Q My hotel neighbors were making lots of noise. I banged on the wall, but nothing changed. I fumed and couldn't sleep. Should I have called the front desk?
A Sounds like bad behavior on both sides of the divide: the neighbors' inconsiderate volume level, sure, but also your peevish fist pounding. With diplomatic tactics like these, you're more likely to elicit aggression than cooperation. In fact, if the noises next door included the loading of automatic weaponry, you were lucky to escape some serious room rage.
Instead, presume that your wallmates are innocently unaware until they are proved guilty. My preferred strategy is to stage a clearly audible exchange—"Honey, have you seen my argyle kneesocks?" "Yes, dear, they're by the bagpipes!"— to gently demonstrate the lack of soundproofing. Ideally, a sudden, horrified silence descends next door as your neighbors realize that their inane argument or loud lovemaking has been overheard in its entirety by a sweet Scottish couple.
If such hints go ignored, by all means call the front desk. Not only will your anonymity be preserved, but you'll have established a formal complaint should the racket escalate and you decide to request a room change. If the desk clerk is diligent, the only sounds you'll hear will be your neighbors packing up their party. And that's music to anyone's ears.
This article was first published in January 2010. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.