Top 10 Most Common Hotel Complaints

“Is everything ok with your room, sir?” It almost goes without saying that 99% of the time, the response to this question will be a tepid and very British “yes, thank you”. But what are the most popular things that regularly upset and annoy hotel guests? From basic cleanliness issues to bordering-on-inedible food, recurring themes tend to crop up again and again. The problem for much of the hospitality industry is that aside from the occasional snotty review on TripAdvisor, many customers will say nothing. So this month, we thought we’d lay things a little bare by looking at ten of the most common hotel issues raised by guests. Clockwork copywriter Dom Garnett has stayed in enough hotels of ill repute to give even a travelling salesman nightmares: 

Room Too Hot

You might assume that cold temperatures were high on the list of hotel complaints; but in truth the opposite objection is far, far more common. Is it a mortal fear of residents getting cold that prompts hoteliers to try and cook their guests? Combine “slow roast” temperature settings with those barely-able-to-open safety windows and the result is like a fully-clothed sauna. After an extra drink or three in the hotel bar, guests are then highly likely to wake up with an unholy thirst the next day. The cure is simple: set a sensible, non-lethal temperature for your rooms and make your heating controls obvious and easy.

Badly Dated Features

Are some hotels taking the idea of "historic charm" too literally? Could it still be 1973 when you step into the ensuite bathroom? While some establishments are consciously “classic” or "vintage chic", others are in desperate need of a reboot! It can be a tough decision for a hotel, but renovation (or lack of it) is quite often a cause of poor reviews and loss of business, as word spreads that the hotel in question “has seen better days.”

Crazy Rules

Rules, terms and conditions are essential for any hotel to avoid becoming a madhouse. But did you really need to insist on a whole assortment of random, semi-threatening signs? My favourite of all time was at a cheap northern B&B with signs forbidding virtually everything from opening windows to an almost puritanical insistence on “No extra guests/ people hiding under the beds/ sharing the shower with other guests.” The idea of setting up some kind of menage-a-trois in the shower of a budget B&B in Bradford had yet to occur to me before this was spelled out. Thanks for that.

Dodgy Guests

Can be a tricky issue for those who run hotels. Can you stop the couple in room 6 from having a blazing row, or prevent the travelling drunk from booking a room and upsetting your other guests? Not necessarily- but you can take measures to limit the chaos, whether it’s switching rooms around, or having a policy that discourages groups such as stag and hen parties from wreaking havoc. We have a lot of sympathy with hotels on this one though, as they can often be blamed unfairly for the inevitable less-than-lovely guests every establishment gets from time to time.

Lack of Cleanliness

Whether you run a five-star luxury hotel or a bargain basement family B&B, there is no excuse for dust, dirt and grime. Nor is the price always a reliable guide; guests still find spotlessly clean budget accommodation and posh places that are dirtier than David Cameron’s conscience. Be warned: these days reviewers can be ruthless with less-than-clean venues. And barring occasional clean-freaks and serial complainers, most of them have a point.

Unwanted Surprises

By which we mean stuff left in the room that shouldn’t really be there. Like that bizarre, haunted looking china ornament, someone else’s grubby shoes in the bottom draw or, at least according to certain TripAdvisor hotel reviews, human teeth found on the floor! The list of random unwanted things found by hotel guests could form a long and very odd book. In one hotel I visited, we were startled by a live bat in one of the upstairs bedrooms (well, it was advertised as a wonderful example of Gothic architecture).


How high the price should be set for a hotel room is always a balancing act, but if there is one thing guests repeatedly moan about on TripAdvisor and other sites, it is being overcharged. There will always be the odd skinflint, but repetitive complaints or lack of repeat bookings could indicate a pattern. The higher the price you set, the bigger the expectations about everything from food to service levels. "Underpromise and overdeliver" could be a mantra specifically aimed at the hotel trade!

Rude Staff

Every hotel will have the odd unreasonable or downright curmudgeonly guest. Staff have the unenviable task of retaining a smile and perfect manners at all times, even where this is not reciprocated. Wherever you live and work, we feel for you. Reports of genuinely unpleasant or even threatening staff are quite rare in truth. But other misdemeanours are quite common, including taking an age to serve customers or, even more conspicuously, staff giving mobile phones rather than guests their full attention. You have been warned.

Small or Uncomfortable Beds

From old mattresses to poor linen, this is another complaint as old as the hills. As a traveler of a rather lofty height, it is the size of beds that so often disappoints. Many is the time I have woken in the early hours with my feet sticking out into thin air because, yet again, I have been given a bed fit for a pygmy. On occasion I have even spread the bedding out on the floor and slept here instead, where there is actually space for a taller guest.