While most hotel guests rely on housekeeping to clean the messes they leave behind in their rented rooms, some conscientious travelers are now strapping on an apron and playing maid.
Last week, UK resident Darren Dowling posted an image to Facebook showing his hotel room etiquette, and it went viral. The photo shows his habit of stripping the sheets from his bed and neatly folding each piece on the mattress before departing.
The image sent Facebook users into a tizzy, with nearly 550 commenters debating hotel guest protocols — with input ranging from insistence that it’s up to paid staff to do that, to users claiming it’s a courtesy that should be extended to those workers.
“I always try to leave a hotel room like this,” he wrote in the caption. “Is this the right or wrong thing to do?”
Nutty or normal, Dowling isn’t alone.
“I wish everybody would do this,” said Stephanie Thompson, 50, who lives in Cincinnati.
Thompson, the director of the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network, has a typical predeparture cleaning routine that she splits with her husband — 51-year-old firefighter Jon Thompson — to lessen the strain on a hotel’s cleaning staff.
For the past decade, at the end of their travels, Jon arranges the suitcases and checks all the drawers to see if the couple left anything behind. As that happens, Stephanie strips the bed of its sheets, gathers all the used and unused towels and puts them in the bathtub, and condenses all the trash into one bag and knots it shut. And even during their stay, the couple — who say they generally keep their surroundings clean and organized — refuses daily housekeeping visits. What’s more: They leave a $25 tip.
“I also leave a hand-written note that says, ‘Thank you so much! Have a wonderful day, blessings,’” Stephanie told The Post, saying she adds a smiley face at the end. “We’ve been doing it so long, it’s routine.”
For the Thompsons, it’s just the right thing to do.
“I have always been called to serve those who serve people who have the privilege of going on a vacation,” Stephanie said. “I don’t even know if these people make enough money to even go on a vacation — so their daily life is cleaning up after privileged people … My assumption is that there are some times throughout their day where they walk into a room and it’s just disgusting, and they’re depressed.”
Emily Mathison, 34, agrees. She says that she never thought her prim-and-proper program of helping out the help at hotels was odd until confronted with confessions of slovenliness from acquaintances.
“I go to LA one week a month for work,” said the East Village resident, who works as the creative director of McQueens Flowers, a high-end florist. “I stay in the same hotel every time, and I tidy my room and get rid of any trash.”
But it’s Mathison’s habit of making her bed every day — even with the knowledge that housekeeping will unmake and strip the bed when she leaves — that sets her apart from her peers.
“I didn’t think it was unusual,” she said. “It’s what my mother does. Also, isn’t it nicer for the chambermaid? I make my bed every day anyway — why change because I’m in a hotel? It’s just what I do at home. Neat and tidy and ship-shape.”
Dowling’s Facebook posts also elicited replies from hotel housekeepers themselves, who said the gesture is indeed welcome.
“Saves us an extra job and makes it easier,” wrote one, while another replied, “You have no idea how much things like this are appreciated.”
Dede Gotthelf, owner of the Southampton Inn in the Hamptons, said that her staff swoons when a guest goes the extra mile.
“While it is their job to clean rooms during and after guest stays, the housekeepers and housemen are human beings and very much appreciate people who are considerate and respectful,” she said. “Stripping or re-making the beds is not necessary. But throwing away garbage, mopping up spills, and leaving a room neat and ready for them are very much appreciated.”
“Especially during these times where CDC cleaning protocols and UVC lights take time to prepare for our next guests,” she added of pandemic-related procedures.
But for the Thompsons, all that matters is service with a smile — even if they’re the ones doing the serving.
“I want it to be such a treat for them that the next set of rooms that they do, if they’re disgusting, they can go back and go, ‘At least I had a room that was so easy, and I got tipped for it!’” said Stephanie.