What Happens When Two Men Check into a Hotel and Request a Double Bed…
“I love travelling and loved it even before I joined Expedia almost 4 years ago. I really enjoy watching travel vlogs and I follow many travel influencers on Instagram. After COVID-19 hit, this digital travel content became even more important to me, since it’s the closest I can get to being somewhere else at the moment.
Unsurprisingly, as a gay man, much of the people I follow on Instagram and YouTube are also gay men. The reason for this is quite simple but maybe not very obvious for straight people. When you travel as a gay man, and especially as a gay couple, there are certain things you need to be mindful of, for example: is homosexuality illegal in the country that I am travelling to and even if not, is it socially accepted or not. Sadly, in the majority of countries in the world, being gay is either illegal or if not illegal, it’s not accepted by society. I guess this is the reason why I prefer to watch travel videos that are produced by people who understand my situation.
Regardless of how much you prepare your travel, as a gay single or couple you will face some kind of discrimination on your trip. And by that, I mean every single trip. Discrimination can take many shapes and is often not intended as such but can also be the result of ignorance. And yes, it hurts the same way, even if you didn’t mean it.
Usually, for me the moment of truth is when I am checking in to a hotel with my boyfriend. An experience that can often be quite awful when you travel as a same sex couple because even if you are very discreet, you are sort of ‘outing yourself’ to the check-in staff by booking a double bed. You’d think that the check-in staff would just give you what you booked or something better, but that’s not always the case when the check-in person doesn’t approve of your existence – or maybe just doesn’t get it.
My ex-boyfriend and I once booked a trip to Korea. We chose a very fancy hotel in Seoul’s most prestigious neighborhood, Gangnam. Homosexuality is not illegal in Korea but it’s a very traditional society, so you also won’t see many gay couples holding hands in public. Both my ex-boyfriend and I had been to Korea before so we felt quite safe and actually didn’t even think anything could happen when we arrived at the hotel. Little did we know because the person who checked us in clearly didn’t understand what was happening, even when I gave him a hint. It was a young guy who seemed very surprised when he saw that we had booked a double bed but also that we were two guys.
The conversation was as follows:
Hotel staff: I see you booked a double bed. You are two guys though, so I will give you a room with two single beds.
Johannes: No, thanks for the offer but we want the double bed.
Hotel staff: No, don’t worry. I will give you two single beds since you are two guys. Then you don’t have to sleep in the same bed.
Johannes (slightly angry): We booked the double bed for a reason. Please just give us what we booked.
Hotel staff: Yes, but it’s no problem for me to change it.
Johannes: We booked a double bed because that’s what we want.
We got the double bed, but the check-in person was really confused and clearly didn’t understand what was happening. Of course, he meant well but, in that moment, it really didn’t matter and both of us were quite annoyed. Not a good way to start your holiday. I later wrote a complaint to the hotel management to tell them what happened, and I said that I really enjoyed staying at this hotel because it was so beautiful and in such a good location, but the check-in experience was really not good. The hotel replied and told me that they’re glad I enjoyed my stay and they’re hoping to welcome me back soon. No mention of my complaint about the check-in experience.
A situation like this can really dampen your mood when you go on holiday, so I think it’s important for hotels to train their staff accordingly. My advice to hotels would be, don’t get involved in your guests’ preferences and don’t challenge them on what they are asking for. If you really think your guests might prefer a different room type, you can ask our booking records show you selected a double bed, is this still your preference? Instead of explaining why you personally think whatever your guests booked is incorrect.
The only advice I can give to same sex couples who fear something like this might happen on their holiday is you don’t have to justify anything. You don’t need to explain yourselves or get involved in any discussion. If someone is challenging you, simply say you want what you booked, as long as the legal situation in the country where you are travelling allows this.
Johannes joined Expedia in London in 2017 and has since relocated to the office in Singapore. Outside of COVID-19 times he is an avid traveller and the go to person for finding the best deals and maximising the benefits of loyalty programmes. He is passionate about sustainable eating and leads the Singapore chapter of Green Monday, a programme that organises vegetarian lunches for co-workers.“
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