This Is the Real Reason Why Hotel Rooms Have Bibles

Updated: Nov. 28, 2022

No, they don't want to convert you.

Traveling may feel unpredictable at times, but seasoned globetrotters can always count on one standard comfort: the Bible in their hotel room. In fact, few things are more reliable than finding the religious text tucked away in your bedside drawer. But have you ever thought about how they got there?

Why do hotel rooms have Bibles?

We can thank Gideon International for this sacred hotel amenity. The organization was formed in 1899 after three traveling salesmen met in a hotel room, and by 1908, it was distributing Bibles to hotels around the United States, according to the Los Angeles Times. Members of Gideon International often met with the managers of new hotels, presented them with a free copy of the Bible, and offered to equip every room in the hotel with a copy, too. Thus, the dependable hotel room Bible spread across the nation. This trend is reminiscent of the real reason hotels have ice machines.

They still donate New Testaments around the world today—and not just to hotels. “While we are often recognized for our work with hotels, we also place and distribute Scriptures in strategic locations so they are available to those who want them, as well as to those who may not know they need them,” the Gideons International website reads. Today, Marriott hotels still get their Bibles for free from the organization, the AP reports. Find out some more secrets hotels won’t tell you.

Not as many hotel rooms provide Bibles today

Still, there’s been a steady decline of religious materials in hotels. So you’ll be a little more hard-pressed to find a Bible in every single hotel room drawer these days. Technically, however, it’s not one of the 8 things you’ll definitely never see in your hotel room again, yet. The number of hotels that provide religious materials has dropped by about 15 percent. In 2006, 95 percent of hotels provided a Bible at your bedside. Now, only 79 percent do, according to a survey from STR, a hospitality analytics company.

Some speculate that hotels are now trying to attract millennials, who are reportedly the least religious generation in American history. That said, it seems as though Wi-Fi connections have replaced Bibles as the new norm; about 98 percent of hotels now offer in-room Wi-Fi, per the STR survey. Although hotels offer many amenities like bibles and free Wi-Fi, remember that these are the 6 things you can’t take from your hotel room—and the 4 that you can.