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051 How to sound more polite when at a hotel on business

How to sound more polite when at a hotel

Hello everyone, Andre Ambrosius here for another episode of the Art of Business English. This week I want to share with you some expressions you can use when you are on a business trip, specifically related to hotels. 

If you need to travel often and you struggle or feel uncomfortable when you need to do things at the hotel, then you will find today’s episode very helpful. In this episode I am going to be looking at some useful vocabulary and expressions. Then I am going to give you an overview of how we can use polite expressions when making requests. 

In today’s episode I will be covering: 

  1. General hotel vocabulary and expressions
  2. The theory behind making polite request
  3. Vocabulary and expressions at check in
  4. Typical questions once you have arrived
  5. How to make polite requests


So, lets get straight into it. 

General hotel vocabulary & expressions


The great thing about hotels is that the whole check-in process is pretty straight forward even if you speak very little English you can complete the task. However, wouldn’t it be great if you knew all the vocabulary that you typically hear? Wouldn’t it be great to feel confident when you are in these situations and not feel ridiculous when you struggle to do a basic task such as checking in to a hotel.


Well, it all starts with having a good range of vocabulary and knowing how to answer the typical questions that you are asked.


Let’s start by looking at some typical words you should know when checking in. I will give you the expression, the translation and then a short example.



WordTranslation Example

Shuttle bus


(bus) lanzaderaDo you know if there’s a shuttle bus from the airport to the hotel?

Business Centre


Centro de negociosThe business centre is huge and well equipped.

Electronic safe


Caja fuerte electrónicaEach room in the hotel has an electronic safe.

Conference Room


Sala de conferenciasThe conference room is on your right.

Continental breakfast/full buffet breakfast


Desayuno continental/buffetWe offer continental breakfast, but you can also have the full buffet.

Disabled facilities


Instalaciones adaptadas


I like this hotel because it has disabled facilities.
Suitcase (countable)MaletaAllow our porter to take your suitcase to your room.
Luggage (uncountable) EquipajeAlways keep an eye on your luggage at the airport.

Queen/king sized bed


Cama de matrimonioWe asked for a queen size bed, but we got two single beds.
ProhibitedProhibidoSmoking is prohibited in all rooms.

Rollaway bed


Cama supletoriaWe asked for an extra bed in the room, so they brought us a rollaway bed.
ReservationReservaciónHow many people are traveling under your reservation?
AmenitiesComodidadesThe modern amenities in this hotel make it a real pleasure to stay in.
House keepingServicio de LimpiezaIf you would like house keeping to make up your room then just leave the sign on the door knob.
LobbyVestíbuloYou must be in the lobby by 9 am where your tour guide will be waiting.
Room serviceServicio de habitaciónYou can dial room service on 111.
Wakeup callLlamada de despertadorWould you like a wakeup call for tomorrow morning?


OK, so that covers the type of language you need to know when you are staying in a hotel. Let’s look in the next part of the episode structures you can use for making polite requests.


Making polite requests


OK, so let’s start this section of with a little coaching. The first rule is that being friendly, and smiling will go a looooong way to helping you getting what you want. People are much more likely to help you if you are nice to them and if you treat them with the respect that they deserve.


Secondly, as you are not a native speaker of English you are going to need to understand the basics of being polite. Remember, please and thankyou are only the beginning. Unlike in Spanish, with English we tend to speak less directly to sound more polite and more formal. Let me give you can example of different degrees of politeness. As I give you the example sentence, I am going from neutral to more and more polite and less and less direct.


  1. Hello, I want to make a reservation.
  2. Hello, I would like to make a reservation.
  3. Hello, can I make a reservation?
  4. Hello, could I make a reservation, please?
  5. Hello, may I make a reservation, please?
  6. Hello, I was wondering if you would mind helping me make a reservation, please?


As you can see here, we go from making a direct statement, and using the verb “want”, which is very direct, all the way up to making questions. In example 2, we use would, which is less direct than want and expresses a desire as opposed to a demand.


In part 3 we use “can” in question form, which is asking for permission, but in 4 and then 5 we use “could”, which is the conditional form, less direct and more formal, or may, which is the most polite and formal use of the modal forms can/could.


Finally, in example 6 we use an indirect question in progressive form with the verb “wonder”. This is far less direct and much more suggestive. In the second part we use “would mind”, which again is a conditional and less direct.


So, where am I going with all of this? Well, let me outline the general principles of being polite in English. You should always follow these, especially when dealing with clients.


Rule number one, avoid using verbs such as “want”, “need”, “have to” and “must”. These are very direct ways of asking for things, they are making demands on people or giving them orders.


Rule number two, always speak where possible indirectly, meaning that you make your requests into questions and you use conditional verbs where possible.


Rule number three, always use please and thank you and other expressions that make the request seem optional to the other person. By making it sound optional, you are being less direct and are actually requesting help as opposed to making demands. Some expressions you could use are:


  • Would you mind?
  • If it is not too much trouble
  • If you have the time
  • I would really appreciate
  • I was wondering/hoping
  • I would be grateful if

By using these types of expressions, you genuinely make the other person want to help you. They will feel happy to help someone who understands and respects their time.


Now that you understand how to put together formal requests, let’s now look at the next part of the episode.



Typical questions at hotels


In this part of the episode we have divided the questions into different topic areas. I am going to give you the questions, then we are going to work together making them sound more polite.


The first one is before you arrive at the hotel and some of the questions you may need to ask to make a reservation.


  • Is this reception/the front desk/reservation line?
  • I want to reserve a room for next week
  • Can I email you my reservation?
  • Can I book online?
  • Do you have a hotel transfer?
  • Is breakfast included in the price?
  • What hotel services do you offer?

OK, here is where the coaching comes in. What we are going to do now is analyse these sentences and make them sound politer and a bit more formal.


The first one is a pretty straight up question, but we can make it less direct by using the present progressive form.  “Am I talking to reception?”


The next one is obviously very direct, so if we keep it as an affirmative statement, then we can use would like instead of want, to sound less direct and more formal. “I would like to reserve a room for next week.”


In the next two phrases, “Can I email you my reservation?” and “Can I book online?” These two can be modified simply by using the conditional “Could”.


With the next 2, “Do you have a hotel transfer?” and “Is breakfast included?” Again, we can use the progressive form and the verb “wonder” to sound less direct. “I was wondering if you have a hotel transfer service?” and “I was wondering if breakfast is included?”.


Finally, we could modify the last question to be less direct by using “would you mind”. So, something like this. “Would you mind explaining the hotel services you offer?”


OK, let’s now move on to the next part of this section. Here we are going to be looking at questions you may ask when you arrive at the hotel.


  • Hello, good afternoon I have a reservation under the name of Johnson...
  • Do you have valet parking?
  • Can someone take my bags up to my room?
  • Can I extend my stay by an extra night?
  • Where can I get a taxi into the city?
  • Is there good public transport into the city?
  • Are there good restaurants nearby?
  • Can you please change my room, this one is very noisy!
  • Can I pay in cash/credit/travellers’ cheque?

OK, let’s work together on this exercise. We are going to do the same as in the previous exercise. I want you to think of a way to make the following sentences more polite and less direct.




  1. Do you have valet parking?
    1. I was wondering if you have valet parking.
  2. Can someone take my bags up to my room?
    1. Could someone take my bags up to my room?
  3. Can I extend my stay by an extra night?
    1. Would it be possible for me to extend my stay by an extra night?
  4. Where can I get a taxi into the city?
    1. I was wondering where I could get a taxi into the city.
  5. Is there good public transport into the city?
    1. I was hoping you knew if there was good public transport into the city.
  6. Are there good restaurants nearby?
    1. I was wondering if there are any good restaurants nearby.
  7. Can you please change my room, this one is very noisy?
    1. I would like to change rooms, this one is very noisy.
  8. Can I pay cash?
    1. Would it be a problem if I paid cash?


As you can see, we have made quite a few changes to some of the sentences. You will notice that in some of the sentences we are using the “if” conditional. This is making the sentences much less direct and therefore more formal.


OK, let’s finish the episode by quickly looking at some sentences that you may be asked when you are at the hotel. These are typical questions, that you should be ready to answer. Remember, if we know what type of questions to expect then it will be easier to answer them and have a prepared response.


  • May I have your name or reservation number, please?
  • Can I please have the credit card you used to make the booking?
  • Would you like your bags taken to your room?
  • This is your room key, it is an electronic card; please keep it away from your mobile phone or magnetic fields.
  • Your room number is 314, which is on the 3rd
  • Reception is 0 on your phone set should you require any assistance.
  • Do you need anything else? I hope you enjoy your stay.


Final thoughts


Well, that brings us to the end of another episode. I hope that you have found this information useful. Just to conclude, you should definitely learn to be more polite. People will respond positively to others who are polite. Many people nowadays are becoming less formal and I really feel that if you are able to be polite and charming it will help you to be more successful in business and life.


Before I go I would like to remind all my listeners and subscribers that we have the Powerful Presentations small group coaching programme starting on the 21st of November 2018. This is a 4-week, online programme designed to help you excel at presenting and communicating in English. We have the programme open to a maximum of 8 people, so if you’re interested you should go to www.theartofbusinessenglish.com/sgcp . Early sign ups will also receive a special bonus, 3 months completely free access to the AOBE premium content and free weekly coaching calls.


I look forward to seeing some of you on the programme and I hope you have a great week. See you all next week, bye for now…


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Andrew is the CEO and founder of the Art of Business English. Besides teaching and coaching native Spanish speakers in Business English, he is also passionate about mountain biking, sailing and healthy living. When He is not working, Andrew loves to spend time with his family and friends.

Andrew Ambrosius

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