When Hotel Check-in is “A Time for Choosing”

I’m more than a little bit tired today, but that’s not important right not. I failed to take my own advice, and wound up making a poor choice last night.

Here’s a travel conundrum: You arrive at a hotel at 1 a.m. You have to be up at 6 — although it would be better if you were up at 5. When you walk into your room there’s a loud noise coming from the bathroom fan.

You’re exhausted and just want to go to sleep, but you’re afraid it will keep you up or wake you up. Do you:

  • Go back downstairs to the desk and get a new room, or
  • Try to minimize the noise as best you can and tough it out?

It’s worth deciding the answer to this question in advance, because arriving at a hotel after midnight you’re not always thinking clearly enough to make a good decision on the spot.

You never want to accept a room that’s unacceptable but on the other hand you just want to crash into a bed… Which do you do?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. If it was enough for me to notice, I would call down right away and head down so they had another room key ready for me by the time I got to reception.

  2. I agree with Gaurav. Call down and complain, in certain terms demand another room or repairs ASAP. Hotels are now going by the idea that if you don’t complain when initially taking occupancy, then the problem isn’t bad enough for it to be resolved.

  3. If the fan was on for white noise (which is a must for me in a hotel – I am high maintenance when it comes to noise) – I would crank up my WhiteNoise smartphone app and let the bathroom fan groan away

  4. Call the front desk. Is there another room available …
    yes – please send someone to meet me by that room with the key
    no – don’t worry about what you can’t change. Go to bed.

  5. Hi,

    In general if there is a problem with the room I’d go right back down and change rooms. But regarding bathroom fans, I like to leave the light on in the bathroom at night in hotels so I can see where I’m going. In hotels where the only light also turns on the fan, I pull down the grill and unplug the fan.

  6. I almost never sleep well my first night at a property anyway, for some reason. Unless it’s completely insufferable, I tough it out for the first night. Then, I will complain in the morning. The combination of 1) them having more time to deal with the problem, 2) them having a better look at inventory (because people haven’t checked in yet), and 3) the presence of the “A team” being on duty during the day (as opposed to the 1 AM crew) usually produces a better result in my experience than dealing with it at night.

    In the meantime…close the bathroom door???

    And people – never leave home without your nightlight and earplugs. My two most essential travel items.

  7. On every single hotel reservation I make I add the comment, “Very noise sensitive. Not near elevator, ice machine, or staff door. Thank you.” (Or for chains that limit your character count it’s a little more abbreviated [SPG]). If it’s ignored by the staff, at least I get some compensation…

  8. Unless the room was exactly the way it should be, I’d get a new room immediately or walk out.

    I had a problem with Chase not even wanting to accept a chargeback due to the fact I didn’t walk right away — at 2 am. The next morning the hotel wasn’t able to have their air conditioning fixed nor their wifi, yet when I told them those two items were deal-breakers they still wanted to charge me the full stay even though I was going to leave and find a good hotel.

  9. Complain right away so you can spend the night in a quiet room. Otherwise, even if you change rooms the next day you’ve still lost a night of sleep. Just went through this 🙁

  10. I’ve found that a lot of the fans making weird noises in the bathroom can be fixed simply by “jiggling” or pushing up on the surround to secure it better in the ceiling. YMMV.

  11. Raise your concern to the front desk, even if by phone. You should get a better room quickly. If they can’t accommodate, you’ll be in a better position to get some form of compensation later.

  12. Some hotels are now charging you for the call down to the front desk even if it IS made to report the problem within moments of arriving in the room. Seriously. This happened to me at an IHG property, and the only reason I got it removed was because they realized I was a platinum. It also took two calls and two trips from maintenance to fix what turned out to be multiple issues. What I mostly do nowadays is recognize that chain hotels no longer want leisure travelers and make a point of staying at a lodge, air bnb, etc. where the business model is about providing a good experience rather than trying to extract the maximum from somebody’s expense account. As @J.C. said some credit cards are terrible at charging back bad hotels who don’t provide what they sell. Better not to be in the situation in the first place. I had a dispute go on for months before it was resolved in my favor only after I escalated many, many times and was days away from filing my small court claim. Who has time for that?

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