marriott, is famed for creating a 66-step manual for cleaning a room.
Without transcribing the entire list here, here are some pertinent points:
- Always knock three times before entering a room.
- Strip the bed, and use dirty fitted sheet as a package for the rest.
- Wipe the phone and clock.
- Make sure the alarm on the alarm clock is off.
- Check that the thermostat works and is set properly and that the room has a neutral odour.
Well, that's fairly comprehensive.
But it's beyond the aesthetics of the room that more serious issues arise. A recent report by Oyster, a hotel website, found that mugs and glasses, light switches and remote controls were breeding grounds for bacteria like E.coli.
Indeed, another piece of research by health and safety firm Check Safety Firm found that the bathrooms were the cleanest places in the hotel room as they were regularly and thoroughly cleaned, as opposed to the mattresses or duvets, which were not.
Evidence of a dirty bed is no more glaring than a bedbug infestation. Take, for example, this video of a New York hotel, which shows the mattress literally crawling.
Dr Richard Dawood, a Telegraph Travel health expert, said of bedbugs: "The bites can be intensely itchy but have never been shown to be capable of transmitting any disease.
"Bedbugs are found world-wide and have increased considerably in distribution since about 1990.
"If you are paranoid about them, insecticide-treated sleeping bag liners offer good protection. Have a good look around bed linen for any brown marks, and move beds away from walls."
But why can't hotel rooms just be clean? That's what we pay for, right?
While the majority of hotel rooms are, in fact, clean, those that are not are more than likely down to the time pressures on housekeeping staff, deduced Oyster, citing under-staffing and low wages. So, basically, the same reason corners get cut in any job.
The Telegraph, London