Some Hotels Don’t Change the Sheets Between Guests

Dennis L. shares this disturbing report.

At a Residence Inn by Marriott in New York City, Inside Edition used a harmless washable fluorescent paint to spray “I slept here” on the bottom sheet of the bed.

…We checked out — leaving the bed looking as though it had been slept in — and booked the same room for the following night under a different name. When the sheets were pulled back and a UV light was shined on the bed, the words “I slept here” were still there.

…A manager was called to the room. At first, she didn’t want to talk about the findings. …”We make it a custom to change every checked out room sheet,” … The Marriott Corporation apologized and said it takes these issues very seriously. They are now inspecting the room to ensure this does not occur again, they said.

There’s absolutely no question that brand standards require changing bed sheets between guests. Usually the ‘worry’ at some hotels is comforters, not sheets. And health rules will generally require it also.

Rooms frequently aren’t spotless, and I’m a bit of a germaphobe, I try not to think about the TV remote, I like that some hotels put a little note on the remote to indicate it has been sanitized. The Grand Hyatt Singapore does this, of course I don’t actually know that it’s true.

At the Holiday Inn in Yakima, Washington I found a remote that claims itself to be clean, rather than that housekeeping cleaned it. That was sort of odd.

Are housekeepers cleaning the coffee pot? Are the glasses in the room clean? Were the same cleaning items used in the bathroom used anywhere else? I don’t really want to know. I certainly know people who bring their own santizers, and bring ziploc bags to put the remotes in so they don’t actually touch it directly.

Mostly though I just trust the brands I’m staying with to enforce their standards, and it’s one reason I prefer a chain and upscale properties. I tend to believe that corporate standards will be enforced, and that the properties draw sufficient room rates not to skimp on housekeeping. Perhaps that’s naive, this could happen anywhere, although it doesn’t surprise me this story comes out of a limited-service brand in a major Northeast city. I also wonder whether hotels that don’t enforce daily sheet changes (to be ‘green’ – cough) train housekeeping to skip changes even when they’re supposed to.

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, 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. The problem is that even if a hotel has good policies. It all comes down to what individual housekeepers feel they can get away with.

  2. I always strip my sheets and linens when I leave, forcing staff to replace them for the next guest. 🙂 Also helps me prevent leaving behind my reading glasses, etc.

  3. looks like this author doesn’t know what clean remote is! It is called clean remote because you can clean it easily with a wipe (i.e. no raised keys)

  4. Not to pile on– but I once checked in to a hotel property and could see very clearly that sheets had not been changed since the previous guests. It was a Fairfield Inn– another Marriott brand. I am sure it happens more than any of us would like to think, across brands and even worse with small, non-chain hotels. When I was a young man I worked for a short while as a summer job in a (admittedly small and European and non-chain) hotel where the head cleaning lady specifically told me that if the sheets looked clean enough to pass, do not change them between guests. I didn’t abide and she was forever cranky with me. About the remote- it looks like it is made with sealed keys and thus can be sprayed and wiped clean without infiltrating the electronics. Smart. Now you can put that to rest and focus on the toilet and bathroom door handles.

  5. I use all my towels, pour water in the glasses, run water through the coffeepot and mess up the beds, forcing housekeeping when I leave to thoroughly clean the room and replace used items for the next guest. I consider it my bounden duty as a traveler.

    I also tip $5 per day on a multi-day stay just to ensure the housekeeper doesn’t shortchange me. I always ask for fresh sheets every day, too.

    On a side note, let’s face it, some of the people who work housekeeping aren’t fluent in English or aren’t the most intelligent. I wouldn’t be surprised if some housekeepers confuse hotel “green policies” — not changing sheets every day for a guest on a multi-day stay — with a directive not to change sheets between guests. At least that’s assuming this is a random occurrence at a given hotel. Residence Inn is a good example. I think, I could be wrong, but I think they only provide a thorough room cleaning once every X number of days if you — like most of their guests — stay there for a week at a time. So I could see how a Residence Inn housekeeper might get confused.

  6. They didn’t change my sheets at the Park Hyatt Mallorca. I know because I made the mistake of eating the welcome strawberries in bed and accidentally got some red juice on the sheet. It stayed there our whole stay.

  7. @stvr – is it really a problem that they don’t change the sheets during your stay? And if you dirty the sheets then just call and ask for a change. The issue is changing them between guests!

  8. If you’re seriously worried about touching a remote control that someone else has touched, you need to seek professional help or just don’t travel. Of course sheets, towels, and glasses should all be fresh for each guest. But worrying about door handles, remote controls, etc. is bordering on neurotic unless you have some kind of autoimmune disease where you have no natural defense against germs. Your body is capable of fighting off all kinds of germs by itself. Save the worrying to things that warrant it.

  9. Ironically, Residence Inns often provide sterile wipes for the remote. I am not suggesting that the result is operating room sterile, just saying.
    I will opine that the staff is just lazy and knows what they will get away with. I once times the cleaning of a check out at the Sheraton FTA. It exceeded 45 minutes. I will assume that a german Sheraton has very carefull supervisers doing their job.

  10. Do any of you live in the real world?!

    At EVERY hotel of EVERY chain, the housekeepers are likely not paid enough to do the most back-painful and time consuming part of their job if they can get away with not doing it.

    I don’t care if you’re staying at the Budget Inn or the Ritz, if your housekeeper can get away with pulling the existing sheet up and making the bed… most of the time that’s what’s going to happen.

    Get over it or bring your own sleeping back to cocoon yourself in.

  11. Inside Edition doesn’t tell you how many times and how many properties they had to try this stunt to find one who didn’t change the sheets. Was this their first attempt, or did they book 300 rooms? I don’t know the answer, and I’d find it interesting.

  12. Every Hotel probably has staff that would like to avoid the hardest part of thier job.
    Every Hotal has supervisory staff that does the best they can to ensure that sheets really are changed. I can also assume that most high end properties limit the load to what can reasonably be done, likely less that 19 rooms per shift.
    As terrible as old sheets sounds it differs little from sitting and sleeping on an overnight flight.

  13. Many hotels leave a card with your maids name and # it may also tell you the days your sheets are changer. There is space to ask for different days. Do you CHANGE Your sheets daily AT HOME. Most hotels I have stayed in are more than willing to accommodate reasonable requests!

  14. @charles – You mean the airlines don’t change the seat covers and completely wipe down the armrests, tray tables, etc. between long haul flights? I’m shocked!

  15. The clean remote is certified to be *easy* to clean. Not that it is always clean. The buttons and casing are designed so that housekeepers can wipe down the remote easily with chemicals and it won’t damage the remote.

  16. I stayed at the Marriott in Niagara Falls and the sheets had blood on them….when I called down at 10:30 at night they did come and change them…the sheets and mattress protector which were all soiled…and then wanted to charge me 1/2 price!

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