Unpacking guest behavior: What do Americans think is acceptable at hotels?

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
June 10, 2024, 2:43 PM GMT+0

Have you ever checked into a hotel room, longing for rest after a long trip, only to be disturbed by noisy neighbors or smoke wafting in from a nearby room? While most Americans agree on the impropriety of those disruptions, opinions diverge on other aspects of hotel etiquette, a recent survey finds.

Among the most unacceptable hotel guest behaviors — out of 25 asked about — are taking home things from the room, including decorative items, coat hangers, towels, and bibles. Small toiletry bottles are OK to take, though, 77% of Americans say. Most people are opposed to guests breaking certain hotel rules, including smoking in non-smoking rooms, bringing unapproved pets, checking out late, and exceeding the number of approved guests per room.

What hotel habits are OK with majorities of Americans? Among the tolerated actions are requesting extra pillows or blankets, calling reception to complain about noisy neighbors, leaving the linens on the bed when checking out, and changing to a different bath towel after a single use.

Tipping is divisive: 35% say it's acceptable to not tip housekeeping and 42% say it's unacceptable. Fewer think it's appropriate to not tip a bag porter: 14% say it's acceptable, while 65% say it's unacceptable. Other actions that split opinion are wearing pajamas in common areas and leaving lights on when not in a room.

Older Americans are stricter about many — but not all — points of etiquette in hotels. Americans 45 and older are more likely than younger adults to say it's unacceptable for guests to wear pajamas in hotel common areas, to not tip a bag porter, and to take hotel towels home with them. Younger adults are more likely to say it's unacceptable for guests to bring visitors into their room without prior approval, but they are also more likely to say it's unacceptable to call reception to complain about noisy neighbors.


— Carl Bialik contributed to this article

See the results for this YouGov poll

Methodology: This poll was conducted online on May 24 - 27, 2024 among 1,147 U.S. adult citizens. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to November 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 31% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 4%.

Image: Getty (fotostorm)