Thursday, January 26, 2012

Please stop washing my hotel towels.

I've been in Minnesota since Monday for work (at a certain very highly regarded medical clinic) and so far haven't been able to hit even my normal cultural haunts for this part of the country -- seeing as Monday was my "Travel Day" and as it turns out the Walker Art Center (one of my favorite museums outside of Cleveland), Minneapolis Institute of Arts (impressively huge facility), and the new one I wanted to hit for this trip the Minnesota History Center (saw it on Mysteries at the Museum on the Travel Channel, intrigued) are all closed on Mondays.

Hopefully tomorrow evening I'll be able to check out St. Paul City Ballet -- I enjoy classical dance but don't get nearly enough of it; though as the pessimistic side of my brain is currently winning I haven't yet purchased a ticket.

Anyway... having spent the past three nights in an otherwise wonderful hotel suite -- and some 58 nights in hotels in 2011: Hotel housekeepers, I know you have a tough job and are generally unappreciated, but please stop washing my towels. Please.

For as long as I can remember traveling, Hilton-family hotels have had the "Conservation" programs and signs, essentially the idea is that if you throw your towel(s) on the floor they'll be laundered and replaced, otherwise if you hang your towels up you'll reuse them -- conserving water and, no doubt reducing the number of chemicals used in the process.

And considering the plethora of crud and veritable Pandora's box of  possible diseases that those chemicals have to scrub, kill, and eradicate from guest to guest I can't imagine that they're very nice chemicals.

It's not so much that I want to be "green" -- I should be doing a lot more in that regard anyway -- but I don't wash my towels daily (or -- mom, skip this part: even weekly) at home, I really don't see a need to do this when I'm on the road.

More importantly, I like a soft fluffy towel. I love being able to bury my head in something pillow-like and not have it retain the shape of my head when I pull away. I don't want towels that exfoliate in the process of drying.

Most hotel towels have been laundered and chemicaled to within a millimeter of their lives and are one step away from being sold as 70-grit sandpaper at Home Depot. This is, no doubt, at least partially due to being laundered on a daily basis.

Perhaps I'm alone here, but I become a bit concerned when I can stand a linen upright.

"Why don't you just hang up your towel, then?" the intelligent reader may ask.

I do. I've tried hanging it on the towel rack, over the curtain rod on both ends of the tub. Through the grab bar. Over the wash cloths next to the sink. I've tried folding it nicely and putting it on top of the toilet. I've tried folding it and putting it on the counter. I've tried draping it on the side of the tub. I've tried hanging it on the shower stall door handle (where applicable). I think I've tried just about everything besides hiding it in the refrigerator or under the sofa in the living room. I'm not sure it would do any good.

Yet the result is nearly always the same: I come back to find the towel I've used exactly once missing, and a new, stiff, freshly laundered towel back amongst all of the other unused towels, almost mocking me.

I can think of only one hotel ever where my towel wishes have been respected. And I was so stunned I almost did a jig in the corridor.
From California to New York, Ohio to Florida, sometimes it seems like this is the one immutable truth about travel: My towel will be washed.

Why? And why bother with the "conservation" literature if you aren't going to...conserve?



  1. Hmmm... so peculiar! I have to say, I travel a lot, & have never experienced this problem. But I don't think I've stayed at a Hilton Hotel in ages. Or, if I did, it wasn't longer than an overnight visit. Maybe it's a Hilton thing?

  2. Could be-- it's pretty consistent throughout their lower (excuse me, "Focused Service") brands like Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn -- but higher in the food chain like Embassy Suites and Hilton you at least have a chance of the towels not being washed.

    Thanks for stopping by!