Room 224 – The arbitrator




“What is going on in the room above me? It sounds like there’s a parade or something!”

It was around 8 p.m., and my shift at the desk had been uneventful thus far. However, the tranquil summer evening at my select-service property was about to take a sharp turn, courtesy of a call from the guest in room 224.

“I’m sorry about that,” I dutifully responded through the receiver. “I’ll tell the guests they need to be quieter.”

Noise complaints in a hotel are inevitable. Guest rooms are in close proximity to one another and noise levels tolerated in a private residence are magnified when sharing such close quarters. Guests often are surprised when they’re informed the volume of their TV or noise from family members is disturbing other guests. Usually, the accused party complies realizing that eviction could follow multiple noise complaints.

I dialed room 324 to remind them of the noise policy at the hotel which they agreed to upon check-in and ask them to quiet down.

“Hi”, I began when the guest answered the phone. “I just wanted to let you know that I’ve gotten a few complaints down here at the desk about noise from your room. If you could just kindly keep it down, we can ensure a peaceful stay for all guests.”

The guest from 324 instantly became combative. “Was it the people downstairs?”

“Well,” I replied, trying to maintain professionalism and not disclose any perpetrators. “It doesn’t matter where the complaint originated.”

“They should talk,” said the guest speaking over me. “Their TV is so loud that I can hear it perfectly from up here! They’re the ones being noisy!”

I suddenly felt like a mediator. “I will remind them of the noise policy as well. But if I could ask you to do your part in keeping the noise to a minimum, that would be great.”

There was a click in my ear as 324 hung up. Clearly, he assumed innocence in his room’s noise level and felt 224 was the culprit. Either way, I didn’t realize this feud was just getting started.

At 8:30 p.m., I received another angry call from room 224.

“Look, the people above us finally stopped their stomping, but now they’ve got music blaring obnoxiously loud.” The guest on the phone was aggravated. “Can’t you kick them out?”

“Sir,” I replied, “I will call them and warn them of a possible eviction, but you must know, I have had noise complaints about your room as well.”

“WHAT!?” the guest in room 224 exclaimed! “Us?”

“Yes, it was regarding the volume of your TV,” I explained.

“Look,” the guest said, “I turned up the TV because I couldn’t hear it over the damn stomp fest that was going on upstairs!” Room 224 was growing more heated with each word. “Was it the people upstairs who complained?”

Still trying to maintain anonymity, I simply responded, “I just need to ask you to remain quiet in your room, and I will notify room 324 to do the same.”

The phone slammed down in my ear. I was growing tired of the childish antics of both rooms. I then dialed room 324, whose response to my gentle noise policy reminder was expected.

“I’m sick of them complaining. Quiet hours are not until 10 o’clock, right?”

“Yes,” I started, “however…”

“Then I have my rights,” room 324 interrupted. “I’m not being noisy! They can go suck eggs.” The phone slammed in my ear once again and I felt my role as referee intensify.

About 15 minutes later, I received a call from room 324.

“The noise from the TV downstairs is unbearable, they must have it cranked up all the way. I think they’re doing it on purpose.” The guest was angry, and I could hear a muffled TV playing in the background. “Also, they’re banging on our floor, which would be their ceiling! How do you explain that?”

I was surprised the rooms surrounding 224 and 324 hadn’t complained. Trying to avoid other disturbances, I decided that evicting both guests for breaking noise policy was a card I now needed to play.

“Sir,” I began, “I’ve had several complaints about both you and your neighbor this evening. Our policy is that after two complaints, the hotel has the right to evict the guest with no refund. You have already reached that number, but I’m willing to grant you one more exception and give you a final warning. Any further noise complaints will result in your party being evicted from the hotel. Do you understand?”

Room 324 did not respond to my news. “Have you threatened to kick them out like you’re doing to me?”

“Yes,” I said. It was a lie, but I intended to call 224 after hanging up and giving them the same speech.

In his anger, room 324 slammed down the phone. I then called 224 and reiterated what I had told 324 moments earlier.

I hung up the phone feeling a sense of relief. I hoped I’d put out the fire and both guests would cool off, fearing my threat of eviction, which I was completely prepared to carry out.

At 9 p.m., the guest from room 224 came to the desk.

“Hey, that guy upstairs is back to stomping, shouting and the music is unbearable.” The guest was angry.

I was at the end of my rope.

“He’s just being obnoxious now,” 224 continued, “deliberately being noisy just to make me mad! You said you’d kick him out and I want him OUT of here!”

My heart suddenly sank, for as 224 was ranting, 324 walked into the lobby behind him.

“Shut your mouth!” shouted 324 as he walked towards the desk. 224 turned and looked at the guest with a look of shock. “This is on you. Your stupid TV is so loud. What are you all, deaf or something?”

I stood mesmerized as the two guests argued back and forth, throwing accusations and insults. Tempers flared and the volume grew.

“Gentlemen,” I said, attempting to peacefully intercede.

“That’s it! I want you and your stupid family OUT of this hotel,” 224 demanded, pointing his finger directly in 324’s face.

324 swatted the finger away from his face. “Get your finger out of my face! Don’t you DARE put your finger in my face like that!” He had stepped closer to 224 and was shouting at him almost nose to nose.

“Get out of my face!” 224 shouted. With both hands, he shoved 324 in the chest who retreated a few steps.

“Don’t touch me!” 324 yelled, and likewise pushed 224’s chest, forcing him backward two steps.

By then, I’d run around and stood between the two men with a hand extended towards each of them separating the two. Tempers were high and fury filled the air.

“Calm down, both of you,” I yelled. For a moment, I feared being pushed aside so they could resume their confrontation, but both guests stayed in their respective corners. “Listen,” I continued, not quite knowing how this would play out, “I want you both to get back to your room, collect your belongings and leave the hotel immediately!”

“BUT…” they both cried simultaneously.

“LISTEN!” I shouted, overriding their individual rebuttals. My command echoed through the vacant lobby and was followed by stunned silence. I clearly had their attention.

“I have grounds to call the police and kick both of you out of the hotel; however, if you will both go back to your rooms and not make another sound for the rest of tonight, I will not call the police.”

Both men remained silent and looked at me like dogs aware that they had done something wrong.

“Do you both understand?” I asked.

Both men nodded slowly.

I then pointed to 324. “You. You go first. You get a head start back to your room.” I then pointed to 224. “You wait here just a minute.” I felt like a parent directing two squabbling toddlers.

As 324 exited the lobby, I didn’t move until a few minutes later when I then dismissed 224 back to his room.

I didn’t hear from either of the guests the remainder of my shift. Both men checked out of the hotel the following morning without incident.

Returning behind the desk, I looked around the empty lobby, replaying in my mind the chaos that had unfolded that evening. Despite my frustration, there was a small sense of accomplishment. I’d managed to defuse a volatile situation without it escalating further, keeping the peace in the hotel.

Ultimately, it was all in a day’s work at the hotel’s front desk.

Deven Matthews is a hotelier who has worked in the hotel industry for more than 23 years. A professor of hotel management at the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas, Deven enjoys instructing the future managers of Las Vegas hotels. He holds a master’s degree in business management and is fascinated by all things hospitality. When not immersed in hotels, Deven enjoys playing the piano and spending time with his wife and their six children.


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