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On a current stay at a mid-level hotel chain in El Paso, Texas, we left the do-not-disturb sign on the door in the morning, until we were done with breakfast, and getting ready for the day. Our room was skipped. The housekeeping staff told us that if they see the do-not-disturb sign on the door, that they would mark on their chart to skip the room for the day. I've never had a problem doing that before, and we did take down the sign by noon. Have I just been lucky several times in the past?

Update:

Excellent answers and comments. Based on them, a little more details for my situation. My wife often makes friends with the housekeeping staff, and for this particular hotel, she talked to a couple of the staff and got some more information. It's a 5 story hotel, with a broad mix of clients; families, business, etc. and the staff has to clean several floors. So in this area, they can't keep track of who/what when. So in hindsight, I should have asked. To give a feel for the hotel class, it is a Hyatt Place. Other than the confusion on my part, all was up to standards.

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    Probably, but how do you expect this question to be answered objectively? It's not like this can be some kind of standardized policy for all hotels... If you'd like to make sure your room is cleaned, you could mention it to the reception when leaving for the day.
    – JakeDot
    Apr 17 at 1:05
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    What was your problem? Did you expect that the room was to be cleaned after you removed the sign and it wasn't? Were they simply done cleaning rooms at all, when you eventually left? Apr 17 at 8:30
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    This really depends on the timing. If the sign is still up when cleaning ends, they will typically skip your room or leave you a message. Noon is a bit early for that, but not unheard of.
    – Hilmar
    Apr 17 at 11:45
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    It is my understanding that the "do not disturb" sign takes effect in that moment when they come by to make up the room, whenever that moment occurs. If the sign is changed later, the change has no effect.
    – AndreKR
    Apr 17 at 22:45
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    I would imagine that the hotel hires someone to clean all the rooms in the morning. If you haven't removed the sign by the time that person has cleaned everyone else's room, they're not going to hang round all day, waiting for you to remove it. They'll finish their shift and go home. It seems odd to me that you'd expect anything different. Apr 17 at 23:58

3 Answers 3

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It was pointed out that I missed the part where the OP removed the Do Not Disturb sign during the "morning". So technically that invalidates my original answer below. In light of that, I'm offering this alternative viewpoint (and apologies to people who upvoted by original answer)

New Answer

At some point in time the staff will have to make a decision as to when a room will be cleaned. This will be based in-part on their observing of the Do Not Disturb sign being on (or not) on the door. This is likely to be a one time decision as hotel staff have limited time to clean rooms and they are under a strict deadline as to when to get the work done.

Thus in a busy hotel it is quite possible that the staff do not have time to revisit rooms that have been marked with a Do Not Disturb sign which has subsequently been removed. In addition it may be possible that the person compiling the list of rooms to clean may not be the person cleaning the room, so that they are simply following the list of rooms that they have in on a clip-board.

The only timing the OP mentions is "morning" which is vague enough to mean anything, but given that their room was not cleaned, it was obviously after the decision to clean/not clean was made.

Thus IMHO the OP is still the author of their own fate.


Original answer

You had the do not disturb sign up. But you are complaining your room was not cleaned when you weren't there.

But the staff doesn't know you are not in your room. So in order to clean your room, the staff would have had to knock on your door to find if you are in there or not - thus potentially disturbing you.

But the sign instructs them not to knock.

Hence, you created the dilemma that caused your complaint.

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    It sounds like the OP removed the sign from the door later in the morning, expecting housekeeping to return, notice that the sign was no longer present, and service the room, which is how it typically works in many hotels (though there's a point in the day where it may be too late). Apr 17 at 5:05
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    @ZachLipton I admit to missing the OP removing the sign. However, the hotel staff can't waste time running around all day and re-checking each room that has a do not disturb sign on their door. At some point they have to make a decision one way or another. Also the OP is rather vague about the timing. "Morning" can mean different things to different people.
    – Peter M
    Apr 17 at 14:31
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    @PeterM OP stated "we did take down the sign by noon" Apr 17 at 17:21
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    Concerning the idea that housekeeping could have come back to check later in the day: many hotels in the US are experiencing staff shortages, making it less likely that they'll have the time to revisit rooms later in the day. Apr 18 at 12:14
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    "Thus IMHO the OP is still the author of their own fate." No. He made his own bed, now he can lie in it.
    – Dave
    Apr 19 at 15:49
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The housekeeping staff told us that if they see the do-not-disturb sign on the door, that they would mark on their chart to skip the room for the day.

In my experience this is atypical: they will typically do the cleaning if they see the sign is removed and are still starting to clean new rooms. But each hotel has its own habits, so it's always preferable to double check with the front desk, leave a post-it on the door and ideally have a word with the cleaning staff.

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This is not typical, though it probably depends a lot on the level/rating of the hotel, individual hotel policies and possibly how busy the hotel is (which may depend on the season and/or day of the week).

If it was typical my room would never be cleaned :-)

In my experience they will respect the do not cleaning sign and then come back later in the day (a common issue in some places is that they actually come back quite late). If the sign is still up after a certain hour, they will usually leave a note under the door and ask you to call housekeeping if/when you need the room cleaned.

Of course this works in hotels where they have housecleaning staff for much of the day, usually in larger hotels or higher category hotels.

In smaller and cheaper hotels the housekeeping staff may just be there for a few hours in the morning, and if by the time they have finished all rooms they could the sign is still up, then there isn’t much you can expect them to do.

I wouldn’t expect any hotel to skip the room for the whole day if at any point during their round they see the sign, though. Usually housekeeping staff will start with all rooms checking out on the day which do not have the sign and/or which reception tells them the guests have checked out, then other rooms which have the “please clean my room” sign up (if there’s one, it becomes quite rare), then continue looping around, doing rooms as they become available.

In some hotels with limited staff, there may be the issue that one person will do a specific floor or wing or building, do all the rooms they can, and once they are done, move to the next floor/wing/building and not return.

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