12 Things You Should Never Do in a Hotel Room

Although you are paying for the room, don’t treat it like you own the place.
Last updated June 1, 2023 | By Cat Lafuente Edited By Chris Kissell
woman enjoying herself in a hotel

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Hotels may be our homes away from home, but there are many ways in which they differ from the space we live in.

To that end, there are some things you should never do in a hotel room, be it for your well-being or simply to make sure you keep your bank account full.

Buy items from the minifridge

OlegDoroshin/Adobe mini bar with soft drinks

Many hotels stock the minifridge in your room with sodas, nips of liquor, snacks, and more. However, don’t be tempted to grab that tiny scotch for a nightcap.

These items are marked up far beyond what you would pay at a regular store. So, you’re better off hitting the vending machine or bringing your own sundries.

Forget to wash your hands after handling the TV remote

rilueda/Adobe businessman having breakfast and watching tv in his hotel room

The TV remote in a hotel room likely has been handled by the many guests who have stayed in the room before you. That’s why these devices play host to colonies of germs.

So, wash your hands after using the remote. Better yet, disinfect it when you first check in. The same logic applies to the phone in your room, any doorknobs, and light switches.

Assume the bed is safe

Zoran Zeremski/Adobe family of four enjoying together at hotel room

Even if you’re staying at the Ritz-Carlton, it’s a mistake to assume your bed is safe.

For example, you should always check the bed in your hotel room very thoroughly for bedbugs. These critters can hitch a ride on you and make themselves comfy in your house when you return home.

Even worse, bedbugs are notoriously hard to get rid of.

Sleep on the throw pillows

fotofabrika/Adobe towels and flower on bed in hotel room

Just as you want a safe bed to sleep in, you also want one that’s clean. So, check with the hotel to make sure its cleaning policy suits your needs.

Chances are good the hotel does not clean the throw pillows that decorate your bed as thoroughly as it cleans the sheets and duvet.

Unless you want to lay your head where other people’s stuff has been, set the throw pillows aside when you go to sleep.

Forget to inspect for damage

Soonthorn Kittikarn/Adobe asian mother blow drying daughter hair in hotel room

The furniture and appliances in hotel rooms — such as beds, dressers, microwaves, and hair dryers — are not impervious to damage. That’s why it’s smart to inspect the condition of these items when you check in.

If you notice something is damaged, tell the front desk right away and offer specifics. Fail to report it, and you may be on the hook for the repair bill.

And if you broke it? Fess up.

Trust that the Wi-Fi is secure

lordn/Adobe businessman using laptop computer working at his hotel room

Most hotels offer Wi-Fi for guests, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe and secure.

If it isn’t protected with a password, literally anyone can access that network. That can render you vulnerable to cyberattack, especially if you do banking or buy something online with a credit card.

Even if there is a password protecting the Wi-Fi, it’s best to assume it’s not totally safe. So, avoid doing any online financial transactions in the hotel.

Assume you can't get upgraded

muse studio/Adobe husband and wife drinking champagne wine glass

You may be surprised to learn this, but with a little ingenuity, you often can get a better experience — or even a better room — than you paid for at a hotel.

When you’re booking, mention if your stay is tied to a special occasion. The hotel may throw in a little something extra, like a bottle of wine for your anniversary trip.

Even just asking politely at the front desk during check-in might get you a room with a better view on a higher floor, or more opulent furnishings.

Forget to optimize your credit card rewards

Rawpixel.com/Adobe Guests checking in to a hotel

You don’t necessarily need a hotel rewards credit card for this one — even your regular credit cards may have perks when it comes to staying at hotels. That can include upgrades to a better room or discounts on your bill.

So, before your trip, call your credit card company and ask. Or, check with the hotel directly. Find the credit card that offers the best rewards and use it.

Take home the towels and bathrobe

zinkevych/Adobe senior couple in white robes jumping on bed and looking happy

You can almost always count on a hotel leaving complimentary soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and more in your room. Feel free to take them home, even if you haven’t used them.

However, the same doesn’t apply to bathrobes and towels, which the hotel expects you to leave so it can wash them for the next guest. If you take these items with you, you’ll likely be charged.

Leave your valuables unsecured

New Africa/Adobe man putting passport and money into steel safe

Most hotel rooms have safes for a reason: You’re not immune to theft when you’re staying at the hotel. This is partially because hotel staff also have access to your room, so you can’t always keep track of who is coming and going.

Don’t assume your housekeeper is a thief — that’s uncouth. But also be realistic. It’s just wise to secure valuables, so make it a habit.

Cover the smoke alarm

Rafael Ben-Ari/Adobe young adult woman checking fire alarm

Whether you want to vape or smoke, never cover the smoke detector in your room. This can quite literally put people’s lives at risk, as disabling this device means it can’t do its job if an actual fire breaks out.

Instead, request a smoking room at the hotel or step outside into a designated smoking area.

Break the rules

Renolto/Adobe schnauzer waiting for the room service in a hotel room

Rules are in place for a reason, frequently to keep you safe. To that end, don’t try cooking in your hotel room if it isn’t set up for it. Use the microwave, but don’t drag in a hotplate or camp stove that can cause a hazard.

You also don’t want to bring in a pet that is not authorized, as you may be fined if you get caught.

Bottom line

Kalim/Adobe Guests getting key card in hotel

A hotel room may be a private space when you’re staying there, but it’s a shared space overall. That’s why it makes sense to inspect it, treat it carefully, and be on your best behavior when you’re there.

If everybody treated hotels nicely, it would eliminate the money stress that results when you pay for a nice hotel room and end up with something far less. So, treat your room well and make the experience nicer for the person who stays there after you.

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Cat Lafuente Cat Lafuente is a Florida-based writer and editor with extensive experience in digital and print content spaces. Her own personal finance journey — particularly consolidating debt and paying it off, in turn boosting her credit score and becoming a homeowner — inspired her to join the FinanceBuzz team; she hopes she can help others do the same.