Boston’s luxurious Eliot Hotel offers its guests perks such as free use of a sports club and a complimentary shoeshine. But one recent guest thought she saw a little something extra that was not on the list of amenities: a bedbug in her bed.
It turned out to be a false alarm — “a tiny little speck of black lint,’’ said Pascale Schlaefli, general manager. But it momentarily sent the hotel staff into a panic in what has turned out to be bedbug summer.
These are anxious times in the hotel industry. The pests — which hide in mattresses and bite people while they sleep — are constantly in the news, and no place feels safe anymore. Bedbugs have been reported everywhere from basement apartments to college campuses to the Empire State Building. Suddenly everyone is tearing off sheets and turning over mattresses.
“I think the only people who were paying attention before were those who were dealing with it personally,’’ said Jeffrey White, an entomologist with BedBug Central, an online bedbug resource and host of “BedBug Central TV,’’ a weekly webcast. “With bedbugs popping up on buses and trains and theaters — places which everybody tends to use — it’s driving the media.’’
Hotel and inn operators are feeling particularly vulnerable. Bedbugs have a habit of hitchhiking from place to place in suitcases. And disgruntled guests have a habit of broadcasting their bad experiences. A single negative posting on the likes of tripadvisor.com making a charming inn sound like a bedbug-and-breakfast can bring an establishment to its knees.
WATCH: BOY FINDS USED CONDOM IN HOTEL ROOM