Hotel Room Cleaned While You’re In It?

Filed Under: Hotels

General question — do you expect your hotel room to be cleaned while you’re in it? Either because the room attendant offers to, or because you suggest that they do?

I always thought that was a big no-no. I sure as heck don’t want someone cleaning the room while I’m in it, and I imagine it’s quite awkward for them as well.

Today housekeeping knocked on my door at around 1PM. At that point I realized I forgot to put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door, which was because I was out of the room for a few hours in the morning, and forgot to put it back on when I returned to the room.

*Knock knock knock* “Hoooousekeeping hoooousekeeping hoooousekeeping”
“Yes, coming.”
*Knock knock knock* “Hoooousekeeping hoooousekeeping hoooousekeeping”
*Open door*
“Hi, I’m actually leaving at 3PM if that’s okay.”

She proceeds to open the door all the way and put the stopper against the door.

“I’m leaving in about two hours, so maybe you could come back then?”
“Okay, no problem.”

She continues to bring her cleaning materials into the room. Once she started flushing the toilet and turning on the sink I said “I’ll be back in a little bit.”

“Okay, no problem.”

So have I been living under a (hotel) rock for years? Am I the only one that finds it strange that they’d clean the room while I’m in it, or is that the norm and I’ve just been “missing out” all along?


  1. I’ve had attendants clean while inside. If it was a bad time (like I was showering, or wanting to sleep) I would enforce the, leave and come back later. Not sure why this person didn’t get it.

  2. The words “please come back later” shouldn’t be that hard to understand. It’s rude when the cleaning staff ignored that request.

    It happened just the opposite to us. We were at breakfast and cleaning knocked while my teenager was in the room. “Please come back later” meant NO cleaning at all. We asked the desk and they told us we declined it. Then, they gave us sheets and told us to change our own linens.

    If I wanted to change my own bed linens, I would have stayed home and not rented a hotel.

  3. Funny you mention this, it just happened recently to us. I went to front desk. While I was out, my wife got in the shower. Since I was coming back soon, she didn’t deadbolt the door. When I came back, the door was propped open and the maid was cleaning the room. A bit confused, I asked her if she had seen my wife. She responded that my wife was in the shower. My wife didn’t even know the maid was there, but would have been in for a nice surprise if she walked out, especially with the front door propped open. Yes, I thought this was a bit weird.

  4. I’ve often had my room cleaned while inside because I often do MRs where I stay in hotel room working all day long. It’s usually not very awkward at all because I sit at my desk and work and maid does cleaning. However, if you ask them to do it later, they definitely need to respect that.

    I must say, I’ve had a lot of annoyances from maids knocking on my door and barging in. I’ve had hotel employees barge in when I’m totally undressed because they couldn’t hear my yell to stay out because the door was in another room of the suite. I’ve started to always put DND on door and lock the bolt/throw.

    I’ve especially had issues recently with this when I’ve wanted to sleep until noon because of jet lag and they don’t get the memo that I have late checkout and think they NEED to clean the room before noon when I HAVE to checkout. Some of their language skills are not up to par and they knock every hour while I try to sleep. Sometimes calling the front desk helps, but not always.

  5. She played you using the “I don’t understand english” rouse……….she played you

  6. For many years part of my business has been conducting focus groups…usually these are in the evening, so I’d only be out of the room between about 4:30-11pm. I’d try to get them to clean during the time I was out of the room for lunch, but on time-crunch days I’d order room service lunch and just ask them to work around me…no big deal. Of course, you are ‘living’ in hotels, so many it feels different to you…

  7. I’ve had that happen many times, as other have indicated I might be busy working and I just sit at the desk and continue to work, doesn’t bother me.- They will actually change the sheets and not steal your stuff while your actually in the room while they are cleaning :-).

    If I don’t want anyone knocking or coming in while I’m inside, I just use the DND sign/button and lock the doors from the inside blocking their access.

  8. I’m staying at the Four Points Chelsea in Manhattan, and there was the option to skip housekeeping for a $5 voucher. All I need is towels, and I asked for replacements when I got back in the evening. A pretty cool idea for non-messy dudes and dudettes.

  9. My friend does this all the time! It always looks weird to me, but I’ll go to his room when we travel together and the cleaning lady will be doing his bed while he’s right next to her on the computer.
    like, “uh… didn’t mean to interrupt, I was just going to ask a question.”

    But the difference is that I DND the entire stay to simply avoid this kind of thing, and he can’t not have his room cleaned. I mean the toilet, sheets, etc… every single day is a necessity, and thus, he has to do that. Plus, he’s super friendly and chats it up with the cleaning lady for 20 minutes.

    An odd relationship to me, but he has contacts for more cleaning ladies he meets while traveling, than I’ve made traveling at all.

    Sounds like Hans doesn’t mind it… but I strongly agree with him that without the DND staff will just barge in. I’ve had them not even knock at nice hotels. I’ve had them come in at 8am to start cleaning while I’m still in bed.

    DND is the way to go once you know when they are bringing goodies. :-p

  10. If we have a pool villa type accommodation, we don’t mind if we’re relaxing outside and they clean the room. We’re gonna be out there all day, so it’s not like there’s a more convenient time…

  11. Lucky, I’ve worked in hotels around the world and I must attest that some guests don’t mind having their room being cleaned while they work at the desk or wait on the balcony. When that happens, usually the housekeeper works extra diligent in cleaning, knowing that the guest is watching their every move.

    In your case it looks like the housekeeping attendant didn’t understand your request. Next time if that happens again, just call the front desk and nicely tell them to pull the attendant out of your room and have them return at a specific time. Another option is to talk to the front desk the night before about getting housekeeping service the next day at a specific time.

  12. I personally would feel weird being there while housekeeping is cleaning. – Even if I had work to do, I’d either leave and work somewhere else or ask them to come back later. Just me.

  13. I’ve had it a few times that I came back whilst the room was cleaned, they happily let me back in and I just watched some TV until they were finished.. I had no rush to get them out and the staff (mostly in Asia) didn’t seem to be bothered that I was in the room.

    With turn down service it is actually quite common, I find, that Im in the room when this service happens.

  14. Definitely would feel weird and if they insist (i.e. language barrier like your experience sounds, LOL), I will leave like you did and come back in 30 min or so. I think they do understand –no is fairly simple and universal– but probably don’t want to have to remember to return.

  15. I’ve had them clean many times while doing work on computer etc…On the one hand I find it somewhat awkward, however especially at a busy business property if you tell them to come back later, you may end up without your room being cleaned (or cleaned very late), so a bird in the hand…and if your friendly and nice to them, I think they appreciate it. Often if I have an extra beverage etc, I will offer them one.

  16. Happens all the Time with me. Doesn’t bother me – I like it actually because I can ask for exactly what I want and save time for them and actually get what I need. I’ve never had a problem getting them to leave if I want them to. I think if they are not comfortable with you in the room they will leave. It is awkward on occasion when I forget to put up the do not disturb sign when using the bathroom.

  17. This is not unusual or weird. I’m not leaving the room to accommodate their schedule so clean around me. Happens all the time to me.

  18. If I need to work in my room I remove all my things from the bathroom and when the cleaner comes by I ask her to clean the bathroom only. If I want the whole room cleaned I’ll go to the lobby or business center for awhile.

    It’s odd that your cleaner didn’t understand you.
    Most of the cleaners I’ve encountered will say they’ll come back later once they realize you’re in.

  19. I started hanging DND and deadbolting religiously after the maid came in at 6:30am, turned on the lights to start cleaning while I was sleeping in Minneapolis….

    I also find it irritating when I have a DND out and they call on the phone to ask if I want maid service. What part of DND do you not understand?

  20. I accept refills of water or turn-down service while in the room, but full on cleaning? Nahhh, i’ll pass

  21. A friend just recently had this happen but she had just come out of the shower and was face to face with the cleaning lady completely naked (and she had the DND sign on her door). Except the woman just stood there and didn’t leave immediately – she had to ask her to come back later. The friend notified the front desk though and they were extremely apologetic and gave her points for a free night.

  22. 1. I’ve learned this when I started travelling on my own at about 16, as I enter the room the DND sign goes up, I close the door, deadbolt etc. This is a routine, I do it every single time I enter a room.
    2. I do not remove the DND sign, unless to replace it with a make up room sign, these days some of it is a button/light you press etc.. getting high tech.

    I’ve never had people bother me, sometimes they call after lunch to see if I need the room done, usually I do not, I get towels and what not. At the very high end places they have enough people to time it such that for sure if you let them know you gonna be gone for x amount of time, your room will be done by the time you get back, at the not so high end places i.e marriots and what not, usually it is hard to achieve that, so I have had to stay in living room while she cleans and watch tv, not like I am going to go out if I do not need to.

  23. So I polled the housekeepers this afternoon at the smaller boutique (but still chain) property I work part-time at. We get mostly vacationers during the summer months and corporates during the midweek/winter. The view from the other side of the vacuum is that they’re mostly comfortable with it if the guest doesn’t make it weird. Some guests critique their cleaning, watching the floor for a missed crumb, etc. A businessperson on the phone/computer is a lot easier than a kid getting punished, a sleeping baby, or people in the shower (invited to clean the room). A bigger issue is the number of guests who don’t wear a bathrobe to cover their ratty boxers (or worse) when they need the tv input changed or the bed turned down. Our lost and found contains a surprising number of “adult” items that are never claimed.

  24. It’s an akward situation for sure but I’ve never “invited” the cleaning staff into my room. Having said that, I have had them walk into my rpom while I was in the bathroom. Once it’s after 09:00, I bolt the door from the inside!

  25. The maid didn’t understand English, has it occurred to you? It’s no big deal for them to clean a room while the guests are inside, however for me personally I find it very distracting, especially if the guest chats you up it just breaks concentration and leaves more room for error. As a maid, it boggles my mind how some people find it hard to put a DND sign on their door or schedule at reception a time when you are out of the room to get it cleaned.Yes, if you are DND after luch, about 2-3 P.M. you will get a call asking when and if you want service and if you’re not answering the phone maids have the right to go into a room accompanied by a supervisor to check whether the guest has fled unpaid, died or is just not in the room.

  26. A lot of comments from middle class wannabes who think cleaning / housekeeping staff deserve to be treat like something you scrape off the bottom of your shoe.
    These people do a brilliant job on minimum wage and get little or no thanks for it from ungrateful guests who expect others to clean up their mess after them.
    I have no problem at all with housekeeping cleaning whilst I’m in the room, these people have a job to do and we should help them instead of being pig ignorant.
    I stayed in a big chain owned hotel for 3 weeks in London last year where my job dictated I worked nights so slept in the day time. I had the same chambermaid most of my stay , a charming young Spanish girl and on the first day she came in despite my ‘don’t disturb’ sign on door. I was asleep but woke and explained the situation. She started work at 8am and she made my room her first job. I got in from work around 6.30am, had a shower and went down for breakfast around 7am. I was usually back in my room by 7.30am which gave me time to use the bathroom for my regular after breakfast trip to the loo before she came along to service the room. We got to know each other a little and talked while she was doing her tasks. I looked forward to our little chats,learnt an awful lot about her life back in Spain and found it very interesting. Despite doing what some see as a menial job I treat her with as much respect as I would any other human being and I was worried I might upset her one particular morning. I’d made my regular trip to the bathroom after breakfast and without going into too much detail I’d left the lavatory in quite a state. They don’t seem to put loo brushes in bathrooms now so I was unable to clean up after myself. I flushed the loo several times which improved the appearance of the bowl a little but not the rim around the top of the loo. As soon as the chambermaid arrived I explained and apologised for what had happened and asked if I could borrow her loo brush. She made light of the situation thanked me for my concern but insisted it was her job. She laughed when she opened the bathroom door and said that half of the toilets in the rooms are like this when she goes in to clean them in a morning but in 3 years only me and one other guest had mentioned it. ‘You’re just a normal guy for doing this’ she said which made me apologise again to which she added ‘but you are nice guy because you don’t like me have to clean it, don’t worry its my job’.
    There’s a lesson there, some people expect it and some people are thankful for the jobs done by housekeeping staff.

  27. Ok. You’re straying at a hotel and you tell your houskeeper to come back in an hour be gone in an hour. If you want privacy put the DND sign on the door. I repeat put the damn DND sign on the door. You want to sleep in. Put the DND sign on your door. Another tip, if you decide to sleeep in until 12 with the DND sign the housekeeper has to check one more time after the hour she saw the sign and she will than mark it off as a Do Not Disturb. If you plan on sleeping in until so, and want your room cleaned tell the front desk staff or call houskeeping. Let them know you had a dnd sign but would like your room cleaned. Front desk doesnt always know the rules to housekeeping. They only know front desk duties. The world of housekeeping is far different than front desk.
    I always give my housekeeper 20 dollars. They make minimum wage. For that type of hard repetitve labour they deserve a break. Plus they’ll make sure your’e room is extra clean.
    If you checked in for a few days and had the same housekeeper- the day you check out leave a tip with the housekeepers name with the front desk and a note in the bedroom letting the housekeeper know about the tip.. That way you know another houskeeper didnt take it or the front desk didnt take either.

  28. Hi, I am a housekeeper and just want to let you know that we are allocated certain number of rooms to be done within a given time, we will not be allowed to wait (in housekeeping management world, waste our time). So we have to finish cleaning your room if you want it to be cleaned because after 2 or 3 we will be done for the day and there won’t be any houseekeeper in the hotel. And yes, somtimes housekeeping staffs are not highly educated and cannot understand english (different accent) because they think cleaning toilets and making beds does not need excellent communication skills. Sorry for your inconvenience but please try to understand housekeeper’s side of the story. We are timed for everything and treated like robots…

  29. i just had this happen two weeks ago.. i had to leave room to deliver to a hospital 3 hours away (on call STAT doses) i returned at 2 am and was off call at that time .. drank some beers , watched tv, ate, took a shower and fell asleep around 4:30am i woke at 9:30 to relieve my bladder and noticed outside door was wide open… i was naked and confused so i jumped up and shut the door. walked back to bathroom and there’s a maid cleaning the bathroom tub! she said she sorry to disturb me but she had to clean my room now because she has a time limit to finish so many rooms. I never heard her knock, but i sleep pretty hard. i told her to go ahead and finish but i needed to use the toliet . she took that statement literally and continued to finish cleaning tub. I am not a modest guy and she seemed to have no problem with me being naked so i just went with her next to me in the bathroom. she looked at me and smiled as i relieved myself . i was turned on from it of course … but i knew she was in a hurry, so i asked her to come back when off …but she declined… oh well ….

  30. OK feel better after reading this. Housekeeping was at my room at 8:00am. Luckily I had thever door bolted. They gave now time for me to respond. They said “Sorry! ” then left.

    So I did a search before getting pissed. Thsee comments helped me calm down! Thanks!

  31. Housekeeping is NOT suppose to go into a room with a guest. I refuse. Safety reasons. Most housekeepers do what the one you experienced because they are impatient and not wanting to come back.

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