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View Full Version : The practice of hotel wake up calls (back in the 60s and 70s)



Perks
01-06-2014, 12:33 AM
Here's a strange little question that occurred to me:

Back in the day, say forty to fifty years ago, did the desk clerk at hotels provide wake up call service or did people travel with and rely upon wind-up alarm clocks?

Medievalist
01-06-2014, 12:46 AM
Hotels had clocks with alarms; by 1976 chain hotels had digital clock radios, and yes, you could have a wakeup call and even order room service breakfast to arrive shortly after the phone call.

By "digital" in this context I mean a clock radio with numbers on flipping widgets that would flip to change the time.

I was kept awake by a digital clock radio that, when the numbers would flip, creaked in 1976.

I ended up unplugging the thing.

Maryn
01-06-2014, 12:49 AM
We used wake-up calls until the mid-80s at least. Surely we're not the only people whose response to a clock-radio's alarm is simply to turn it off and go back to sleep. We react very differently to a phone call.

I'd be surprised if really good hotels didn't still do wake-up calls.

One trick was to ask for your call shortly before the hour--say 6:55 instead of 7:00, because that way you'd be the first in a group of calls which could take as long as ten minutes for a single employee to complete.

Maryn, that old

Perks
01-06-2014, 12:53 AM
Cool. That's what I thought was probably the case. No spring chicken at all, my traveling history is still just beyond the time range I'm writing about.

Thanks guys.

King Neptune
01-06-2014, 01:33 AM
Here's a strange little question that occurred to me:

Back in the day, say forty to fifty years ago, did the desk clerk at hotels provide wake up call service or did people travel with and rely upon wind-up alarm clocks?

While the service was available, sometimes there were errors, so I always preferred to have an alarm clock along.

ReflectiveAcuity
01-06-2014, 01:35 AM
Back in the day, say forty to fifty years ago, did the desk clerk at hotels provide wake up call service or did people travel with and rely upon wind-up alarm clocks?

I worked some hotel overnight jobs back in the early to mid-eighties, and yes, up until that time it was still common for wake-up call requests. I basically watched the clock and called names (or room numbers?) on a list, saying something like: “Good morning. This is your wake-up call.” Guests typically responded “Thank you” and hung up. Even cheap motels provided this service.
I remember how sometime about the late eighties, early nineties, it was an automated system that called the guest with some robotic voice.
Today most hotel/motel rooms have an alarm clock radio.

People carrying their own alarm clocks back then was rare, but not unheard-of.

stephenf
01-06-2014, 01:48 AM
It depends on the country, rich, would ring you from the reception , poor , would give you a alarm clock .

ArcticFox
01-06-2014, 05:04 AM
My husband and I stayed in a Disney hotel in Feb. of this year and they asked us if we wanted a wake-up call. So, the Disney resort hotels, at least, still do wake-up calls.

robjvargas
01-06-2014, 05:28 AM
I stayed at a Doubletree Inn a year ago ($10/day for Wifi, are you freakin' kidding me?) and they provided me wakeup calls my entire stay. An automated number I dialed, typed in the desired time in 12-hour format, press 1 for AM, 2 for PM, it read back the time, and the system called me.

Russell Secord
01-06-2014, 05:46 AM
... Back in the day, say forty to fifty years ago, did the desk clerk at hotels provide wake up call service or did people travel with and rely upon wind-up alarm clocks?

To answer the question specifically, you very well might take an alarm clock with you. You also might forget to wind it / plug it in, set the time incorrectly, set the alarm incorrectly, or not set it to go off. To have a failsafe, or if you never bothered with the clock, you would ask the desk clerk to call you at the appropriate time. You wouldn't assume the room included an alarm clock or radio or television unless you had visited that hotel before.

As for motels, you would expect a bed, a bathroom, and not much else.

Perks
01-06-2014, 07:16 AM
My husband and I stayed in a Disney hotel in Feb. of this year and they asked us if we wanted a wake-up call. So, the Disney resort hotels, at least, still do wake-up calls.


I stayed at a Doubletree Inn a year ago ($10/day for Wifi, are you freakin' kidding me?) and they provided me wakeup calls my entire stay. An automated number I dialed, typed in the desired time in 12-hour format, press 1 for AM, 2 for PM, it read back the time, and the system called me.


I travel often now and use the wake up call service regularly at most hotels. I was just wondering if that was the most common thing back in the 60s and 70s.

alleycat
01-06-2014, 07:20 AM
I stayed at the Conrad Hilton Hotel in Chicago in 1975 (at one time the largest hotel in the US), and we requested and got a wake-up call. I think wake-up calls were typical at any real hotel then.

Haggis
01-06-2014, 07:35 AM
While the service was available, sometimes there were errors, so I always preferred to have an alarm clock along.
Yep. I was a road warrior in the 70s and 80s and always did both. The wake up call was scheduled for about fifteen minutes before the time I set on the alarm. On a rare occasion, they forgot to call (it was manual then). The alarm clock was my back up.

poetinahat
01-06-2014, 08:26 AM
Yep. I was a road warrior in the 70s and 80s and always did both. The wake up call was scheduled for about fifteen minutes before the time I set on the alarm. On a rare occasion, they forgot to call (it was manual then). The alarm clock was my back up.
But did you use the "walkies" service?

Haggis
01-06-2014, 08:47 AM
But did you use the "walkies" service?
I understand that in England they "knocked you up" in the morning.

veinglory
01-06-2014, 09:06 AM
Right now pretty much an hotel will do a wake up call and it is almost always automated--I use them all the time. Of course originally they were not automated but were just a list by the phone that depended on someone remembering to check it.

poetinahat
01-06-2014, 09:31 AM
I understand that in England they "knocked you up" in the morning.
I fancy remembering a time when I was a kid, riding in the car while Dad drove. A pregnant woman stepped into the road, unaware of traffic. Dad braked and swerved, and all was well.

As he drove on, Dad muttered, "You can get knocked down too, you know..."