The gross things sometimes found in hotel rooms

Sometimes when you ask a question, you get an answer you don’t like. That’s the double-edged sword of social media, and one that seems to be bubbling up ever more in society. If you don’t believe me just check the #badhotel tag on Twitter. It’s not pretty.

That’s a lesson I should have already learned, but when I recently posed this question to my social media followers—"What’s the grossest thing you ever found in a hotel room?"—I sure got a mouthful.

Seriously: I thought I’d get responses such as “There was some hair in the drain,” or “The carpet was stained,” or even “I checked in the room and found someone’s garbage."

Instead, I got responses I’ll never be able to unread. From the maudlin and morose, to the just plain gross, I was shocked—and not in a good way—about the responses I received. But I thought about it, and quickly realized hotels are where people live. It’s where who they are comes out, where all that personal stuff we don’t ever discuss, actually happens. It’s where life is led and life is messy, fun, filthy, and sometimes pretty icky.  

I should have known better and never opened this can of worms. And I am staying hush-hush about many things that were shared. Here’s the proverbial tip of the "grossberg" from all the responses I received.

Dead Bodies

Death is a part of life. And it seems like this one is a rite of passage for hoteliers. At first I was surprised by how many folks have come across the deceased. Then I realized it’s not that surprising when there are more than 2.5 million deaths per year in the United States alone, according to the Centers and Disease Control and Prevention.

Though there were incidents of violence, most said it was people who died of a heart attack, stroke or something health related. Of course, some talked about grizzly murder and cleaning up after suicides, but those instances were much rarer.

Drugs, and More Drugs

More shocking than dead people: The number of people leaving their drugs in hotels rooms that were still left there, not removed by housekeeping, after they checked out. Now, I have heard some stories of people leaving banned substances that were left alone or arranged nicely for when the occupant returned, but left in the room between guests is pretty surprising.

All sorts of banned stuff have been found by hotel guests. But one, in particular, made me laugh. According to one reader, he put his hands under the pillow and pulled out a bag of cocaine and a bag of Viagra. Sounds like a memorable night.

Body Stuff

Of course, there were all sorts of nasty things left behind by guests that were at one-time part of their bodies. This is a section where it’s best to simply use your imagination, which probably won’t come up with the level of disgust I had to sit through. The least offensive was a wall full of boogers. Guess it was too tough getting those tissues from the bathtubs.

Honorable Mentions

Walking in on two people that love each other very much happens more frequently than expected (lock the doors people!) as were unattractive stains, bedbugs and adult magazines.

The more hotels we build and the bigger society gets, the more likely the underbelly of real life will bubble to the surface. So a special kudos to all you hoteliers that clean up the dirty side of the hotel business, stay discreet and find something scary in the sheets.

Rather than ask you what’s the grossest thing you found in your room, share with me the most unusual thing a guest left behind. I expect it’ll be more exciting than something like jewelry or a computer. Email me at [email protected] or on Twitter and Instagram @TravelingGlenn. Or join the conversation with me on Facebook at

Glenn Haussman is editor-at-large for HOTEL MANAGEMENT. His views expressed are not necessarily those of HOTEL MANAGEMENT, its parent company Questex Media Group, and/or its subsidiaries.