Being well traveled doesn’t necessarily equate to being well-mannered—just ask David Morgan-Hewitt, the managing director of London’s famed The Goring hotel, a property that’s hosted everyone from Kate Moss to Kate Middleton. In his 24-year tenure at the swanky Belgravia district enclave, Morgan-Hewitt has become something of an expert on guest etiquette—and he’s not shy about sharing his thoughts on the subject. Below, Morgan-Hewitt details seven unforgivable hotel offenses. Are you a model citizen or a guest from hell? Read on to find out.
Morgan-Hewitt says he’s only kicked two people out of the hotel in his life, and it was simply because they were rude to a waiter. He often finds that guests who have their own personal staff at home tend to be a bit more respectful, but sometimes “people walk into hotels with this idea that they’ve bought the soul of the person waiting on them, and that’s not the case. Always remember it’s a privilege to be served—not a right.”
Believe it or not, failing to hang up the “Do Not Disturb” sign ranks among the worst in hotel crimes. “If you decide to reignite the passion of your relationship in a hotel, please put up the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign” says Morgan-Hewitt. “You’d be amazed at how many people don’t. Some guests intentionally ‘forget’ because they actually want people to come in! It’s a bit bad-mannered.”
“It’s perfectly acceptable to enjoy a few cocktails, but please listen to the barman when he says you’ve had one too many,” suggests Morgan-Hewitt. “The bartenders are obviously there to make you feel at home, but when they tell you enough’s enough—they mean it.”
“Obviously in different cultures you have different expectations when it comes to tipping. In England, there’s usually 12.5% added on to the bill that is distributed to the staff, but that doesn’t include maids and concierges,” he explains. So if, for example, a concierge landed you an impossible restaurant reservation, you might consider acknowledging their efforts. “They don’t expect to be taken care of, but it’s nice to reward them if they’ve done something special for you.”
Every hotel in the world makes mistakes; it’s human nature. So if you’ve encountered a problem during your stay—maybe your room service steak was too rare or the elevator outside your suite is too loud—the most important thing to do, says Morgan-Hewitt, is tell someone. “We want you to be happy, so if something’s happening that is making you unhappy please tell us!” He adds that it’s equally as important to keep your cool when complaining. “You’re not going to get anywhere by screaming, but we understand that accidents happen. Any good hotel will immediately step into action because they’re in the business of making you want to come back.”
For those guests staying at a hotel with A-list clientele, Morgan-Hewitt offers a single hard-and-fast rule: leave them alone. In his own experience—which includes frequent visits from the Queen—he’s found that guests, for the most part, tend to be respectful. “If the [celebrity] starts engaging people, then it’s fine to approach. Some famous people love being recognized,” he says. But if you spot a someone that’s keeping to themselves, please… just leave them alone.
7. Diva behavior
Fine hotels like The Goring will fulfill just about any request, but guests shouldn’t take advantage of the property’s willingness to accommodate. “In reality, the requests we get don’t tend to be too ridiculous. If we can’t actually fulfill it, we’ll come up with our very best solution,” he says. Morgan-Hewitt recalls one guest in particular who preferred her own Irish linen sheets and cushions be used in the room: “Her driver and butler would come the morning she was arriving to make up the room with the help of our housekeepers.”