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The 13 Most Infuriating Hotel Pet Peeves That Drive Travelers Mad

Resort fees, bright alarm clocks, powdered milk, and other rude awakenings.

Hotels can make or break a vacation. They play a huge part in the travel experience, not to mention eating up a significant slice of the holiday budget. A motel in Anchorage or a spa resort in Bali can cost more than all the other elements of the trip, bar the transportation. With so much time and money invested, you’d at least expect the bases to be covered, right? Many of us, sadly, get far less than we bargained for when checking in with the expectation of a quality night’s sleep and a couple of home comforts. I’ve traveled the world and have stayed in rooms along the entire spectrum, no stars to five, and there are some things hotels do that I’ll never understand the reasoning behind. If the user comments on social media and travel forums are anything to go by too, I’m not the only one. Here are the biggest hotel pet peeves.

1 OF 13

Rooms That Are Still Bright After You Turn the Light Off

I’ve enjoyed pitch-black sleep in every house I’ve ever lived, so why’s it such a challenge for hotels to mimic the same simple conditions? So many times I’ve switched off the light to find that there are useless gadgets dotted all over a room, from alarm clocks to newspaper reader touch pads. “Does everyone travel with a sleep mask?” asks one frustrated Reddit user. If not, then it’s time for those eyelids to enjoy an EDM nightclub of laser beam activity. I once drifted off and dreamed I was under an operating table. Thankfully, it was just routine lipo.

2 OF 13

Charging Non-Members for Water

I understand the absence of unlimited free water in bargain-basement stays, but when you pay upwards of $300 for a four-star city hotel, filtered drinking water should be a minimum requirement (ideally, with eco-friendly refillable jars, but perhaps I’m reaching for the stars here). Some big chain hotels proudly label their water bottles “complimentary for [insert chain name and loyalty scheme here], $6 for all other guests.” The problem is that a) a bottle of water should not cost $6. And b) it makes their non-member guests feel terrible. We’ve paid just as much—if not more—to stay at the hotel, but clearly we’re only deemed valued guests if we’ve signed up for the newsletter (read: spam).

3 OF 13

‘Sexy’ Glass Bathrooms

Why in the world do boutique hotels have ”sexy” all-glass bathrooms? I’ve stayed at one where you could see absolutely everything, similar to this Tripadvisor user who called it the most stupid design idea he’d ever seen. Let’s not forget some people check into chic little boudoirs with their friends, coworkers, or their mom, and no amount of glass frosting can save anyone from that kind of embarrassment.

4 OF 13

Powdered Edibles

If you don’t know what powdered eggs are, consider yourself lucky. Maybe you never joined the military or used a business hotel executive lounge. I was horrified to find powdered eggs at breakfast within a well-known brand’s “luxury collection.” I recall they also had powdered milk and instant coffee in the room too. Consuming any combination of these, to me (and this TikTok community), is about as appealing as watching the PETA videos of how the animals themselves are farmed. Time to go vegan.

5 OF 13

Dirty Bed Scarves

Designed to keep bed linens clean, the problem with bed scarves is that they’re often dirtier than the shoes or bags they’re trying to shield. Hotels seldom wash them—after all, how many times have you seen (if ever) a bed scarf on a housekeeper’s trolly? “The first thing I do when I get in the hotel room is remove the bedspread and put it in the closet. I don’t want to touch it,” says one Quora user. Bed scarves are basically floor mats on your sheets.

6 OF 13

Long Check Out Lines

Pop quiz: In the 24-hour day, when is a hotel front desk the busiest? You don’t have to be an expert to know it’s 11 a.m. That’s when anyone who didn’t have a red-eye flight is rushing out to avoid a late penalty. Some hotels are oblivious to rush-hour movements, though, and happily leave one poor chump to deal with an entire building’s worth of customers. You’ve had faster service at USPS.

7 OF 13

Modern Hotels Without Smart TVs

While this is acceptable for heritage hotels, I don’t understand how modern hotels, including certain chain brands that pride themselves on being at the cutting edge of technology, can justify their prices and marketing without having a smart TV. “Where do they even find non-smart TVs these days?” asks one customer on Reddit, and more importantly, who watches back-to-back episodes of 90 Day Fiancé: Pillow Talk without seeing the original show first?

8 OF 13

Resort Fees

Resort fees are probably the most hated of all hotel tricks, and the fact that they’re most commonly issued in Las Vegas where its punters are too hungover to notice says it all. You’re presented with a fantastic rate online, but when it comes to check out there are a slew of additional costs that are tacked onto the bill. The resort fee, sometimes called the destination fee, is vague about exactly what it covers. I’ve been told that the extra $50 per night I’m paying goes toward gym and pool access, even if I don’t use them, and even though gyms and pools are common hotel amenities. It’s only a matter of time before they start charging us for bedsheet rental.

9 OF 13

No Kettle In-Room

When I first moved to America and found hotel rooms had no kettle, the staff told me it was because “Americans don’t drink tea.” But over the years, I’ve made many American friends who, on the contrary, love the hot stuff, and, brace yourselves…own working kettles! Add that to the fact that hotels in America host international guests, and I don’t understand why so many forgo the kettle and instead expect us to drip coffee-stained water into our chamomile.

10 OF 13

Five-Star Hotels That Throw Away Soap You’ve Used Once

The waste from a luxury hotel is a whole other article, but a personal gripe I have within five-star stays is the soap. I once stayed at a hotel where housekeeping removed my (once-used) full bar of soap and replaced it with a brand-new bar…twice daily…for three days straight! While I appreciate the sentiment, I can only imagine the bars of soap collected and discarded. Yes, there are soap recycling programs, but surely an easier way to prevent waste would be to let customers keep using their soap.

11 OF 13

Hotels That Oversell Their Pool and Spa

Hotel websites and travel magazines do excellent jobs of showcasing amenities, and at the forefront is always a dreamy (empty) pool. But what you never see is the crowds. Remember, if a hotel has over 1,000 rooms and just one pool, it won’t look anything like the snaps. I was super excited to get the ultimate hot tub selfie at one of the highest pools in Eastern Europe, only to find the entire time that it was packed shoulder-to-shoulder with tourists. The water, therefore, can only be described as a soup of human sweat and other unsavory liquids.

12 OF 13

Mini-Bar Fridges With No Space for Your Perishables

Picture this: new city, old friends, your birthday. You’re given a cake with cream icing that says “Still hot for 40,” and the crew treats you to dinner (doesn’t 40 sound fabulous?). Since there’s no stomach space to eat it then and there, you take your cake back to the hotel. Open the mini bar and what space do you have? Zero. There’s no point moving the cola and risking the sensors automatically charging your card, so the cake and all its fresh creamy goodness will go bad. Now, 40 isn’t the only occasion a traveler finds themselves in possession of a must-refrigerate item, so come on hotels, leave some room, ok?

13 OF 13

Connecting Rooms With Big Gaps Under the Door

Over the years there have been many reports of peeping toms in connecting rooms, so whenever I check into one I’m always conscious of what might be lurking beneath. What I want to know is why in the first place the gaps at the door base are so huge. It’s not like families pass secret slices of pizza between each other (that would be messy). If you want to wander around free as the day you were born, remember to throw a towel down in front of the connecting slot first.

tj1616 January 11, 2024

I'm 5'0 tall. Magnifying mirrors located too high for me to use. I am a short woman, not a 6' tall man. Put them on the sliding bar so they get low enough!
Rooms with poor lighting. If I want to read, it's quite often too dark. Bathroom too dark.
I sleep with a CPAP. I need an outlet next to the bed.
No storage. No hooks for wet coats, nowhere to unpack and put clothes away, especially if there are two of us. NO hooks or towel bars in bathroom. 
Shower doors that open in, hiding the controls so you have to get in or get wet to turn it on to warm up. 

ArleneTravels December 13, 2023

Bathrooms with no place to hang wet towels. Have they never heard of towel racks? Or hooks? Something, anything...

carolknox0220 December 13, 2023

For soap - just hide your used soap in your travel kit and if you get a new one, just bring it home. Don't leave it for the cleaners to throw away!

For rain showers - if you don't like them, use a shower cap. Rain showers are one of my favorite parts of staying in hotels!

For empty room fridges - turm them off.

A bed scarf is a generic term for some sort of covering the bed that does not get laundered. It's often a different color than the bedding.

One of my peeves is room thermostats which are so complilcated, you need an engineering degree to change the room temp. 

maartenalbarda0059 December 13, 2023

The correct list is:
1. Resort fee's
2. AC/heating units in the room that are louder than a car engine 
3. Rooms not dark with curtains closed
4. 11AM check out time
5. Paying for water
6. Built-in fridges that are loud, and run even though they sit empty

Regarding "no kettles in rooms": #verybritishproblems

brentleatherman6686 December 13, 2023

As a lifetime Titanium member of Marriott, I'd sacrifice it all to have LEDs removed from the rooms. Especially the flashing ones on smoke detectors on the ceiling above the bed.