5 key questions to ask at hotel check in

Checking in at the mod new Homewood Suites in downtown Denver (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Checking in at the mod new Homewood Suites in downtown Denver (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Here are five questions every smart traveler should ask when checking in a hotel:

1) What’s the location of this room?

When you ask about the specific location of the room, the clerk becomes personally involved in your room choice—and does not leave it up to whatever the hotel reservations system has assigned you. Depending on your specific situation, you may want to ask for a room away from the elevator bank, ice machine or maintenance/housekeeping closet for peace and quiet. You may want a room that does not get direct morning or afternoon sun. You may want a high floor for the view or a low floor for safety. It’s up to you but best to always ask for something specific.

2) Does this room have a connecting door?

There’s not much worse than a noisy hotel neighbor, especially when the sound can be heard from under the door to the connecting room. I’ve been roused from precious slumber by loud snorers, screaming babies, eerie prayer chants, and worst of all, loud TVs that neighbors leave on ALL. NIGHT. LONG. Good grief. Avoid all that by requesting a room without a connecting door when you check in. (Did you know that there’s a difference between “connecting” and “adjoining” rooms?)

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3) When was this room renovated? Is it in the new part or floor?

Hotels rarely shut down completely for renovations. Instead, they renovate one floor at a time. Your question here should be two-pronged: 1) May I please have a room on a renovated floor? And 2) Should I be concerned about any renovation noise coming from above or below this room?

An ADA compliant bathroom at the Hilton Westchester (Photo: Hilton)

An ADA compliant bathroom at the Hilton Westchester (Photo: Hilton)

4) Is this an ADA compliant room?

Even though I do not have any physical disabilities, I always seem to be the guy who gets one of the hotel’s ADA compliant rooms. For some reason, hotel clerks won’t tell you this at check in, so you won’t know until you get to the room. You’ll know you have an ADA room when you see two peepholes in the door, the big wide door to the bathroom, metal grab bars around the toilet and the roll-in shower area. The hooks in the ceiling, the paddle-style sink hardware, the unusual closet layout. If I’m just there for the night, I’ll usually take it…and enjoy the extra space. But for longer stays, I’ll ask for another room.

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5) Do you have my correct loyalty program info?

I’m surprised how often I have to follow up on hotel loyalty credits because the person who booked my trip neglected to include the proper loyalty program numbers on the reservation. It’s a lot easier to get the points when checking in than trying to claim them after you’ve checked out. So double check.

Did I miss any? Please leave the question YOU ask below… or comment on mine! 

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  • http://www.travelskills.com/ Chris McGinnis

    Thanks for your comments, Adam. But have you been to a Catholic church lately? Go and you’ll hear some chanting! Hopefully, you won’t have to listen to it coming from the room next door. — chris

  • Adam

    What exactly do you mean by “eerie” prayer chants? What does the “eerie” add to your statement? It makes it sound like you are disturbed by people practising their religion, rather than any noise. Given that Christians don’t tend to chant, your comment also risks coming across as hostile to minority religions.

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  • http://www.travelskills.com/ Chris McGinnis

    Hey Carol! I’m LMAO thinking of you battling the shower head. I’ve had the exact same experience (minus the long hair) with the shower head making a slow descent to my belly button. Thanks for sharing! — chris

  • smartwomentrav

    I’ve been given ADA rooms lately and walked back to the Front Desk to ask if they needed these rooms for someone who really needed them room. Both time I was told that these ADA rooms were all that were left (even though I checked in between 5 and 6pm with Diamond/Platinum status). And both times, I lost the battle with the hand-held shower head. The head wouldn’t stay at the top of the pipe and kept sliding down. I’m 5’7″ with long hair so washing with a hand-held shower head isn’t easy. I’d try to hold them up by tying a hotel drying cleaning back around the head as a makeshift ‘twist-tie’; then report the issue for a maintenance fix. So while I’ll take an ADA room if that’s all that’s available, I don’t want to deprive someone who really needs such a room (most importantly), nor do I want a shower-head battle in the wee hours of the morning.

    And to your point of checking that your loyalty program info is correct – definitely check this especially with loyalty programs you may not use as often as others. I missed a lot of points due to several stays not credited to my account for a European chain even though I gave the number to my travel booker.

  • Geo Kat

    .. and that question will get the response “yes, it’s the best available (that we’re offering to you)”. Now, if you asked if there were any discounts that you qualified for, that question might get you a different response.

  • cmcguinness

    I’m sorry, but you are so very wrong.

    I’m a nice guy, and I’m not out to make your life unpleasant at all, but a good night’s sleep is the difference between my being effective in my job or not. Avoiding connecting doors, ice machines, or being up against the elevator are important things. Help me out, and I’ll be a loyal customer.

    I do understand bad room selection if the house is full and I’m coming in late. That happens. But if you do stick me in a horrible room because of your personal pique, I will do my best to express my displeasure publicly — and privately in those nice survey emails. There’s always another level on Trip Advisor to obtain!

  • dan

    I work at the front desk. if you asked me all these questions, I would think you are an asshole and give you a horrible room. Be nice, don’t be a jerk, and ask 1 of these questions. All 5 make you look stupid

  • joaneisenstodt

    And I _want_ to be near the elevators b/c of some difficulty walking .. and what some front desk personnel think is ‘near’ depends on their age and ability!

    Re ADA rooms: they are to be, _by law_ in the revisions to the ADA, the last rooms sold. Alas, many hotel staff are not fully informed.

    Ask too if the room is scented or unscented, is allergy-friendly (that is, has no feathers or scents), and if it’s near an ice machine. About that connecting door – or other sounds: I travel w/ a small ‘white noise’ device (and have one on my iphone) that make a huge difference if there is noise nearby.

    Location overlooking .. what?? Trash? City street? Rooftop? Pool? Consider the issues and when you book, at least ask for what you need.

  • http://www.travelskills.com/ Chris McGinnis

    Smart momma! :) –chris

  • NeutralNovice

    It may seem a bit cheap but Vegas tends to be a different animal when it comes to hotels, IMO. After the economy went belly up, I think Vegas suffered pretty badly. Couple that with the legalization of casinos in several states (be it Indian Reservation or otherwise), I feel the vacancy rates are pretty high.

    Consider me, for example. I am what I would call a low to medium roller gambler. I get spectacular offers from the likes of Cosmopolitan, Wynn, and Bellagio! Me “tipping” the front desk to get a better room just better serves me instead of having to talk to my casino host after my stay to see if my play “qualified” me to be comped for the upgraded room (if I paid upfront).

    I mean, I don’t know if being a gambler has anything to do with it–since I’m all but guaranteed to be spending money at their joint, but as my momma says, “It never hurts to ask.”

  • Haggie

    I always just ask simply “are their upgrades available” because sometimes, the paid upgrades are worth it. Plus, asking for “complimentary upgrades” says “this guy is cheap” to the desk clerk which will almost always get a “no”.

    I want to know about ALL the upgrades and then start negotiating.

  • http://www.travelskills.com/ Chris McGinnis

    Thanks for your insight from the other side of the counter! — chris

  • http://www.travelskills.com/ Chris McGinnis

    Sometimes the ADA rooms are okay and well designed. But other times, they feel sort of hospital-like. At least that’s been my experience. Thanks for your tips! I’ll have to try the $20 sandwich :) — chris

  • http://www.travelskills.com/ Chris McGinnis

    Thanks for your comments, Scott. Let’s refrain from name-calling on TravelSkills if you don’t mind. –chris

  • http://www.travelskills.com/ Chris McGinnis

    Thanks, Kent. You are right, no one requests an ADA room… they are usually just assigned to you. Unless of course, if you are disabled, and in that case, they are great! — chris

  • Kent C

    What a dumbass, “special amenities”, yea right. Guests including the writer get put into these rooms BY the hotels. I’m sure you can figure out why. Non-disabled guests don’t request disabled rooms. Wife and I on our honeymoon at MGM Signature in Vegas. They knew it was our honeymoon yet put is in a handicapped room and refused to move us. Don’t think for a moment a handicapped room is more desireable, particularly for a couple. A lot of these rooms look clinical (hospital like) and the bathrooms are inconvenient, stall to the floor, no bathtub, sinks not at a typical height, bars everywhere. The hotels would rather put you in a disabled room than upgrade you to a suite. Trust me, they could care less unless you are Diamond, etc.

    For a disabled person, the rooms are fantastic and I’m happy hotels have them for the disabled. I really don’t think there are many “douchebags” as you put it, enjoying these rooms on purpose.

  • John

    I try to remember to ask if the room is near the elevators (loud chimes at all hours!) or an ice machine. These noises can ruin an otherwise pleasant stay.

  • Scott

    What kind of asshole takes a room with special amenities for the disabled, when does not require them? I wonder how many times a disabled person who really needs them has had to do without while this douchebag “enjoys the extra room”.

  • NeutralNovice

    If you’re in Vegas, make sure to ask if there are any “complimentary” upgrades available and sandwich a $20 in between your Credit Card and Photo ID. For the most part, in my experience, I’ve gotten a few really nice rooms using this method! If there aren’t any available, they will simply give back that $20 as if it just fell out.

    Chirs: Quick question–what in particular do you find unattractive about a longer stay in an ADA-compliant room? Personally, I sometimes prefer them because of the handheld showerhead but would like to know if there are any caveats to having an ADA room.

  • phil

    I was always told to ask if the rate I was paying was the best rate available.

  • Douglas

    If you approached me and asked how much would it cost me, I would say, let’s talk! If only that was the approach most would take, it goes much further!

  • Douglas

    Exceptional point! Is it on a cc or direct bill, etc. Also, check the rate on check-in instead of a quick glance over. Don’t assume breakfast is (or isn’t) included, can never hurt to ask.

  • Douglas

    I started as bellman and worked through all area of Ops including front desk. Some of these questions are things you can ask but with a hotel of any higher occupancy and inventory they run tough.

    Guests are given the option to requests things at time of booking (or check-in) and confirm things. Granted bedding can always be a nightmare, a connecting door, High Floor (unconfirmed/specific room type), etc are just all that a request. Even a room being renovated could be a specific room type with a different rate attached, thus isn’t applicable. Connecting rooms attached to a smoker can be the worst, knowing if on a smoking floor and connecting especially if non smoker is key for me.

    I appreciate articles on educating the consumers but the mindset still persists that these are things every “smart” traveler should do… One piece of advice I do think you called out which is the key is to ask, what impact any renovation occurring will occur.

    I had a dime for, “any chance you could go ahead and give me an upgrade, I won’t complain”… and with a reply of, sure it would be $X more… “Oh, I was just asking, can I have that for free”… I would have retired a decade ago. Consumers need to move away from the word “comp” because it can be attributed to people working the system to get things for free regularly, not just at hotels.

    I am surprised how many hotels have hard wired internet (which I prefer) over wifi (usually hit or miss).

    The one thing you didn’t that I sum up with, be reasonable. You may get the ADA room on a low floor that has not been renovated. Whether or not full or not, it happens. If you are a smart traveler, you should inquire if the hotel is under going renovation before you walk in the door and see scaffolding and hear hammers. At that point you are at the mercy of market demand rates that can be much higher if you elect to cancel and move elsewhere.

    Advice #1 – All about attitude in any industry any time. My opt ups on planes, upgrades at hotels, 99.9% was attitude and interaction. Even if they are perceived in a bad mood, don’t let that spoil your day and you would be surprised how engaging a person can be by turning people day’s around. It may not be that second but when they see you that next time on the plane or walking by. When was the last time you used a front desk (or flight attendants) name? I can list off the name of each f/a from my last 3 months because engaging them makes the experience that much better.

  • Bruce “Grumpy” R

    This might be a little more specialized but verify payment type. I have multiple customers travel on company accounts that don’t seem to notice the room charges until several days or weeks after the trip. Much more difficult to get the billing corrected after check-out than during the stay!

  • http://www.travelskills.com/ Chris McGinnis

    Good one! I would probably ask “How much would it cost me to upgrade to a suite?” And smile. And wait. It might be cheaper than you think. Or free :) — chris

  • Jd

    Are there any uogrades available?!?