The recent trip had a few memorable hotel-related incidents: room mixups due to a reservation booked by one of our party for the wrong night (and subsequent cancellation by the hotel), accusations by an angry Spanish hotel clerk of possible orgies (long, long story there, and JUST NOT TRUE!), and extra fees for air conditioning (much needed by day two of the Spanish heat). So, upon my return I decided to look up some advice for the traveler on hotel etiquette. Probably should have done that before we left, eh?
Here are a few items from Lady Troubridge’s The Book of Etiquette (Suffolk, Great Britain: Richard Clay and Company, 1926), that seemed particularly useful (and yes, the original text reads “an hotel”):
At the Hotel
There is a distinct code by which the lady and gentleman must be governed when stopping at an hotel. It is a mistaken idea that one may act as one pleases merely because the hotel is public. It is as important to remember one’s social obligations in an hotel as it is in the house of a friend.
Indeed, the hotel is the one place where men and women are most likely to make embarrassing blunders and commit humiliating mistakes. Only by knowing thoroughly the laws of good conduct, as adapted to hotel life, can one expect to move smoothly and with ease through its often puzzling intricacies.
At home, or even when visiting a friend’s house, a boor may remain undetected. But the truth appears very quickly in an hotel…
Engaging Rooms in Advance
A wise plan, if time permits, is to engage a room beforehand either by letter, telephone, or telegram. This prevents any possibility of having to leave the hotel because there is no room, always an unpleasant experience for a woman travelling alone, and particularly difficult if she arrives late at night. Forethought in engaging a room beforehand obviates the tiresome possibility of having to go on to another hotel.
Receiving Gentlemen in Hotels
A gentleman calling upon a lady staying in a hotel makes the same inquiry as if he were calling at a private house. “Is Miss So-and-so in?” He then gives his name to the clerk, who will either telephone to the lady’s room, or send a servant to inquire if she is in, should there be no installation of bedroom-telephones in the hotel.
The lady should not refuse to see a visitor without offering some excuse. If she is expecting the visitor, she should be waiting in the drawing-room or lounge, having left word at the office where she may be found when her visitor arrives. It is quite permissible for the lady to send a message to the gentleman asking him to wait if she is not ready to see visitors. But if the visit is expected, it is a greater courtesy on the lady’s part to be downstairs and ready to receive the gentleman.
For a woman to receive a man in her bedroom at a hotel is to break an important convention, and should never be done. It places both in a false position and is a serious blunder in hotel etiquette.
If a gentleman calls upon a lady at any hotel, whether it is a social or business call, and finds that she is not in, he leaves his card for her with the clerk in the office. He should, however, write her name at the top of the card, as without this indication the card may go to the wrong guest, it being impossible for reception clerks to remember the names of all the guests upon whom cards are left.
In the Public Rooms
It is bad manners to laugh and talk loudly in the public rooms, or to talk loudly in one’s bedroom, and equally bad manners to bang doors late at night or make any noise that may disturb other people staying in the hotel.
Now that that’s all cleared up, I’m sure the next trip will go much more smoothly!