10 Hotel Etiquette Rules We’d All Really Like Everyone to Follow (Please?)

Whether you stay a day or a week, always follow these rules for being a good guest.
Updated May 23, 2024
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Woman tourist backpacker happy to stay in high quality hotel room

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The beauty of staying in a hotel is the luxury of living differently than at home. But that doesn’t mean you should throw basic manners to the wind.

If you suddenly find yourself traveling more and you've booked a stay at a hotel, here are some basic etiquette rules you should always follow so that both you and the guests around you have the best time possible.

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Look up how much to tip — and do it

pressmaster/Adobe bellhop in luxury hotel

If you're staying in a hotel where the room is cleaned — even if it’s just one or two times during your stay — leave a tip.

The appropriate tip amount will depend on both the individual hotel and local norms. In the U.S., it’s generally good practice to leave between $5 and $10 per day.

Make sure you also offer a few bucks to other workers, including any valet parking attendant, bell staff, and employees who deliver room service.

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Don’t be rude to staff

New Africa/Adobe receptionist at desk in lobby

Like any other business, things can go wrong at hotels. Yelling or being rude to staff members is not the way to handle these situations.

This goes for all staff — including those working the front desks and restaurants and anyone cleaning your room.

Hotel employees are as human as the rest of us. That means the more polite you are to them, the more likely they are to go the extra mile.

So if you politely inform the front desk that you're having an issue with your key rather than screaming at them, they're more likely to take good care of you. They may even throw in a free drink or extra towels for the trouble.

Be careful what you take from the room

Drobot Dean/Adobe hotel maid putting bath accessories in a bathroom

A consensus among hotel guests is that you can take certain things from the room. These include mini soaps, shampoos, lotions, and even pens or notebooks with the hotel logo.

However, more common items such as hairdryers, bathrobes, and towels are not fair game. In fact, you might get a hefty bill if you take off with them.

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Be respectful of quiet hours

nenadaksic/Adobe young woman sleeping in bed

Even though you’re on vacation, you’re not alone when you stay in a hotel. It’s important to be aware of and respectful toward other guests.

Different hotels might have their own rules. A spring break hotspot for college students in Miami is not likely to have the same expected quiet hours as more family-oriented vacation spots, for example.

However, hotel guests generally should try to keep the volume to a minimum between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. That’s true both in the rooms and when moving through hotel corridors.

Keep kids under control

Drobot Dean/Adobe family with children running near luxury swimming pool

People traveling with children should be mindful of other guests. Some hotels are focused on serving families, and a certain level of volume from kids is to be expected. But it’s important to make sure young children aren’t causing a ruckus.

Since a hotel is most likely an unfamiliar space, wandering children can easily put their safety at risk. So keep the kids close and quiet.

Look up the check-in and check-out times

Drazen/Adobe man and his wife checking in at a hotel

Some hotels are laxer about their check-in/check-out times, but others are not. It’s wise to familiarize yourself with the hotel’s policy before you travel.

Keep in mind that some hotels don't have a worker at the front desk throughout the night. So, if you're arriving on a late flight, you may need to let the staff know ahead of time.

Also, if you think you may be an hour or so late to checkout, give the front desk a ring and let them know. Many hotels are happy to accommodate you when they can.

Hang up towels you plan to reuse

Wollwerth Imagery/Adobe luxury bathroom with granite and marble in hotel

General towel etiquette is expected at hotels. If you shower and plan to reuse a towel, hang it up in the bathroom. If you'd like new towels, put the used ones in a pile on the bathroom floor to let housekeeping know that they're dirty.

It’s also a good practice to reuse towels while staying at hotels. Most of us use towels more than once at home before grabbing a fresh one, so the same practice can be done in hotels.

Make it easy to clean around your possessions

Friends Stock/Adobe housemaid standing near bed while cleaning the room in hotel

If housekeeping cleans your room regularly, avoid making it harder for them by strewing possessions across the room. 

Try to keep things like clothes, electronics, makeup, and more tidy to help staff get in, straighten up, and get out in good time.

This can also help ensure that none of your possessions accidentally gets thrown in with the towels housekeeping is replacing.

Dress appropriately in common areas

Nadezhda/Adobe traveler sitting in a chair in the lobby of the hotel with a suitcase

In a beach hotel, it’s common for guests to walk around in swimsuits and sandals, or even to stroll around barefoot. However, there's a general expectation that hotel guests will be dressed appropriately otherwise.

This means you should avoid heading to the continental breakfast in the bathrobe and slippers the hotel provides.

Also, guests should throw on some clothes before answering the door for housekeeping or room service.

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Don’t take off with half a breakfast tray

K.Pornsatid/Adobe catering buffet food

If your hotel stay includes a complimentary breakfast, keep in mind that this is usually meant for everyone in the hotel. That means you should avoid dumping the whole tray of croissants into your backpack.

Since the meal is included, it’s perfectly fine to grab an apple, muffin, or some other snack for later in the day. But don’t take everything when others are trying to eat too.

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Bottom line

Jacob Lund/Adobe business traveler in hotel hallway with phone

Make sure you follow the tips above the next time you grab your favorite travel credit card and book a hotel room.

Most hotel etiquette expectations are common sense. No matter the length of your stay, a hotel is your home away from home.

Just keep in mind that while it’s natural to want to get comfortable, you never want to risk causing distress to other guests or the hotel staff.

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Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore is a seasoned freelance writer who also teaches writing courses at Rutgers University. She's based in Jersey City and enjoys travel, live music and, of course, spending quality time with her pup.

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