Should you make your bed when staying at a hotel, like Margaret Thatcher? | Travel


She may not have been a friend to miners, but it seems Margaret Thatcher was quite the champion of chambermaids. Chris Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong, recently revealed that Thatcher was the only guest to ever make her bed during diplomatic visits to the former British colony. Patten said it showed Thatcher’s “extraordinary normality” that she always made her bed in the morning, despite having a staff of 50 on hand to do it for her.

But is this really such extraordinarily normal behaviour? The only time most of us have staff to clean up after us is when we are staying at a hotel. And how many people make their own beds or thoroughly tidy their rooms then?

According Michelle Devlin, general manager at the five-star Egerton House hotel in Knightsbridge, London, only about 5% of guests make their own bed. It’s not something housekeeping tends to expect, and a shoddily made bed can be more hindrance than help.

As one former chambermaid at a top hotel in Australia explains, “At most, the duvet would be pulled up, but I wouldn’t call it a ‘made bed.’” And while smoothing out the sheets in the morning may seem like good manners, it’s often little help to the staff. “Our managers randomly inspect our rooms post-cleaning, so we would always make the bed to hotel standard. Guests don’t often do hospital corners.”

So should we all be striving to be a little bit more like Thatcher when travelling? Not according to the former chambermaid. “I don’t think guests should have to make the bed. When you’re paying to stay at a hotel a freshly made bed is part of the experience.”

Of course, there is some other etiquette that is always good to follow, such as keeping a dirty weekend as clean as possible. “After weekend stays, I’d often see a lot of used condoms all over the place. Sometimes blood and other bodily fluids I don’t like to think about.”

Stripping your sheets at the end of your stay can also help staff out – as does throwing rubbish in the rubbish bin instead of on the floor.

Patten hasn’t revealed Thatcher’s views on whether one should steal the miniature shampoos from a hotel room, but apparently it is fairly common behaviour. A 2016 Expedia hotel etiquette study found that 24% of US hotel guests admitted to “hoarding” toiletries to take home with them. And, according to a survey by the Art Series hotel in Australia, the richer you are the more likely you are to steal items from your room – and be rude to hotel staff.

With the rise of Airbnb, where your behaviour during your stay is rated, we may see travellers become increasingly self-conscious about their hotel etiquette and start to tidy up after themselves more. But there’s no need to be like Thatcher. Just ensure that, when you are a guest at a hotel, the only tip you leave is the monetary kind.



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