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A light sleeper's lament: six things you shouldn't do in a hotel

I used to be able to sleep well in the humblest of places. But the older I get, the harder it is for me to get a good night sleep while traveling. I don't know if it's because I usually travel with two toddlers, or if travelers are becoming increasingly ignorant of basic hotel etiquette, or if I'm spoiled by my Tempurpedic mattress at home, but I often find myself sleeping like a baby while on the road. That is, waking up every few hours and wanting to cry.

Here are six things you shouldn't do in hotels.

Sleep Crimes

Hit the snooze bar. As a light sleeper, I don't think hotel rooms should come equipped with alarm clocks, and certainly not ones with snooze bars. I'll never forget a truly diabolical traveler sleeping in the room next to mine in a hotel in Charlottesville, Virginia, a few years back. His alarm clock woke us up at 5 A.M. on a Sunday morning. It went off, like a siren, for about 30 seconds before he finally turned it off.

Eight minutes later, there it was again. And eight minutes after that. And again, eight minutes after that. We called down to the front desk and they sent someone up to the room, but their pounding failed to rouse the slumbering maniac. The alarm-snooze-alarm cycle continued until 6 A.M. when our neighbor finally decided to grace the world with his consciousness. But even then, it was hard to get back to sleep, because I was so irate.

Travelers' kangaroo court verdict: ten years in prison in a cell that shows nothing but Samantha Brown reruns on the Travel Channel.

Converse loudly in the hallway outside my room. It's amazing how oblivious people can be when it comes to the sound of their own voices. I once had the misfortune to say in a hotel with a huge group of senior women who belonged to a club called the Red Hat Society. On a Saturday morning at 7 A.M. two red-hats were conversing loudly about how annoying someone else was, directly outside my room. I could hear every word. I sat up in bed and listened for about ten minutes, assuming they'd soon go away. They did not, so I got out of bed, and confronted them, bleary eyed in boxers and t-shirt.

"Excuse me, but we're trying to sleep," I said. "Do you think you could keep it down, or go in a room, it's 7 A.M."

One of the red-hatted women (they really did wear red hats) smiled broadly at me and chirped, "7 o'clock, it's time to get up!"

Travelers' kangaroo court verdict: banishment to a monastery that requires a vow of silence.
Call me. During a recent one night stay at a chain hotel in Ocean City, Maryland, I fielded more phone calls from the front desk than I've received from various family members over the last year. Right after check-in, they called to ask if I liked the room. No worries. Around 8 p.m. they called again, as we were working on getting our children to sleep, to ask if we needed anything. No thanks. At 10.30, about an hour after we'd finally managed to subdue our little ones, the phone jolted them back awake.

"Mr. Seminara, we're calling to remind you of the hotel's no smoking policy," the woman said.

"You're calling to remind me about the non-smoking policy at 10.30 at night?" I asked, incredulous.

"We've had a complaint from someone on your floor who smelled smoke," she explained.

"So rather than come up to investigate, you're calling everyone on this floor to remind them of the no smoking policy?"

"That's right," she said.

It made perfect sense to her, but then again, she wasn't going to have to put my kids back to sleep.

Travelers' kangaroo court verdict: 30 days of solitary confinement.

Banish your children to the hallways. I would rather gouge my eyes out with a monkey wrench than stay in a hotel on a floor with a youth sports team, who are the worst offenders to this rule. I can deal with people who wake me up, but when you spend hours trying to get small children to bed and then they are roused awake by marauding teens and tweens, living it up on the night before their soccer tournament, it's hard not to get into a homicidally crazy frame of mind.

I once asked a group of little monsters, who were running up and down the halls knocking on doors at random near midnight, what room their parents were in.

"They're in there," one said, pointing to a room down the hall. "But they told us not to come back until twelve."

Travelers' kangaroo court verdict: for the parents- sixty days in a North Korean labor camp.

Hygiene Faux Pas

Emit uncovered hacking coughs or blow your nose near the breakfast buffet. This should be common sense, shouldn't it? But why do I see people who look like they've got Bubonic Plague fingering every roll on the breakfast table?

Travelers' kangaroo court verdict: 90 days of eating bizarre foods with Andrew Zimmern.

Discharge bodily fluids on the bedspreads and blankets. An ABC News investigation of hotel chains in 2006 found bodily fluid stains on the floor, bedspread and walls. Really folks, if you must discharge bodily fluids, do so in the toilet or on the sheets, which are actually changed.

Travelers' kangaroo court verdict: 60 days of baths in an open sewer.

Image via Fairy Heart on Flickr.

Filed under: Asia, Europe, North America, United States, Hotels and Accommodations

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