Musical hotel rooms

In Albuquerque, for a 10 day stay, I got a fairly decent accessible hotel room (212) that was unfortunately on the second floor. Unfortunate because the second floor had numerous meeting and banquet rooms as well as guest rooms. I was (theoretically) working the swing shift (2:00 pm to 10:00 pm), and after being woken the first morning by Save the Children happily clinking their orange juice and coffee at 7:00 am, I asked for another room.

I was given 302. I packed my suitcase (whining here, but packing is a significant expenditure of energy) and took it up to 302. The new room was in no way, shape or form accessible. The wheelchair wouldn’t even fit through the bathroom door. I took my suitcase back down to the lobby and requested a new accessible room. The desk clerk clicked away on her computer, then said, “Let me just make sure this one’s ok for you.” She picked up the phone and called someone. “Is 214 wheelchair accessible?”

“Wait – 214? Next to 212? The room I just left? On the second floor across from Save the Children?”

She looked confused, but allowed that this was so, and that there were no other accessible rooms available. “Just put me back in 212,” I said.

That night on duty I was chatting with one of my colleagues who said he was in the same hotel, in room. “But it’s a handicapped room,” he said, “and there’s no counter space, so I’m trying to get switched to another room.”

We decide to gang up on the hotel together. We found a speakerphone and called the front desk. “Hi, this is [colleague’s name]. I’m in Room 522, and I’d like to be moved to a regular, non-handicapped room. My colleague Ms. Stokley is in 212, and she’d like to be moved into 522 to avoid the noise on the second floor.”

Clicking of keys. “Sir, I can move you to 412.” (“Check if it’s a wheelchair room,” I hissed.) More clicking. “Then what did you want?”

“Ms. Stokley would like to move to 522.”

Click, click. “But that’s a handicapped room!”

“Yes, it is, Ms. Stokley uses a wheelchair.”

Click, click, click. “Ok, you want to move from 522 to 412.”

“That’s right.”

Click, click. “Then the lady wants to move out of 212.”


Click, click. “I don’t see any other rooms we could move her to, sir.”

We look at each other, then my colleague leans towards the phone and says gently, “How about … 522?”



  1. Kellie


    Sometimes I really wonder if people can possibly be as stupid as they seem.

  2. S

    They could be stupid as well, but I think I can understand that scenario.

    A room may not be in “Available” state after someone checks out of it. I can see if the system has to put it in “Cleanup” or some kind of state that indicates the cleaning staff have to prepare it for the next guest. Then the cleaning staff put the room in “Available” status.

    If this is done with software, the staff may not have access privileges to bypass these statuses. Just like you wouldn’t give Dev privileges to close a bug that’s in “Open” state.

    But in any case, I’m glad you got sorted out.

    — S.

  3. Katja (Post author)

    Sure. But she had just moved the other guy out of 522!

  4. S

    Right. If she _just_ moved someone out, then the room is still in a “Not Available” state which means it’s _not_available_ until the cleaning staff release it. And if it’s in “Not Available” state, it wouldn’t have shown up on her search for “Available” rooms.

    If the software were flexible enough, it would allow a Manager to bypass that or it would have allowed her to bypass it with a comment. Just like a bug tracking system would allow QA to directly move a bug from Open to Closed, without going through the Fix and Verify states.

    One thing I’ve learned is that service staff aren’t always _allowed_ to be intelligent about these things either because of the software or because they’re beaten down and reprimanded when they have to do something that’s not usual procedure.

    — S.

  5. Wheeled Traveler

    I’ve never understood the insistence in putting all the accessible rooms in loud places, as I’ve seen happen at several hotels. Actually, having spent time in similar locations in various hotels (both in accessible rooms and otherwise), I rather wish that places with large conference areas would offer a choice of “loud” and “quiet” rooms.

    At least their computer program slightly kept track of rooms being taken. I was once in a hotel where my second or third day there, someone walked into my room. He had a keycard for it. Somehow someone had decided that I had left the hotel. Lucky for him I was dressed.

  6. Katja (Post author)

    S, I understand what you’re saying, but the story isn’t about the hotel’s computer system, it’s about the desk clerk’s brain.

    I can’t say I’ve ever noticed that accessible rooms are in loud places. It’s got to be hard to reconcile all the various requests – many people want accessible rooms to be near elevators, which increases the likelihood of both elevator noise and general traffic noise.

  7. Dirty Butter

    My reaction can be summed up in a word – DUMB!

  8. mdmhvonpa

    In regards to the accessible rooms being in the ‘loud’ areas. I think it has to do with the space allowed for foot traffic. These areas need to have lots of room for equipment and such to be transported through to the halls and are generally not comprised of tight hallways. Ergo, it makes sense to convert these rooms since the cost is minimal. I don’t think it is malicious, just economics in action.


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