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Do Hotel Staff Sleep at the Hotel?

A hotel staff lying on the bed sleeping.

In the United States and other developed countries, it is rare for hotel staff to sleep at the hotel they work at. There are some limited exceptions, however, for owner operators of hotels and some maintenance staff. In other parts of the world, the practice is quite common.

In the United States, most hotels are owned and operated by large companies. These companies hire staff to run their properties, and the vast majority of them work in shifts. While three sets of employees each working for eight hours a day is common, some hotels have experimented with other work schedules.

Who Works at a Hotel and When?

A staff on hotel front desk and flowers on a vase.

Hotels usually have 24 hour coverage for positions such as front desk check in and security. Front desk personnel who work at night also have some limited housekeeping training, which allows them to deal with minor problems in the middle of the night.  

Smaller hotels will have maintenance and housekeeping personnel working during the day, but leave one or two of these employees on standby at night. Being on call allows the hotel to access these employees if needed, but the employees are not at the work site and do not get paid their regular salary unless they are called in to work.

At some hotels, shifts are divided so that some front desk employees will work 12 hours at a time. In these cases, some hotels provide these workers with a spare room where they can catch a quick nap during lulls. However, these employees do not live at the hotel.

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Who Lives Where They Work?

A hotel staff sleeping on a hotel bed.

There are smaller hotels that are typically owned by an individual or family that have the owner and their family living on site. In some cases the family has a specialty built apartment attached to the hotel, in others, the family has converted several hotel rooms into their personal living quarters.  

In these cases, the family both owns and operates the hotel. It’s not uncommon for them to act as front desk staff, security, and housekeeping. Family owned and operated hotels are becoming less and less common in the United States, however.  

As many hotel chains are snapping up as many properties as they can in order to renovate them, the few families left who own, operate, and live at their hotel are rapidly declining.

The exception to this are bed and breakfasts, which are usually operated by persons who live on site. While bed and breakfast establishments are not considered to be hotels, they are often counted as part of the statistics when looking at hotels and other overnight establishments. B&Bs might not be open year-round, and many of them only host on the weekends and major holidays.

Why Don’t Employees Live at Hotels?

Hotel employee carrying their luggage.

While this might seem like a great way to reduce staffing requirements and ensure that someone is always around to help guests, housing hotel employees at a hotel opens up a number of problems.  

To start, labor laws in the United States and most other developed countries require that employees be paid for every minute that they are present at a work site. To have hotel employees live on property means that they must either be on a salary or have their living expenses subtracted from what they earn.

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The next issue is that the hotel has to find a place for each employee and their family to live. While it may be possible to use one or two rooms to house a single family who owns the hotel, housing dozens of staff and their families would really start to cut into the number of rooms that a hotel would be able to rent out.  

Even hotels that hire young people from out of the country to work during busy tourist seasons have learned that it makes more economical sense to house workers off campus than find them rooms on property.

Finally, hotels that house their workers on site run into a number of logistical problems. When people live and work together, the potential for conflicts becomes a lot higher. Having paid employees spending so much time around a property that they also consider to be their home also leads to an increase in issues such as theft and unprofessional behavior.  

It becomes too easy for an employee who also lives at a property to feel as if they have the right to take furnishings, food, and even money. As employees and their family members get into personal conflicts, hotel managers are dragged into mediating disputes with events that have occurred outside of normal working hours.  

The result is that many hotels choose to house workers off campus or make them responsible for finding their own lodging in order to draw a clear distinction between work time and leisure time.