Dear Hotels: Please Stop Assuming Only Straight, Married Couples Travel

Filed Under: Hotels

I’m not writing this post because I feel victimized or offended by this practice, but rather I’m just sort of puzzled that this still happens in 2017. Nowadays hotels are all about personalizing the experience as much as possible, and I realize that can sometimes be tough when you have limited information on guests.

However, what confuses me is that so many hotels default to assuming that the person you’re traveling with must be your wife. While her circumstances are different, I know Tiffany has had similar experiences, where she consistently receives welcome letters addressed to “Mr. Funk” when traveling alone.

So today I checked into an incredible luxury hotel and got a welcome letter that said “Mr. & Mrs. Schlapping.” Perhaps what really irks me is that they couldn’t spell my name right (c’mon, it’s on the reservation!), but overall I just don’t get why hotels always make assumptions about travel companions.

More so than ever before, people travel with all kinds of companions. There are married same sex couples, people traveling with friends, people traveling with a boyfriend or girlfriend, etc. Unless you know who the second guest is, hotels shouldn’t try to guess, in my opinion. Either address the welcome letter just to the primary guest, or address the primary guest by name and add an “& Guest.”

C’mon hotels, is it that hard? Anyone also share my confusion at this practice?

  1. Was this welcome letter at the Emirates Palace in AUH? If so, probably understandable. Although misspelling the name is not forgivable.

  2. My wife and I have separate last names. I kind of like it when we are staying on a booking under her name and when I call the front desk or concierge and they say “Hello Mr. (wife’s last name)”. I think that situation is just an innocent guess and gives me a chukle. You must get that a lot when the front desk hears a male voice and assumes the primary guest.

    I agree though that if it is a luxury hotel and they are trying to personalize the service with letters and gifts, they should do a tiny bit of homework.
    1. If there are two names on the reservation, are there two different last names? Can the gender be determined from the first names?
    2. If only one name is listed, just make out the letter to the primary guest.

  3. Come on, you’re in the Middle East. When two people share a room together there, especially one with one bed, it’s assumed they are a married couple. I suspect that’s why you didn’t mention the name or location of the hotel in your post.

  4. Hotels never get it right with me either but I don’t care it’s the thought that counts. I also never input who the second guest is so how are the supposed to know. Sure they could say “and guest” but are you really going to complain about a hotel trying to do something nice. Seems a little much to get bothered at something like this. But then again you get special treatment from hotels because you are a top blogger (which is definitely earned) so you are used to a receiving a touch more service than regular guest.

  5. Second thought: I think we might complain more if hotels keep records of your sexual orientation and other very personal details in their records:
    -Address: AAAA
    -Status Level: Diamond
    -Age: 30
    -Straight/Gay: Gay
    -Relationship Status: In a relationship but not married

    I think if we found a hotel was doing this for their guests, it would be a big controversy.

  6. Happened to me in Oxford, England. Laughed it off, but agree, hotels should take a little more care.

  7. I mean the hotels mean it well, but it also happened to myself and my girlfriend. She booked a surprised trip and the wellcome letter was in her surname, refering to her as a Mr.

    At least I hope you had a great stay.

  8. Koreans do not change their last names when they get married. Yet they call my girlfriend “Mrs. Park” when her last name is Kim… and we are not married.

  9. I’m surprised the hotels still do this. Last time I looked at the calendar it was 2017, not 1957.

  10. I usually get Mr. on welcome letters. I’ve gotten Mr. Myname and guest before, which I like because they don’t make assumptions about my guest. That said, lot of hotels do seem to assume that I’m male despite having what I think is a fairly common woman’s first name. I’m not sure why the female guest cannot be the frequent traveler with status, so I totally get where Tiffany is coming from. So at least they get your gender right?

  11. @gavinmac
    If that was from the Emirates Palace, I think Ben was traveling by himself on the Residence. So that could be why he was not too happy about it.

  12. Happened to me on my honeymoon! (Male couple, at a Four Seasons in the US.) The hotel sent up a food amenity with a card that said Mr. and Mrs. the day after we checked in, so they should have known. (Vs if it had been prepared pre-arrival.) However, since it was complimentary I just had a good laugh (and a funny social media posting!).

  13. I’ve had similar instances where checking in with my partner they ask weirdly “so is a king bed sufficient” or something to that effect. I will say it hasn’t happened in a while. I would think it’s becoming more commonplace seeing 2 dudes or ladies checking in. It’s is 2017 after all. Like others I just laugh.

  14. You are an unlucky man we get always a Mr and Mr welcoming letter…..but booking always made with our two surname as we are married and had a single name.

  15. Another funny story. One time dropping my car off to park before our flight I asked the attendant for a slip as I hadn’t yet been given one. He said something to the effect of “didn’t I give it to your son”. My partner and I laughed our butts off and still do with the joke I’m the daddy. I might be older but geez not that much older.

  16. Are you complaining to the world that didn’t consider gay as normal? Well, what if they are right?

  17. @james – go troll elsewhere. What exactly is normal? His point is in this day and age assumptions should not be made. Using your rationale lots of “stuff” wouldn’t be “normal” like older people raising kids, adoptions etc. go back under your rock.

  18. Genders shouldn’t be assumed especially at a luxury hotel. We told the Ritz Carlton Central Park we were celebrating our honeymoon and got the same Mr and Mrs card. It should be gender neutral. Also, we got a card at a luxury property in Den Haag and got the same Mr and Mrs, though it was from an American hotel chain. We told them the gesture was nice but politely pointed out that they shouldn’t assume. They apologized. It should be general neutral.

  19. As a gay man that works in hotels I can tell you it’s incredibly difficult for us to not offend someone. I feel uneasy whenever two guys or two girls check in to a room with just one bed only because 50% of the time it’s a book mistake. And I can’t confirm it on check in because it either way it makes it look like I’m clarifying their sexual / relationship status. When all I want is for them to have a good fucking nights sleep.

    Personally when I stay at hotels now if they do clarify my bedding arrangement with me and my partner or I get a welcome mr and mrs xyz, I laughter it off and ask my partner which one of us is the mrs tonight. And that’s because I’m comfortable enough in my own skin to not take offense to seemingly harmless note left by people with good intentions.

    Also I’d suggest your either staying at some really terrible hotels or in countries that don’t think very much of gay people. Because I’ve not seen this happen I’m at least 8 years in my travels and work!

  20. Very slow news day….all this fake outrage and self-importance pisses me off no end…and I’m gay!! Nobody went out of their way to personally offend you…

  21. Years ago, the same thing happened to me and my partner at the Huntington Hotel in San Francisco. We checked-in and received the lovely welcome note addressed to Mr and Mrs Imperator. Big, macho Tim was a bit miffed at being referred to as a “Mrs”. Unfortunately for him, it didn’t end at the note.

    The next morning, we got a call from the hotel spa offering Mrs Imperator a special on beauty treatments. I told the kind lady that no amount of treatments was going to make Tim any prettier. That sort of baffled her until she suddenly understood the situation and offered a flustered apology.

  22. Never happy. People always whining. Why not think about the gesture and the intent and stop complaining so much about the exact situation? It is ashamed people today forget about the intent and to just be happy. The problem is oftentimes with the way YOU internalize the situation and not the situation itself. Take some time and look into Buddhism to try and become happy again.

  23. Times haven’t changed quite that much, Ben, and that’s really a cop-out for the past and for hotels. Certainly, the culture was different 60 years ago, but there were plenty of gay people then, too, and plenty of travelers who really were just friends. Don’t make excuses for people being presumptuous.

  24. Very interesting post.

    What do you suggest they write?

    Incidentally, I am married heterosexually and I loathe when someone sends invitation to “Mr. & Mrs. Paul Smith”. Well, Mrs. Smith’s first name is not Paul, and I don’t like being called Mrs. We’re either “Mr. Paul and Mrs. Mary Smith” or “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”!!!

  25. If you gays call yourselves husband-wife, husband-husband, and wife-wife, how is the straight public supposed to keep it straight?

  26. Ben, I normally agree with your blog opinions, but not on this. Looks like the welcome letter at Sveti Stefan. They and all other Aman resorts invite you to contact them ahead of your visit with the name of your guests. They’re assumptions of Mr & Mrs is probably accurate 80-90% of the time and much more personable and inviting than Mr & Guest.

    I don’t think this is any different than an airline assuming you can eat their regular meals, unless you request a special meal. Let them know your guests names in advance and Aman, Four Seasons etc. will take care of it. I often travel with my daughter and that’s what I do.

  27. It is even more annoying when travelling with a same sex straight friend and you get one bed … Not acceptable.

    Happened twice, Tanzania and Russia… no where else. Both times was dealt with poorly.

  28. If it was the Aman I would probably be disappointed for their lack of attention to detail. But it was not. You are in Abu Dhabi. I wouldn’t be offended as they don’t think that way. (I am gay. Just saying).

  29. @Brad – I almost always travel alone and it’s not uncommon for the front desk clerk to confirm that I’m in a King non-smoking room. I mean, they don’t ask for my verbal confirmation of the room type, but they often mention it as part of the check in spiel. I think you could probably do that without offending anyone, and then two dudes who didn’t want to sleep together could object when they hear you say “King.”

  30. @ lucky…..happened to me and my husband while we were spending 3 weeks in Australia and New Zealand….even though my husband’s name was clearly listed on the reservation as the 2nd occupant, and I had emailed the hotels well in advance since it was our anniversary, and I was arranging some special things. That being said, Marriott Sydney Harbour Circular Quay got it ALL right, and gave me, in 11yrs of spending 200+ nights each year in a hotel, one of the best experiences ever!

  31. This is an outrage. The card should have read Mr and Mr Schlappig. Not Mr and Mrs Shlapping. 5 star hotels need to pay attention to every detail . I hope the employee that wrote that letter is disciplined.

  32. This has nothing to do with travel at all and does not belong here. Take the social warrior garbage else where. They made a mistake, nothing else please move on. In American it’s still less than 5% of the population it’s completely fair for them to guess Mr and Mrs. If you were traveling with a friend and they made that assumption would you still be offended? Looking for conflict where the is none? More like it.

  33. I also find it a little annoying that they make the assumption – why do they need to address anyone but the primary guest?
    When I was at the St Regis Florence for work (by myself) they addressed the letter to Mr and Mrs – is it a big deal? No, but it was a bit of an off putting way to start my stay when it never would have done good even if I was straight since I was by myself. Seems like a very bad default approach to use these days.

  34. Get over it! Too many things in live to worry about and this is the least of my worries. I’d be more outraged if I saw a cockroach in the room then that.

  35. Like how the hotel Ben is staying had made assumptions about his companion many commentators above have assumed Ben to be in the Middle East!

    He is some where in EU. If it was ME it’s a given for a hotel to assume the Mr will be with his Mrs only!

  36. Gay married man here. Happens to me/us all the time…but it does make the hotels that get it right (and don’t assume) appear all the better. In truth, I could give a damn about the fact that a hotel leaves a note addressed to the wrong person(s)…as long as I get the one king bed I booked–and not two double beds–when I travel with my husband.

    I’m not a fan of political correctness AT ALL. I therefore believe that getting equal rights is a lot Korn important than getting everyone to speak to me with the same equal language that isn’t second nature to most–since my presumed equality is a fairly recent occurrence, in case anyone missed that fact!

    For the same reason that I laugh when Jews get offended when told Merry Christmas (I was raised Jewish and now identify as atheist), I find this particular issue to be an issue for the more sensitive. I am not particularly sensitive.

    To be fair, Lucky is right that a luxury 5 star hotel should get it right. But hotels get it wrong sometime. This is just one of those examples that doesn’t matter to me very much in the context of wanting hotels to get far more things right first–like making sure the air con works, the service and food is exemplary, etc.

  37. It is an Aman hotel and they would only know if you told them. I agree, it’s not what you expect from Aman if you tell them in advance

  38. Must be a slow news day. Just another thing for Lucky to continually complain about. Seems that he’s best at doing that.

  39. @Brad,
    Wouldn’t saying something like “I have you for two nights in a king room” as you do the check in be enough to flag that there is only one bed without being judgey or asking for confirmation of relationship status. This of course requires the guest to pay attention and realize that they are only getting one bed when they wanted two. This may not be realistic if they already failed to book and confirm a two bed room.

  40. It’s one of those things that is undoubtedly well intentioned but sometimes doesn’t come across well. I agree with Tom’s point, in that Mrs Ourmanin is Asian, whilst I am not and she hasn’t changed her name. When she books hotels, restaurants, etc, it’s often amusing to watch the faces of staff when they try to equate my face with the very Asian name on the reservation.

    Also having an unusually spelt Irish surname (complete with apostrophe, which many booking systems can’t cope with at all) I can share Ben’s frustration at the misspelling.

  41. Ben, I enjoy reading your blogs and continue to benefit from so much of the information you provide.

    As a frequently traveler, and one who enjoys the company of my wife, when ever she can go along, I don’t see this ‘issue’ as really being an issue at all. I don’t see the need for hotel reservation systems or personnel to know more than they already do.

    My wife and I do not share the same last names and this has been and continues to be a common occurrence at almost all hotels.

    Keep up the good work!

  42. Seriously, this is what whining has come down to? Silly me, for a moment I thought there were more urgent things in the world. MSers are the biggest whiners.

  43. At fundraising events, when we don’t know the precise identity of person #2, the standard salutation on that kind of personalized envelope or notecard would be “Mr. Schlappig and Guest.”

    Would that make sense for hotels? Not sure.

  44. I’m surprised these sort of assumptions are still made but honestly my husband and I find such mix ups more amusing than anything. But, heck, post divorce my mom would get telemarketers asking to speak to the man of the house and would give our dog the phone to play with. And this was only ~15 years ago. I’d be much more irritated by the spelling goof that shows obvious lack of attention.

    We’ve often experienced at check-in a polite question of, “it looks like you’ve been assigned a room with a king bed. Is that correct?” and I think that’s a great neutral way of making sure our sleeping accommodation is correct.

  45. If this is all that gay millennials in the West have to worry about then my generation and the ones which came before must have done a very good job in fighting for equality.

  46. As a straight male, I get the Mr. and Mrs. thing when traveling with my GF. Not something I give much thought about although they can simply state Mr. and guest unless they know you are married (maybe because you told them it was a special occasion).

  47. Some of these comments belong to 1947 not 2017.
    My wife and I are a straight couple. She kept her maiden name.
    We get Mr & Mrs mylastname all the time when I do the booking, even though I add her to the booking so she can make changes or request a key…
    We also get Mr and Mrs herlastname when invited to functions related to her work or if she does the booking.
    Happens all the time to all of us Lucky.
    You are correct, they should not assume.

  48. My husband was with me at the grocery store the other day and after the clerk rang up all our groceries, she asked us if we wanted to split the cost in half between us! I don’t think straight couples get that question.

    Yeah, it can be annoying when hotels (and other businesses) make assumptions. I’m tired of being reminded at hotels during check-in that our room only has one bed. (Or worse, when they just automatically give you two twins.) And we’ve gotten the “Mr and Mrs” thing so many times. Mostly I just laugh it off, but if the hotel is going to do something that requires knowledge of the guests’ genders, they ought to take the time to get the info right, or go the generic “dear guest” route.

  49. I have gotten Mr.Canuckgirl travelling with friends and even travelling with my parents. My first name is typically associated with female (ie I’ve yet to see it used with the male gender). But doesn’t bother me – just makes me laugh. Same when servers bring the check to the table and give it to my poor retired dad. Haha.

  50. I agree with @Tom. I think it would be much worse to learn they are keeping a dossier on your sexual preference in their files.

  51. I’m really sick of all these “this post is lame” and “slow news day” comments. Ben made it clear what this post was about; ignoring it altogether would have been really easy for those who had no interest in the topic. Yet, there are obviously many commenters who have such pitiful lives that they have nothing else to do other than read posts that are of no interest to them and then comment about how these posts are of no interest to them.

    Here’s a suggestion to them: go out and mow your yard. Or volunteer at a pet shelter. Or meet up with friends at a bar. Do anything other than act like the Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons.

    @evan –
    I found your comment to be quite profound and thought provoking. Well said.

  52. Why do all the gay bloggers insist on being gay activists?
    I have travelled with a few different girlfriends for the last 8 years, hotels regularly assume that the woman I am with is my wife. I think it’s totally normal for them to assume this. The alternative is either eliminate the personalization element in fear of offending, start asking people relationship status (most would not like this), or continue the current practice. I’ll take option C!

  53. @sam @james, the only thing not normal, is your attitude. Gay relationships happen in many animals, the only species to be abusive to others because of who they love is Homo sapiens.

  54. It’s a total buzzkill when I’m traveling with my mistress or worse it puts ideas in her head.

  55. How do you travel as much as you do and not realize that MANY countries are DECADES behind the United States when it comes to this kind of thing?

  56. I join the crowd suggesting this is beyond petty.
    If anything it makes me realise how lame my life must be – I hardly ever get welcome letters at hotels. I get a room key and a smile (sometimes) and that’s about it.
    It’s a hotel. They got your room for you. They hopefully changed the sheets and refreshed the towels. They will treat you well. Enjoy yourself man- nobody meant to offend you, they made a very honest mistake. you are becoming a walking talking review.

  57. What get me is the ‘his’ and ‘hers’ alien bathrobes. You know the ones? One is super small, and one is super large. Both have impossibly high waists.

    Now – if we hadn’t registered as Mr X and Mr Y at the booking phase – I might understand. But when we have from the get-go, I find it astounding. Take note Arts Hotel Barcelona (staying here at the moment)

  58. @ Aaron K — This is in France, which is most definitely not many decades behind the US. This isn’t about same sex couples, though. The point is that many people travel with friends, non-married partners, etc. The assumption that someone you’re traveling with is your married opposite sex spouse is incredibly outdated.

  59. @ Anthony — This has nothing to do with being a “gay activist.” The point is that whether I’m traveling with my dad or my brother or my boyfriend or a friend, the people I’m traveling with are NOT my wife. As far as “eliminating the personalization element” goes, what’s personalized about making assumption’s about someone’s life? That’s not personalization, that’s stereotyping.

  60. @ben, don’t hotels already get a lot of people that aren’t the wives of guests? they should know better

  61. @ John — Fair enough, but I’m not sure why the assumption (unless told otherwise) should be that someone is traveling with their married spouse? It just seems like an unnecessary assumption to make. Again, this doesn’t actually bother me in the sense that I’d tell the hotel in advance. Instead it’s a broader point, and it just seems ironic that hotels write these letters in an attempt to be personalized, when the effect is quite the opposite. And in this case they couldn’t even spell my name right, so clearly personalization wasn’t much of a priority. 😉

  62. @ Paul Smith — As stated in the post, I recommend they either just address it at the primary guest, or write “[Primary Guest Name] & Guest.” Seems like an easy enough solution.

  63. It has been my experience that the more liberal a person is the more he/she complains and I’d intolerant. Leave the mainstream alone. We don’t have to change everything to accommodate every scenario.

  64. @ Andy — I think I stated pretty clearly that I wasn’t offended and am not outraged, but rather that it’s more commentary on the industry as a whole.

  65. @ Liz — Yes, those crazy liberals who dare to travel with friends and non-married partners!!! No one is asking to “change everything to accommodate every scenario.” Quite the opposite. I’m suggesting that things be more generic so that those accommodations don’t have to be made.

  66. I checked into a luxury boutique hotel in NYC with a handwritten note from the GM and easily a few hundred dollars worth of flowers champagne fruit cheese and crackers
    It seemed to good to be true and it was it wasn’t meant for me
    It was delivered to the wrong suite and the name on the card was written for someone else
    I called the front desk and they apologized then came up and took everything away 🙁
    Oh well next time just suck it up eat drink and be merry while pretending to be another guest 😉

  67. If you look at Ben’s Instagram you can see where he is (it’s not the Middle East). I totally agree with Ben, no excuses for spelling his name wrong.

  68. My first name is Jesse… which, in the US, can be used as a masculine or feminine (typically with an “i”) name. I now live abroad: the masculine rarely occurs outside of America, so I routinely get addressed as “Ms. Lastname.” 9/10 times in emails. I’d much rather someone address me by my first name than take a guess at my gender.

  69. @ben/liz, there’s nothing “liberal” about it, it’s called equality isn’t it? Or is it only your rights that are important, liz?

  70. @jrh, here in the UK, Jessie with an I is usually for women, the times I’ve come across Jesse is for men

  71. Isn’t the point that you should get things right and not assume? What’s so wrong with that?

  72. @N, the e/ie thing was the giveaway when I was growing up. I now live in the UK, and the default goes to female. Occasionally get odd glances showing up for hotel or restaurant reservations… sporting a beard and all. The most amusing moments are during call centre conversations: when the deep voice doesn’t give it away, nor the polite I’m-a-guy response, the ongoing “Ms. Jesses” are something special. 😉

  73. @JRH, I’ve never seen Jesse when referring to a woman lol
    I’ve been called ma’am on the phone when I’m a man lol
    why do people have to assume? “what’s in a name? A rose by any other name will still smell as sweet”.

  74. I think the fact that it’s the Middle East is irrevlevant. A lot of these places have become dependent on tourism thus should be open and welcoming. If they don’t want the “pink pound” then they shouldn’t accept it full stop and make that explicit.

    I get tired of checking in to places to find I’ve automatically been given twin beds because I’m with another man.

    Maybe time for a move to name and shame these places? I don’t see why one should have to feel embarrassed/ashamed/awkward when it comes to sexuality anywhere in the world. At the end of the day it’s your money going to them.

  75. To all the whiners, stop being such anal retentives. The hotel assumed. Oh my god, how dare they think your partner might be a wife. The poor hotel associates are probably horrified that they have ticked off a travel industry high-roller like Lucky. If they had deliberately slighted you, it would be an issue. But this, no. Get over it and get over yourselves.

  76. @Lucky, fair enough. Maybe we can agree … Hotels should either (a) dispense with the practice entirely, (b) address the welcome only to those folks named in the reservation, or (c) address the letter to the named guests they’ve been advised of. It’s the Mr and Guest that I really object to.

    We both agree that they shouldn’t mess up the spelling, which by the way I get that all the time at Aman and Four Seasons (and I only have six letters in my family name!)

  77. What if we all correct the hotel management on the spot and get their reaction? I bet you wouldn’t because you still feel stigmatised and don’t want any confrontational incident. Perhaps it is yoru fault that you don’t raise the issue with the hotel because you are a ‘guest’ of the hotel? Gay issues are still prevalent and unless we stand up for our rights head-on I don’t support your complaint here in this ‘safe’ space. Complain to the hotel and get an apology! If you dare risk having your head chopped off!

  78. My best friend and I travel together at least once a year, and people assume that we’re a couple sometimes. They usually ask if we’re sisters or partners.

  79. Happens frequently to me as well. Luxury properties in particular just assume I’m with my wife even when I’ve communicated otherwise beforehand. At times I’ve even been asked at checkin whether my bf and I would prefer two beds. It’s awkward and unnecessary.

  80. @n I was referring to points made about the Middle East and culture etc and general commentary on the comments.

    But thank you.

  81. When I travel with my husband, it is generally wrongly assumed by a hotel property that he booked/paid/receives loyalty points for the room! When we read the notes (of the type you included in your post) that usually includes a nice pleasantry and a freebie, however, I am prone to overlooking the emphasis on “Mr!”

  82. I don’t blame this (or any) hotel for trying to be polite and respectful but agree that we could use some new customs. I often travel with female friends (that I am not dating). We always have separate beds. And yet, it’s quite common to get the Mr. and Mrs. bit (usually verbally) even I’ve added my friend’s name to the reservation.

  83. It wasn’t that long ago that married women couldn’t get their own passport, instead being included on their husbands passport as “and wife.” We’ve come a long way since then, but these sorts of things die hard.

  84. I think hotels should just keep it simple. How about addressing the letter to “the Schlappig’s.” Doesn’t sound as formal or personal, but at least most won’t take offense either way around.

  85. Ben, you’ve got to face the facts, even in 2017, queers are in the minority. Heterosexuals are the majority so a couple is assumed to be straight married couple.

  86. Just checked into a wonderful hotel on the Oregon coast, and found a note waiting for us addressed simply to “Todd and Tim”. Simple and perfect.

  87. My tickets were always booked in my maiden name but when travelling with my husband we were always addressed as “Mr and Mrs”. I took that as a respectful and gracious manner of addressing us.

    Surely with the problems the travelling public are facing right now there are more pressing themes to write about than this ungracious and grumpy piece.

  88. Just relax. One day you will get to explain it all to God. I wander how you will take your thoughts

  89. I would also offer that bias tends to sway the other direction when travelling in known gay areas. I have experienced that two hetero married women cannot check into a hotel in Healdsburg or Berkeley CA for a girl’s trip, for instance, without being verbally referred to as partners, especially in the spa!

  90. This has happened to me when flying my with female colleagues. I’ve been asked ‘would your wife like …?’ And had to explain that it was in fact my boss and that she is, in fact quite capable of making decisions for herself; as my wife is in the same situation.

    On the hotels point; in this world of increasing personalisation, I’ve often wondered why hotels don’t make more of an effort to collect information about the second guest. Very few of the booking websites or apps ask for a second guest name. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could add a second loyalty programme number and for he second guest’s profile and preferences to be linked with the booking. (Could even sling a few points as an incentive to do so)

  91. “This has nothing to do with travel at all and does not belong here.”

    @Nunya – Could you please let Ben know what *does* belong here on this, *your* blog site?

  92. It is odd in this day and age…when my boyfriend and I travel…they always address me as “Mrs.”….and envelopes are all Mr. and Mrs….
    Very outdated, dumb practice which could be easily rectified in the reservation process.

  93. Snowflake, get over yourself. I thought you were better than this trite. If this is what you are worried about in life, maybe time to think of doing something different. Meanwhile, let me follow up on Manchester and the awful tragedy we are all horrified at this week….

  94. Sounds like a first world problem. In an effort to not be hateful about immoral issues I will refrain from further comments.

  95. @DaninMCI — that’s great. You’re clearly not wanted, anyway, with you hateful attitude.

  96. To the straight folks telling him to stop whining:

    I am gay, and have a partner. I was raised in an extremely liberal family, with an extremely liberal group of friends, and generally grew up with very little experience of feeling discriminated against. This makes me luckier than 99.9% of the world’s LGBT population, and I am thankful for it every day.

    The most uncomfortable I ever feel regarding my sexuality is checking into a hotel with my partner. I’ve had twin bed rooms foisted on me despite king reservations. I’ve had front desk folks call him my brother, and when I say he’s my partner, it’s an uncomfortable moment. We already don’t stay in the small B&Bs and pensiones we’d both prefer, especially internationally, because we trust large soulless luxury chains to have some LGBT-awareness training as part of their service standards. We’ve had the experience of the friendly matriarch who ran a B&B in urban Spain becoming noticeably hostile when she saw we were two men who had reserved a queen bed. We have no interest in repeating that trip.

    Is this a huge problem? Of course not. Do I sympathize with Ben’s post? Absolutely! Many gay couples are paying for luxury hotels, in part, to never make them think that they’re anything but welcome. I can’t imagine why any of you would wish otherwise.

  97. This happens to me and my (same sex) husband all the time lucky! Definitely a little annoying as I’d rather not be personally addressed than have them assume I’m straight.

  98. Kudos to you Ben–in a post with 4 short paragraphs, you’ve elicited more comments than lesser travel blogs generate in a month. Well played, sir.

  99. Wow this is a far more lively discussion than I had anticipated. Funny how many of the commenters seem to have reading comprehension issues and go off on their own agendas that have really nothing to do with what Ben actually said.

    Couple of years ago my hubby and I went to Thessaloniki and stayed at this amazing hotel called The Met. The reservation was made by me for 2 people, a week or so before arrival I got an email saying: Mr and Mrs so and so we are so looking forward to having you….blah, blah, blah. I had reason to write the front desk (in this instance the manager) for totally unrelated issues and said: “oh and by the way it’s Mr and Mr” very good naturally and said actually we just got married. The manager wrote back apologized, gave us an upgrade, flowers, sparkling wine chocolate and strawberries and celebrated us like he would have any newly weds. Even though I had only mentioned it off handedly not expecting anything other than to clarify. He was totally brilliant and ran a genuinely welcoming hotel.

    Change is slow to come, businesses often fall back on a boiler plate kind of hospitality which is what Ben is rightfully commenting on. It’s lazy and often, as in this case wrong, so why not be more generic and inclusive? Especially when their is no need to make an assumption in a welcome card, all you need to do is be, welcoming.

  100. Waste of paper, I started telling hotels that I don’t need any printed communication or welcome letter. Consider the amount of people travelling and receiving these letters – they praise sustainability efforts but waste tons of paper around the world – big chains should be more considerate and start where obvious. A greeting by the management or guest relations makes a much more personalized welcome than any kind of letter, plus what’s generally written in there is the same everywhere.

  101. Well, you know Aman Sveti Stefan wouldn’t make that kind of mistake. 😉 Hope you enjoyed your stay there. We had a wonderful time last year at that gorgeous property. It felt like being on the set of LOTR especially at sunset. Simply magical.

  102. Well I can understand you not being happy with the fact that the envelope in question had your name misspelled. They had the opportunity to get that correct! Poor attention to detail without a doubt! They could no doubt save any conflict by listing only the name of the person who made the reservation.
    As for the rest? Not so much.
    In the instances of late that you have questioned whether others find random things as annoying as you, the reply seems to be no. Have these been a learning experience for you?
    Tolerance can often be a two way street.

  103. God fordbid we upset the movement !….
    It feels like if you are straight and single these days there are more rights elesewhere
    I notice it’s always the non-straights that scream or *hiss* from the highest platform – yet others take it in their stride.
    If a hetro couple carried on the way the way others conduct themselves it’s considered promiscuous and disgusting behavior , yet same gender couples their behavior it’s encouraged ! Seems like the minority

  104. This comments thread is fascinating and a bit disappointing. This isn’t a social issue for the most part, at least in my opinion; and I think Ben has been pretty clear about that, in his view. It is however a service issue. What this post is about is a high end hotel in a socially progressive country. It shouldn’t be hard for the establishment to figure out if the welcome card should be to a solo individual, individual + guest (whether named or not), or to a married couple, (regardless of the gender of both). I think in a 5* hotel getting this right should be a matter of course, vs the exception. Yes, society, and the variety of permutations had evolved and expanded, but what we’re talking about, (in my opinion), is welcoming *all* and treating everyone with the same respect/recognition.

  105. Hahaha… And apart from that the majority of luxury hotels are quite sexist as well – they presume girl cannot and will not travel alone. That happened so many times (sofitel, hilton and others) that they always left welcome letter addressing to Mr. XXX (my last name) while I’m travelling alone and apparently Millie is not a guy’s name.

    I presume they would have my file in their system as an elite member, yet they always believe that women should be accompany by men. Are we in the medieval time? OMG…

  106. I’m not quite sure it’s ok to laugh about it and move on.

    Prejudicial assumptions are not OK in this day and age. If for cultural reasons, a hotel in a certain country cannot get beyond traditional stereotypes, or are unable to find out more about their guests, then they should find alternative ways to show gratitude for custom, such as a fruit basket or chocolates etc.

    A poorly executed gesture is worse than no gestures at all.

  107. I think the most important thing is not how an envelope is addresselop d, but whether you are treated with respect during your stay. My husband and I are always warmly welcomed wherever we go (though I would always only choose gay friendly countries as it is not for us to impose our Western culture on other cultures). I imagine it is hard for hotels to get it right given the massive variations in travel companions that exist. But the fact that there is a welcome note is nice in itself.

  108. Good to see you are staying at the Shangri-La Paris! Pretty stupid on the names! Stayed there last weekend and they got my name right even though it is about three times as long as yours ;-). I was staying with my baby momma plus the baby itself and they got the names right (ie separate Mr X and Mrs Y) in their defence…..

    PS: the Golden Circle Programs has great redemption value for food: you get one point for every USD spent and then you get USD 100 food credits for 1000 points. In other words, that is USD 100 per night in food at the average USD 1000 rate a night at the Shangri-La Paris. Not bad….

  109. I guess its difficult for a hotel to know if you are a gay married couple.

    A little story of my own (i’m gay btw).

    I’m airline crew. A few months ago I was working a flight from JFK to LHR in First Class and there were two guys in their early 30’s, both looked very….how can I say ‘metrosexual’. As we are encouraged to use passenger names in First and Business Class I had noted their names from the passenger list and saw it was the same surname and assumed they were gay and married.

    They were very chatty and one in particular was quite flamboyant and they were excitedly telling me all about their holiday. My colleague was a lot more chatty with them than I and said to them ‘so….how did you decided who’s name to take’. They gave her a blank look and one said ‘what do you mean’? She replied – ‘well I saw you have the same surname. How did you decide who’s to take when you got married’. The reply made me want the ground to open below me so god knows how my colleague felt ‘errmmm. married? This is my brother. We’ve been to visit our parents while their on their wedding anniversary vacation’.

    Sometimes its just easier to play it safe.

    Saying that recently my partner and I stayed at the Conrad St James in London. The hotel receptionist that checked us in got chatting with us and I guess we made it crystal clear we were ‘together’. When the welcome note was delivered it was to ‘Mr and Mr.

  110. Oh puh-lease, Ben. Give it a rest. Sheesh.

    As a long time reader and as one who typically looks forward to your perspective, this whole recent melding of the world of travel with a bit of social activism is the wrong path, at least for my reading preferences.

    If I want social issue commentary I have a million places to turn. Don’t get lost in that sea.

  111. @Lucky got this exactly right. There is no justification for anyone or any place to keep perpetuating a mindless practice in world that has very little in common with the one in which the practice was first introduced. Gender designation should not be used unless one is absolutely certain to get it right and wishes to use it to create a highly personalize message. Period. So, I agree with the suggestion that for a party of 2 or more, the Name On The Reservation + Guest(s) should be used:

    Dear John Doe and Guest(s)

    No Mr. or Ms. or Mrs is necessary or justified…

  112. Dude, get over it. Your complaint is silly…clearly the hotel was just trying to welcome you. #firstworldproblems bro.

  113. @SQ — You’d have a point except for a couple of little things: (a) this is the age of the internet and globalization in which the best hotels and airlines are no longer confined to so-called #firstworld, so that the concept of #firstworldproblems is antiquated and so #oldworld; and (b) what’s reported in this post apparently happened in Paris, the epitome of #firstworld, which reinforces point (a).

  114. You must be running out of material if this is what you came up with as the biggest problem in the hotel industry.

  115. It’s very clear that many of the negative posters are not personally acquainted with luxury travel. Lucky’s blog post is right on point as it deals with the finer details of providing 5 star service. If you’re staying in an upend hotel, service and the attention to detail is the distinguishing factor. Otherwise, better to stay in a 4 star establishment.

  116. If this is from a place where sodomy is illegal (you tend to frequent those places), then perhaps a non-issue?

  117. @DCS – Your point is a bit vague. France always was and will always a “first world” nation, so globalization or digitization is neither appropriate or relevant. A same sex relationship is certainly common in the country, and the hotel employee was probably trying to convey a personal message that simply missed the mark. Also, I believe you are conflating two concepts since the the first is normally used in relation to the interconnectedness of the world, while the second simple hastened the process exponentially. Furthermore, the presumption of the hotel employee not writing the note with animus is logical. Bottom line, my hashtag was an appropriate usage of the (arguably) antiquated term, in the comment section of a travel blog. Not only do I believe that the original post was an example of first world problems, so is this back and forth we are engaged in. So I’ll repost my original statement – #firstworldproblems bro

  118. @SQ — My point is vague to you only because you still be believe in the totally bogus concept of #firstworldproblems, when Qatar or, yes, SQ, formerly not of so-called #firstworld, now offers first-class cabins that in the past would have been associated only with so-called #firstworld and would thus have had problems that would have been considered #firstworldproblems…

    Living in the past is not a valid excuse for pushing arguments on an issue that’s happened in a greatly changed world…

  119. @DCS-Using Singapore or and any Gulf State to convey your point is shaky at best. While they may have amazing airlines and hotels, basic human rights are consistently violated, and the marginalization of women, minorities, and homosexuals occurs daily. I’m not living in the past or pushing an argument that is illogical. I’m stating that a welcome note that was clearly meant to enhance an already luxurious property missed the mark, but yes it is a problem that the VAST majority of the world doesn’t have. Soooooo…first world problems.

  120. @SQ — You simply reinforced my point. What the hell is a #firstworld country when countries that offer what would be considered #firstworld airlines and hotels practice open misogyny and homophobia, AND a significant proportion of the population in so-called #firstworld countries remains every bit as misogynistic, homophobic, bigoted as folks in countries that you do not consider to be part of so-called #firstworld?

    So-called #firstworldproblems no longer exist. There are only #humanityproblems! Just because a country openly practices misogyny or homophobia does not mean neither is problem, especially considering the interconnectedness of the modern world!

  121. I totally agree with you, and *vehemently* disagree with everyone who says just accept it and move on. There is absolutely no excuse for this in this day and age.

    While I agree this is not a huge deal, it certainly is the thought that counts…the thought that there is one acceptable way of people being together, which *is* offensive. Although, if this is actually a Middle Eastern hotel, I’d also have to agree the case is hopeless.

    The prefix “Ms.” came into accepted usage almost 20 years ago, people don’t have to be married to be traveling together and they also don’t have to be of different genders. Even, as you say, a group of friends could be traveling together. And, quite frankly, it is just as offensive for them to assume a single traveler is a Mr. Not to mention, there are many people with names that could be either gender.

    If hotel management doesn’t want to look like asses, welcome letters should be addressed to the primary guest’s first and last name. Period.

  122. DCS-No I didn’t, because I don’t measure the evolution of humanity by airlines and hotels. But I can safely say France is a first world country. Would you prefer I use the term #developedworldpriblems? Get over yourself man, it’s a welcome note. And it didn’t even happen to you.

  123. So don’t travel to, on airlines, and stay in locations, where they are known to be closed off (and disrespectful) to equality and homosexuality.

  124. I mean, this definitely isn’t a homophobic practice. Their heart was in the right place trying to personalize, and they just didn’t take the effort to pull it off effectively, so they assumed the most common scenario. I think all the people trying to make this a big deal one way or the other just have a soapbox they want to get up on. This past should be title’d “Sorry but hotels aren’t as good at personalizing stays as they would like us to think.”

  125. Next year people will be outraged for using the term Mr. in the rare event someone feels they are gender fluid…

    i do suppose this problem could be reduced if the hotel asks for other guests names.

  126. I will travel with my teenage and young adult sons. Any followup emails or snail mail is addressed to my sons and never to me! We all have different last names and my last name is just completely forgotten. And I’m the name on all the credit cards being used. My sons are always aghast that anyone might mistake me as anything but their mom!

  127. @AQ sez: “But I can safely say France is a first world country.”

    Like I said: stuck in the past.



  128. And others would get their panties in a knot id the card were addressed to “…..and guest.”

    Move on.

  129. DCS – Using three letters that usually follow a mathematical equation doesn’t prove anything. You’re still arguing based on feelings, and I fail to see how a card that was written by an inept employee is a big deal…let alone a commentary on the state of international affairs. I have not proved your point…that’s not how debate works. You present your own coherent set of facts. That issue aside, I will opine that a man who makes a living traveling around in first/business class, stays in luxury hotel, and gets offended by a welcome note that was CLEARLY not meant to offend has a problem that MOST of the world does not have. So if i’m synthesizing it down to a phrase that disagrees with you, perhaps you’re missing the contextual points of my argument.

  130. @SQ –

    Get over yourself. You’re coming off as a pompous, faux intellectual.

    CLEARLY Ben was not offended by the note. He merely highlighted a minor, oftentimes humorous issue that gay couples occasionally must contend with while traveling.

  131. So I was checking into a nice hotel here in Tokyo Japan and was offered some tea. There were 2 of us checking in at same time. both men, not a couple. They offered him tea before me? How dare they. I am outraged! Was it because I am straight, or married, or visiting the hotel, or maybe because i am not Japanese. It clearly couldn’t have been because he was in line ahead of me.

    Forget the nice gesture on the part of the hotel. I went straight to manager and demanded every employee be fired on the spot.

    These atrocities need to stop.

  132. I just counted. There are more comments complaining about the right-wingers’ responses than there are actual right-winger responses.

    It must be so much fun to go through life seeing the world with blinders on, then labeling people.

  133. Lucky, you do realise, that everyone will find something to complain about in a hotel. There are those who will get offended as being called “& guest”.
    This just seems to be one of those situations where a hotel can never come out on top. PS. it is unforgivable that a name was misspelt

  134. I am probably over thinking, might be the hotel just intensionally misspelled your name. Mr. Schlap”pig”.

  135. Ohh come on, the gay population is small, it is just a common assumption that most couples are male and female. Why is everyone forced to see gay couples as normal?

  136. @ Carl — I won’t address the second part (lordy), but to address the first part, this has nothing to do with straight vs. gay. The “Mr. & Mrs.” also excludes non-married straight/”normal” couples, and people traveling together as friends.

  137. Well, in many cases (cultures) you should not even share a room without having a relationship with the another person. I’ve had some issues when staying at 5 star property in Qatar in a king suite with my same sex friend. They almost did not let us stay in the hotel. We would have preferred to have a twin room but they did not have any room with 2 beds.

    While in (South-)East Asia as a walk-in customer hotels, Cruise companies etc. have no problem asking if we would like to have twin or double bed or honeymoon suite.

    But what comes to those letters I think that’s mostly issue with high-end hotels that try to address their guests with honourable way with limited information.

  138. As observations go, this is one of benlucky’s better ones.

    Deducing from all that our dear lucky puts of himself out there, this Ford clearly is the man in their relationship.

    How dare they not read his blog from head to toe before he makes his entrance?!

    A big mistake from the hotel there. Mercy!

  139. I have to agree with Ben. Although perhaps the *default* still remains heterosexual Mr &Mrs, I find it particularly disappointing to receive such greetings when I go out of my way to state we are Mr. and Mr. at every step of the reservation process. The Shangri-La in Bangkok was no exception to this, congratulating Mr and Mrs on their anniversary 🙁

    However, the highlight for me was at the ICON in Hong Kong last summer, where we checked in. While checking in, I noticed a letter addressed to us on the desk, that stated Mr. and Mrs. However, within a minute, I also noticed the check-in agent flip the letter over. And when check-in was a bit longer than expected, I later realized that the agent was re-typing and printing the letter while talking to us, to make it Mr. and Mr.

    Now that’s attention to detail!

  140. Interesting post! It reminded me , 2 years ago in Shangari-la Paris, where I proposed to my boyfriend in a definitely nice duplex suite. We tried to discuss about every details by mails. Even in LGBT-friendly city like paris,or even in this nice hotel, I don’t think they would pay much attention to same sex couples. I paid more than 10 thousand euro for 3 nights, but I didnt get any complimentary service even champagne, which someone may got it as ordinary service
    I firmly believed it is part of its stereotyping, and discrimination is hiding inside it.

  141. Lazy assumptions are made in all sorts of situations. I am female, usually traveling solo, and often get notes addressed to Mr. Lastname. Worse is when I use the phone in the room and am immediately asked “How can I help you, Mr. Lastname?”

    If an establishment wants to provide personalized service, the burden is on them to get the details right. Otherwise, what’s the point?

  142. I constantly get Ms Dana Stanley, surprisingly from people that I work with all the time so sloppy…

  143. This constantly happens to me and my girlfriend on trips. They always call her Mrs. MyLastName. It’s a little annoying because it always brings up a tough conversation for us.

    However, on the trip we just returned from, we stayed at 3 Hyatt properties and at both the Grand Hyatt Tokyo and Hyatt Regency Danang, they called her Ms. HerLastName for the first time. I had her name added to the Danang reservation, but not the Tokyo one. So I’m not sure how they knew, I imagine they looked at the other reservation somehow. They also knew our faces in the club lounge the first time we went – called us by name. Never had that happen before.

  144. @ Carl. So you often travel with female friend that you’re not dating and always have separate beds…. What planet are you on please and is it easy to get a visa?

  145. I just rang down to front desk at the hotel I’m staying in to ask what time breakfast starts “7.30am Ma’am”.

    The irony here is that the room is in my name and I actually put my [male] friends name on the room too in case he needed to stay.

    I just chuckled once the phone call was over. It’s 6.30am and they’re doing their best. With regards to the welcome letter, when my wife still had her old travel documents and we booked a few things under them, we got the full mix of variety of Mr and Mrs with both our full names, just mine, just hers, etc. I think it’s a nice touch and one that’s hard to get right. Id only take issue if it was for a different guest in terms of data protection etc.

  146. Several years ago, my husband and I (then partner) stayed at a Ritz Carlton in Florida. We had stayed with them half a dozen times before, and this time, my cousin and his wife joined us. I made reservations for both rooms on our credit card, and noted that they (cousin and his wife) were celebrating their 25th anniversary. After checking in and each room presenting credit cards for the room charges, were given our keys. Both rooms were on the Club Level. When we arrived to our room there was a lovely cake (in the past there was usually a welcome treat as return guests) that said “Happy Anniversary” on the table and an envelope made out to Mr. and Mrs. Larsen (my husbands name.) We called the Club Lounge, and they sent someone to take the cake and card away. The staff was so embarrassed they had goofed, wrong room and wrong name. When we returned from the beach, a bottle of wine and some fruit was waiting in our room with an apology note and a new cake with card had been delivered to my cousin’s room. We laughed about it, and we still sometimes get Mr. and Mrs. addressed cards, but aren’t bothered by it. Mistakes happen.

  147. Simple solution for you, call the hotel manager, in a very calm manner, and thank them for their welcome note and state that an error was made it is Mr. and Mr.

    I do not think the hotel meant any malice, simply pointing it out to them since it matters so much to you would have garnered an apology and I am sure a replace letter correctly addressed.

    I am Black woman who travels frequently, when given the opportunity, I take advantage of “teachable moments’.

  148. My wife and I don’t have the same last name, and often get Mr. And Mrs. (My last name) and even sometimes get Mr. And Mrs. (Her last name). I agree that this is outdated. Incidentally, with all the Middle East talk, many Middle Eastern groups don’t have the wife taking the last name tradition. In Iran, the wife always keeps her last name.

  149. Ben, I hear your pain but it’s a small grievance when traveling to non-Western cultures.

    I travel solo and in Christian-based areas (i.e., Caribbean, S. Europe, etc) reservationists automatically assume that I’m married — welcome correspondence is addressed to a Mrs. when they should be a Ms. The flipside when I’m in South Asia where women traveling alone is still somewhat taboo, reservationists assume I’m male, addressing correspondence to Mr.

    In a perfect world, there would be a universal moniker for all humans regardless of how we identify ourselves and until then we as strangers in a foreign land must allow space for our cultural differences to find common ground.

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