I have come to the conclusion that ‘Do not Disturb’ signs are indeed a cause of enormous disturbance

If ever there was a sign created that was the cause of untold amounts of general disturbance, not to mention a very clear lack of judgement, amongst hotel staff it is most definitely the ‘Do Not Disturb‘ sign.


I once believed that these signs were placed in each room for the comfort and privacy of the paying guest, but I have long since come to the conclusion that they are there for anything but since they are often completely ignored by hotel staff and rather than disturb you just once, they then proceed to disturb you two, three, four sometimes five times to check if there is anything that you need.

Recently, during a stay at a hotel, I planned to spend the entire day in my room writing and therefore I placed the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on my door. By mid afternoon, having already had ‘housekeeping’ knock on my door twice only for me to explain to them that there was no need for any intervention that day, I was then called on the telephone in my room by the hotel reception to ask if it was possible for me to allow ‘housekeeping’ to access my room to complete their job. At this point, I was genuinely intrigued to know what all the fuss was about so instead of sticking to my guns I allowed them to visit my room, the room in which I had already made my bed, hung the towels back up and could not see what else could possibly need doing.  To my absolute amazement and disbelief, the member of staff on housekeeping duty that day, came into my room, whilst I was still present of course, looked around the room, adjusted the curtains about an inch, moved the pointless hotel literature from where I had put it out of the way and instead placed it back in the middle of the desk, flushed the toilet even though there was absolutely no need to do so, re-arranged my complimentary hotel toiletries by an absolute fraction, wrote something on her clipboard, thanked me and left the room. I kid you not, all of that fuss and that was the sum total of their requirements. Never mind my wishes as a guest.

I am a writer (I laughingly tell people) and therefore, I am often working in a hotel room if my husband happens to be travelling for business. To interrupt me is to provide a distraction to my train of thought and as most of you will know by now, that it something I am perfectly capable of doing of my own accord without the need for help from anyone else.

Ok, so I am sure that on most occasions following these interruptions I am able to quickly return to my work and get back into the moment but what if the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign had genuinely been hung for the very simple reason that I was trying to sleep having worked a night shift or feeling rather unwell? Perhaps I am a long-haul pilot who is requiring his minimum amount of rest period prior to his next shift. Why then is it necessary for me, or anyone else for that matter, to have to get up and answer the door to a variety of people who work in the ‘hospitality services’ to inform them that the reason I have the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on my door is because


Also, when you do have the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on your door, they bang on the door extra, extra loud and with a fervency that could only be matched if the actual building was on fire, because of course, they wouldn’t want to walk in on you in the ‘middle’ of something and perhaps disturb you. Good Lord no, heaven forbid they may walk in on someone, who might actually be sleeping or attempting to sleep, nursing a toothache or balancing their taxes!  Perhaps they assume that anyone who is using the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign in the clear light of day can only be up to no good, for instance, an ageing rock-star who will, if true to sterotype, be entirely engaged in snorting cocaine off the sculpted, tanned buttocks of a playboy centrefold, though quite how this preconception fits, when I am staying in a standard double room in yet another boring and bland business hotel in the middle of absolutely-nowhere-anyone-gives-a-crap-about, is far beyond me.

To add to my continued frustration most hotels still use the old reversible ‘Do Not Disturb’ vs ‘Please Make up my Room’ hangars and whilst I am sure that a great many people are completely over this particular practical joke, there is always one total tool in the hotel that still thinks it is the funniest prank (since Jeremy Beadle popped up on many an unsuspecting passer by wearing a shockingly bad disguise and pretending to be an ordinary traffic warden whilst still looking uncannily like Jeremy Beadle) to switch them over thus turning your ‘Do Not Disturb’ into a request to actively be disturbed.

When oh when oh when will hotels learn that a door slider (like that on a toilet door) or an LED light that is activated from the inside the room, is the best way to provide the customer with a genuine ‘Do Not Disturb’ option. That is assuming that the hotel and its staff are prepared to take note of it. I don’t wish to sound like a complete snob, but I personally feel that the decent rest of a paying customer, or my writing for instance, or even the undisturbed snorting of cocaine by an ageing rock-star is more important than whether the hotel’s housekeeping services get to place a little tick on their clipboard for that particular day. Maybe we could sign a waiver as we check in, that if you choose to utilise your ‘Do Not Disturb’ during your stay and in that time the cleaning staff have completed their rounds and clocked off then obviously you waive all rights to having your bed made, your bin emptied or your towels changed for that day, though I’m sure this is something that as adults and frequent travellers we all understand.

I keep intending to be completely butt naked and perhaps even covered in whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles one of these days when I have the Do Not Disturb sign on my door, just to teach them a jolly good lesson, but then I realise that it would be at the entire cost of my discomfort and chagrin.

Also,  they are so suspicious when you do finally open the door, trying desperately to peer over your shoulder to see if you are holding hostages in there or perhaps have a roomful of unsanctioned livestock that you didn’t mention at check-in.

I indicate, with a sweep of my hand, that I am perfectly capable of making my own bed, that the bin is not positively overflowing since it was last emptied just 12 hours before and that the towels we were provided yesterday evening will still be more than adequate for use today.

It drives me mad when every single hotel room bathroom, all over the world, has an almost identical sign in it, talking about saving the planet by not having your towels refreshed each day because this ‘saves on water and harmful detergents being used in the environment’ (it’s not for this reason, of course, it is so that the hotel chain can save a shitload of money but regardless) so like a good, considerate and conscientious guest, I hang my towels up on the hooks provided, ready to reuse them, instead of ‘throwing on the floor’ or ‘jetting into the bath’ as I have seen on many a sign around the world and to my dismay, despite that I follow the very protocol that they have suggested in order to reuse my towels for my very short stay, they are defiantly changed daily anyway.

So my point really is, what exactly is the point of a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign or a sign telling you to ‘Please considerately reuse your towels’ when they are going to completely ignore both.

Grrrrrr and indeed Grrrrrrrrrr!

The Virtual Recluse

One Reply to “I have come to the conclusion that ‘Do not Disturb’ signs are indeed a cause of enormous disturbance”

  1. Not had that problem with towels but the housekeeping paragraph (the first one) made me chuckle!!

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