Sheraton Bahrain Hotel
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

The Top 16 Hotel Pet Peeves Amongst Frequent Guests

Despite literally dozens of irritants and annoyances found at hotel and resort properties as expressed by frequent travelers over the years, here is a list of the top 16 hotel pet peeves amongst frequent guests for 2015 — according to the results of a survey released from Frequent Business Traveler magazine in conjunction with input from members of FlyerTalk — along with comments by me:

1. Expensive and/or Slow Internet

The year is 2015, hotel proprietors. Get with the program and offer your guests a reasonable speed of Wi-Fi access to the Internet…

…and if you charge an exorbitant amount of money and still provide inexcusably slow Internet service as a result, you are basically stealing money and should be ashamed of yourselves.

I know that it is expensive to provide Internet service in general; but guess what: if the hotel property down the street offers speedy Internet service for a low price — or better yet, free of charge — guess where I will most likely stay for that night?

Take heart in knowing that while you may not be guaranteed the fastest access to the Internet, lodging chains such as Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt now offer free Wi-Fi access to the Internet to their guests — providing that they qualify to do so.

2. Hard to Reach or Insufficient Electrical Outlets

It is difficult to justify not having enough electrical outlets in a hotel room for a guest who typically travels with several items — such as a laptop computer and a mobile telephone, for example — in an age when room rates seem to be more expensive. I should not have to suddenly become a detective to find that elusive electrical outlet…

…and if I wanted to contort my body in order to plug a device in behind that bed or desk, I would have joined the circus or partook in a yoga class.

Modern hotel rooms with guests in mind will be equipped with plenty of electrical outlets in locations which make sense — such as near a desk; on a desk; or near a night table next to the bed. Even better is if those electrical outlets will accommodate any plug from around the world and not require adaptors — such as at the Aloft Seoul Gangnam hotel property at which I stayed last year.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.
This electrical outlet shown on the right side of the photograph does not need a converter in order for you to use it. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

In other words: keeping guests plugged in is simply good business sense.

3. Poor Room Cleanliness

There is absolutely no excuse for a hotel room which is not clean. For example, bed sheets and towels should not be stained, as was my experience at the AC Hotel Coslada Aeropuerto hotel property in Madrid…

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.
Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.
Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.
Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

…and the toilet should be flushed; and speaking of the toilet, here are the supposed six germ hot spots found in hotel rooms — and the toilet is not an item on that list.

Do you check the sheets before you unpack in a hotel room?

There should be no hairs embedded in the towels — and do not get me started about the cleanliness of glasses in a hotel room.

Hotels employ an entire staff of people solely for housekeeping. It is an inherent expectation that a hotel room be clean and free of pests, such as bed bugs.

4. Cigarette Smoke Odor

If a room is designated as a non-smoking room, then there should be no odor of any smoking product — cigarette, cigar, pipe or otherwise; and I agree with fining guests who violate this policy.

If a smoker is unfortunate enough to find a hotel room where smoking is prohibited, there is always an area outside of the hotel property where smoking can occur. Regardless of the policies of the hotel property, a non-smoker should not be subject to the odor of cigarette smoke — especially those who are allergic or sensitive to it…

…and no, some artificial air freshener sprayed around the room does not successfully mask the odor; but rather exacerbates the problem.

Perhaps a solution is to patronize an all-smoking hotel property, which does exist — as I reported in this article on Saturday, January 3, 2015.

My opinion obviously emanates from the point of view of a non-smoker; but if you are a smoker, please feel free to opine.

5. Climate Control Not Easily Adjustable

Comfort in a hotel room is difficult without proper climate control, as a room whose air is either dry and cold during the winter or hot, humid and stagnant in the summer could easily prevent a guest from ensuring that he or she gets a good night’s sleep — which is the ultimate purpose of a hotel room in the first place.

Whether it is located on the unit itself or on a wall, a thermostat should be easily adjustable for the optimum ideal comfort for the guest. It is especially irritating when the temperature is beyond the control of the guest — such as when turning the air conditioning on at full blast and barely getting a trickle of cooler air.

6. Noise of Any Kind

Whether it is an inconsiderate guest who allows a door to slam when entering or leaving a room or a portion of a ceiling which collapses in a bathroom, noise can significantly inhibit the much-needed sleep of a guest.

A meter was reportedly invented to alert hotel guests if they are too loud. Back in 2012, Premier Inn supposedly attempted to address this issue with noise meters to be installed in the corridors throughout its chain of hotel properties. When hotel guests talk too loudly, a warning sign will flash — similar to the way a camera catches the speed of an oncoming vehicle and flashes the excessive speed limit when the car is going too fast.

There are hotel properties which install proper soundproofing — especially when located near airports — where noise is significantly dampened or eliminated, ensuring a good night’s sleep. In fact, it may be ironic that some — not all, mind you — hotel properties located near airports are actually quieter than those located elsewhere. Soundproofing and less noise is one of the six reasons why I prefer to stay at hotel properties near airports.

Interestingly, I do not mind the hum of a window unit when I am ready to go to sleep — especially when it comes to air conditioning in the summer time. I suppose that was a paradigm on my part growing up in Brooklyn with an air conditioner in the window…

7. Insufficient Water Pressure or Temperature

When it is the middle of winter, I like to take a hot shower; but I can get irritated when the temperature of the water barely reaches lukewarm at best…

…and no one likes to walk around with shampoo deposits in his or her hair because the water pressure was so insufficient that it could not clean the residue of shampoo out of hair.

Add to this item tubs and sinks which do not properly drain — as well as insufficient amenities such as shampoo once you are already in the shower. Would you protest while wet and naked about no shampoo or towels?

8. Unexpected Fees (Including Resort Fees)

The only reason why this is probably not at the top of the list is because thankfully only select resorts around the world have the audacity to charge what amounts to be free and clear profit for a hotel property — but the numbers of those properties seem to be increasing.

You probably already know how adamant I am against mandatory resort fees imposed at certain hotel and resort properties — here is an incomplete list of those properties which you can help me add to it — so I will just list articles which I have written which you can read for additional information and details at your leisure:


9. Pillows Uncomfortable

The pillow is too soft. The pillow is too hard. The pillow is overstuffed. The pillow is as flat as a pancake…

…and there are those pillows which result in bad hair when you wake up — no matter what you attempt to do to prevent it.

I would have to say that it is difficult to come up with a mix of the right pillows, as comfort is subjective. Some people prefer soft pillows. Some people prefer hard pillows. Some people prefer overstuffed pillows. Some people prefer flat pillows.

It does not hurt to call a representative or employee of the staff of the hotel property to ask if a different type of pillow is available that the ones present in your hotel room.

10. Insufficient or Poor Lighting

Insufficient lighting could simply be the result of poor design; or it could be purposefully indicative of the intention to hide anomalies in the room — such as a lack of cleanliness — or it could simply be because management of the hotel property does not want to spend funds on improving the lighting in the room.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.
This dimly-lit room was where I stayed for one night at the Monte Carlo Las Vegas Resort and Casino hotel property in Las Vegas last year. Please click on the photograph for a review of that hotel property. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Unless you intend to drop into the bed and go right to sleep upon entering the hotel room for the first time, it can be dreary if equipped with insufficient lighting — possibly negatively impacting the experience of the overall stay.

11. Drapes That Let In Too Much Light

You certainly do not want that famous bright red neon sign with the missing letter buzzing right outside the window of your hotel room when you are attempting to sleep at night; but to have that happen with curtains which simply will not close or are too thin to block out the light can be quite irritating.

You can carry a fastener of some type — such as a pin or a clip, for example — to help close the gap between curtains; but unless you carry a quilt or duvet with you when you travel, the only option for hotel rooms equipped with substandard curtains and drapes is to request another room which has better curtains or is not exposed to as much light…

…or perhaps find a different hotel property altogether.

12. Alarm Clock Left On or Unintuitive

This is not so much of a problem for me; but I do like to test out an alarm clock the night before to ensure that it will wake me up the next morning.

I prefer the alarm clocks where you can instantly set the hour and minute. The ones where you have to press one button — or worse, two buttons simultaneously — to cycle through the entire day just to reach the current time for which to set the alarm consumes a lot of time and is generally annoying to me…

…and once the alarm clock is tested, I then have to endure the same process getting the time to where I want the alarm clock to wake me up. Worse still is when the changing of the time only goes in one direction and not both ways; so to get from 5:01 to 5:00 can take several minutes; so be careful not the overshoot the desired time on those particular alarm clocks.

As you can imagine, my luck is that the current time when I test the alarm clock and the time at which I want to actually set the alarm clock are at opposite hours of the day.

Ensure that the time you set is indeed AM and not PM or vice versa. That can be an easy mistake to make.

Better yet — if it is loud enough and you have it with you — just use your portable electronic device…

…that is, if you can find an electrical outlet with which to plug it in…

13. Poor Bathroom Design

What are hotel operators thinking when it comes to designing and maintaining hotel rooms?

I have been in rooms where I opened the bathroom door — only for it to hit the sink…

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.
This partial shower partition was found in the bathroom of the hotel room in which I stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott Budapest City Center last year. Please click on the photograph for a review of that hotel property. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

…but what I really cannot understand is the installation of partial partitions for showers — such as the one shown above — which seem to be rather prevalent in the bathrooms of hotel rooms throughout much of Europe. Despite adjusting the shower head to aim towards the wall and as close to the drain as possible, I still manage to leave a wet mess in the bathroom outside of the shower area. This is such a poor design, in my opinion; and I do not understand the purpose of partial shower partitions — other than for some inane aesthetic reason, I suppose.

Some people do not like the separate sink outside of the main bathroom in some hotel rooms. I have mixed feelings about that: it is aesthetically not pleasing; but it sure can be convenient when sharing a room with someone who needs to use the toilet while I am using the sink for purposes of washing or brushing my teeth.

14. Do Not Disturb Sign Ignored

To that member of the housekeeping staff: unless it is to order breakfast, you should know that that indicator — whether it is illuminated on the wall outside the door or a placard hanging from the doorknob — means do not disturb. That means do not enter the room or knock on the door. Go away. leave me alone.

What is the point of having it for the room in the first place if all you are going to do is ignore it?

As for you, here is a tip which seems obvious but not everyone uses it: use the chain or other locking device equipped on the door to prevent the unwanted intrusion of a member of the housekeeping staff from entering the hotel room in which you are staying.

15. Intrusively Bright Indicator Lights

That red light beaming down from the smoke alarm on the ceiling could be used to guide airplanes in to the airport because it is so bright. The same goes for those light-emitting diode lights on the television, the telephone, the alarm clock — it is like a virtual discotheque in your hotel room after all of the lights have been shut off.

You could probably carry some tape and thick pieces of cloth with you to temporarily cover those intrusively bright indicator lights; and you can unplug devices which are equipped with them — but you really should not have to deal with this as a problem in the first place.

Perhaps these intrusively bright indicator lights should be installed in those hotel rooms equipped with insufficient lighting?

16. Complex Room Controls

I can think of other issues with hotel rooms which negatively affect me more than complex room controls. I do like when there is a control panel within arm’s reach of the bed where I can turn on or off any device I like while I am comfortably laying down under the covers.


There are actually dozens of pet peeves pertaining to hotel and resort properties — and I will bet that there are still many which have not even been mentioned in this article.

For me, the best way to deal with them is simply to expect them and cope with them as best as possible. There is not much I can do about the hotel “pet peeves” which might come my way prior to a stay; but I can do what I can to manage my expectations and attempt to have my lodging experience be as pleasant as possible by doing what I can which is within my control.

What pet peeves pertaining to hotel and resort properties are high on your list — and why?

All photographs ©2014 or ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

  1. Great points. I do think a little rearranging is in order, though. Resort fees belong at the very top. Right after that is the DND sign. Nothing spells fun like stepping out of the shower with maid service walking in at that exact moment. It gets a little fuzzier after that, but I’d go with blackout curtains. By nature, travelers come from elsewhere, often a very different time zone. Let them sleep. The showers drive me nuts as well. I encountered my first one in the Radisson Budapest earlier this year, and it was no fun.

    1. I tend to agree with you, Christian; but I simply left it in the order in which participants voted in the survey…

      …and I would not be the least bit surprised if someone posts a comment saying that their top hotel “pet peeve” was not even represented in the list…

  2. This may sound elitist, but hotel alarm clocks do more harm than good. As far as I’m concerned everybody has a cell phone, and the alarm clock only presents the potential to tell the wrong time, or worse, wake you up when you don’t want. Just get rid of them; or if the guests insists on having one, let them call housekeeping to bring one up.

    1. I do not believe you sound elitist, Pat; and I agree with you about using a portable electronic device as an alarm clock. You have your choice of alarm to which you can awaken in the morning; and most people already know how to use them.

      Because I always check the alarm clock the night before to ensure that both the alarm works and that the time is indeed correct, I cannot recall ever having a problem with an alarm clock in hotel rooms — but then again, is it really worth the effort to do so these days?

  3. How about lack of tea/coffee making facilities? It seems that some high-end hotels believe that making a cup of tea is beneath their guests and that they would rather order from room service and wait 30 minutes for the tea to arrive.
    And how about the lack of free bottled water – with the only bottles available being the small expensive versions in the mini bar?

    1. Because I do not drink coffee or tea, Paul Feagan, I do not even think about that — except to wonder why coffee and tea drinkers can get complimentary beverages but juice drinkers like me cannot.

      As for water, I tend to agree with you — except when I am in New York, where I can never get enough of that delicious tap water…

  4. Although it falls under “noise” I think adjoining rooms with connecting doors should be its own category of complaint. There is nothing that has ruined hotel stays for me like the noise coming through the connecting doors. Just regular stuff like conversation, talking on the phone or blow drying hair has sent enough noise through the adjoining doors to wake me up many times.

    1. I have not thought of that; but you are correct, Joseph N.

      I wonder if stuffing a towel into the gap under the door would help reduce the noise…

  5. Great article Brian, I think you read my mind! The easiest ones like #3 are super obvious but as far as #5 is concerned, I might be able to help you.

    I am a Marriott elite so I stay at Marriott properties the most but I have a hack you can use for all “INNCOM” thermostats. There is a VIP setting that allow you to control the temp an additional 5 degrees cooler and 5 degrees warmer. “INNCOM” thermostats are widely used at many properties at many different hotel chains, not just Marriott.

    The way to activate VIP:
    Push and hold down the “Display” button.
    While holding down “Display” tap the “OFF/AUTO” button once, then tap the “UP” button once. Then release the “Display” button. The screen will show the letters VIP. Now you can live in an oven or icebox depending on your preferences. =)

    1. I have been an elite level status member of Marriott Rewards and yet never knew of this trick.

      As always, thank you, Captain Kirk!

      1. You’re welcome! I love to sleep in an icy cold room so this has helped me sleep well countless times!

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