Hotel inspections: Ensuring cleanliness for your summer travel plans

Before you make travel plans for summer, have you ever wondered how well your hotel room was cleaned?

You can find out by checking hotel inspections before you go. You can usually find swimming pool and restaurant inspections for your destination, too.

TRAVEL NEWS: United Airlines pilots picket outside Houston's Bush Airport ahead of summer travel season

Let's start with hotels.

AAA offers both hotel and restaurant inspections, giving them ratings ranging from approved to three, four, and five diamonds, based on their level of cleanliness, service, and quality.

An AAA hotel inspector let me in on a quick way to know how well your hotel room has been cleaned: Look in the mirror.

If you see water splatters or debris on the mirror, he says that's a sign the bathroom hasn't been cleaned very well.

The inspector walked us through all the parts of a hotel room they inspect.

"We will look under couches to make sure there are no crumbs or pens stuck under there from a previous guest," AAA inspector 563 showed us, lifting some couch cushions.

SUGGESTED: TSA tests facial recognition technology at US airports to boost security

We can't show you his face or tell you his name. AAA hotel inspectors are anonymous, checking for hotel safety, such as door peepholes, locks, and lighting.

"We ensure a light works correctly, flipping it on and off, and peeking behind couches. You’d be amazed at what you find behind couches and draperies," he said giving the hotel room a thorough inspection.

And they check for cleanliness.

"You'd be amazed at how much debris can get in these bases here," he said wiping his finger across a phone base station.


They drop in unannounced at 26,000 hotels across North America, including where we met him at the Westin Houston Downtown, which has a four diamond rating.

"The sheets have to be crisp. It’s the way they sit, even the place of that fold," Westin General Manager Brian Sciberras explained showing us how the hotel earned four diamonds.

"No lipstick, no residue, no water spots. Very clean," the inspector said looking over a drinking glass.

Many hotels continue to perform higher levels of surface cleaning since COVID.

AAA inspectors conduct Adenosine Triphosphate, or ATP tests, on six surfaces, looking for signs of microorganisms, such as bacteria.

After swabbing the bathroom counter, the inspector tested the swab in an ATP testing device.

"I hit run on the device. Green would indicate a pass, red would indicate a fail. So this surface, based on our threshold, is very clean," said #563.

You don't have to be a AAA member to look up hotel and restaurant ratings on the AAA website.

Plus many local health departments conduct and post restaurant and swimming pool inspections as well. Just do an online search for inspection reports and the city or county you're planning to visit. For example, the Houston Health Department posts results of swimming pool inspections and restaurants.

And here's one more quick way to check your hotel room for cleanliness. The AAA inspector says simply swipe your finger across the shower floor.

"We will get down on a knee and take a hand across to ensure there’s no hair or residue left behind," he showed us.