What to Do If You Damage Your Hotel Room

Two boys play in a hotel room.
Photo: Getty Images/Aurora Open

Whether it’s a slight tear of the sheets or the results of a gathering that got a bit out of hand, accidents in hotel rooms happen. So what should you do in the event that you or another guest’s actions inflict damage to your hotel room?

The answer is always the same: Tell the hotel what happened. Hotels understand that things are going to break from time to time, and generally are accepting of these situations if guests are up front.

Of course, the hotel’s response can vary depending on the severity of the damage, but you can bet the owner or manager will be a lot more willing to compromise if you immediately inform them of what happened. Doing so apologetically could make a big difference, as well.

“We all realize that accidents happen,” Greg Miller, regional vice president of Destination Hotels and Resorts, a group of 41 properties nationwide, told the Washington Post. “Unless there was malicious intent or the guest was very irresponsible, we’re generally very lenient.”

There are some keywords to break down in this statement. If you engage in “malicious” behavior that leads to damage, you’re definitely going to be charged for it. And that doesn’t just include the cost of the damages itself. If the damage is so severe that it puts the room out of commision for days or weeks in order to make repairs, you could be charged for each night the room could otherwise be occupied. And in the event that your damages also disturbed neighbors down the hall, you could be fined for disrupting their stay.

“Irresponsible” behavior can also peeve hotel owners, but that concept has a little more leeway. For example, if you have a little bit too much to drink and accidentally knock over a lamp, the hotel might let it go — as long as you inform them as soon as possible. The company knows that a $50 replacement is small compared to the hundreds or thousands of dollars you might bring in during your stay, especially if you’re a frequent guest.

But other irresponsible actions are simply not acceptable, no matter what. You might have no issue doing so within your own home, but smoking is absolutely forbidden in most hotels outside of designated areas and will likely result in a fine — even for just one cigarette. Attempting to sneak in a pet, no matter how cute or well-behaved it might be, also won’t earn you any sympathy and probably will result in a fine, or your removal from the hotel.

But other than these instances, hotel damage is just one of those things that happens every now and then. Just be honest and apologize for any spills, tears, breaks and so on. In many cases, the hotel may not even charge you unless the damage is extensive.

And when in doubt, it’s a good idea to check hotel policies in advance and be as communicative as possible.

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