Putting out all that extra dough to get a five-star hotel experience is something most of us can’t afford to do. But is it even worth it? These hotel workers spilled the secrets that all guests need to know about what happens behind the scenes—and in some cases, right in front of the customers' noses.
This company used to send interns for training at our hotel. Not that crazy, right? Well, it made me uncomfortable—for one seriously disturbing reason. If the company’s founder was in town, he would always try to get keys to one of the girl's rooms. He would say it’s because "they're really my rooms." No, sir. Absolutely not. He tried every time.
We would have to staff an additional night audit to be stationed on the group floor all night because the GM was afraid somebody would eventually be worn down or scared into complying. Long story short: Don't go on trips for your internships my guys.
A dear friend of mine works for a small luxurious hotel in London. He told me that the concierge system there is absolutely absurd. At the hotel, money buys everything. Anything the clients want, the clients get. The staff are told never to say no. In the worst case, they can say, "I don't think this is really appropriate."
Obviously, it’s mostly illicit substances and escorts that are the classics. My friend showed me his phone: he had 20 phone numbers of dealers in it. He uses the numbers to be able to get whatever the customers want—literally anything. My friend’s quite smart though: He never buys for the guest, he only gets people in contact.
But those shady tasks are just the beginning. For these, my buddy goes through professional concierges who charge A LOT. You want a new Prada dress at 2 AM for the party you are about to attend? Sure thing, let's wake a few people up, charge triple the price, and split the benefit between people involved. Have a good night madam.
You want tickets for the Wimbledon final that takes place tomorrow? You have £20k? Enjoy the game, sir. But in some cases, the clients go way too far. Like when a couple of clients came back after a night out and asked my friend to do it with the wife while the husband was watching and filming. That’s when he felt like it was a good time to say "I don't think this is really appropriate".
The concierge at the hotel I worked at was Les Clefs D'or and had all the connections. This dude could get you into the French Laundry restaurant on the same day. He would often greet guests with sangria and sprigs of mint from his garden. Sometimes he had lemon slices from his tree too! He loved to tell guests all about his garden and they ate it up. But there was something they didn’t know.
Yeah, that was all lies. Mint, lemon, and any other garnish we got from the local grocery store. The sangria? Cheapest boxed stuff we could find. But he sold the story like no other. At the end of the day, it worked.
I was working at a high-end ski resort that had a hotel dog (think Alpine dog that people can pet, kids can get woken up by him in the morning, he plays on the ski slopes, etc). My buddy and I worked during the ski day and cleaned up into the evening so it was just him and I finishing up in our department at the time. Our job site was right near the dog’s kennel.
One day we both saw that the dog was about to escape and we could have stopped it…but we just wanted to watch the world burn. Well, he escaped his pen, made straight for the high-end restaurant, and went hog wild. He jumped on a few tables and scarfed $100 steaks like they were M&Ms. It was the greatest day of work there by far.
Some Middle Eastern royalty booked an entire floor for a month. The staff spent weeks preparing for every detail of the visit. The entire floor was rearranged to accommodate children, nannies, and even private dining quarters for men and women. A private chef was brought in. The group left after one week (on a private 747, no less). The reason why was deranged.
They fled because it was too cold. In Chicago. In November.
I previously worked in room service at a historic downtown hotel in a metropolitan city. During my time there, the general manager announced his retirement and the corporate overlords sent in an interim general manager from out of state. Since he didn’t own a home here, they allowed him and his wife to stay in the hotel under the premise that he would shortly take over the role and purchase a home.
His wife was either retired or out of work for his opportunity, so she spent a lot of time in the hotel—mainly at the bar. She would run up a large tab and stumble to bed several nights a week. But then it escalated. On more than one occasion she was found, by staff outside of their room, butt naked. One time, she was headed toward the lobby with no top on.
It became such a problem and embarrassment for the GM that they moved from the hotel earlier than planned. So I guess in this case the management didn’t want people to know about his wife.
I worked at a Ritz Carlton a few years back. In spite of it being a fancy hotel, it's literally the same as anywhere else. The hotel staff is amazing at their job, but on their personal time they're just as messed up as everyone else. The kitchen staff had a few folks with substance misuse issues and had to be sent home a couple of times because of it.
In my short time working there I saw two waiters get fired. Both due to embezzlement. The managers were always leaving because the hotel didn't pay enough for them to even be able to afford to live in the area. Of course there were perks to working there. For one thing, the staff parties were pretty WILD to say the least.
We weren't allowed to greet celebrities by name, since they wanted to be anonymous, so we would use their alias that day. Some of us best guests were “escorts" who were always super nice to everyone. A regular would rent out a room for a day, once a month, and make 30-40k that day from clients. Celebrities, business guys, you name it. Crazy.
Please, I beg you. Never ever ever use a chocolate fountain from a hotel or banquet hall. Here’s a picture: it’s an expensive Sunday brunch at a five-star hotel. Well, here's little Timmy who’s just double-fisted strawberries directly into that chocolate, bit into both strawberries then triple dipped into the chocolate AGAIN!
And some old rich lady just sneezed on it. And somebody else just dropped their snack into it. Oh, but the most disgusting part is so much worse. That very same chocolate gets strained and saved for the next week's brunch. Chocolate is waaay too expensive to throw away. Chocolate also does this thing where it’ll seize if it has the wrong moisture content—usually from people dipping fruit, and the juices going into the chocolate.
So when chocolate gets so thick it won’t run through the machine, wanna know how they fix that? They add canola oil until it’s smooth again. So, yeah, next time you’re at a wedding and they have a chocolate fountain, think of this post. Think of this post when you dip into that dirty watered down with oil chocolate.
I don’t think most people know what hotels do about bed bugs. Hotels have a protocol for dealing with a bedbug infestation, because it can destroy the hotel’s reputation and even bankrupt the company. Bad news travels fast. So if it gets out it's incredibly bad for years. Because of this, the protocol for getting rid of them is insanely intense.
So they go scorched earth on the room. Steam cleaning, massive chemical cleaning, bagging everything up etc. Cleaning companies come in too. They take it as seriously as anything else bad that can happen. It's a terrible issue PR-wise.
I worked in five star hotels in Beverly Hills. Boy, do I have stories: A sheikh picks up an escort in the bar, takes her to his room. She roofies him and steals tens of thousands of dollars of cash, watches and valuables. Also, husbands who will say hello to staff with their mistress on their arm on Thursday night, and their wife on Friday night.
A famous teen celebrity left a room full of needles and various paraphernalia behind for housekeeping to clean up. A Middle Eastern royalty ships in multiple Ferraris and Lamborghinis to the hotel from their home country to drive for the week; later that night he’s caught drag racing in the neighborhood of Beverly Hills.
The largest checkout bill I’ve ever seen was roughly $2 million for a guest who rented out an entire floor of suites for three weeks, promptly paid via wire transfer. I had to procure $100k cash for a guest whose wife wanted to shop on Rodeo Drive the next morning. The local bank doesn’t even have that much. I had to get an armored car from the central LA bank branch to deliver.
The list goes on.
If I were you, I would never trust the water glasses in hotel rooms—even five star hotel rooms. Guest room attendants are so stretched thin on time these days. There’s no time to go get a clean glass for every room. So, they’ll clean the glasses with the same rags they clean the bathroom. After all, their goal is to make the room look clean.
I worked as a Guest Room Attendant in a five-diamond hotel for years and there was over a year period that went by where we didn’t get a clean glass delivery. We didn’t have dishwashers in the room, so management was complicit. This was in a five-diamond, one of the top resorts in the world. Never trust glass in hotel rooms.
The escort thing was something I saw a lot at the desk. The best one was when the gentlemen got robbed by two young ladies and immediately demanded the front desk call the authorities. The attendant knew exactly what to do. He asked if he really wanted to call in and tell officers that he hired two escorts. The guest suddenly just grunted and marched up to his room.
I’m an Australian and was working in the United States for a while in this very fancy five-star resort—front line position working holiday. What management really didn’t want you to know is how little they paid us. At home, I could survive on our Australian minimum wage—but had no chance in the US of surviving on theirs. That’s not even the worst part.
We weren’t allowed to accept tips at this particular company. There’s a reason for high turnover in hospitality I guess.
As someone who works in customer service on Cape Cod, let me tell you: the worst guests are New Yorkers. They are the worst type of people to deal with. In general, they're entitled, rude, snobbish and always in a hurry. The whole world isn't like New York City, guys. Relax. Most of the time upstaters are nice and polite and just like Western Massachusetts people.
I've met a few celebrities and athletes in the past while working in a hotel. The ones I met always used fake names, plus their room was actually reserved and paid for by their assistants so their name never showed on paperwork. However, since they were listed as staying in the room, their name was added to the card, and that's where the fake name comes in. But there’s one I’ll never forget.
The late author Tom Clancy, always used the name of his lead character, Jack Ryan, when getting a room.
I was working at a five-star hotel in maintenance and a surgeon complained at the front desk that the microwave in his room wasn’t working. I went up to check on it and he showed me how it wouldn’t turn on. He opened the door, put his coffee in, set the time and hit go. “See,” he said. “Nothing.” The guy hadn’t shut the door.
They obviously work long days but jeez, have you never used a microwave before?
I have worked at two hotels that are rated by Forbes (formerly Mobil) and randomly and frequently “inspected” by secret inspectors. There is a very specific checklist of things the hotel and restaurants must do or offer in order to keep their rating. We always had to be suspicious of any single diners because they could possibly be inspectors.
So you could be a regular Joe Schmoe, but if you are dining alone you are going to get the five-star treatment. Once we had a particular woman staying at the hotel and somehow management figured out and confirmed she was an inspector. They literally took security cam stills and printed them out to give to all employees so we would know who she was. I still remember her name to this day.
My husband worked at several luxury hotels and residences—where rich people live at the hotels—and, besides how absolutely disgusting everything inside the rooms actually is, I was most shocked by the behavior of the ultra-rich. I’m not talking about businessmen and doctors. I’m talking Saudi princes and heirs to dynasty families.
The level of comfort and technology these people have come to expect is something we cannot imagine. “What do you mean there isn't access to intercoms next to the bathroom? What about when I need services while going potty?” “The television inside the shower is only a 40-incher and there is no gold in this room. I need a better suite.”
“I’m gonna need you to go out, buy me better bedding, remake my bed, and then do it again tomorrow because I won’t sleep on the same bedding twice.” And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
One of the five-star restaurants I worked at—in a five-star hotel—would frequently be closed for private events. There was usually a contract written beforehand stating the group must spend a minimum amount of money. We got automatic gratuity on whatever that minimum was but the goal was to go over so we would make more money. Sneaky, I know.
The people at the events usually didn’t know these details—they weren’t the ones paying—and toward the end of the night if they hadn’t reached the minimum we would start pouring the most expensive vino and liquors to meet the goal. Who wants a few rounds of MacAllan 25 doubles, etc. And people still tipped cash on the open bars, so it was easy to walk away with $500 a night in tips after those parties.
It was the easiest money I ever made.
The worst things I’ve seen at work I’ve seen are corporate intern events where the kids would get plied with drinks. Infuriating. We had one company annually bring 80 interns as part of a site visit tour, and it was a nightmare. I was sure someone would die every year. One year there were three hospitalizations though, and one of the boys sent the hospital bill to the hotel.
To be clear, the entire food and beverage team knew about the event and were very vigilant about refusing service. We were not involved or liable in his medical issue. The audacity. Particularly because he and all of his intern colleagues trashed everything. We had to prepare the lobby by removing sculptures and porcelain plant pots.
One year we started removing a kind of sharp-cornered bookcase because too many wasted interns had hurt themselves on it. There were bodily fluids everywhere and linens destroyed beyond continued use. Plumbing broke daily. There was always smoke damage in some rooms. But all the adults were useless, of course. And all adults were culpable in providing drinks to the underage people.
The company accepted the bill for the damage every year, and always came back. And we would add literally everything we could. We would tack on weeks’ worth of room nights onto their bill because we had to keep dozens of rooms out of service while damage was repaired. The company paid for everything, and we comped for complaining guests too.
They also paid for anything we had to replace, and they were so used to the damage fees we would just throw things in there sometimes. Like a treadmill finally broke during their residence. But did one of their guests break it? Don't know, didn't care, they bought us a new treadmill. The craziest part? We were just one of three hotels on this annual tour.
I once worked for a hotel booking sort of call-in center company that was often used for five-star hotels reservations. Singer AJ McLean booked once under his name, and I also personally booked the hilarious actors Andrea Martin and Bonnie Hunt on separate occasions, both under their own names. The best, though, was when Shaq booked the Ritz for himself once, under his own name.
The call was hilarious, we all listened to the recording. "OK, can I get a first name for the booking?" "Shaquille." "Oh, you're in good company! And the last name?" "O'Neal." "OK Mr. O-... Sh... Shaq?"
I worked night audit at a fancy hotel for awhile. A woman came to me, and told me she’d been assaulted by a guest. Of course, I called the authorities right away. They arrived and the dude got rousted from bed at 3 am to come to the lobby and talk to the officers. But there was something we didn’t know. She was an escort. The whole time she’s yelling at him.
The officers are trying to explain to the guy that his options are paying her or going to prison for. Meanwhile, I’m trying to use my best customer service skills to keep everyone quiet and gently hint to the dude where the ATM is. The best part was, this was night one of a week-long stay, so I got to see him every day after that.
In all my years working in the hotel industry, you know what I never saw happen? Maids stealing your stuff. Everyone always points at the maids when they lose stuff but we always—100 percent—find it. There’s no way the maids are risking their jobs over your used iPad or mall jewelry. With tips, they make pretty decent money.
At the hotel where I worked, we legit had someone once break into the archive room and scoff everyone’s credit card details. Nobody noticed until like a month later. It was a real mess. I’ve had to deal with people throwing furniture off balconies and onto other guests' cars. Sadly, a lot of DV incidents. Hospitalizations. People taking their own lives.
We once had undercover detectives looking at CCTV for high end criminals. You name it. And don’t even get me started on how ‘clean’ those rooms are. Your $1,000/night does not reflect those standards. They still wash those teacups in the bathroom sink or the bathtub.
What most people don’t know—and the management doesn’t want you to know—is what goes on in the room next to you. This week we had to evict, and have taken away, a couple for causing over $15K in damages to a room. The calling of the authorities, the handcuffing, and everything else was all done quietly late at night and the nearby rooms never heard a thing.
When it comes to five star hotels, one thing people don’t get is the scale. Like how much effort goes into making your stay up to a certain standard. Management wants things to be automatic for you. A person there when you need them and every item you could need, before you need it. But the scale of that is purposefully hidden.
For example, you see your housekeeper. You might see that there are five other housekeepers on that floor, a houseman per floor and a special request delivery person. If you don’t look closely, you won't see the four to six desk workers manning the radios so that we know when to enter certain rooms, who wants special pillows, how we manage the three rooms that all want service at one pm or replacing rooms that asked for no service.
You don't see the six supervisors spot-checking checked out rooms for cleanliness. Nor do you see the laundry teams, plural. Sheets and guest laundry are separate, and “guest” is split into dry cleaning and non-dry clean. You might see the public parlor attendants, but you probably won't see the team cleaning the pool or deep cleaning the gym sauna.
At 7:30 am every morning, the service area just explodes with activity. Think of it like kicking two ant nests at once. 60 housekeepers on a single shift? Guess it's a slow day. And that's just housekeeping. We have three industrial-scale kitchens for various purposes! Four if you count pastries! Security teams! Contact companies for large events! Teams of engineers in every specialty.
I don't even know where the IT office is, but we do have one! I'm one of the more knowledgeable on where to find items for special requests and I still find new storage rooms every other week. We found a 1930s printing press nobody knew we had! It's absolutely wild how many moving parts there are.
Flipping 500 rooms in a day while setting up for two one million dollar weddings simultaneously. Fulfilling 100 room service orders while catering those weddings while running our restaurant. Fixing a leaky shower head in the pool while ensuring a guest had an extra couch in their room for the kid that just loves couch beds.
All of this together is called "An average Tuesday in summer."
I don’t know about all five-star hotels, but I’m sure this happens at most of them. The front desk and reservation staff will basically stalk you online if you’re a notable VIP and your picture will be shared internally. This ensures that everyone recognizes you, and so you feel special when you arrive and everyone already knows who you are.
A hotel I worked at roughly 20 years ago, had that popcorn texture stuff on the ceiling. We were a five-star hotel—but that always felt like a stretch. I remember a guest took his own life in one of our bigger suites, and painted the popcorn ceiling in blood. A couple of people from housekeeping straight up quit rather than deal with it when management tried to push them into cleaning blood and matter off a popcorn ceiling.
One guy came up with an ingenious plan. He said he'd do it, but he wanted a promotion and a five year contract with a payout in the event of early dismissal. There was an argument about it and it was like three days of calling around getting quotes and arguing with lawyers about if they could give him that contract before they gave in.
By this time the smell was getting complaints from the entire floor. So, the dude ended up doing the whole cleanup with a pair of drywall ceiling stilts. He got the promotion and the contract he wanted. That can't have been legit even then. But management didn't want the fuss of a hazmat or professional cleanup crew going through the hotel. It wouldn’t look good for the other guests.
I left a few months after that, but a few years later, I heard from a former coworker that they’d had an incident and fired all of housekeeping and maintenance—except for that guy. He was the only person to survive the purge.
I used to work events at hotels and sometimes we had stupid crazy things go on. Some of them, like this one, were actually dangerous to guests. So a customer broke a glass they were using and the broken glass fell inside a barrel we use for water refill. Right after this happened I left work for two weeks to go on vacation—assuming something would be done.
When I came back, I made a disturbing discovery. All the glass was still piled inside the water refill barrel. People must have been drinking out of it, because there were events booked while I was gone. It’s a miracle no one drank broken glass.
At a certain Beverly Hills hotel, where I valeted for a short amount of time, many star’s cars were just left there. They’d come and get them whenever. There was also a code name for Justin Bieber, who visited often (I can’t remember it). He picked it himself. His G-Wagon and a Bentley were just kept down there free of charge. Usher also left his bike there a few years back and has just never collected it.
I used to write travel guides to places in the Middle East—Dubai, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman—and have stayed in lots of five star hotels around the world for work. The whole five-star system is murky from the start. The manager at a top-class London hotel told me that the hotel grading system, in general, is “utter nonsense.”
He told me that the problem is that the list of criteria to reach each of the star ratings is little more than a tick sheet, albeit with around 500 factors to consider. For example, one criterion for being considered five-star is fresh flowers being present in guest rooms. But there’s a huge difference between a big ornate display of orchids and a cheap bunch of daffodils.
The presence of either would technically tick the box and in theory you could fulfill all the required five-star criteria yet be hugely inferior to the hotel next door that offers all the same things but at a much higher quality and standard. The Forbes Travel Guide gave just six London hotels a five-star rating: including the one my insider works at.
Unfortunately, that means that other fantastic hotels—like The Ritz, The Langham, The Berkeley, and Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park—are “only” four-star hotels. Are these great hotels really 20 percent inferior to the five-star-rated Al Bustan Rotana in Garhoud in Dubai? This hotel is basically a business stayover near the airport.
It’s also difficult, as modern demands change, to maintain a consistent roll-call of criteria. Take technology for example. Wi-Fi in a guest room is a relatively recent expectation, but it is now what we expect as standard in a hotel. When The Savoy Hotel in London opened in 1889, it was boasting about features such as electric lifts, “speaking tubes” to link each floor, and fully plumbed bathrooms.
I question whether the star system can keep up with all these changes. Now though, in the era of Internet, crowdsourcing is often the most reliable way to judge a hotel. When hundreds of people on sites like TripAdvisor say a place is overpriced and terrible, then it doesn’t matter what the official book says. And if a one-star hotel gets nothing but praise from 90 percent of the people commenting? There’s your consensus of rating right there.
I worked as a bartender at a five-star hotel in England that hosted events and stuff. One thing that was common was this: my manager would just spam extra drinks onto the bill at events to make more money. Or, for example, if a big wedding ordered 50 bottles of champagne, they’d only give them 30 and would keep 20 back. If they ran out, the wedding party would have to buy more.
I reported this to senior management and they just laughed saying it’s normal. I actually got told off for not taking part in this.
I worked in security at a hotel for one year. The weirdest part of the job was when housekeeping called us after they found illicit substances in a room. The first thing we’d ask for is the room number, and then we’d look up the name of the guest. If it was a VIP or someone important to the hotel, we’d tell them to leave the stuff there and tell them: “We’ll take care of it.”
If the guest was someone we didn’t know and not important to us, we’d go up there and take the stuff out of the room. Then we’d threaten to evict the guest from their stay if they did it again. So everyone wants to know how we knew if they were VIP status. Well, we had a set of questions we’d ask before giving the guest a pass.
The first question was: What’s their status tier? Diamond members almost always got a pass Question number two: How did they book the room? If it was a third party like Expedia? No pass. Third question: How many times had they stayed at our specific property? Five or more…pass. How much had they charged up? If they were spending money on property outside of the room rate…pass.
Basically you could have whatever you wanted in your room if you spent enough money.
One hotel I worked at hosted a Christmas party for an investment firm. During the party, two guys started jockeying for the affections of a female co-worker. Somehow, the three of them wound up on an elevator together and the guys started fighting. The elevator automatically went into safety lock down, so we had to call in the Fire Department.
When we finally got the doors opened, what we saw was a real mess. There was blood everywhere. One guy went in a squad car, and the other guy, who had worse injuries, had to go in an ambulance. And the woman? Well, we had to give the woman some clothes from lost & found because her dress was covered in blood. To make matters worse, the elevator was out of service for six hours in order to let maintenance clean it up.
There's always a ton of back of house drama, too. Especially among the execs and the junior managers. Affairs, backstabbing, some illicit activity. You know, the usual.
This isn't really shenanigans, but just for your information: the staff is not nearly so impressed by famous or rich people as some of them seemed to think we should be. I worked in a fancy hotel. We had rich and famous guests all the time. And it was usually the ones nowhere near the top of the ladder who tried to be the most imperious and expected the most deference.
And by the way, if you have to try to convince us you're high status, you aren't. We'd provide polite, professional service for all our guests and try to be helpful and accommodating, but being a C-list actor or whatever isn't going to get you a table in a full restaurant or an upgrade to the already-occupied fancier suites.
And if there's a severe blizzard and the airport is closed, we can't open it for you because you're too special to have to wait to fly out. Even if you're a very important businessman.
I spent a few years working as a sommelier in a very, very high-end hotel. I loved working there, so I helped out with basically any role I was allowed to when I had some spare time. Because of that, I’d seen quite a lot of the hotel. And also I learned a few things that are valuable to know—and most guests aren’t aware of.
If you‘ve stayed for a few days and were very polite, and then when you go to pay and your bill is lower than expected: don’t tell us, it was on purpose.
I used to work in room service at a very exclusive hotel. What most guests don't know about is what happens to unused products they order from room service and don’t use. For example, if a guest buys a bottle of booze and doesn’t open it—like they leave it out for us to take—the hotel policy is to bring it back to the kitchen to put into inventory. And then the hotel can resell it!
A coworker shared that the record, as far as they knew, was one bottle of champagne that was resold 7 times.
I am a subcontractor that works in the IT business and in my experience, the W hotel in Miami Beach has seen some real messes. One day I came into work and there was a big scramble at the upper floors— that is where the penthouses are. It seems this kinda-known millionaire had partied a little too hard and was destroying the room.
He was actually throwing furniture off the balcony, ripping everything out of the fridge—he might have even thrown a mattress out the balcony. Of course it was a big deal at the time, but they keep it hush with no officers involved. A guy that’s paying 9k-13k a night is not going to be taken away in cuffs: especially in front of the other guests.
When the clean-up team finally got into the room there were illicit substances all over the tables, bottles everywhere, and a couple of high class call girls that were in true fear. The next day they booked the same room for Jennifer Lopez.
I have a few stories from my 20s when I worked at a five-star hotel. Once, there was a natural disaster that required all staff to stay on-site with a floor to themselves. Before you knew it, bathtubs were filled with ice and booze, and managers were found wandering back halls in their undies. Our Michelin chef and food and beverage manager were caught on camera cheating on their partners in a stairwell.
There were leaders from the government in town for global governmental meetings, eating chicken in the lobby and throwing the bones on the floor. What a mess.
I'm honestly shocked at this story. I used to work as a bartender for the shrewdest jerk I've ever met. He would bring in international kids as servers and charge them $50 a day to live on-premises; you never got time and a half, he'd just switch to paying you under the table instead. Point is, he wasn't afraid of breaking the law in the slightest.
One day I broke a glass in the general vicinity of the ice machine and he immediately whipped around and started questioning me, "How close was it? Are you sure the lid was closed? Are you absolutely sure nothing got in the ice?" Yeah, the lid was closed, but I was ready to close the entire bar just to clean out the ice machine. That’s what you do when there’s a risk of glass being mixed in with ice.
But this guy didn’t want to do the right thing. This is the same guy who wanted the cooks to charge themselves if they made food to eat after their shift. You do not mess with glass in people's food, just one incident can shut down an entire restaurant.
I worked in security at a five-star hotel and I’ve got some advice for guests. If you're in a five star hotel bar, be very careful who you talk to, and how much you drink—even if you can afford to get wasted on $25 drinks. Some locals slip stuff into drinks and before you know it, you've been robbed of thousands of dollars.
I've had to do investigations of instances where a guy ends up in a room with a stranger and she'll get him to take out cash at the ATM because she has pics of what they've been up to and knows he's married. All the while the guest has no memory of the whole night.
I once worked at a hotel that fancied itself as a five star. But let's be real: it was barely a three. Our oil baron owner spent all of his free time at the hotel instead of at his main business, and loved to have staff bow to his every whim: while paying an absurdly low wage. Eventually, low wages equaled an extremely low-skilled workforce.
Nowhere was that more evident than in our security department. While some of them were ex-army—some of the funniest people I ever had the pleasure of working with—the newer ones fancied themselves as future officers of the law. One of the perps this group of keeners was most on the lookout for were the human scum who would dare to solicit a call girl while staying in our prestigious, virgin establishment. Ha!
Cut to a normal Friday night. We had in-house, a large group of conference attendees, all of whom seemed to retire to their rooms fairly early compared to most conventions. The reason for this was that they were a conference of elderly evangelicals. So Brad, one of the keener security personnel, spotted a lone white female entering the room of one of our guest attendees during the overnight hours.
Brad, going by natural instinct instead of consulting with front desk staff, went straight to that room and knocked on the door with the might of a warrior. When the perplexed elderly minister appeared at the door, Brad asked to speak to him in the hallway, and in a pointed yet whispery drawl, asked, "Sir, is that an, uh, escort that went into your room."
The guest, with astonishment and not even a hint of anger simply said, "That would be my wife. Her flight just arrived." And that is how we managed to have our first ever all-employee meeting.
I've been working in a five-star Hotel for about 3.5 years. There's plenty of stuff going on that we pretend to do on the outside and in front of guests but we actually don't. The most important is: "first in, first out." You know, how you're supposed to take out the things that expire first and not the newer drinks/foods to make sure you're not wasting food? I don't think anyone did that.
I am also pretty sure the kitchen staff even put meat on the buffet that was past its "best by" date.
When it comes to five star hotels, the truly rich and famous are in fact rarely ever the ones who make a fuss of their status and can be some of the most polite and sensible ones. It's the influencers who are clawing for deference. This was a few years back, but of the many stars who have stayed at one of my hotels, the most memorable was Lady Gaga.
When fans found out where she was staying they flocked over to the hotel hoping for a glimpse of her or maybe to get her autograph. As you can imagine, when the crowd gets too big it can cause operational headaches for the hotel. Gaga was very aware of this and took initiative to manage her little monsters—as she calls them.
She tweeted and asked her fans to be good and kept them under control. She even ordered pizza from the hotel kitchen for all of them waiting outside in the driveway. We couldn't have asked for a more considerate guest of her stature. In the words of my general manager, she is "incredibly switched on."
Here are a couple of secrets I picked up during my hotel days. Overbooking—during big events or fairs or festivals, the hotel will sell more rooms than they actually have just to make more money. You see, because of the special event, you pay in advance and you can't cancel your booking. Meaning: if you don't show up, you still pay. The hotel expects people to not show up so they try to book as many people as possible and a few more.
Secret signals—we had to subtly let our coworkers know when things were going wrong. The signal for "help" at the front desk was dropping a stapler. For food and beverage, when harassed by a guest and in need of help, the go-to was dropping something, like a glass, and making noise like loudly apologising. The idea was to draw attention from other guests and employees so the guests will stop.
It was considered rude and unprofessional to just tell a guest to stop harassing you.
I worked at one of the premier hotels at a ski resort in the country; top 10. I met celebrities, royalty, politicians, and athletes. Hockey players are the nicest athletes by a wide margin. Royalty is great or more likely, awful. A-list celebrities want to be left alone or treated as just another person. Politicians are bigger jerks when they’re with their families.
I was most amazed by how nice staff were to guests when management continually made our lives harder and harder. We’d just let it roll off our backs and keep smiling until we just quit. We were paid so little and respected even less by management. If you weren’t thick-skinned then you quit by week’s end.
I used to do maintenance at some hotels: it was pure grunt labor. But there was one part I never expected. I found that people, especially in the fancier hotels, will flush anything down a toilet. Towels, sheets, giant poops that no human could have possibly downloaded. Also pillows, paper, food, bottles, and just about everything else. It was a bit of a nightmare.
The best one ever was this. I got a call to snake a toilet in a room. The guy in the room was very twitchy. He tells me it is super important—wink, wink—I be careful to not damage said flushed items. “Gotcha,” I said. I somehow managed to fish out his bags of various powders and pills without breaking a single bag open.
He offered me some of his “products” as a tip, and when I declined, the guy just handed me a stack of $20s and ushered me out the door. It was an $1,800 tip. Oh, and by the way, tampons and pads do NOT get flushed down the toilet. And for everyone else, flushable wipes, aren't.
When I was 20, I used to work at a hotel where this man came in with two young women—definitely teens—and never let them speak. Then later, they'd come back from the room somewhat bruised. Then he started coming in with other men, and the girls, everything paid in cash. My manager just said "It happens. Leave it." But I had a bad feeling.
A woman told me the next morning she thought she’d been assaulted by the same men. Management again said, “Leave it. She's crazy and was drinking." I was definitely not going to leave it. I called the local authorities and corporate and left for the day. A detective called me a couple of days later for a report and to come in and ID the man—as well as some 'customers' of the man.
It turns out the girls were underage and "not from here" is all I was told. But that’s not the craziest part. My manager was investigated as a participant and fired.
A married couple—both had rings on so I just assumed husband and wife—were regulars at the hotel where I worked. They were nice chatty folk and I booked them on some day trips, sunset dinner cruises—mostly couple/romance geared packages. Since ID wasn't required for both to make the bookings, they never corrected me when I booked the itineraries in both names but with his surname (since he paid with his card, I had his full name.)
So cut to a few months later, this same married man checks in but with a different woman. That’s when I made a chilling realization. It turns out this is his wife and they are there to celebrate the end of her chemo round. She sneaks downstairs and comes to my desk to book a cruise for her and her husband—the same cruise this guy went on with his mistress. I had to really hold back on telling her what was going on.
She wouldn't stop talking about how this getaway was her thank you gift to her husband who has been so amazing and supportive during this time. Thinking about it, I still feel like the worst human being that chose my job—breach of privacy is instant dismissal—over telling her the truth. At least she’d know her husband was a scuzzbag.
The hotel where I work doesn’t want you to know that the people who stayed in the room before you were nasty. Sadly, housekeeping gets the brunt of it. I’ve seen them carry out bags of used adult toys, peel used condoms off of every surface, and scrub excrement—actual human excrement—off of places there’s no reason for it to be. But there’s one clean-up I’ll sadly never forget.
It was the couple that wanted a home birth but not, you know, at home—because, eww gross. We had to deal with that hazmat situation. We messed them as hard as we could with penalties and fees, though.
I was a valet in college at a very swanky resort. The members had a certain sticker on their car and the owners and partners of the resort had a black sticker—I didn’t know what it meant, I just knew they belonged. When a guy pulled up in a very nice Benz I said, “Welcome back (not knowing his name). He was so angry that I didn’t know who he was. He was a jerk to me but I couldn’t care less.
Moments later another younger guy pulled up to the valet and asked me what the guy said to me. I hesitantly said he was mad because I had no idea who he was. The young guy looked disappointed and said, “That's my father and he is a jerk, don’t worry about him at all.” Then he gave me $20 to park his car and was extremely nice to every employee who ever interacted with him.
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