Smoked out of the Days Inn

no smokingQuestion: I have a concern that I tried addressing with a specific Days Inn and with Wyndham, which owns Days Inn, but have not received a response. I recently stayed at the Days Inn in Fernandina Beach, Fla. I made a reservation for a non-smoking room and was given a smoking room when I checked it.

I spoke with a manager, who told me he was sorry he couldn’t offer me a non-smoking room. The only rooms the hotel had left to sell were smoking rooms.

So, my question to Wyndham is: Is it their policy to accept a reservation for a non-smoking room when no such room exists? I wrote to Wyndham, but after several emails, it stopped answering.

I understand that a hotel cannot always guarantee a non-smoking room. But, the manager admits none were available when I made my reservation. I never would have completed the reservation had I known that. They would have charged me a day’s stay had I not shown up; they should compensate me a day’s stay for not having the room.

I do feel Wyndham and Days Inn should somehow be accountable for this misleading action. — Debbie Rosenkranz, Miami

Answer: Let me state my bias up front: Smoking should not be allowed in a hotel room. Ever. Unfortunately, at the time you stayed in your hotel, Florida state law permitted smoking. But a look at the Days Inn site also showed that the room type you booked also said your room would be “non-smoking” which led you to conclude you wouldn’t have to inhale trace amounts of carcinogens as you slept.

This is a clear-cut case of a hotel offering a product and failing to deliver. But things aren’t always so defined. I checked into a Hampton Inn in Van Buren, Ark., recently, and had a non-smoking room, but it was on a smoking floor. When my kids walked into the bathroom, they were met with the strong odor of cigarettes. Complaints to the management were shrugged off – after all, we were technically staying in a non-smoking room.

By the way, if you’ve made a lifestyle choice to smoke, I’m not judging you. But please don’t do it anywhere near my kids. Their right to breathe clean air trumps your right to smoke.

Looking back, I would have said something to the Days Inn manager as soon as you checked in. If you couldn’t be accommodated in one of its non-smoking rooms, it might have sent you to another Wyndham-owned property close by, at its expense (that’s called “walking” in hotel lingo). But once you unpacked your belongings and decided to stay, the hotel more or less assumes the room is acceptable and that you’ve agreed to pay for it.

Wyndham shouldn’t have dropped the matter when you contacted it. It owed you an explanation, at the very least, if not an apology for giving you a smoking room. As far as I can tell, it didn’t give you either.

I contacted Wyndham on your behalf, and it offered you a free room night to make up for the room mix-up.

Should smoking be allowed in hotel rooms?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • y_p_w

    If I’m not mistaken, Days Inn locations are typically franchises, and occasionally the corporate booking engine gets things wrong. Once I booked a single night at a hotel with a bonus that the manager informed me was only valid with a two night stay and one night at a higher rate. Didn’t make that much sense to be since the bonus had a value about the same as the higher price, but the manager gave me the rate I would have otherwise booked.

    When the corporate booking engine screws up, I wouldn’t necessarily blame it on the franchisee. It’s corporate that should make things right.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Should smoking be permitted in hotel rooms? My answer is it depends. Should there be a law against it. No. Hotels are private property and should be allowed to set their own policies. Hotels are not monopolies and I can choose not to stay at a property that permits smoking.

    However, I think hotels should generally forbid smoking. I won’t stay in a smoking room under any circumstances. I would rather sleep in my car. As far as I am concerned, a smoking room is almost the same as not having a room.

    All of the chains that I frequent have gone smoke free in the entire chain. I am very happy as that means the chance of me getting a smoking room diminishes.

  • Bill___A

    To me, a smoking room does mean that there’s no room available.
    There are many chains that “do not guarantee” a non smoking room, including Hilton, last time I checked. I find this unacceptable and always put in the comments that there *must* be a non smoking room.
    Years ago, I was in a “hon smoking” room that was on a smoking floor. The smoke was coming into the room. I explained to the hotel that this was unacceptable, checked out immediately, and went to another hotel. It is when one does not have the option when this is problematic.
    I do believe that all hotels should be non smoking. They argument of it being a “private property” do not hold water. it is a “public business”. The workers have to clean the rooms. It is not a safe work place if the workers are exposed to smoke.
    Every hotel should be required to designate a smoking area outside, which is far away and not upwind from the main entrance, or any other entrance. I agree that people who choose to do so should be allowed to smoke – in a place where they can do so without affecting others. Businesses should be required to facilitate this. How many times do you go somewhere that is non smoking and there is someone puffing away right in the doorway? This makes no sense. Furthermore, smoking should NOT be allowed on balconies.
    As a final note, some hotel chains that have gone ‘smoke free” in North America have not done so in other parts of the world.

  • sdir

    It sounds like she DID complain to manager at check-in, and the manager admitted they had no non-smoking rooms available when the reservation was made. She wasn’t walked and she wasn’t offered a discount. Should she have insisted on it right then and there? As an inexperienced traveler, I am curious.

    But I still think something is missing from her side of the story. She stated “So, my question to Wyndham is: Is it their policy to accept a reservation for a non-smoking room when no such room exists? I wrote to Wyndham, but after several emails, it stopped answering. ” She sounds a bit passive-agressive to me. I’m curious about the contents of those “several” emails, because I doubt she was merely asking a yes/no question as she claims.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I do believe that all hotels should be non smoking. They argument of it being a “private property” do not hold water. it is a “public business”. The workers have to clean the rooms. It is not a safe work place if the workers are exposed to smoke.


    That’s an interesting question. California outlawed smoking in bars and restaurants because secondhand smoke is clearly a danger to the servers. That brings the question of 1) what are the dangers of so called “Third hand smoke” and 2) if dangers are present, can they be eliminated, or brought to within a reasonable level, e.g. wearing masks much as asbestos or other hazardous removal people do.

    I don’t know the answer because a cursory search provided no objective reporting on this issue. The first article I read was a thinly disguised tobacco firm puff piece. The next was from a smoking should be completely outlawed advocacy group..

    However, leaving aside the question of workers, just for simplicity’s sake, the point I was making is having smoking rooms does not impede upon the rights of the guests, as long as full disclosure is made.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Furthermore, smoking should NOT be allowed on balconies.
    I’m not sure I follow this. There are three entities with rights here. The hotel, the workers, and the guests. Assuming that balconies don’t really get cleaned and thus don’t pose a health hazard to the cleaning staff, the hotel should be permitted to set its own rules about balcony smoke. As long as the hotel fully discloses that fact, you as the guest can choose to stay there, or go to any one of the number of hotels which forbid smoking anywhere on the premises.

  • Clayton

    I personally don’t care if someone wants to smoke if it doesn’t affect me. It’s a personal choice and if you want to smoke 10 packs a day, I don’t care. But if your business caters to a public clientel of differing opinions, then you have to provide a facility that accomodates as many or all of your customers as possible. It also comes back to responsibility for the hotel. I believe in truth in advertising. If they say something is available, then it should be available. If I were the hotel though, I would probably just do a feasability analysis and say that I would be willing to lose 5% of my customers to the issue if it increased my bookings and marketing by more than that 5%

  • Lou

    I had a bad experience with another Wyndham brand … Knight’s Inn in Lenexa, KS … I had a reservation with a confirmation number and when I got there, they said “no rooms”. I asked for the desk clerk to walk me, but I just got a blank stare. Her excuse was that she did not enter my reservation into their computer when it came in and then accepted reservations by phone. Wyndham was not much help either. The franchises often do what they want, and Wyndham can’t always make them do the right thing.

  • Red

    She needs to get over it .

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    Another whiner. If it bothers you that much, find another hotel. Days Inn ain’t the Ritz, after all.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    Ban smoking in all hotel rooms? How about banning children under the age of 10 so their shrieking doesn’t annoy me? And how about dogs who bark … or smell bad?

  • Bill___A

    I’ve just experienced pretty much a day of seeing people disrespect reasonable existing smoking legislation several times an hour. Where regulations didn’t exist, they were inconsiderate and lit up amongst crowds (during a walking tour). There may be one or two considerate smokers out there, but they hide themselves very well. The only answer is stringent rules and even more stringent enforcement. Nothing else works.
    As to Mr. Elliott’s kids, yes, I agree they should not be exposed to environmental tobacco smoke. However, nor should anyone else, including my wife, Mr. Elliott, his wife, etc. If someone wants to go off and smoke without affecting others, so be it. However, you pretty much experience smoke in every populate area. Supposedly only 20% of people smoke. If that’s true, they are imposing their filth on a lot of people every day.
    It is a pointless discussion. It should be banned in hotels and many other places. There’s no basis for allowing it. None.

  • polexia_rogue

    i was under the impression the smoking/nonsmoking option was right up there with the “one bed vs 2 beds” option. they ASK but it is not a promise.
    (meaning the website will not say “oh no, we are out of non smoking rooms! please pick a different date of travel.”)

    feel free to correct me.- this is always just what i assumed from using

  • doctork

    I was given rooms which reeked of smoke. Every time they were refused. Once I was put in a room in a corner on the second floor. I never sleep in a room that has even a semblance of smoke. I will take my money back, but insist the motel find me another room in a comparable hotel. This is for them to do, not me. Insist.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    I’m a smoker and even I believe hotel rooms should be smoke free.

    The curtains and bedding in most hotel rooms can catch a lot of smoke and it’s impossible to get the odor out. I was staying at one of the new upgraded Motel 6 chain and though I was in a non-smoking room, the room next to me was smoking and I could smell it the entire time I was there as there were two young couples staying in the room who, apparently, smoked non-stop.

    So, yes, all rooms should be that way, non-smoking. It really isn’t that much of an inconvenience to have guests walk down to a designated area away from the non-smoking people.

  • jebaker

    Whether or not a hotel allows smoking or not some people are going to do it. So instead of getting a non smoking room I get a semi smoking room where the previous occupant smoked in the bathroom or with the window open. Just enough where they don’t get dinged with the cleaning fee but enough to affect my asthma. Another issue with non smoking hotels is the ring of smokers you have to walk thru to leave your room. I want a room with no smoke and the non smoking hotels are not providing them. I do better sometimes in hotels with smoking and truly non smoking

  • Stephen0118

    I guess the question becomes did she make the reservation with the hotel directly or through the Days Inn corporate site? If she made the reservation with the hotel directly, they should have told her that there were no non-smoking rooms available, which would have given her a chance to look elsewhere.

  • jennj99738

    When I reserve a room, I usually see a list of both non-smoking and smoking rooms. I book a non-smoking room. If no non-smoking rooms are available, those rooms should not even be listed as an option to book. I would expect the same for rooms with two beds versus one.

  • jennj99738

    So she shouldn’t get what she was promised and pay for? Doesn’t sound like whining to me.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    The issue isn’t whether there is basis for allowing something, but rather,are there grounds to prohibit a given activity. The onus is on the proponent of the ban to show why an activity should be banned.

    Public spaces are shared spaces. Accordingly, a discussion on the rules of conduct in a public space must be embarked upon before we can a priori make a decision one way or the other.

    Then of course, even in the absence of legislation, good sense should prevail. A considerate smoker should NOT light up in a group of people.

  • Bill___A

    Well, Carver, they do light up in a group of people. they do light up where it is banned. When one party is lighting a fire with carcinogenic smoke, the issue of “rights” ends. The only good sense is to not have the carcinogenic smoke.

  • cowboyinbrla

    Once a child leaves the room with its parents, the shrieking doesn’t lurk in the curtains, bedspread, and carpet. As for noise at the time, well, most hotels have rules about that, be it drunks, kids, or dogs.

  • cowboyinbrla

    One issue is like that found with flights: overbooking. Airlines and hotels both assume that a certain number of people who make reservations aren’t going to show up, so they may book 55 reservations for 53 non-smoking rooms. If there aren’t two cancellations or no-shows…. then they have a problem.

  • chickadee

    Exactly, and they should have a plan in place to deal with that possibility, such as walking them to another hotel.

  • Cybrsk8r

    “can they be eliminated, or brought to within a reasonable level, e.g. wearing masks much as asbestos or other hazardous removal people do”

    So…. when I check into the Days Inn, I should remember to pack a haz-mat suit?

  • Cybrsk8r

    One of the best come-backs I’ve ever seen here.

  • JenniferFinger

    Me neither. I have yet to see Judy Serie Nagy refrain from accusing letter writers of “whining” when it comes to their not getting what they were promised and paid for.

  • JenniferFinger

    I agree with you. Children and dogs don’t cause cancer the way secondhand smoke does.

  • Bill___A

    This thread is about smoking, not other things.

  • William_Leeper

    Here in Arkansas (and I find Chris’ Van Buren hotel interesting since I know that property manager), it is illegal to smoke within the confined building of a public business provided that 1. The business employs more than 25 people per shift, or 2. Th business employs or allows access to any person under 21 years of age. But then the law exempted hotels from the regulations as they are zoned “residential” in Arkansas, and the law specifically targeted “commercial” businesses.

    With hat said, they continued with hotels must have 90% of their rooms designated “non-smoking, and must not allow smoking in those rooms at any time. Those rooms must also have separate ventilation, or all rooms on the ventilation system must be smoking.

    This has Ben in effect since July 1, 2007.

  • sign buyer

    Days Inn has to be one of the worse hotel chains in the U.S. I ad a resevation at one for over 9 months and 4 days before my arrival my resevation was cancelled. did not cancell and all the Wydam would say it was cancelled by phone. The hotel is a franchise and they would only rebook for 2 days ata 50% higher price. After over 2 hours of phone calls over 3 days I was able to get my room for one night but at check in the id charge higher price. I did, with Christopher Elloitts help was able to get a full refund.

  • llandyw

    Actually those aren’t the main reason for not allowing smoking on a balcony. A large portion of smokers dispose of their ashes wherever they happen to be. Even if there’s an ashtray within 5 feet of them, they won’t go to it and use it. Those who have no consideration for anyone else, when on a balcony will dispose of their ashes over the rail, especially if the room is non-smoking and has no ashtray. If anyone is below or down wind of them, tough luck.

    My mother was a big proponent of peoples rights, especially her own. She was also a heavy smoker. It never mattered to her if people around her were smokers or not, her right trumped everyone elses. My grandmother was also a heavy smoker, but at least she had some consideration for others.

    Both of them died from lung cancer. My grandmother when I was in my teens, my mother 10 years ago. My great grandmother, who didn’t smoke lived till she was 96. The other two, at most to their mid 60s. I think my grandmother was only in her 50s. Either way, our family typically had long lives. I believe the smoking took 30 years away from 2 generations.

  • llandyw

    I don’t bother making reservations through a web site. 2 reasons for this. 1, you don’t really get any better pricing through corporate or other “opaque” websites. Frequently you’re just taking your chances. 2. Calling to make a reservation directly means you can at least check on what’s really available. Sometimes the reservation system doesn’t get closed even when the hotel is sold out, or overbooked.

    Of course, there are places that if you ask to make a reservation, they will just refer you to the corporate reservations (web or phone). In that case, you just tell them you’ll find another place. If this happens enough, maybe they might re-think this policy.

    Also, having someone who is in the industry, she knows how to get the best price.

    BTW, it has been mentioned about hotels being private property or public.. The term is “place of public accommodation”, This means they do have some laws that effect how they do business. For instance, they must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

  • James Orth

    If you refuse to stay in a smoking room then stand up for it. Hotels should not be allowed to permit smoking in rooms.

  • llandyw

    Oh, one more item. A year ago, Thanksgiving day (2011), a hotel in the city I live in had a major fire. It was caused by a cigarette smoker in the smoking area. Rather than disposing of their ashes and butt in the provided container, they just tossed it into the mulch only a few feet from the container.

    One of the employees put out the fire, or so she thought. She didn’t contact the fire department. The fire burned under the mulch, and might even have flared up (nobody was there to know). Anyway, the fire got into the outer wall, traveled up it to the roof. Appears there were no fire breaks in the wide-open attic area, and no fire prevention system up there. The entire roof collapsed onto the upper floor.

    The burned hotel remained as it was for over a year before it was finally demolished. Only portions left after the demolition were an outbuilding and the part over the main entrance that was not connected directly to the main building.

    Luckily nobody was hurt, and they didn’t have many people staying there.

  • RetiredNavyphotog

    No, she is not another whiner.
    Her request for a non-smoking room should have been honored.
    Anyone who has any types of breathing problems would be severely affected by any smoke smell or residue.

  • MarkKelling

    maybe on third party booking sites the non smoking option is just a request, but when you deal directly with the hotels (at least the ones I deal with) it is a guarantee.

  • MarkKelling

    On a recent long stay at a Marriott (one chain that has adopted a 100% smoke free policy) the person in the room next to me smoked on the balcony even though there are clear sings all over the room, on the sliding glass door to the balcony and on the balcony itself stating there is no smoking anywhere. The wind blew the smoke directly into my room. I called the front desk and they sent some one to tell him to stop. His argument was the balcony was outside so he had a right to smoke there. They told him it was their hotel, their policy, and he had to go to the designated spot if he wanted to smoke. Over the next two days, he constantly banged on the wall between the rooms, slammed the connecting door and threw trash from his balcony onto mine. I reported this to the front desk and they sent someone to hang out in my room to catch some of this. He disappeared the evening of the second day.

    Yesterday at the airport, while waiting for the rental car bus, someone lit up — right underneath the no smoking sign. Sure it was outside, but the sign was not just put there for decoration. A passing police officer wrote him a ticket.

    I understand that people can choose to smoke if they want. However, follow the rules if you choose to smoke. Don’t smoke in a non smoking hotel. Don’t smoke where there are signs posted saying not to. And just be a little considerate of those around you who don’t smoke for whatever reason they choose not to. If I go into a bar where smoking is allowed, I’m not going to get upset if someone starts smoking. Similarly, if you are a smoker, don’t get upset if you are in a non smoking area.

  • Miami510

    I have never smoked. I hate smoking and the many diseases it causes, and I hate paying for public health costs that people self-inflict. I also voted “yes.” Smoking is an addiction and smoking should be illegal in public places. But a private hotel room so designated is OK… I wouldn’t have stayed there and have requested and obtained a non smoking room on a few occasions when I was given a smelly room. I would have walked

  • fishplate

    This thread is about behavior which impacts other guests in the hotel. Smoking, or shrieking kids (or loud music) keeping you from getting any sleep. If you ban one, you must ban all. After all, sleep is a safety concern if I’m going to drive the next day.

  • Bill___A

    Looks to me like it is about smoking. I don’t like shrieking kids or loud music either, but they don’t give me cancer. I have my ways for dealing with this but I won’t discuss it here as this thread is actually about smoking.
    I run into far more smoking issues than I do with the other ones, so it makes sense to tackle the smoking issue first.
    Smoking advocates have a nasty habit about trying to change the subject.
    Today again I ran into a lot of inconsiderate smokers. I was in a non smoking underground garage waiting for some people. It was well posted as non smoking. Not only did Mr. smoker light up but he carried his lit cigarette around sharing the smoke with as many people as possible.

  • Alex

    The ability to guarantee a non-smoking room depends entirely on the hotel chain. Some chains are able to guarantee both smoking preference and bed type. Other chains treat those things as “preferences”. For those chains, it doesn’t matter if you book online or call the hotel…they simply won’t guarantee those things.

  • pauletteb

    Are you a smoker, by chance? Only a smoker would consider the OP’s valid complaint whining.

  • emanon256

    Thank you for being a considerate smoker.

    I have many friends who smoke and you would never even know. They like smoking, but never light up in crowds, near doors, on balconies, etc. simply out of courtesy for others and I commend them for it.

  • emanon256

    I had the EXACT same situation happen at a Marriott minus the trash. But there was the banging of doors and walls backlash and repeated continued smoking. By the second day the hotel removed them as well. I just don’t get why someone would break the rules, and then try to punish the person they affected when they broke the rules because they got caught. Its so easy to walk downstairs, outside, and smoke in the covered smoking area and it was warm out.

  • jennj99738

    Pure laziness. Or entitlement, or both. I’m sure that there are some considerate smokers out there, but the number of inconsiderate ones outnumber them exponentially. I have to walk through a wall of smoke outside my office building every day while they lounge against the wall with the no smoking sign attached to it. I love coming to work to spend the day smelling like an ashtray.

    I don’t go to a smoking section and tell the smokers to stop smoking. I would appreciate if smokers don’t smoke in non-smoking areas.

  • wiseword

    It’s fine with me if people want to get cancer,etc., in their own hermetically sealed spaces. But, aside from carcinogens, the stink (which they can’t smell) extends far beyond their personal space. You can drink vodka and keep your secret, but smoke smell proclaims itself.

  • Lindabator

    They do – but if she decided not to move to a different hotel (which she doesn’t address here), no other options they CAN offer her.

  • GeoffDepew

    A few years ago I was on a trip, and went to my hotel. I don’t smoke, don’t like the smell, had booked through the hotel’s website (a Marriott in Virginia) requesting a non-smoking room, all the things you’re supposed to do.

    I checked in, opened the door, and was hit with a scent of cigarette smoke so powerful that it set off my asthma (which is usually so mild I just have the inhaler for emergencies, I don’t use one regularly). I closed the door, dug it out, used it, sat on the floor until I could breathe properly again. Then I went to the elevator lobby where there was a phone, and called the desk and explained the situation. Two minutes later, the hotel’s general manager came out of the elevator, greeted me, asked if I was the person who called, asked for my key, and walked with me to the room, then opened it….

    ….and at the smell of it, used language that should have removed the wallpaper and the paint. Then the manager apologized to me, and proceeded to not just get me a new room, but upgrade me (at no cost) and gave me a voucher for a free dinner in the hotel restaurant. But he was incredibly upset about the situation, because (as he explained to me) they’d have to mark that room unusable and call in people to give it a full cleaning, which might mean a full reconditioning of the room – new mattresses, new carpeting, new wallpaper and drapes. Which might make the rooms on either side EQUALLY unusable due to the noise, depending on the situation. He was exceptionally polite and nice to me, but I’m pretty sure the person who was smoking in there had a pretty nasty extra charge on their card.

    I was lucky; Debbie was not. But I think that if the hotel cannot provide the reservation, it needs to walk the guest to a new hotel which can.

  • cahdot

    and there are so many nicer hotels in Fernandina beach that will accomodate you this is sad

  • JewelEyed

    There are many people with such severe allergies to lingering cigarette smoke on things that they will get very ill sleeping in a room where someone has been smoking. That should be the standard to which a non-smoking room should be held. Period.

  • JewelEyed

    If the shrieking lurked in the room after the kids were gone, I’d never stay in a hotel again.