Don't Lean on the Window
Assorted tales of unsafe hotel windows have been known to appear in the news. In June 2011, a 2-year-old girl fell two stories from a hotel window in Hinckley, Minnesota. The tot survived, but was taken to the hospital in critical condition. The same week, the W Hotel in Austin shut down for a few days after several of the hotel's glass balcony panels dropped and shattered. Four people were injured, reported the Austin American-Statesman. More recently, an 18-year-old fell from a sixth-floor window at an Embassy Suites property in Nebraska and suffered critical injuries.
Don't Jumble the Minibar
Sometimes I'm tempted to nose around in that tiny fridge and see what's on offer for the well-heeled other half. A $4 Snickers bar? Fantastic. But my curiosity could result in an unintended extra expense. Picking up an item and putting it back can trigger the minibar's sensors, immediately adding the price of the item to your bill. On sensitive machines, even jostling minibar items as you add your own food to the fridge can incur a charge. And if you try to avoid the hassle entirely by calling ahead and asking the minibar to be emptied before your arrival, beware -- you could be charged a 'restocking' fee.
Don't Drink from the Glassware
There's no guarantee that your room glasses and mugs aren't simply rinsed off under the tap by the cleaning staff -- or even wiped down with the same sponge that's used to clean other parts of the bathroom. Yuck! An easy way to deal with this problem is to wash the glass yourself with hot water and soap.
Don't Reveal Your Room Number
Don't let the front desk attendant publicize your room number. If he or she announces it out loud when giving you your key, ask for a different room. Anyone standing near the front desk in the lobby -- including criminals -- can learn exactly where you're spending the night if the attendant sounds off your room number.
Don't Ignore the Reviews
Some of the hotel horror stories we hear from readers make our hair stand on end. (Think phrases like "filthy carpet," "red spots on the wall" and "multiple large cockroaches." Eek!)
Sure, sometimes this sort of thing is just bad luck. But how many of these problems could have been avoided by checking out reviews of the property ahead of time? Read a few reviews and it becomes clear that, for most guests, a filthy property's budget price did not make up for its prodigious supply of bed bugs or cockroaches. Bed bugs are perhaps the worst kind of grubby surprise to turn up in one's hotel room, simply because it's easy to take them home and end up with a lasting infestation where you live.
That boutique hotel you're considering for your next trip probably isn't listed at the bottom of TripAdvisor's ratings. But bed bugs infest five-euro-a-night hostels and Ritz-Carltons indiscriminately, and a traveler should always be on the alert for possible infestations. One of the best ways to avoid bed bugs while traveling is to take a good look at what travelers are saying about the property online. If there are recent reports of an infestation, rethink that reservation.
Written by Caroline Costello