18 Things You Should Never, Ever Do in a Hotel Room
These common mistakes could turn your dream vacation into a travel nightmare. Travel experts share the biggest hotel no-no's.
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A hotel stay done the right way
Ever wondered the dos and don’ts of staying at a hotel? Well, look no further—if you make sure to avoid these 18 things to never, ever do in hotel rooms, your stay will go as smoothly as can be. Especially in the age of COVID-19, your health (and your wallet!) will thank you. Afterwards, brush up on the 22 things you should never do in an airplane to make the most of your entire trip.
Touch floors and surfaces unless absolutely necessary
In the age of COVID-19, this tip goes for all areas in a hotel room, but most especially the bathroom. “By the toilet, lay down a towel on the ground so your bare feet never touch the area where urine or other bacteria is likely to collect over the course of many guests staying in the room,” Alex Miller, the founder and CEO of Upgraded Points, suggests. And for the surfaces you do need to touch? “Ask the hotel for disinfectant wipes, and wipe down all doorknobs, the TV remote, faucets, and even light switches,” advises Dr. Robert M. Hebeler, professor of Hospitality and Business at Rollins College. “The most ‘touched’ items in a hotel room are often the dirtiest.” This is how professional cleaners can tell if a hotel room is clean.
Go into a crowded elevator
If you’re staying in a hotel with many floor levels, it’s likely that at the very least one person may already be in the elevator when you’re ready to get on. While this usually poses no threat (except perhaps to those that are claustrophobic), in the time of COVID-19 this is a big no-no. “It’s best to use an elevator alone,” Dr. Natasha Bhuyan of One Medical says. “It might be a bit awkward at first, but feel comfortable ‘passing’ an elevator if someone is already in it and take the next one.” An even healthier option? Bypass the elevator altogether and take the stairs. Both your immune system and your legs will thank you. This is why you should think twice before sitting in a hotel chair.
Indulge in the pool and other public spaces
Although the CDC has stated that both chlorine and bromine kill COVID-19, it’s still smart to avoid hotel pools and other areas where crowds of vacationers may congregate. “Hotel pools and spas have many guests coming in and out all the time,” says Dr. Leann Poston of Invigor Medical. “There are gastrointestinal infections spread when sick guests choose to swim in the pool or when parents allow children in diapers in the pool.” So skip the dip this summer. And this goes for hotel gyms too, especially in areas that are a hotspot of COVID-19 transmissions. But fear not: This doesn’t mean that you can’t find another way to get in a good workout. “Even better, use an outdoor run or workout as an opportunity to explore the location while social distancing and not touching shared surfaces,” says Dr. Bhuyan. Here are ten other things you won’t see in hotels anymore.
Steal the bathrobes
“Guests sometimes take home essential amenities that the hotel provides during their stay, like shampoo, lotion, and other vanity products,” says Ryazan Tristram, photographer and travel blogger for everythingzany.com. “However, people sometimes take home the bathrobes as well, which is a no-no.” You could be charged extra or fined for taking pricier items, including linens, artwork, and electronics. If you’re unsure about which things you’re allowed to take, follow this list of 6 things you can’t take from a hotel and 4 things you can take.
Break something and lie about it
Accidents happen, but damaging something in your room and keeping it a secret can actually harm staff or future guests. Matthew, founder of thetravelblogs.com, says a guest once cut his foot on a shard of glass. “[Glass is] very hard to spot, even if you know it is there, so although the room was cleaned, there was one piece that the housekeeper missed,” he says. “We ended up comping that man’s night in the hotel all because the previous guest didn’t make the team aware of broken glass in his room.”
Cook anything without a proper kitchen area
“We always want to save money when we travel,” says Tristram. “Some guests will bring their portable cooking appliances with them during their stay, and this can cause a few problems, primarily if the hotel room doesn’t have any kitchenette area.” These cooking appliances can set off a hotel’s fire alarm system or cause an actual fire, so stick with no-cook meals if you want to save a few bucks on food. Aside from preventing hotel room fires, here are 22 more tips for making your hotel stay as safe and healthy as possible.
Leave important jewelry in your suitcase or dresser
Hospitality businesses can’t always stop thieves from putting their sticky fingers where they don’t belong, so don’t leave your precious jewels, wallets, or purses in your room, unless it’s in a hotel-provided safe, says a Farmers Insurance Group representative. Your homeowners or renters policy may provide coverage for your belongings while you are traveling, so it’s important to report any lost or stolen items as soon as possible. Take a look at some of the truly bizarre things people have actually stolen from hotels.
Keep your bathroom door ajar when taking a shower
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a steamy shower at a hotel, but beware what the vapor can do if released into your room. “A hotel’s hot showers can cause a lot of steam, and as a result, can trigger the hotel’s fire alarm system inside your bedroom if you leave the bathroom door open,” says Tristram.
Cover up the smoke alarms
Certain hotels still allow smokers to smoke cigarettes inside their rooms. Despite this, some guests insist on smoking in non-smoking rooms. The biggest problem: Guests who do this cover the smoke alarm so they can smoke in bed, risking their safety and that of all other guests, says Bryony Summer, owner and editor of coastingaustralia.com. These other amenities are slowly vanishing from hotel rooms.
Forget to inspect the bed
Even the finest hotels and housekeepers can’t keep creepy critters from making their way into bedrooms. “I always advise travelers to put their luggage in the bathtub until they inspect the bed for bedbugs,” says Mitch Krayton of Krayton Travel. Think hotel beds are dirty? Learn the 11 germiest spots in every hotel room.
Restock the minibar
There’s no crime in enjoying a drink from the hotel fridge. After all, that’s their purpose. “But if you plan on taking a bottle of whiskey out of there, just accept that you’ll still be paying for it,” says Sophia Borghese, a consultant for La Galerie Hotel in New Orleans. “Don’t try to fake the hotel staff out by replacing the liquor with a half-sipped bottle of Diet Coke. This happens more often than you might think, and those who do it still get charged for taking that $30, two-ounce bottle of spirits.” These are ten warning signs you may be staying at a bad hotel.
Boil your undies in the kettle
Funny? Yes. Disturbing? Absolutely. Has it actually happened? You bet. After 12 years of managing, Summer says the worst thing she came across was having guests boil their underwear in kettles, pots, or steamers to “freshen them up.” And boiling underwear is just one of the many crazy things people have seen in hotel rooms.
Use the throw pillows
“If you notice the throw pillows on the bed or the couch have no removable sleeves, you can be sure they are never thoroughly cleaned,” says Kashlee Kucheran, seasoned traveler and co-owner of traveloffpath.com. “After they get so stained or smelly that they become offensive, the hotel will just replace them. In the meantime, you can bet there have been many faces, bottoms, and other things lounging on those pillows, so steer clear!” This piece of advice goes for not only throw pillows, but also the bedspread and bed scarf found on your nicely made bed. “Bedspreads, throw pillows and bed scarfs are cleaned on an ‘as needed’ basis,” explains Dr. Hebeler, “Many of these items are only cleaned once or twice a year.” Want to be extra cautious? Bring along your own pillowcases to sleep on. Better to be safe than sorry! Here’s how much it would actually cost to travel around the world.
Use the fire sprinkler as a coat hanger
Closets are great for hanging clothes. Fire sprinklers are not. Bob Tupper, author of Drinking In the Culture: Tuppers’ Guide to Exploring Great Beers in Europe, says he saw people using the safety devices as coat hooks—a silly stunt that could not only set off a hotel’s fire alarm but also burst the pipes causing water to flood into rooms. And make sure you watch out for these 13 other hotel room hazards you didn’t know were putting your kids in danger.
Send sensitive information over hotel Wi-Fi
“No one should ever, ever send any sensitive information or conduct any important business over hotel Wi-Fi—at least not without encryption,” says Harold Li, vice president of ExpressVPN. “Given how easy it is to hack public Wi-Fi hotspots, you might as well be yelling your passwords and bank details down the hall.” Travelers should use encryption to shield their Internet activity when sending important information. Here’s how you can keep your information safe on public Wi-Fi.
Forget that you recently dyed your hair
As a courtesy to the hotel, you might want to wait until you get home before you change the hue of your ‘do. “The ruined towels and bed linens are unrecoverable,” says Leslie Mulcahy, co-owner of Rabbit Hill Inn in Vermont. If you have recently dyed your hair, avoid washing your hair—or bring your own towel or disposable sheets to wrap your hair until it dries. Check out these coronavirus-related hotel deals you can take advantage of now for next year.
Walk with heavy feet
Loud music and voices aren’t the only things you should keep in check when you’re in a hotel room. “In my experience, no matter how luxurious a hotel is, they are still built with materials that don’t allow a lot of soundproofing, especially from upstairs guests,” says Kucheran. Avoid walking around with weighty steps so you don’t become “that annoying guest.” Do you know about these eight old-fashioned hotel features you don’t see in hotels anymore?
Sneak in your pets
It’s tempting to bring your furry friends on trips with you, but don’t do it without asking if the hotels you’re staying in are pet-friendly. If the answer is “no,” don’t try to pull a fast one on the staff—animals leave trails of evidence, from hairs to prints to smells, and your cleaning fees will skyrocket if you’ve broken the rules. Next, check out these other 21 secrets hotel clerks won’t tell you.
- Alex Miller, the founder and CEO of Upgraded Points
- Dr. Natasha Bhuyan of One Medical
- Dr. Leann Poston of Invigor Medical
- Ryazan Tristram, photographer and travel blogger for everythingzany.com
- Matthew, founder of thetravelblogs.com
- Bryony Summer, owner and editor of coastingaustralia.com
- Mitch Krayton of Krayton Travel
- Kashlee Kucheran, seasoned traveler and co-owner of traveloffpath.com
- Harold Li, vice president of ExpressVPN
- Leslie Mulcahy, co-owner of Rabbit Hill Inn