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Professional hotel sleeper's work: Relax, review, repeat


Updated: 2021-02-03

Professional hotel sleeper's work: Relax, review, repeat

Clockwise from left: Hotel test sleeper Yang Yushu works at Hilton Guiyang; at Niccolo Chongqing Hotel; and at a guesthouse in Guiyang, Guizhou province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Former reporter from Guiyang shares passion about her job traveling the nation

Yang Yushu has been a professional hotel test sleeper for 10 years.

The idea of being a hotel test sleeper, also known as a hotel connoisseur, might sound alluring to people who enjoy traveling.

They can stay in luxury hotels, have fine food for free and get paid. However, the job's responsibilities are more comprehensive than just falling asleep.

Yang, 34, was a reporter for a newspaper in Guiyang, Guizhou province, covering culture and travel. Through work, she gradually learned about the profession and fell in love with it. In 2011, she had her first invitation to be a test sleeper in Shanghai.

"I was among the first batch of people in the nation to be a sleeper. Back then, there was no proper noun to describe people like us," Yang recalled.

Record every detail

Tasting, smelling, touching, hearing, feeling. All senses need to be working to record the experiences of staying in a hotel.

"We need to observe the service and environment of the hotel, the food, the sanitary conditions, the price," Yang explained. "We need to determine whether the mattress is too soft or too hard, whether the network speed is fast, the speed of shower sprinkles and the indoor temperature. Then we will write reports for the hotel and potential customers for their reference."

Working as a part-time test sleeper, Yang travels across the country about one week each month.

"I will take note of whether the doorman will open the car door for me, how long it takes to check in and whether the elevator is easy to find. Interestingly enough, I will also note the smell of the lobby, as high-end customers care a lot about the fragrance used," she said.

The recording continues when Yang goes into the hotel room. Her cellphone becomes a critical tool. The number of towels in the bathroom, whether sheets are well folded and even the number of USB ports will all be presented by her report.

"Most hotels I have slept in are in the country. The fact that I'm from Guizhou makes hotels more willing to hire me as they want me to provide advice that suits the needs of customers from the province," she said.

Passionate about her work

"I became a hotel connoisseur simply because I enjoy traveling. It is a luxury to turn a hobby into an occupation," Yang said. "Almost 10 years have passed now, and I can't count how many hotels I have slept in."

She vividly recalled her first experience as a test sleeper at Moller Village, a hotel in Shanghai that was built by a Jewish man for his daughter.

"Personally, I like to stay in hotels with unique architecture features. That one in Shanghai looks like a castle from the outside, something that is rarely seen in China."

Yang has seen the progression of the hotel industry in the country.

"More brand hotels are starting businesses in China, and the facilities and services they provide are improving year by year," she said.

Yang used to work for free when she first started. Now she can earn as much as 5,000 yuan ($774) to write a report for one hotel.

In 2018, she started staying in family hotels with her baby girl.

"After having a baby in 2017, I began to accept more offers from those hotels," Yang said.

"Many hotels in China now have special designs for kids, such as toilets for kids, kids' toothbrushes and robes, and there are also entertainment facilities both indoors and outdoors for parents and kids to play together."

Working part-time as a hotel connoisseur for 10 years, Yang is experienced in identifying the quality of a hotel. One way is to check how many types of pillows are provided, she said. "Usually, a good hotel will provide six different types of pillows, including cotton and latex," Yang said.

In China, there is no official qualification of the profession as a hotel connoisseur.

According to Yang, online travel agencies will assess the payment level of a test sleeper based on their hotel experiences.

"I know people who have worked as full-time hotel connoisseurs for many years," she said. "They earn quite a lot and are recognized by many professional institutions."

Last year, Yang quit her job as a reporter and started a studio that specializes in marketing the culture-tourism industry.

"I will continue working as a part-time hotel test sleeper," she said. "It is my passion, and I am still excited about every sleep experience."

Che Weiwei contributed to this story.

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