While eating room service, never making your own bed, and soaking in a spotless tub may seem like the height of luxury, hotel stays aren’t always the relaxing experiences we hope them to be. In fact, recent reports of guests being secretly recorded in their hotel rooms have made many travelers wondering what else they don’t know about where they’re resting their heads at night.
And while review sites may provide some information about the condition or service at a hotel, they hardly provide the full story. Before you check in for your next stay, make sure you come armed with these shocking facts about your hotel room. And when you’re booking your next vacation, make sure to check out the 50 Cleanest Cities in the World.
There’s a Good Chance Bed Bugs Have Been There
Bed bugs are the bane of the hotel industry and a huge fear for your average traveler. Unfortunately, your chances of staying in a hotel where they’ve been are higher than you might like. In fact, hotels are the third-most-common location for bed bug infestations, according to exterminators, and New York hotels saw a 300 percent jump in bed bug infestations in a single year, according to one report. If you’re dealing with the critters in your own home, be sure to check out the 20 Ways to Banish Bed Bugs—For Good.
Housekeeping May Ignore That “Do Not Disturb” Sign
That “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door is a suggestion, but not a binding agreement. A number of hotels have ditched the “Do Not Disturb” signs in recent years, citing security issues, so you should assume that, after 24 hours, housekeeping will enter just to make sure everything is okay. And when you want to make your next vacation a little more exciting, book a trip to one of the 15 Most Haunted Places in America.
Those Whirlpool Tubs Are Grosser Than You Think
That hotel whirlpool tub but may be relaxing—until you find out what’s actually in it, that is. According to research from Texas A&M University, 95 percent of whirlpool tubs had fecal-derived bacteria, 81 percent contained fungi, and 34 percent had staphylococcus bacteria—the stuff that causes Staph infections—in them. For more great travel advice, check out the 10 Best Winter Weekend Escapes.
And Those Standard Bathtubs Are Pretty Gross, Too
Unfortunately, that standard bathtub isn’t much better. Considering that research suggests that hotel housekeepers’ sponges are among the dirtiest items in the hotel, the bathtub they just cleaned with one is likely teeming with bacteria, too.
More Expensive Hotel Rooms Aren’t Necessarily Cleaner
Think your premier suite at a five-star hotel has five-star cleanliness? Think again. In fact, a study conducted by Travelmath found that four- and five-star hotels actually packed significantly more bacteria than their three-star counterparts.
Hotel Cleaning May Be Doing More Harm Than Good
Unfortunately, in many cases, the methods used to clean hotels are just making contamination worse. Research published in Food and Environmental Virology reveals that certain cleaning methods actually increased the spread of viruses throughout a hotel.
Those Mini-Bar Items Are A Serious Rip-Off
If you’re budget-conscious, avoid that mini-bar like the plague. Research from Priceonomics reveals that mini-bar food and drinks are often marked up nearly 400%. And before you embarrass yourself abroad, practice the 20 Country Names You’re Mispronouncing.
Those Unused Toiletries Are a Major Source of Landfill Waste
A shocking amount of our leftover hotel toiletries—two million bars of used soap in the United States alone, for example—are thrown into landfills on a daily basis. If you want to help out, either finish up that bar at home, or see if the hotel you’re staying in has partnered with Clean the World, an organization that safely recycles unused toiletries has distributed more than 44 million bars of soap to people in need in 127 countries. And when you want to make your next trip more enjoyable, learn the 30 Secrets Only Airport Insiders Know.
Hotel Coffee is Pretty Gross
Think that pot of coffee you brewed is fresh? The life forms multiplying within its reservoir and drip tray tell a different story. A study of hotel coffee makers published in Scientific Reports reveals up to 67 different types of bacteria lurking within.
Those Drinking Glasses Are Seriously Dirty
Opting for the plastic or paper cups set out by a hotel may keep you safer in the long run. In fact, one investigation reveals that some hotels clean off the glasses using the same towels or sponges they used to clean the floors.
There’s a Reason for Those White Sheets
While it seems as though white sheets would likely to be harder to clean after thousands of guests, they play an important role in a traveler’s experience. “The all-white bed created this halo effect — people thought a room had been renovated, even if it was just the bed that had been changed,” Erin Hoover, Westin and Sheraton Hotels’ vice president of design, told The Huffington Post.
Those Bibles Get a Lot of Readers
While not every guest will sit down and pore over the Gideon Bible left in their room, a shocking number will thumb through it during their trip. According to The Gideons International, about a quarter of guests read the Bible left in their hotel room.
A Lot of People Have Slept There Before You
That hotel bed may look brand new, but make no mistake: you’re far from the first person to curl up there. According to one UK study, an average of 2,100 people will have snoozed on that hotel mattress before you.
You’re Going to Want to Wipe Down Those Remotes
A surprising source of germs in your hotel room? The remote. According to Travelmath, five-star hotels in particular had some seriously dirty remotes, with 2,002,300 colony-forming units on average.
A Lot of Work Goes Into Choosing Those Pillows
While it may seem as though your average hotel just opts for the cheapest pillows available, there’s probably a lot more research that goes into it. In fact, the Choice Hotel brand went through more than 100 pillows and received feedback from more than 10,000 hoteliers and travelers before choosing their pillows.
Tipping the Housekeeping Staff Should Be Non-Negotiable
Tipping the housekeeping staff when you stay in a hotel should be standard practice. Research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that the median annual wage for hotel housekeepers in the United States is just $21,820, but regular tips can bring that up to a living wage.
But Most People Don’t Do It
Unfortunately, while many hotel housekeepers rely on tips, most guests don’t think to leave them. In fact, only about 30 percent of travelers leave a tip behind after their stay.
You Probably Shouldn’t Spread Your Stuff on That Bathroom Counter
Keeping your toothbrush and makeup in your travel kit is likely a better bet than setting them down on the counter. According to Travelmath’s research, the bathroom counter was the germiest surface in both three- and four-star hotels.
That Desk Could Be Teeming With Germs
While it seems like the bath and bed in your hotel would be the dirtiest places in the room, the desk is a surprising source of germs, as well. According to one study, the desks at four-star hotels had 1,800,003 colony-forming bacterial units per square inch.
You Should Probably Ditch That Blanket
While most hotels have their laundry practices down to a science, that doesn’t necessarily mean that every part of the bed is as thoroughly-laundered as you’d hoped. In fact, one microbiologist revealed to CNN that the duvets on hotel beds are rarely washed, if ever. Luckily, you can still make your next trip a healthy one by traveling to one of the 7 Best Luxury Fitness Vacations!
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