‘No way this room was sanitized’: Despite assurances, hotels get mixed reviews on COVID-19 cleanliness, masks

No one wants to find a dirty rag in their sink when checking into a hotel room. But during the coronavirus pandemic – when guests expect their rooms to be spotless and free of germs – finding a room that hasn’t been fully sanitized is even more concerning.

“No way was this room sanitized, much less ‘cleaned’ properly,” Danielle Bocage wrote in a Facebook post criticizing her recent stay at a Hilton hotel in Georgia. “I am completely disappointed at the lack of attention my room had.”

“The guest brought concerns about her room to the property’s attention on the second day of her stay, and we understand received a personal apology, an offer to move rooms, and an offer to service the room,” Hilton spokesperson Nigel Glennie told USA TODAY. “The guest declined these offers but did accept a refund for one her three nights.”

Social media has featured a mix of complaints and praise for hospitality companies when it comes to COVID-19 cleanliness measures. The industry has committed to everything from mandatory masks to social distancing to intense levels of cleanliness.

“Hotels are cleaner than they’ve ever been before,” Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, told USA TODAY.

But it’s clear each individual hotel isn’t necessarily holding up its end of the bargain, and Rogers conceded not every room will look pristine.

“When you’re looking at millions and millions of hotel rooms, could one person find a room that they don’t think is clean enough? Sure, there’s no way to prevent that from happening. But the industry as a whole is cleaner than I’ve ever known it to be,” he said.

USA TODAY saw the cleanliness measures for ourselves last month when we stayed at a Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt in Washington, D.C., and hotel guests around the country corroborated our mixed findings.

Find out more about our hotel experience: What it’s like to stay at a Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt hotel during the COVID-19 pandemic

‘I felt completely uncomfortable’ at Hilton-brand hotel 

Bocage, 50, said there appeared to be “no protocol in place” during her stay at the Home2 Suites by Hilton in Lawrenceville, Georgia, in early September.

Hilton’s policy is that all guests and employees wear face coverings in indoor public areas of the hotel. And the brand’s cleanliness measures include placing a sticker in between the door and wall of rooms as a seal to indicate the room has been sanitized to COVID-19 standards. Its protocol calls for disinfecting many surfaces in the room such as light switches, handles and knobs, major bathroom surfaces and the remote control.

Despite a sign at the entrance reminding guests that face masks are required, Bocage, a project manager from Richmond, Virginia, and Hilton Honors member, said more than a dozen people hung out in the lobby with no face covering, and some staff also did not wear masks.

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