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3 hotel incidents: what would you have done?


Because I travel so much, it’s no surprise that sometimes things just don’t go right.

I’ve had three hotel incidents in the past few years that I still think about. Luckily, none of them were terrible because I think I only handled one of them properly — although, honestly, I’m not sure I would have done anything differently for the first two even now.

I thought I’d share these with you to get your advice and get you thinking about what to do if you find yourself in one of these situations someday — which I hope you won’t!

Please leave your thoughts in the comments. I’m really interested in what you have to say about these.

Note: All of these hotel incidents happened during press trips, which means my accommodations were hosted. I may have reacted differently if I had been a paying customer, although I don’t think I would have.

door knob

1. What happened: I was in a famous luxury hotel in Manhattan when, in the middle of the night, someone tried to come into my room from next door through the connecting door. I heard the door knob shake, jumped out of my sleep and saw it move. I was terrified.

What I did: I got out of bed to call the front desk but the noise and motion stopped and I gave them the benefit of the doubt that they got up to go to the bathroom and went to the wrong door or something. I didn’t call anyone and I didn’t sleep the rest of the night.

What I should have done: I should have called. I don’t know if I was embarrassed to be making a big deal out of what turned out to be nothing, but I should have reported it. Ever since then, I put heavy chairs in front of any connecting doors.

What would you have done?

smoke alarm

2. What happened: I was in a very large luxury hotel when, around 3 a.m. my smoke detector started making that horrible chirping that means it needs a new battery.

What I did: I thought about calling the front desk but I didn’t want some strange guy coming into my room — which was far away from the elevator — at 3 a.m. I also thought about going down to the front desk in person and waiting there while someone went up and changed the battery. But it was a Friday night/Saturday morning and because my room was down a long hallway from the elevator, I didn’t want to run into any drunk guys while I was walking alone in the middle of the night. I considered trying to yank out the battery myself but I didn’t think it was a great idea to go climbing on the furniture and I was worried that it would start screeching if I did pull it out. So I ended up putting in ear plugs and going for breakfast when it opened at 6 a.m.

What I should have done: I should have called and asked them to send someone up, told them my concern and maybe they could have sent up a woman with the service guy or I could have kept the door open while he changed the battery. I’m still really not sure about this one.

What would you have done?


3. What happened: I was in a luxury bed and breakfast, getting ready to take a nice, relaxing bath around 10:45 at night, when I saw a mouse run across the living room floor. If you know me at all, you know how I feel about rodents. It was all I could do not to burst into tears or start screaming my head off.

What I did: Because I was in a B&B, there was only someone at the front desk (in another building) until 9 p.m. I called the after-hours number because, sorry, but there was no way I was sleeping in the same room as this creature (which, for the record, was tiny and had nothing to do with the cleanliness of the hotel, which was impeccable). The owner, who was very nice and understanding, called me right back and came over to move me to another room.

What I should have done: I think this is the only instance in which I actually did the right thing. I took my bath, slept well in my room and assume the little one did, too — in its own room.

What would you have done?

Have you had any hotel incidents that freaked you out? How did you handle them?


  1. In every instance I would have made a call. I pay for luxury and stress free relaxation and if something interferes with that or makes me uncomfortable, I call and have it sorted.

  2. Blair Villanueva says:


    That first incident is very scary. And it is weird that you stayed in a hotel with adjacent door to the next unit? I would never get that room, coz I’m always after with security..

    If there is something wrong with my room, I always immediately call the manager’s attention and request for a change of room.

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      Most hotels have rooms that connect to the room next door so families can get both rooms and keep the doors open between them. They’re usually double doors and are securely locked when not being used but, yes, they’re still scary. I would prefer a room that doesn’t have the ability to connect but, unfortunately, that’s not always an option.

  3. WOW! Thanks for sharing all these. Agree on the mouse choice (yuck!). On the other two, I’m on the fence as well ……. if I felt the connecting door was uber-secure, I probably would do what you did. Smoke detector? Not sure —– after a recent hurricane our power was out for 50+ hours and our smoke detector chirped the whole time. It kept chirping after the power came back on. Turns out the battery was low. Apparently we have high tolerance for annoying noises LOL.

  4. Madge Woods says:

    Would have called on all of them. I was in a hotel with a mouse. We trapped it in a wastebasket. The hotel person came in and put sticky paper and caught little mouse and removed it. The hotel was in the midst of a remodel.
    Definitely would take battery out if I couldn’t call someone.
    As long as your door between the rooms is locked I would forget about it. I would go back to sheep.

  5. I would have probably called only because i’m a big chicken when it comes to having some trying to get in.

    For the smoke detector I would have either taken the batteries out or called and had them send up a woman worker.

    As for the mouse well I live in the middle of the country adn have seen worst so that wouldn’t have bother me so much.

    I feel you handle all the incident well.

  6. # 1, I do the chair thing all the time. I would have called the front desk in the morning, just as an FYI. I would be up all night too!

    #2, I would have called the front desk and ask for another room or get it fixed. That said if they said it would be 30 minutes before someone could come up you know it would be an hour and I may just have done what you did!
    I am guilty when I used to travel a lot when smoke alarms went off in the hotelsI would look outside if I could and if I didn’t see more than one Fire Truck, I would not leave my room. Once in Alaska there really was a fire and when I checked out in the morning they told me I was the only room unaccounted. I asked why didn’t they knock on my door and was told the fire was put out and guests were let back in after an hour . So….?
    #3 I am with you 100%. Rodents are a deal breaker.

  7. I have one. My husband and I checked into a high end resort hotel rather late at night. Went to the room, and immediately saw a pair of shoes set out under the bed. My husband turned on the light, and the guy who’d been asleep in the bed yelled something (imagine!) at us. We quickly apologized, made a hasty exit and went back to the reception desk, where we let them know what they’d done. Were not very polite about it, considering the circumstances!! I agree with those that would’ve called each time. No need to settle!

  8. In each case I would have called. In London a five star hotel the guy next door blasted his TV really loud all night so at 2:30 a.m. I called the desk who sent security to talk to him. He then started calling our room and hanging up in the middle of the night. I knew it was him. After the second call I had e the desk hold our calls but it made me very nervous the rest of this day. I should have asked to be moved but I didn’t want the hassle of having to repack which was stupid

  9. I definitely would have called on all of them. The mouse would have been a big deal breaker for me. No rodentia is my policy!

  10. In the first instance I would have called someone, mostly because I would have been too scared to sleep after that! The second and third instances I would have done the same. In case of the second incident, even though paid for, I guess I would have still been thinking about being considerate because of the hours. Great post!

  11. 1) If the door has a deadbolt on my side, I would have just gone back to sleep. 2) Battery out of the smoke detector and then a call in the morning. 3) Mouse… probably just back to sleep. Rat? That’s another story.

    I had a bad experience at a Hilton with a fire alarm at 2 am… they handled it VERY poorly. I ended up getting a voucher from them for another stay. I do think you are right to consider your own safety in terms of people coming into your room. But a fire alarm, you need to get out. No matter what. Because if you don’t, and fire department personnel have to come in after you, then you are responsible for them being put at risk, which is never okay. Plus, who can stay inside with that noise? Good lord, it’s crazy.

  12. Ok…if I was travelling and all that happened…believe me there would be HUGE issues to deal with. I really do not like spending good money and not being satisfied with the services. A mouse…OMG!!!

  13. Oh – I love that you posted this! Ummmm … I think I probably wouldn’t have done anything with the connecting door – I’d assume it was a mistake, too, and just block the door. For the battery, I would’ve called the front desk. I’m a light sleeper, and there’s no way I could’ve gone back to sleep with that noise. And for the third, I would’ve called about the mouse, too. I’m terrified of June bugs (do you know what they are?) and called to be switched to another room at a hotel when I saw one inside my bathroom. Couldn’t mentally get past that, so I know what you mean. Great post!

  14. I was recently at a hotel in Las Vegas and a couple next to me was having a huge argument. They were screaming at each other and I thought it might turn violent. I was terrified. It was in the middle of the night. I called the front desk, but I’m not sure if security showed up. Since it was Vegas I thought this must happen all the time because people get drunk and obnoxious. At another hotel two people were “doing it” quite loudly. I didn’t make a call. What can you say?

  15. I think I would have done exactly what you did in both instances. I’ve asked to change rooms before when there wasn’t a mouse!

  16. I would have found the mouse, fed it, made it a comfy bed, named it, adopted it, gone to petsmart in the morning and spent a few hundred on mouse paraphernalia, rented a car to drive home since I couldn’t bring the mouse on the plane….. Sounds ridiculous, but anyone who knows me knows it’s absolutely true:)
    In the other situations, I would have done the same thing you did:)

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      I know you would have and I wish you had been with me to talk me down. You and the mouse could have slept happily together and I would lock myself in the other room.

  17. Oh my gosh, the mouse would have FREAKED me out the most of all those three incidents.

    I probably would have done the same exact thing you did!

  18. I would have reacted exactly the same way you did in each of those situations. And the mouse? Just no. NO.

  19. Oh my, the mouse would have done me in!
    I would call, well… I would turn on the tv first just in case they were listening at the door and then I would call! We have been moved to better rooms because we were forthcoming and honest with our experiences. They can’t fix what they don’t know is broke!

  20. Oh my I don’t know what I would have done! I definitely would have called and left after I seen a mouse. I can’t deal with rodents! But what really creeps me out is the adjoining rooms. I’m always afraid of that happening.

  21. Deborah Anderson says:

    I grew up in the country, so an itty bitty mouse doesn’t scare me. A rat, on the other hand… I’d totally freak out and start climbing the drapes to get away from it.

    Chirping smoke detector? I would have called for maintenance, regardless. Those chirps are loud, and probably could be heard in the next room and even in the hall. Leaving the door open, all lights on, etc. would be a good move, but definitely get the battery replaced.

    Those connecting doors are pretty nerve-wracking, I grant you that. I always make sure the door knob is locked, as well as any deadbolts or chains or whatever else is available. After all, that could have been *ME* rattling the door on my side, just making sure it was locked against *YOU*. 🙂

    My own “scary hotel moments” have all been of the stranger-at-the-door type. It’s always disconcerting to be awakened in the middle of the night by someone knocking on your door. I don’t even bother to look, I just immediately call for security. It’s always someone a little too inebriated to remember their hotel room number, and hey, all those doors do look alike. I don’t panic, but I want security here *now*.

  22. Safety first! You did what you felt was right for you & that’s always best. We have had some of these experiences and more through our travels Moving rooms is a hassle but if you can then sleep, it’s worth it. All are a part of adventures in traveling, some unpleasant but a part of going to new places. My solution is bringing earplugs and a face mask. Any rodents are a deal breaker. Losing sleep at times is unavoidable. Catch up when you get back home in your own comfortable bed.

  23. First instinct would be to call the Front Desk on the Connecting Door incident. Second instinct would be to try the Connecting Door myself and make sure it was locked. That wouldn’t have satisfied me however, so back to the Front Desk and change of room for me. Smoke Detector would be an immediate call to Front Desk or House Keeping and since I’ve never felt weird having maintenance come and check, I’d be okay with that…thank you though as I’ll be aware of that aspect of having a strange male in my room in the middle of the night. As to the mouse, I’m out of there, so no dithering on that one. Great examples and it makes me feel very lucky, that in all my travels, so far so good! However, you have racked up many more trips that I will in a lifetime, so something is bound to come up…stay safe and rattle cages if you have to!

  24. I think you did the right thing in all instances, although I’m always ready to call when I hear weird things and I’m staying alone (seems to never happen when I’m not alone!)

    Once when I was in my 20’s and McGraw-Hill sent me to LA I was staying in a nice hotel. At 3AM some guy was trying to open my door! I called the front desk and they came right away. Turns out the guy was drunk and mixed up the east side of the building from the west. I never forgot the terror I felt. Yikes!

  25. Like many of the others I would have definitely called too!

  26. I would have been terrified about the door knob moving but I too probably would have not slept and put a chair in front of the door. The smoke alarm would have driven me nuts, I probably would have called.
    The mouse, no freaking way. I would have been terrified until I moved to another room.

  27. I would have called for 1 and 2. The mouse, I would be heading back home.. hahah. I do not do rodents of any kind very well. If I did decide to stay I would probably be sitting in the middle of the bed not wanting to move or sleep all night.

  28. I would have called in 2 and 3. I bring one of those rubber door wedges when I travel and use it to block access from outside. That sucker would have been jammed under the door.

  29. Carol Markowitz Rodriguez says:

    1. Called front desk. When I used to travel alone I would always place a chair under the doorknob to the adjoining room.

    2. A chiming fire alarm to me is a no-brainer. Run to the nearest stairwell and exit the hotel. I will not risk my life nor the life of a firefighter searching for me.

    Working in Manhattan I did walk down 41 flights of stairs, twice, once during our blackout and once during a false alarm. It wasn’t easy, either time.

    3. A mouse? I would do the same as you. New room and a very long soak in the tub of a mouse-free room. Scented candles, too.

  30. The smoke detector incident really left me thinking what I would have done. About the others two, I would probably do the same as you did.

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