Why I don’t need daily housekeeping, and maybe you don’t either
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Sustainability isn’t the only reason I decline daily housekeeping.
The pandemic changed housekeeping at some properties forever with, at best, daily service on request, or at worst not available at all. I don’t think it’s a bad thing for two reasons.
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Sure, having fresh sheets and towels each day is an opulent way to enjoy a holiday, but for me, it’s really unnecessary. As much as I enjoy the feeling of slipping into fresh sheets after a long day I’m lucky if I change my bedsheets at home every fortnight (sorry Mum!).
You will almost always see a note card in your hotel bathroom regarding the washing of your towels, usually along the lines of the hotel taking sustainability seriously and if you don’t require fresh towels daily, to keep them on the racks or folded up on shelves — or throwing them into the bath/shower if you want them replaced when housekeeping pass through. The reality is unless you’re rock climbing or cliff diving into a swamp, your towel probably won’t get very dirty every day.
I won’t preach about how often you should wash your towels and sheets (at home, or while travelling), other than to say if you don’t change your sheets this often at home, do you really need it done at a hotel? There is significant water and labour requirement for daily washing and replacing of towels and sheets. You’re paying for something you might not really need or want.
A cynic might say those bathroom note cards are just the hotel trying to reduce their own costs but if the property doesn’t launder on-site your once-used towel might get driven out to a commercial laundry, washed, tumble dried, packed up in a plastic wrap and driven back to the property to be used again.
That’s an awful lot of water, fuel, electricity and plastic for a towel that has barely been used.
My biggest frustration with daily housekeeping when I’m on holiday is that I feel like I have to plan my day around their visit. To start with if I’m wanting to sleep in, perhaps from one too many Mai Tais at the hotel bar the previous evening, I need to remember to hang a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door before heading to bed to avoid a potential early knock on the door from staff ready to clean my room. I count myself lucky I have never been in a situation where the staff entered my room while I have still been sleeping.
Once awake, if I want daily housekeeping I need to organise for this to happen when I am not in the room. I don’t feel comfortable lazing on the couch with a good book as someone cleans around me and even in the most palatial suite upgrade I feel like I am always in their way.
A lazy buffet breakfast only takes one-hour maximum and it’s rare that they will be in and out during that brief window of time. Even if I see a housekeeping cart on my floor I’m not selfish enough to go and ask them to service my room at the exact time of my choosing — they have their schedule and routine and I’m not going to mess with that.
Even flipping the sign on the door over to ‘please clean my room’, they may come past in the next eight minutes, or the next eight hours, or not at all that day. If they passed your room and the Do Not Disturb sign was up, you may have missed your chance for the entire day. I’ve spent hours lazing by the pool to give the housekeeping staff as much time as possible to get into my room, only to return, sweaty and dehydrated ready to shower before dinner to find the room has not been touched and those carts are nowhere to be seen.
By the time the sun sets, I can’t be bothered chasing it up as it would require another period of time outside of the room. If I know the housekeeping at the property I’m staying at is not daily, I don’t need to worry about when they can enter my room each day when I am not in it.
If I’m staying for six or more nights, I would request a mid-stay housekeeping refresh if it was not automatically offered. I’d even pay more for it. I do tend to accumulate some rubbish in those tiny bins next to the desk and toilet and it’s hygienic to have these emptied from time to time. I usually get through all of the provided coffee pods in my room within a few days too, though more can easily be sourced with a quick call to reception, or a friendly chat with any housekeeping staff elsewhere on the floor.
Daily changing of bedsheets has always seemed like a bizarre concept to me, even before sustainability was an increasingly important issue for the hotel industry. If I don’t do it at home I don’t need it when I travel. I’m not a slob, but the logistics and wastage of daily housekeeping weren’t necessary for me before the pandemic, they’re not now, and maybe they’re not for you either.
Featured image by Nastaic / Gettys
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