Dutch culture: How to check in at your hotel in Amsterdam

Many people bring their own culture abroad, not knowing that their mannerisms could be considered rude elsewhere. This could lead to awkward situations where both sides are trying to cope with the other. But of course, when you visit another country, you can’t expect the other person, who is at home and de facto hosting you, to adjust to you. I can’t speak for any other culture but the Dutch, so here’s how to check in at your hotel in Amsterdam without making the Dutch front desk agent wish you were elsewhere, like at home.

 1. Stand in line behind one another
With a long and spacious desk, many people are inclined to stand near or even right beside the person being helped, awaiting their turns with their arms resting on this unoccupied part of the desk. But did you know that you’re actually invading someone’s privacy? Many guests put their ID-cards or passports, their wallets, etc., on that same desk; their room number and name might show on a form. Many people won’t tell you stand behind others, but in line that’s really where you belong, no matter how urgent your request or how small your question might seem to you. 

2. Take off your sun glasses
When you talk to someone, the other person will want to read you, and your eyes speak a million words more than your mouth. Take off your sunglasses for a respectful approach to a fellow human being.

3. In Dutch culture, everybody is equal
It’s hard to believe these days, but there are cultures where it’s still okay to look down on people who work as servants. People coming from these cultures can’t help that: they’ve learned to deal with others in certain manners, and that’s what they’ll do. Yet in the Netherlands, you can’t treat the concierge, the front desk agent or the room attendant like your own, personal servant – in Dutch culture, everybody is equal. And if treated like a dog, it’s perfectly fine for the Dutch to mouth back at that arrogant person and, as I’ve witnessed multiple times, refuse him or her any further service, no matter the height of the room bill.

4. Rudeness will get you less than politeness
The English girl who bought tea from a machine and then exclaimed, ‘I’m English, and I expect milk in my tea!’ never got her milk. The English gent who asked, ‘Excuse me, the machine didn’t dispense any milk. Would it be possible to get some milk for my tea?’ soon received fresh milk. Yep, this happened at the same hotel desk, manned by the same front desk agent. 

5. Front desk agents aren’t psychologists
People who keep coming back to that friendly and polite front desk agent are, behind the scenes, known as desk stickers. It’s as if they’re glued to the front desk, always coming over for a ‘chat’, which has them monologuing and the front desk agent politely listening while actually wishing the guest would go away because of all the paperwork still awaiting processing. 

6. Listen to the information being provided
This one is for the Americans amongst you: while the front desk agent is providing information on the hotel, don’t turn around and walk off to your room. In 85% of all those cases, it’s exactly these guests who come back later on asking the very questions that were being explained while they didn’t listen. 

So, now we should all have a good stay in Amsterdam!

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