Am I Hurting Hotel Housekeepers’ Income by Not Leaving My Hotel Room?

Nearly every time I go to a hotel, I run into the same problem.

I want to be in the room, which contains a decent enough writing desk, plenty of coffee, a nearby toilet, and an Internet connection that I, often as not, have paid extra for.

Housekeeping wants me to be out of the room.

The Do Not Disturb sign will not keep housekeeping away past, say, 11 a.m. They will knock anyway, and I don’t blame them. It’s their job to clean the rooms, and I am getting in the way of them completing their job.

Here are some recent work-arounds I’ve tried:

1. When housekeeping knocks, I let them in and then shove my laptop in my bag and leave the room to go find somewhere else to work for a while. This is a decent enough solution, except it usually leads to a few rounds of apologies — “I’m so sorry!” “No, I’m sorry to make you leave the room!”

2. I leave the room before housekeeping arrives and try to get work done in the hotel lobby, in the hopes that housekeeping will notice the room is empty and clean it really fast. The last time I did this was in NYC during Winter Storm Juno, and I got blasted with cold air every time the lobby doors opened, and I also ended up running back up the stairs every 20 minutes to see if my room had been cleaned yet.

3. I do what the hotel assumes I will do, which is to say vacate the hotel during the day, and leave my comfortable, well-appointed workspace (that they specifically designed for me) to go pay $5 and get work done in a coffee shop with slow Wi-Fi.

Or, sometimes, I just sit in the room and keep saying “no, thank you” when the housekeepers knock or call.

I realized yesterday that staying in the room can be a huge jerk move on my part, when a housekeeper explained to me that she had to come in and do at least some cleaning, so she could get some kind of credit or point on a key card she had with her. I had never seen anything like that before, but maybe all the housekeepers I’ve turned away have never shown it to me.

So she keyed her card into the room’s phone and started cleaning, and I got out of the way, and everyone apologized, and it was super-awkward, and I wanted to say “just don’t clean the room and I’ll tip you anyway,” but I guess that’s not how it works anymore.

For people in the hotel and housekeeping business: what’s up with the key cards? Do housekeepers get paid by the room, and does that mean they lose money if they don’t clean my room? How can I do my job and not prevent housekeeping from doing their jobs, and how can we all be happy? I don’t really want to pay extra to go to a coffee shop, and I don’t want to prevent someone else from making money because I didn’t let an electronic system hand out points.

Today, I’ll leave the room early. I promise. By the time you read this, I’ll already be gone.

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