Checking in with hotel gaffes

It’s not only restaurant staff who have to deal with odd requests and funny customers, hotel staff do as well.

Sleeping is just as important as eating and it can sometimes make people…Strange? Demanding? Just plain weird? Maybe all three.

This month we have three stories of some possibly sleep deprived guests. Thanks to all who submitted their stories!


I once worked at a large upscale boutique hotel. We mostly dealt with older retirees touring in their golden years.

We had this older couple check-in, they were completely lovely in every way. Their room wasn’t quite ready when they arrived so they were given some boozy drinks and directed to the lounge to wait. They didn’t complain. They were quite amenable to having a seat and a drink for almost an hour.

When the concierge went to tell them their room was ready they were pretty excited, but again, no complaints.

Because of the wait, the desk staff gave the couple an upgrade without telling them (and a nicer room was closer to being flipped so it was better all around). The couple had booked a simple room with two beds. Nothing fancy. What they were given was almost the complete opposite. There was a steam room, a shower room, a jet tub, a sitting room, two bedrooms with three beds all together, plus the front desk staff had put a bottle of wine in the room as an apology for the wait.

We thought all was good until about an hour later the couple came back to the desk with all of their luggage and a look of upset on their faces. The desk attendant asked them what was wrong and the wife said, in a voice quivering with tears, “The room is too big, I don’t know what to do in it!”

By this time their original room was ready and empty. So the concierge walked them to that room and they were perfectly happy for the rest of their stay.


We had a lot of guests from Japan stay at the seaside resort I worked at. These guests generally travelled with guides and translators.

However, once there was a very small group of four Japanese visitors on a very exclusive tour. These were very well-to-do guests. An older mother and father and two adult children.

Things started to go south during check-in. The front desk staff knew to make sure Japanese guests got rooms that had baths. We understood it was undesirable to have rooms with only showers, but this group was accidentally assigned rooms without baths. Luckily it was caught at the desk when the translator looked at the reservation sheet.

This upset the older woman completely. She was furious. The desk scrambled to find something more suitable while a gift basket was put together with chocolate, wine and more to place in their new room.

The son and daughter weren’t as annoyed and were happy with their new room, but the mum and dad weren’t. Mostly the mum.

Once she got to her room she called down (through the translator) and demanded an apology. Not over the phone but a personal apology for the mix up and for the fact that the tub she was given would barely do because of the size.

I was unaware of the apology culture in Japan and how it’s more to do with concern for your guest than assuming responsibility. So I went and delivered the most heartfelt apology I could muster. It was embarrassing and I even dropped in some bowing and in the end my apology was accepted. The translator actually said, “You can stop now, she is satisfied.”

We never made that mistake again. Every Japanese visitor got bathtubs from then on out.


I worked at a small inn/bed-and-breakfast.

One guest came down to our little reception desk shortly after checking in and demanded to see the manager. She was furious.

What was the problem? She had been given one of our top floor rooms. A really cute Victorian style bedroom. It was in the corner of the building and it had two dormer windows. Well, didn’t we know “that someone could kill themselves because of those windows. How is that even legal? You should be ashamed!”
She got a refund. Because she didn’t know how ceilings worked.

We are hoping you can be a part of this series by submitting firsthand experiences of imperious/generous bosses, difficult/wonderful guests, and your own and others’ faux pas or feats. Please send stories to or private message on social media.

Thanks to everyone for their submissions!

About Rod Weatherbie

Rod Weatherbie is a writer working in the hospitality industry. He spent a number of years in Toronto as a member of the financial press before returning to PEI. Rod has published one piece of short fiction, one book of poetry, and has had work published in Red Shift, the Antigonish Review, Mitre, and the Toronto Quarterly. He has also recently co-produced, co-directed, and acted in a stage production of old television shows.

He also likes writing about food. Go figure.

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