Dear Roxy: Will My Hotel Be Clean?

Dear Roxy: Will My Hotel Be Clean?

Dear Roxy is Sharing Travel Experience’s biweekly columnist answering your questions about getting the best value and best experiences during your next hotel stay.

Today, Roxy is answering a difficult question about hotel cleanliness. Got a hotel question? Just ask Roxy.

Ok Roxy, this is an awkward one. Feel free to sugar coat slightly.

I normally travel with my husband (no children) but we are just starting to plan a multi-generational trip for New Year’s. (Yeah, I know, we should have planned this two months ago. Long story.)

My mother-in-law is not a regular traveler. In fact, I’m not really sure she’s a traveler. The problem is related to cleanliness. She’s a freak about it – specifically, she’s hindering us in choosing our hotel because, well, she’s worried about the hotels being dirty.

I’m not really sure what I can do to settle her fears. I have asked my friends, even one who travels with their young toddler, and no one seems quite as panicked as dear ol’ mom. Now I think she’s in my head and I’m picturing hotel rooms with police tape.

My question is, do we have a lot to worry about when it comes to clean hotel rooms? Besides reading the reviews carefully before making a decision, is there anything we should be doing to protect ourselves? (From what, I’m not even sure.) Morbidly curious on what you’ve seen in your years at the front desk.


Marilyn C., a.k.a. Soon-To-Be-Germphobic in LA

clean hotel

Oh, Marilyn, you do not want to know what I have seen!!  But don’t become a germaphobe; there is hope, and safety, in numbers.  I think you hit the nail on the head with reading reviews.  Those are unsolicited (and brutally honest) tales of good and bad.  The key is not to put all your faith in one review.  Anyone can have a bad day and that will, of course, show up.  What you want to look for are consistently bad reviews over time.  If someone had one or two mishaps, but resolved them to the guests’ satisfaction, I would say let it go.  Bad reviews with no resolution speak volumes; that is what you want to look out for.

 My advice for someone like your mother-in-law, who is so paranoid, is to look at the pictures online.  No pictures?  R.U.N.  Yes, run–don’t walk–away from this one.    My godmother is very much like your mother-in-law.  She even avoids hotels marketed to children because they are “loud and messy”!  (HOLD ON, these are her words, not mine.  I have managed very clean waterpark hotels!) But your mother in law may appreciate a hotel that is not directly marketed to children for this very reason; the noise might get on her nerves and heighten her…’sensitivity’.    Just make sure it is still favorable for multi-generational gatherings, but isn’t specifically catering to children.  Make sense?

Upon arriving at the hotel to check in, ask to see your room before you pay and go on your way.  If you look at the room and it’s dirty, you could ask for another room or ask to cancel your reservation.  But then you’ll be at the mercy of the “walk-in” gods, and that, dear Marilyn, can truly be scary.

Got a hotel question? Just ask Roxy.

Dear Roxy: Will My Hotel Be Clean?


Roxanne ("Roxy") is the easily distracted, multi-tasking right brain of Fresh Air Lodging. After twenty plus years on the front lines of the hotel industry, she is now in search of socially responsible hotels and other businesses.

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