Disgusting: Hotels Not Changing Sheets Between Guests?!?

Filed Under: Hotels

Coronavirus or not, you’d hope that any hotel room you’re paying to stay in is cleaned properly. That’s more important now than ever before, given the current pandemic. We’ve even seen hotels roll out enhanced cleaning protocols, intended to put guests at ease, and make them comfortable traveling again.

So, are hotels living up to their promises? Inside Edition conducted an interesting experiment in recent days that will likely horrify you:

  • They checked into three different New York City hotel rooms
  • They sprayed washable fluorescent paint (which could only be seen with UV lights) with the Inside Edition logo onto pillows, bed sheets, and bath towels, and applied a washable gel to TV remotes, thermostats, and counters
  • They checked out, and then managed to book the same room for the following night, to see how good of a job hotels did with cleaning rooms

So, how did hotels do? They first checked into the Hyatt Place Times Square:

  • The bed linens hadn’t been replaced, as both the sheet and pillow had the Inside Edition logo visible
  • The counter was wiped down and towels were replaced, but the remote control hadn’t been cleaned
  • In a statement, a Hyatt spokesperson said they were “deeply concerned” about these findings

Next they checked into the Hampton Inn Times Square:

  • The bed linens hadn’t been replaced, as both the sheet and pillow had the Inside Edition logo visible
  • The thermostat and remote control both hadn’t been wiped down
  • In a statement, a Hilton spokesperson said the “housekeeping team relied on a visual inspection of the room’s cleanliness to determine which areas received attention, deviating from protocols”

Lastly they checked into the Trump International Hotel:

  • The bed linens had only partly been replaced, as the sheets no longer had the Inside Edition logo, while one of the pillows did have the logo
  • The desk and remote control both hadn’t been wiped down
  • In a statement, a Trump International Hotel spokesperson flat out denied the report: “Following an internal review, we have concluded that the claims made by Inside Edition are categorically false. Trump International Hotel & Tower New York is one of the premier luxury hotels anywhere in the world and has received countless accolades, including the Forbes Five-Star award for the past 13 years, for its consistently impeccable service.”

I love that the Trump hotel is just categorically denying the report… heh.

Here’s the full report, should you want to see it:

Bottom line

We’ve seen these undercover reports several times over the years, and unfortunately the results are always this horrifying. You’d hope sheets would be changed between guests under all circumstances, let alone in the age of coronavirus.

To see such major violations at three different hotels is incredibly disappointing.

Are you surprised by the findings of this report?

  1. I wouldn’t expect anything less from a Trump hotel 🙂

    But generally speaking this is quite disgusting and upsetting, regardless of hotel brand.Maybe I should get an UV light myself. Brrrrr!

  2. @ K4 — Regardless, that’s not really how housekeeping usually works. If they are cleaning a room for a new guest to check in they would take off the old sheets and then place new sheets from the cart onto the bed. It’s not like they take the dirty stuff out of the room, go and wash everything, and then go back to the room to place those exact sheets there. They have hundreds of sets of sheets, so they’d never use the same pair when preparing a room for a new guest.

  3. @K4 even if it’s not quite as washable at they think, the linens won’t have been laundered and placed back in the same spot in the exact same room.

  4. So the Trump hotel just trotted out ‘fake news’ in response to something they didn’t like…sounds on brand!

  5. My travels used to take me to overnight at the original only Hotel connected to FRA airport. I would often make an early morning excursion to the supermarket in the bottom of terminal 1. When I returned I would see the chamberperson cart at the same room as before, 45 minutes later.
    My assumption is that a thorough job takes time and they are allotted the time necessary. I have never seen them take the right amount of time in the USA. I also suspect that they would lose their job if they skipped procedures.

  6. Funny my old GM had me buy 100 UV lights off amazon with his card on my account. Beds were still dirty and not being changed ( Crowne Plaza ). Housekeeping knew we brought them to check on if they were cleaning they did not care one bit. Just part of a normal in day in a hotel, what housekeeper is going to clean 50 rooms for less than 10 an hour., just easier for us to give 20k points to them.

  7. i don’t get why hotel chains say they will clean extra, ive stayed at two hotels in ny and both gross. they said it’s due to lack of housekeeping. especially that tv remote!

  8. Good to see Eric Trump has found a use within the family crime business – sitting in a window-less room answering Trip Advisor comments.

  9. Why is this a surprise? It happened regularly before coronavirus. The idea that somehow thousands of independent or third-party operated franchised hotels are different just because the national chain or the hotel trade association announced a marketing-laden “coronavirus safety” plan is absurd.

  10. Because Inside Edition was gonna prove something good about Trump hotel….or based on their left leaning reporting they wanted to show something negative…..

  11. Inside Edition has done this pretty regularly. The offenders are almost always limited-service brands. I wonder if it’s possible the painting (for lack of a better word) of the Inside Edition logo on pillowcases actually bleeds (for lack of a better word) through to the pillow itself?

  12. Reminds me of the undercover investigations into LHR airport hotels a few years back with similar findings but the most disturbing was the use of a toilet brush to clean the glasses and cups by one premier chain hotel.

  13. Is this in part of the properties, or their employees? It’s easy to pin the blame on the latter, ascribing laziness, but are the properties doing enough to ensure their demanded protocol is followed through? I’ve stayed at 3-star hotels in Southeast Asia and still I see them changing the bed linens and towels, not just for every guest, but every day.

    I have a trip to Florence in late August, and then a week to Basque Country tagged for October. I’ve booked 5-star properties, but I’ll carry a Sharpie and leave dots in unseen places just to make certain. I don’t think holding a hotel to utmost hygienic standards would make me or anyone else a Karen

  14. Doesn’t surprise me. What amazes me as well is how in the world did INSIDE EDITION manage to get the same room for all 3 hotels two nights in a row with separate reservations/check-ins?!?

  15. On Hampton inn at least, you can pick your room at check in on the app … and for diamond you get quite some lead time, like 2-3 days. So they would know they have the same room for both reservations.

  16. @Lucky

    You got me there. Very unlikely the same linens were used for the same rooms.


    Makes a different interesting point though. Why would all three hotels be able to give the exact same room?

    Something doesn’t seem right. Given I usually stay in a slightly higher catagory of hotels, but Hyatt isn’t a million miles away from the MOs St Regis and Four Seasons of the world. I always feel the linens are impeccably clean at these hotels. Trump hotel is pretty high end, and the training and practices are likely learned from, shall we say, more reputable companies, and as I said Hyatt isn’t some Park Regis.

    My experience of Hyatt is mostly outside the US, so perhaps the US Hyatt’s don’t match Asia and Europe? They do seem to have a bigger footprint in North America.

  17. At this point hotels should institute the use of housekeeping cameras. They can feed directly to security for random auditing of room cleaning. As well it would help to confirm or debunk the occasional accusations of harassment of housekeepers by guests.

    The other option is an audit of the number of sheets and cases being brought to laundry. It should match exactly for each housekeeper the number of checked out rooms and associated beds.

    I have long suspected that sheets were not changed in some rooms. It’s the most labor intensive part of the room cleaning process and you can bet many housekeepers look for opportunity to avoid it.

  18. @Joey. I don’t think it would be too hard. You know that room has checked out as you did it. Have another person request that room when checking in shortly after. “It’s my favorite room if you could hold that for me.” Would be easy. Would not work all the time but I bet it would work most of the time.

  19. @mark Cohen Yes, of course everything is a left-wing plot to take down the great Master. He’s the only one who can fix things, but he’s never responsible for anything.

  20. 5* hotels supposed to change bed linen everyday – regardless the room is occupied by the same guest or not ( unless you choose not to – eco friendly approach )

  21. Not surprising, these news come out of limited service, full service, and luxury hotels around the world every year.

  22. Why do people keep believing that Hyatt is anything but a scam.
    They ve done such a great job convincing people it’s worth spending more for their hotels like nobody else
    Overpriced and dirty

  23. @ Mark Cohen if the Trump hotel was as good as they said they were then the TV show wouldn’t have had anything to show because the sheets etc would have been changed and the TV emote etc etc wiped down.

    As for the gel being persistent etc – even if it were the basic mechanisms of cleaning – mechanical motion in a wasing machine and wiping with a cloth andcleanign solution – would remove at least some of the gel and that would have been visible under the UV light.

  24. I highly suspect this is due to an unsustainable expectations from housekeeping staff regarding the number of rooms they have to clean. Having worked in a hotel housekeeping team for a 4* and a 5* hotel, it was one of the hardest jobs ever. You are given too little time to properly clean a room and if you can get away with it, you will focus on clearly visible area such as towels and bathroom floors, etc.

    It could also be management pressure on saving costs, or laziness, but i would doubt it.

    What will happen is that certain staff members will be punished, rather than re-training them or giving them additional time or resources to clean rooms. And the same will carry on. Too little risk to change things around.

    Marketing messages are simply cheaper.

  25. Also, the Trump hotel had a chance to “win” this with at least some of the articles replaced (sheet, one pillow cover). Instead, they blew it.

  26. Did they not sleep in the beds? If they just opened the covers, leaving the foot of the bed with tucked in blankets, it would be tempting for the maids to cheat and not change the sheets.

  27. I’ll agree with others there, that it’s probably because of completely unrealistic expectations put on cleaning staff, and I’m not surprised that housekeepers have to cut corners to get it done on time. I’m sure they’d love to do things right if they could. It’s probably one of the most difficult jobs out there, grossly underpaid, and this is all on hotel management and corporate greed for creating these conditions. It’s really extremely gross nonetheless. I sanitize high contact areas with wipes when I check in a room, and if I have the slightest doubt about the sheets or towels, I’ll ask that they are changed.
    Also LOL at the Trump hotel response – can hardly get more on brand than that 😀 .

  28. WTF. The only thing I can think of is that the room didn’t looked used. Otherwise there is no reason for this. If this is really truth then next time if the bed smells check out

  29. Lazy shortcut work exists in any trade, and housekeeping is a low paying hard job. Hotels should incentivize the staff individually for quality based on cleanliness from guests surveys and hotel audits. Incentivize it . Bonuses. Incentivize the right thing. I’m not surprised at all.

  30. This is exactly what I would expect from New York, the nasty/dirty/overpriced hotel capital of the hospitality world.

  31. Were the beds left made or unmade? If the Inside Edition guys purposefully made the bed appear unused, I’m just honestly not too horrified. (Probably a minority opinion, but still.) On the other hand, if the housekeepers remade a used-looking bed, I’d be appalled.

  32. The owners of major hotel brands seem genuinely convinced that splashy announcements about new cleaning standards are going to result in cleaner rooms and convince people to stay with them. They will fail on both counts unless they find a way to make the companies that own and manage hotels in their brands rethink housekeeping completely.

    Hotel managers think of housekeeping as a cost and one that has to be kept as low as possible. They know there will be complaints because some of their underpaid housekeepers won’t do a very good job. They look at some times refunding some money to guests whose rooms aren’t cleaned correctly as a cost of doing business.

    COVID (and the brand owners calling attention to housekeeping) has changed the game. Now episodes, like what Inside Edition found can have bigger consequences. So it would make sense to re-think how housekeeping in managed. New checklists filled in by the same housekeepers and signed off by the same Executive Housekeepers aren’t the answer.

    Hotels need to find a way to make senior managers accountable for housekeeping results. Because of the power dynamics between hotel owners and brand owners, this would be hard to do at any time. When hotels are just about all going broke (some faster than others), hotel owners – as usual – have the upper hand. Brand owners face a potentially existential threat. It will be interesting to see how they navigate this.

    I can imagine a tradeoff in which brands pick up a chunk of the tab for additional cleaning and management by more senior people in return for zero tolerance for failure and substantial consequences for managers and hotel owners if they fail. Whether the public will buy any of this remains to be seen. A few well publicized failures could undermine the entire effort to market cleanliness as means of getting people back to hotels.

  33. I am surprised people are surprised by these findings. Same goes for airplanes. Nobody cleans anything. To be fair, I only really care for bed linens and towels in a hotel since I always assume the rest of the room was never cleaned. Way before Covid I never touched a remote control in a hotel room before spraying hand sanitizer on it. No, for towels and bed linens it is a bit easier to notice if they were changed or not. In any decent hotel those are pressed so if a towel was used you can see it. A bit more difficult on bed linens but usually you can see if there are wrinkles and they smell bleach if they were washed.

    As for the Trump hotel, I don’t care about the brand and only stayed once in one of their properties in Honolulu. All I can say is it was the best customer service I ever got of any hotel I stayed. That was before Trump even became president so not sure how it is now.

  34. @Mark Cohen: Are you related to Mike Cohen, Trump’s fixer for over a decade? You must learn a lifetime lesson, if your IQ warrants, how Trump avenges when a person is no longer a loyal boot-licker?
    These chain hotels hire foreign college students and immigrants to fill housekeeping jobs. It is a virtually impossible task to complete given a 15-30 minutes to finish a room, depends on its size. Supervisors always push employees to the limits. To do inventory of linens is financial unfeasible as the costs outweigh the benefits. There is no business sense to incentivize minimum wage jobs. Above commentator should read more about how US crony capitalism works and it is much more inhumane in the pandemic.

  35. I guess Forbes should withdraw the 5 star award. Also, perhaps the solution is to leave the towels and bed linen visibly dirty when checking out so that the cleaners cannot cut corners at least in that area.

  36. Playing devil advocate here. Any chances of them doing it for journalism sensationalize by:

    – Applying the paints to the same spots in a new room then flim the video afterwards to claim “poor” housekeeping?

  37. Is anyone going to acknowledge that Hampton Inn and Hyatt Place are SELECT SERVICE properties? Yes, it’s helpful they chose a real hotel, despite it being owned by the fuhrer himself, but how about some regular hotels? The Sheraton, the Hilton, the Conrad…hearing Select Service properties aren’t maintaining housekeeping standards should surprise NO ONE. You get what you pay for. Let’s all come back when they evaluate full-service properties.

  38. Hampton Inn’s policy. I stayed in Queretaro, Mexico for one night and it was evident that sheets were not changed. No need to use special sprays. The sheets were full of hairs. Basically, the whole room.

  39. Hampton Inn? Hyatt Place? Trump International? Aren’t these brands all synonymous with lipstick stains on used water cups, pubic hairs under the sheets, and semen stains all over the phone?!?

    Need to stay at a Park Hyatt or Waldorf-Astoria if you’re looking to avoid some of these pleasures….

  40. Of course the Trump hotel said that their findings was “categorically false”. LOL!

  41. I bet Marriott is hoping and praying that there isn’t a second part of this story that included any of their properties.

  42. @ K4. Four Seasons is a million miles away from Hyatt. Check in and see all the precautions they ate taking. I stayed at one last week and I now trust the way they are handling this strange period.

  43. I noticed complaints about they only looked at select service hotels! I stayed at a Hilton once and upon checking into the room I walked to the window to check the view and upon turning back out of the corner of my eye something caught my attention! I walked to my luggage and removed a ziplock bag and used it to pick up and contain the item. After using the restroom I proceeded to the lobby and asked to speak to the manager on duty! He came over with a big smile at which point I asked did they have a lost and found? He smiled and assured me that indeed they did! I said good and placed the bag with the pair of men’s boxer shorts in front of him explaining that I discovered them on the floor directly next to the bed. The poor guy turned colors! He assured me that he would send housekeeping up to refresh the room at which point I asked if they could take time to remove the pubic hair from the shower at the same time? I was upgraded to a new room and was given a fruit basket and a credit on the bill. So no place is immune! It comes down to the response.

  44. Ill never forget when i checked into a hilton (full-service) in san diego & there on the floor by the bed was a used condom. i took a pic w my phone & left the room, they offered to change my room – nothing more!!!! but i’m not really surprised at these results…as none of us that are frequent travels are!

  45. @ed: I am Diamond for Life with Hilton and I don’t see room availability until 24 hours in advance. Are you sure about your statement that Diamonds see them earlier? If so, I want to check on it. Or am I not understanding your comment.

    (Serious question, not an ‘I Got you comment’)

  46. My favorite part is the denial with the “fake news” statement after getting caught. Pretty much sum up everything about Trump.

  47. I can’t believe Trump did not personally clean the room….because after all, everything is Trumps fault…and also cannot believe this very fun blog has become so political…quite a disappointment.

  48. But @Diane Dioguardi he brings this in himself. After all, he is the ONLY one that can fix it. So I guess he should clean the room. But that might require him to read the procedure first and we all know how that will go.

  49. As a former hotel housekeeping employee, I can say that having 16+ rooms to be cleaned in an 8 hour shift likely contributes to the lack of attention to detail in these findings. It’s almost impossible to get all rooms done in a shift without making some shortcuts along the way. When I had started out in housekeeping 40 years ago, the expectation was 12 rooms a day and everything was checked before another occupancy. Standards were much higher then. I would put the onus on the unrealistic hotel housekeeping workload for the bulk of these issues.

  50. Maybe us customers need to mark up the sheets as we check out. This would show housekeeping and the next customer that the sheet is used. Maybe it will be obvious they are dirty when they do their “visual inspection “. Could mark with something like chalk, that can be laundered out easily.

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