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How to Complain about your Hotel Room

How to Complain about your Hotel Room.We’ve all had a less than satisfactory lodging experience, but do you know how to complain about your hotel room if or when the need arises? Your complaint may lead to a more pleasant hotel stay for the next guest.

I’m not a complainer. I normally won’t say anything, unless someone or something makes me really angry. My husband is the same. We’re not the type of people to check into a $50 a night hotel room and pick it apart, demanding to speak to the manager or leaving nasty reviews on TripAdvisor (though they can be entertaining to read).

Even when I do feel justified in voicing a complaint, nine times out of 10 if the person I speak with acknowledges the issue and attempts to rectify it, I’m okay. Even if the issue is never completely resolved. In most circumstances, good customer service can make a less than ideal situation bearable.

My husband travels for work. There are years that he spends more time in hotel rooms than he does at home. This is one of those years. Since our kids are grown, I often travel with him. He’s primarily working in one area at the moment that means many, many nights in one hotel. So far, he’s stayed in five or six different rooms and of those rooms, he’s had issues with half of them.

The first room didn’t have sufficient hot water. This is a bummer since his work is very physical and after a long day of work, the first and often only thing he feels like doing is relaxing in a bathtub. He didn’t complain to anyone but me, thinking the property just didn’t have hot enough water for guests. After all, we have stayed at properties that could really stand to turn up the temperature on the water heater.

The second stay, he was in a different room. This time he discovered that the property did indeed have hot water but was disappointed to find that the tub had a huge crack and all the water drained out to who knows where. He didn’t complain this time either, thinking that clearly, the hotel was aware that the tub needed repair since the rooms were cleaned properly and surely housekeeping had seen the crack in the tub.

The third stay, the water was hot and the tub didn’t leak but the microwave delivered a shock when turned on. He thought about letting it go but didn’t want to get shocked every time he cooked something to eat. A quick call to the front desk and he had a new microwave in his room that didn’t make his fingers tingle when he turned it on.

This experience made me wonder- do we have an obligation to complain when our room is less than satisfactory?

I certainly don’t want to be the guest who is never satisfied but if I notice something that needs fixed- something big, like a tub that won’t hold water and don’t bring it to someone’s attention than likely I won’t enjoy my stay and neither will the next guest.

So how to you complain about your hotel room?

Here are a couple pointers from someone who’s been on the receiving end.

1. Determine if you have a legitimate complaint.

Can the situation be taken care of by the hotel? Is this an issue that the hotel has control of? Before you complain because your room wasn’t cleaned, make sure you didn’t have the Do Not Disturb sign on your door all day.

2. Remember, the person you complain to is a real person. 

Whether you complain on the phone or in person, be courteous. As a former front desk employee, I was much more likely to WANT to help someone who was nice to me and didn’t begin their rant with curse words.

3.  Know what you want.

Were you overcharged for your room and it was the hotel properties fault? You can reasonably expect them to refund the charges and pay any additional fees that may have occurred as a result. Demanding an entirely free week stay due to an honest mistake probably isn’t justified.

4. Complain about the issue as soon as possible after it occurs.

This goes along with my point in #5. Don’t complain and think you’re entitled to a discount or comped stay if you’ve not given the property an opportunity to make things right.

5. Give the property a chance to correct the situation before you go over their heads.

If you have spoken to the front desk representative and feel that your complaint was not resolved, ask to speak to a supervisor. If you’ve gone all the way to the General Manager and still have an issue, you can call the corporate office of a chain hotel for closure. Unless it was an extreme situation, I wouldn’t start with corporate.

So when you encounter a room that needs attention or experience a stay worth complaining about, how do you handle it?     

Billy J Thompson

Tuesday 30th of July 2019

My Girlfriend was hurt at inn at pasatiempo by a cheap hair catcher in the drain. It had fallen out of place and turned upside down as she was shampooing her hair. The front desk girl was responsive and nice, but from then on seemed cold and disconnected. Their was no call from the manager, I asked for an incident report to several staff members and asked for a manager to be turned away,. They simply stated they were not their yet. I was assured I would receive a call back, still no call nor email in regards to this issue. The reason she was in the shower, was due to a sewage smell coming from around the pool. Worst stay ever, and at 200 a night.

Tonya Prater

Sunday 15th of September 2019

I'm sorry to hear that you had a bad experience. Was this a national chain where you could reach out to someone higher up?


Saturday 1st of August 2015

I booked a suite when I took my kids out of town for a function. When I arrived late at night, they tried to put us in a room that did not have room for all of us. Fortunately, I had printed out my reservation. They took me to my non-smoking room where the entire place smelled of smoke. They then moved us to a room that matched my reservation. By this time it was extremely late, so we went straight to bed. In the morning I found wallpaper peeling off a moldy wall in one room, dried wads of tissue or toilet paper on some of the walls near the bathroom, feminine products under the bed, and mold in the bathroom. As I was leaving, I quietly mentioned to the staff that they might want to check the room, make repairs, and make sure it was cleaned properly before renting it out. I suggested that that may have been why the room did not show up as available on the front desk screen when we arrived. I told them we were fine, but they insisted on comping the room. They were completely unaware that there were any problems with the room. I think sometimes they are just rushing through so many rooms each day that things get overlooked unless someone mentions problems. The maids probably get into a routine and don't check everything thoroughly every time. Some places have a form on the desk that they ask you to fill out if there is anything that needs attention.


Saturday 8th of August 2015

Thanks for sharing, Allison. Your story is why it's so important to talk to the hotel staff before you begin to blast them on social media. It takes a large team to run a hotel property smoothly and sometimes the person at the front desk (I've been there) has no idea there is an issue with the room.

Jessica Lippe

Monday 11th of May 2015

One thing that I also believe is very important about making a complaint: Find a balance! There are plenty of people who make sure that their complaint is heard, and regardless of whether or not those complaints are warranted, it's all too rare that people compliment places with exceptional service. On a recent trip, I had to complain about an attraction. (You can find out about it in my blog post titled "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly: The Desert". And yes, I talked to the staff while there and afterward even tried to message the organization before sharing the experience on my blog!) But while the staff at the attraction didn't handle that experience very well, we WERE treated wonderfully at the hotel we stayed at. While one attraction did bring a sour note to the entire trip, that doesn't mean I should forget the great service and amenities the hotel provided. And unlike complaints, in the case of compliments, feel free to go over their heads! We told them in person, posted on their corporate Facebook page, filled out a stellar booking review, and mentioned them in my blog!


Friday 22nd of May 2015

I agree, balance is so important. I'm always generous when attractions, hotels, restaurants go above and beyond. If I have a positive experience, I'm much more apt to share that experience with others because I want them to go to! Good point, Jessica.

Michele {Malaysian Meanders}

Tuesday 5th of May 2015

I've been lucky so far and have mostly had satisfactory if not fantastic hotel rooms. Part of this might be the hours I spend scouring TripAdvisor before I book a room. That's one of the reasons why I can't make myself one of those spur-of-the-moment, find-something-after-I-arrive types of travelers. The few times I've had problems, I've told the front desk in hopes that it would be fixed quickly. However, there was one place that pushed me over the edge to leave an awful review on TripAdvisor. I was almost ready to forgive them for the mosquitoes in the room and never fixing hot water problem the entire week we were there until they refused to close out my bill while the housekeeper checked the room. They accused me of taking towels. I stomped right back up to my room and counted them all out with the housekeeper to show her that they were all there. Protection Status
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