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How to Deal with the Noisy Hotel Guest Next Door

Welcome to Upright Position, SmarterTravel’s weekly series in which Features Editor Caroline Costello discusses emotional and controversial travel topics. Join the debate by leaving a comment below!

At a hotel in New Orleans, I was cursed with a room with a connecting door. On the other side of that door was the kind of person who manages to fall asleep while his TV is blaring a late-night showing of Terminator 2: Judgment Day over his thundering snore. The only thing worse than listening to cyborg chase scenes hours before sunrise was knowing that the guy with the power to adjust the volume probably wasn’t going to wake up anytime soon. His extraordinarily heavy snoring indicated that he was deep in the throes of a REM cycle, likely surrounded by fast-food wrappers and empty plastic hurricane cups.

I called the front desk. I’m not proud. This is the travel equivalent of telling the teacher that your classmate is throwing specimen eyeballs during biology lab. I ratted out that snoring man. And maybe I lost a few karma points. But I was desperate. A security person pounded on the door of the guy’s room for a good minute or two before he woke up and shut the TV off. The resistance prevailed.

Regardless of how much I needed some peace and quiet, calling hotel staff about a fellow guest felt, as I said, a little grade school. Would it have been more respectable—more grown-up, perhaps—to confront the guest directly rather than tipping off the front desk? Screaming “Shut up!” and pounding on the wall with a shoe might inflame your neighbor, who may not have even realized that you could hear him. But is a polite knock and a gentle yet frank request for a little less noise a smart idea?

According to Jacob Tomsky, author of Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality, it’s not. He advises, “Simply fumble about beside your bed for the hotel room phone and dial zero. Tell whoever answers that someone near your room is way too loud. Security will, as soon as possible, be on the way to your floor to have a quick chat with the adjacent offenders. Gun-less though they are, they have mastered the cop-like door knock and the stern countenance needed to shut a party down immediately. Guests can be relocated, ejected, and even fined for noise violations. It won’t take long for security to inform them which route they plan to take if the noise doesn’t cease. … Just dial zero.”

I agree with Tomsky here. Guests, in this situation, should take advantage of the hotel’s experienced staff. The employees have done this kind of thing before. They know what to do. For a guest, engaging a stranger in a hotel isn’t a wise move, primarily because of safety reasons. No matter how upscale your property of choice, you don’t know exactly what kind of person is staying in the adjacent room and whether he has an anger issue or is a bully. Some people are just asses. And you don’t want to give away your room location by explaining to a stranger that you can hear him through the connecting door, or across the hall, or wherever it is you’re staying.

Have you ever had to deal with a noisy neighbor in a hotel? How did you handle the situation?

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