I appreciate the housekeeping staff at a hotel. Which is one reason I would prefer they stay out of my room. I am messy. I deal with it. I would prefer that strangers keep out of the chaos.
Maybe it was because my mother used to "clean up for the housekeeper" when I was little. I'm on holiday, or working, or whatever when I'm in a hotel, and cleaning up for the housekeeper is not something I want to do every day — though I would be compelled to.
Instead, I do all I can to prevent the housekeeper from doing her job. (The worker is usually a woman, yes.) But part of that job, or someone's job, is NOT cleaning up when informed that you don't want your room cleaned, right?
This has become one of my pet peeves. If they're coming in, if I know this, I will clean. The underwear will be cached. All my work notes, notebooks, bits of paper and brochures will be stored — because a good friend and fellow travel writer once had all her stray papers-cum-important-story-notes thrown out by a well-intentioned housekeeper.
But mostly, I hang up the "Do Not Disturb" sign and leave it at that, and — usually — all is well.
But not always.
At the hotel I'm staying at in Paris, though, I've realised there is no stopping this housekeeper. Now, I love this little hotel and the housekeepers I've met here. This just may be a quirk of certain hotels, or employees. Or a French thing I will never, as a non-native, understand. Yet it me rend folle (drives me nuts).
One day, I talked to the housekeeper personally, since she was outside my room and I hadn't yet found a "Do Not Disturb" sign to hang. We traded used towels for clean ones and emptied the garbage can, and I said that was all I needed — in French, in English, with hand gestures etc.
That night, I came back to a room seemingly untouched by interloping hands: All my stuff was in the same messy places. Then I noticed that the mini bar had been restocked. Particularly bad news, since not only had they come into my room, but now I would be tempted to eat yet another little bag of chips croustillantes — potato chips. Though the chips sat on a table where I'd also left a tip for the housekeeper (if the not-so-unthinkable happened and she did come in), the money was still there (see note at bottom).
The next day, I found a well-used "Do Not Disturb" sign in my closet. I hung it on the door and went out. When I returned, sure, the mini bar was stocked again, but the room was as neat as a pin — like a professional had been in to do the work. Which, of course, is what had happened. I was truly amazed. The woman was able to make my room — decent size in euro terms, but made small by two large suitcases I can't shove under a bed — dazzlingly organised, neat, even spacious-looking. Everything was in its place, but even more so.
Except for the "Do Not Disturb" sign. Which had been removed from the door, where it had obviously been noticed. It hadn't been returned to the closet, where I'd found it. It was right on top of one of the suitcases …
Note: The tip should really be in an envelope with some indication it's for the housekeeper. But of course, I had no envelope.