Hotel Etiquette: Be a Good Guest

by  Trish Friesen | Sep 27, 2012
 Hotel L’Antoine
Hotel L’Antoine / Photo courtesy of the property

Following our recent flight etiquette post which drew an overflowing baggage carousel of comments, we thought we’d keep class in session, turning our attention to hotels. When I stay at a hotel, I try to be on my best behavior – even when I'm on vacation and I need to let my guard down. However, my holiday shouldn't ruin someone else's. Because we can't all vacation on private islands like Richard Branson, checking into a hotel is a good reminder to check in with our social graces. Here's a few hotel guest etiquette reminders I've assembled staying in hotels 30% of the year:

Common Areas

  • Whether you're in the hotel common areas or the privacy of your room, you’re not an island. If that’s what you want to be, rent a vacation home or set sail on a private yacht, otherwise, be courteous of others minding your volume, cell phone use, and manners.
  • Hotel quiet hours typically run from 10pm to 8am. Whisper when walking through the hotel at night – especially in the hallways flanked by guest rooms.
  • Bathing suits and bare feet look chic at the pool or beach. Slip on sandals and a conservative cover-up to saunter around the hotel. While we're on the topic, don't wear your robe through the hotel lobby to the spa or pool. You and your terry cloth should find an alternate route.
  • Smokers, including cigar aficionados, should use the designated smoking areas and refrain from lighting up near others.
  • Keep children under control in common areas – especially the lobby, hallways, elevator and pool. Rowdy games of tag should be left for the park or backyard.


  • If your hotel includes a complimentary breakfast buffet, do not fill an extra plate for lunch and take it back to your room, or worse, slip four pastries into your purse.
  • Coolers are for camping and road trips. If you must bring in outside food, do so discretely and use the fridge or ice bucket provided.

In the Room

  • First things first, let’s start with the hotel room door. Because of fire regulations, doors can be extra heavy and slam shut. If you have a late-night or early-bird start, walk your door shut so you don’t act as the rooster announcing it’s time to wake.
  • Before you unpack and get settled, make sure your room in satisfactory. Asking to move because you’d like another view after you’ve unpacked is a lot of work for everyone.
  • If you call for extra shampoo or an iron, don’t answer the door in a towel. That’s just awkward for everyone.
  • Bring earplugs. Depending on the age or construction of the hotel, some properties have better soundproofing than others, so expect a small amount of noise. If you’re a light sleeper like me, bring earplugs for a peaceful rest.
  • Late-night television fans: keep Jimmy Fallon's volume in mind. I’ve followed my hotel room neighbor's entire television program at 1am. As much as I love Jimmy, not cool.
  • Do yourself and your housekeeper a favor; put valuables in the safe. This way, there’s zero question of blame if something is misplaced. Insider Tip: lock the left foot of your favorite pair of shoes inside the safe as a reminder to retrieve your items before you leave.
  • It's not posh to sneak additional hotel guests into the room. Plus, who wants to cram four people into a small space with two double beds?
  • Respect thy housekeeper. Cleaning other people’s messes all day is a hard job, and leaving the room in disarray makes it worse. Keeping things tidy means the cleaning staff can quickly and easily sanitize the space. When I check out, I drape all my towels and wash cloths over the bathtub, put the items I moved (like hotel welcome books and remote controls) back into place, and throw the sheets over the bed so my room doesn’t look like a tornado swirled through.
  • Finally, hotel employees are not your personal butlers – if that's what you want, try vacationing at a Sandals Resort. Clapping is only for sing-a-longs.


This is a topic unto itself, but as a quick refresher, tipping at hotels is a generally accepted practice in North America. I’m in the ‘though shalt tip’ camp, though I travel light and opt out of daily housekeeping, which saves everyone time and money. For porters, allow $1 per bag, for housekeeping staff allow between $3 and $6 per cleaning, and if the concierge is very helpful during your stay, consider a tip.

What would you add or subtract from this list?

Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on hotels, flights, packages, and more travel deals.

Find The Best Cruises
Find a cruise

Find the best deals!

Click on multiple sites to get the lowest prices

Click on multiple sites to get the lowest prices