Hotels Not Changing Sheets Every Night

Hotels taking fresh sheets off room-service menu (USAT)

Barbara Huberman wants fresh sheets on her hotel bed every night. She’s annoyed that a growing number of lodgings are now changing them less often. “It’s ridiculous,” says the executive for a Washington-based charitable organization who stays up to 100 nights each year in a hotel. “I have always looked forward to that feel of clean pressed sheets every night. At $200-plus a night, I think I deserve this.”

Hotels say that Huberman is in the minority and that most of their customers accept the less frequent sheet changes during their stays. Any guest can simply request a daily change, they add, and it will be done free of charge. But Huberman says it’s not that easy. A business traveler is often busy, she says, and may forget to put a card on a bed requesting a sheet change or to make a call to the hotel staff. She says she sometimes returns to her room late at night – an inconvenient time for a linen change. She recently requested a change at one hotel and the housekeeping staff declined, saying it was against hotel policy, she says.

A USA TODAY survey of the policies of 25 hotel brands reveals that most do not require a daily change of sheets during a guest’s stay. All said they would change them daily for no charge if a customer makes a request. Eleven said they provide a daily change, nine said they change sheets a few times per week or weekly and five said polices vary at their lodgings.

More than one-third of the hotels of Crowne Plaza, InterContinental, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express – four brands with various policies – say they participate in an environmental program called “Conserving for Tomorrow” and change sheets every three days.

Whether business travelers like it or not, the days of fresh sheets automatically being put on a bed may be coming to an end. “It’s clearly been shown that changing sheets on a daily basis is not an important issue to customers,” says Hyatt Vice President Gary Dollens. “It’s a trend that’s here to stay.” Dollens says less than 10% of Hyatt’s guests are requesting a daily linen change. Nearly all Hyatt’s hotels switched to every four days last year – unless a guest requests otherwise. Marriott’s full-service hotels switched to every three days this year, and other company brands – Courtyard, Fairfield Inn, Fairfield Inn & Suites and SpringHill Suites – will begin testing a similar policy in the next two months.

So long as they’re changing sheets in between guests, I can certainly live with them not changing sheets every night during my stay. I don’t change the sheets every night at home, either. Or get a fresh towel every time I shower, for that matter.

What I do object to, though, is the hotels claiming this is being done for “the environment” rather than to shave costs. Is anyone really fooled by this ruse?

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Maggie says:

    Brought back an old story I heard….when in the White House, Jackie Kennedy had the sheets changed after she took her afternoon nap!

    Twice a day! Isn’t that cool? American taxpayer dollars being spent to insure The First Lady had fresh sheets.

    But it was OK, she was a Democrat.

  2. Meezer says:

    I don’t travel 100 days a year. Just a week or two for vacation. I wash towels and sheets and fold them and put them on beds and in bathrooms all year long. So I want fresh, clean, sheets and towels that I DID NOT have to take care of. Every day.

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  3. It’s not the sheets you have to worry about (although I like mine to be changed daily when I travel).

    The WSJ did a study checking for what dried “fluids” could be found on a typical hotel bed spread. Let’s just say that a lot obviously goes on in an average hotel room and that you don’t want to be hanging out on the top of your bed without pulling down the cover. (I can see if there is a link to the article, but most of the WSJ is paid links. This was in their “Weekend Section” about a year ago, sort of similar to the study they did on airplane tap water).

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  4. bill m says:

    Just wondering, why does ‘a charitable organization’ spend $20K a year on hotel rooms for somebody?

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  5. bill m says:

    Um, never mind. I’m not awake yet.

  6. denise says:

    “Let’s just say that a lot obviously goes on in an average hotel room and that you don’t want to be hanging out on the top of your bed without pulling down the cover.”

    I have a friend whose mom is in the hotel business. They say the same thing. The sheets are fine; the bedspreads are not.

    As far as the environmental rationale, I’m fine with hotels using that. It’s a good reason for the policy and one that consumers will accept, even if it’s not the true motivation. Similarly, I support the war in Iraq, and the suspicion of WMDs was reasonable justification, even though I never did believe the invasion was really for that reason.

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  7. DC Loser says:

    If I’m paying for a service that should be provided I expect to receive it. Hotels are doing this in the guise of being environmentally friendly but what it’s really about is the bottom line – less money spent on washing and drying and labor to fold the sheets. I say fine if they want to do that, just give me a reduction in the room rate to reflect that.

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  8. John Thacker says:

    I say fine if they want to do that, just give me a reduction in the room rate to reflect that.

    And how do we know that their room rates wouldn’t have been raised higher if they weren’t changing fewer sheets and saving money? We don’t, of course.

    And certainly their “real motivation” is saving money, but environmental efficiency, properly understood, is about saving money. So long as the price mechanism is allowed to operate (and without subsidy, etc.), being more environmentally efficient saves money. We should rejoice when the incentives are aligned correctly; it means that people and corporations will work their hardest to conserve. Would it be better for helping the environment to not help the bottom line, if that made companies slower to do it?

  9. Lenise says:

    Hey, if you’re married to JFK, every hour might not be too often for new sheets (same goes for WJC).