The New Normal? Hilton Makes On-Demand Housekeeping a Permanent Change

Guests must ask the front desk for daily service

Maid working at a hotel making a bed
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There are two types of hotel guests: Those who love daily housekeeping and those who don’t. Hilton’s latest announcement is a big win for that latter camp. The hotel group is officially doing away with automatic daily housekeeping in most of its U.S. properties, switching to an opt-in program instead.

“Throughout the pandemic, we discovered guests enjoyed the flexibility of on-demand housekeeping services and have varying levels of comfort with someone entering their rooms after they have checked in,” Hilton said in a statement. As such, the company is setting the standard housekeeping service to once every five days, unless a guest requests more frequent cleanings via the front desk.

This change will only affect some Hilton properties. “The housekeeping updates are specific to U.S. properties outside of the luxury portfolio,” a Hilton spokesperson told TripSavvy (the luxury portfolio includes the Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, and LXR brands, all of which will keep daily housekeeping as the standard). “Properties in Europe, Middle East, and Africa are still operating housekeeping as requested, and properties in the Asia-Pacific region are still providing daily housekeeping.”

The new protocol is the latest pandemic-induced shift in the hospitality world, which is continually being reconfigured to deal with the latest health advisories and labor shortages. Even though only some Hilton hotels have defaulted to sporadic housekeeping—and that guests can still opt-in for daily service—this service change is still a highly contested one.

“Almost every travel advisor in my networks is furious with the state of hotel housekeeping, especially now that a decent vaccine rate and significantly relaxed health protocols no longer provide much cover for properties trying to skimp on services,” said travel advisor Nicole LeBlanc of Mon Voyage. “Clients are complaining. Leisure travelers want housekeeping—having someone else tidy up is a key part of their idea of a vacation.”

And while Hilton hasn’t made this move quite yet, LeBlanc worries that hotels might end up charging for daily housekeeping. “Clients feel nickel and dimed already with ‘urban amenity fees’ for things that used to be included in their room rates, and this will just be another in the ever-expanding list of back-door revenue enhancement by hotels,” said LeBlanc. 

However, from a logistics point of view, on-demand housekeeping might not take off in all types of hotels—especially smaller ones. “Although we started this model when we originally reopened, we now have reverted back to full-service housekeeping except for turn-down service,” said Percy Brandon, general manager of the 78-room Vintners Resort in Sonoma County, California. “Most guests were asking for service daily, and so it became very difficult for us to schedule housekeepers without knowing how many rooms would have to be cleaned.” On the other hand, big hotels can have more scheduled workers on-call to meet demand, he suggested.

But like LeBlanc, Brandon thinks that guests will perceive that they’re being short-changed by the hotels without automatic daily housekeeping. “It appears many businesses are taking advantage of the pandemic in an effort to now save on labor and limit full-service amenities. Guests staying at full-service hotels, like ours, have higher expectations,” he said.