Ridiculous or not? Hotels don’t always change sheets between guests

Glenn Robins is grossed out. As a frequent traveler, he assumed the sheets on his hotel bed are changed between guests.

But a new TV ad by the Hampton Inn chain calls that assumption into question. It shows housekeepers changing sheets in hazmat suits, at what appears to be a competing hotel chain.

“The implication was obviously that other hotels do not change the sheets for every new guest,” he says.

Robins is troubled by that.

“It’s a disgusting enough thought that the sheets were not changed,” he told me. “It gets even more disgusting when one considers the previous tenant’s possible activity.”

A confession: I changed the last part of Robins’ quote to spare you some graphic detail. Use your imagination.

Room hygiene is a hot topic among travelers. Always is. Last week, the discovery that a budget hotel hadn’t changed its sheets and failed to clean a shower between guest visits sparked a spirited discussion on my site about whether the guest deserved a refund from the property.

This topic is already well-covered – sorry about the pun – by the travel press. Sheets are usually changed between guests, and sometimes state law requires it, but there’s no guarantee that they will be.

As for bedspreads, forget it. As countless hidden-camera investigative TV programs have confirmed, they aren’t washed regularly.

Yuck.

But I digress. Is the Hampton ad right? Kinda.

It’s probably safe to say that all major hotel chains, including Hampton, instruct their housekeepers to change sheets between guests. Yes, you’ll always find some no-tell motel out in the sticks that tries to skip a guest or two, but as a general rule, the sheets are swapped out.

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But here’s a situation where the rules may allow a housekeeper to skip it: What if a guest checks in for one night and it appears the bed was unused? Is it OK to just tidy up, or should you strip it down to the mattress and replace the sheets?

I would have said “yes” — just tidy up.

But wait. What if the previous guest is actually just really neat, and makes the bed like a pro? The housekeeper might assume the guest never used the bed. But that would be wrong.

Point is, it’s possible for you to end up sleeping on someone else’s sheets. But if you’re staying at a major hotel chain, it’s highly unlikely.

Still, should there be a law – perhaps at the federal level – that hotels meet a certain level of hygiene? What do you think?

(Photo: Mo ckney Rebel/Flickr Creative Commons)

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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