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Hotel room viewed from the entrance
makistock | Adobe Stock

8 Things You Should Always Do When You Check Into a Hotel Room

SmarterTravel

Your long journey is over and you’re finally alone in your hotel room. Before you flop down on the bed or run to the window to check out the view, make sure you do these eight important things first—they could save you from a ruined night of sleep or an expensive mistake.

Check for Bedbugs

Hand holding magnifying glass up to hotel bed and showing an illustration of bed bugs
New Africa | Adobe Stock

The very first thing you should do when you enter your hotel room is check for bedbugs. Put your luggage inside the bathroom (ideally in the bathtub), where bedbugs are the least likely to be hiding. Next, follow this easy guide to identifying signs of bedbugs. 

If your room does have bed bugs, you’ll want to know before you settle in, as these pests are extremely easy to pick up and carry with you to your new room—or worse, back home.

Check the Alarm Clock

In-room alarm clocks are being phased out of hotel rooms in favor of smartphone docking stations, but if your hotel room still has an old-school clock, make sure you check to see if the alarm is set. 

If the last guest set a daily alarm for 6 a.m. and never turned it off, you could be rudely awakened earlier than you wanted to. 

Better yet—unplug the clock entirely if possible, which will prevent any unexpected alarms and help you sleep better without the glowing light (unless the clock has a battery backup). 

Check Hiding Spots

Hotel closet with two bathrobes
torsakarin | Adobe Stock

Before letting your guard down in your locked hotel room, check these hiding spots to make sure you really are alone: under the bed, in the closet, and in the shower. An intruder could have slipped in before you and could be lying in wait—or something more gruesome. Snopes lists a number of actual incidents in which guests checked into a hotel, complained about a horrible odor in their room, and later discovered a human body hidden under the bed or mattress. They had literally been sleeping on top of a corpse. 

Study the Emergency Escape Route

Emergency escape maps are required by law to be posted on the back of the main door to every hotel room. Take a few minutes to orient yourself in the hotel, and to familiarize yourself with the fastest exits (as well as backup routes in case the closest path is blocked).

Hopefully, you’ll never need to use this information during your stay, but in the worst case scenario of a fire or other emergency where every second counts, these few minutes of preparation could save your life.  

Deadbolt the Door

Mistakes can be made, and it’s not uncommon for someone to be given an incorrect room assignment and the key to your room—meaning another guest could accidentally walk into your room, even if the door is locked. When you’re inside your hotel room, always activate the deadbolt or security chain to prevent intruders (or just unexpected visits from hotel staff). 

Sanitize

Close up of hand wiping down hotel room door handle with sanitizing wipe
Jo Panuwat D | Adobe Stock

Your room may look clean, but that doesn’t mean it’s sanitary. Wipe down germ hotspots (like light switches and doorknobs) with an antibacterial wipe to stay healthy. And be sure to wipe down the television remote control (or better yet put it in a bag or shower cap) before using it, as it generally isn’t cleaned in between guests. 

Jettison Any Decorative Items From the Bed

It’s a mystery to us why hotels insist on putting decorative throw pillows on beds (that clearly can’t be washed). Make sure your sleeping surface stays clean by removing anything that isn’t obviously laundered when the room is cleaned—including throw pillows and bedspreads. 

Wash Your Hands

Close up of someone washing their hands in a grey and white bathroom
elenabdesign | Adobe Stock

You’ve just come from a plane, public transportation, or road trip with rest stops—washing your hands as soon as you arrive in your own private bathroom is a smart move. 

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