Hotel hygiene survey offers surprising results

Shocking news for housekeepers: a new study has suggested that more affluent travellers might be getting more than they paid for, with more expensive hotel rooms seeming even more germ-infested.

The study, titled Hotel Hygiene Exposed by Travelmath found that the average hotel has abundant bacteria, more than a typical home, aeroplane, or school. Perhaps the findings are understandable considering the turnover, variety of guests, and various things hotel rooms are used for but does that mean housekeeping practices are not up to scratch?

“We’re definitely not trying to scare anyone,” project manager for Travelmath Emily Pierce told Yahoo Travel. “We wanted to know just how many bacteria we could find on common surfaces in the hotel rooms.”

To find out just how germ-coated hotel rooms can be, Travelmath sent a team to nine different US-ranked three, four and five-star hotels to gather 36 samples. They assessed bacteria levels in colony-forming units (CFUs) to identify the number of viable bacteria cells within a sample. They took samples from the same four commonly touched surfaces: bathroom counter, remote control, desk and telephone.

Generally, it was found that the bathroom counter in the four-star room was the filthiest but in the five-star rooms the remote control won out. Interestingly, the three-star hotel rooms appeared to be, by quite a long stretch, the least germ-ridden.

The dirtiest surface in a three-star hotel room was the bathroom counter and this contained, on average, eight times less germs than the same surface in four-star hotel rooms and three times less than a five-star hotel room.

The bathroom counter in the four star rooms was the most bacteria-laden surface over all, followed closely by the five-star remote control. According to the Travelmath description, they “tested for the presence of various types of bacteria (including bacilli and cocci), yeast, and gram-positive rods (bacteria that causes various ailments, such as skin infections and pneumonia) and gram-negative rods (bacteria that cause respiratory and other infections)”.

Do the results prove that luxury doesn’t buy cleanliness? We asked Julben Serrano, the business development manager from Empire Hospitality, for his reaction to the survey. He said “I am very surprised at the results of this survey as cleaning procedures, treatment and products do not vary depending on the star rating of a property. There should be no difference in the cleanliness between any of the properties.”

And, Michael Knee, chairman and CEO of Silk Hospitality, was also flabbergasted at the results: “We use globally known cleaning products and colour-coded systems in all properties and so the results should be the same.”

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