We get it, when taking a holiday you just want to relax and enjoy things day by day without thinking too much. When we're travelling we often have a more laissez-faire approach and are more likely to let our guard down and let things slide that would normally (probably) disturb us in our own homes.
Even upon entering the cleanest seeming hotels, there are often hidden germs lurking that would make you consider packing an emergency bottle of Windex and a pair of black light goggles on your next trip to the Galápagos.
We aren't in the business of fear mongering or telling you not to stay in hotels. We would rather let you know about the few things that you can pay special attention to in order to avoid a sticky situation (literally) or getting fleeced while you're in vacation mode. By packing a few cautionary items and keeping your wits about you while you relax, you can safely enjoy your 'home away from home' without random repercussions.
If you like the tips we've laid out feel free to let us know in the comments section below. In the meantime, enjoy our list of 25 things that you should never touch in the hotel!
25 The Kettle
Try to answer this honestly without any self-judgment but how often to your clean your own tea kettle? Never? Same. While some may argue that the act of boiling water is the disinfectant itself, it's not a scientifically sound argument. Seeing as tea kettle tech hasn't emerged much in the past decade, pretty much every hotel tea kettle looks like a clone of itself and therefore, very rarely do they raise suspicion. However, if you have ever mustered the courage to first peer in / sniff a tea kettle before you use it, you might have second thoughts about that brew.
If you're in desperate need for a hit of caffeine in the morning, pack some chocolate covered espresso beans and be on your way.
24 Scrambled Eggs
Free breakfast at hotels is always a bonus - especially if you're on a long travel and looking to conserve some cash. If you've walked into the breakfast room expecting that regular old continental spread (toast, jam packets, a mysterious jug of orange juice) it can feel like a lottery win to find a buffet style instead. In your excitement, you can forget to question how such a free spread is made available. Well, budgets get cut somewhere and in most cases, the eggs are the first to suffer.
That's because it's easy to make scrambled eggs look like eggs when really they're a powdered substitute. It's also really easy to reheat scrambled eggs from 3 days ago and have them look like regular new eggs. If you take nothing else away from this list just remember to avoid free scrambled eggs forever.
23 Lobby coffee
Alternately referred to as the hotel temptress, the free coffee machine beckons to even those most discerning of guests. Maybe it's the scent wafting through the air, maybe it's the other guy in the lobby drinking it (coffee envy is no joke!) but we can almost guarantee you that once you spring for it, it will not be worth it.
Most of these machines make powdered fake coffees that are so laden with sugar and strange milk replacements that you can't even taste the coffee at all. If you like those specialty types of drinks you're better off coughing up the cash at the local coffee shop. Also, the fancier the machine, the less often it's getting cleaned - just sayin'.
22 The In-Room Toothbrush
It could be that you forgot your toothbrush at home or are just exceptionally curious about foreign toothpaste brands, either way don't get fooled by this so called courtesy tool. These cheap 'single-use' style toothbrushes look innocent enough but they can cause serious damage to your gums and teeth.
You know what is more expensive than paying for a replacement toothbrush while away on holiday? The dentist. Don't take risks with your dental hygiene - pop into a local shop and thank us later.
21 Face Towels
You might be thinking, hand wipes? Ha! After I use the ancient and germ-ridden landline telephone in my room I'll head on over to the bathroom and wash my face with a freshly bleached face towel! JUST DON'T DO IT.
We're not citing this as a fact but we're willing to bet that disposable face wipes were invented out of someone realizing, while staying at a hotel, that wiping your face with a towel that doesn't belong to you / is not washed by you / is not the bottom of your shirt - is very high stakes. If you're concerned about the environment, grab a reusable bamboo face cloth and throw it in your toiletry kit, they weigh virtually nothing and are as soft as kittens.
20 The Ice Machine
Just assume the ice machine has NEVER been cleaned and if you're still good with that then by all means take a trip over to the ol' ice machine with your plastic bucket (or as we like to call it, the bacteria barge) and get yourself some ice for your tasty beverage. I know it sounds like we're making it difficult to drink anything while staying in your hotel room but there are plenty of options like bottled water or red wine (out of a plastic wrapped cup from the lobby).
If you think about how many people are sticking full cans / bottles into those plastic ice buckets and then letting all that melt together into a lava of bacteria before it's dumped out (not washed) and replaced on your nightstand, it might make you a little less thirsty.
19 The Welcome Drinks
Free drinks in the lobby? Sounds like a great alternative to the aforementioned issue of not drinking in the room! Except that it's always cocktails like cosmopolitans, margaritas, or mimosas which are chock-full of sugar and very easy to drink.
If you're planning on having a productive day this could hamper your early morning rise the following day or lead to some pretty questionable food decisions that are made out of desperation later that evening. If you ask us, the pay off isn't high enough to risk your not getting full enjoyment out of your stay. Better to skip it altogether.
18 Unpackaged Lobby Snacks
This is always a tough one because snacks are the best! Also free snacks are better than the best! The trouble is with unpackaged snacks is we don't exactly know their story. How long have they been sitting there? Who prepared them? Who has been grabbing at them? There are a lot of unanswered questions for food left unobserved in a high trafficked area that lead us to say no gracias.
If you're a snack lover, be sure to pop into a shop on your way back to the hotel and grab some must-haves to have on hand so that you're not too tempted.
This is a classic example of an amenity that could be great (if they are sanitarily wrapped) or really not great (if they were worn but wrapped to appear sanitary) and we will never really know the truth. Many guests will wear the slippers around the room and then leave them in a pile on the bathroom floor before checking out. Most hotel staff will dispose of these and replace them with fresh unworn slippers but some hotels will repackage them to save a few bucks.
If you're not too concerned about it and choose to roll the dice, we would suggest that you slap on some socks before sending your foot into no man's land.
16 Hair Brush
Lice, dandruff, other people's hair - you won't flatly see these things lurking on a hair brush at first, but they were likely there once. It's not hygienic to share brushes of any nature whether they are cosmetic (hellooo Sephora), a tooth brush, or a hair brush.
The best way to hack it if you've forgotten yours is to use that single use toothbrush we discussed earlier with some of that shampoo you won't be using and clean the bristles with these two things first.
If you travel with an essential oil like peppermint, tea tree, or rosemary - mix with water and spray for extra disinfecting power!
15 The Drinking Glasses
After a long day of touring around you're bound to get thirsty - you're only human! Might we caution you against helping yourself to those seemingly sparkling clean drinking glasses. They look clean, they smell clean by golly they must be clean, right!? Well, the sad reality is that these glasses have probably been in the room since Adidas tearaways were in fashion and they aren't getting a regular run through the dishwasher either. In most instances, they are rather getting a quick spray of some highly chemical commercial cleaners that are getting mixed right up into your water like a toxic cocktail.
If you can swipe a plastic cup from the lobby, that'll be your best bet for any in-room beverage consumption.
14 The Fridge
If you're in NYC or Vegas you may be intimidated with those portions and be tempted to house your take away doggy bag in the in-room mini fridge. Unless you're getting your food to go in an airtight Tupperware, you're better off leaving it out of the fridge. Hotel fridges are notoriously bacteria ridden OR housing super pricey snackables that can trigger an automatic fee to your credit card if moved. Even if you're just having a curious peek at the pecans, it could be automatically added to your tab.
Unless you're using the fridge to prop up some bottles of water, it's really no use going anywhere near it.
13 Phone Chargers
Desperate times call for desperate measures so it's not that you can't use a hotel charger to jump start your phone if you're stranded but whatever you do, don't make a habit of relying on them. What the hotel offers is often a salad of random chargers left behind by guests or just cheaply made wonky knockoffs of the real deal and both can seriously destroy your device.
It can be tempting to just use the charger for free but in the long run, it could mean having to replace your phone or its battery soon after. You're better off to pop out to a shop and grab an international-friendly option than to run the risk of a fried battery.
12 Throw Pillows
It doesn't matter how cute the decor is or how recently they opened the hotel, you have to repeat to yourselves over and over until it sinks in that these adorable adornments are communal pillows! Think of the throw pillows like cruising in international waters - anything goes!
We don't know who used these pillows, how they used them, what they were used for or when they were last cleaned. It is so tempting to prop yourself up with a pillow while reading or watching tv but don't do it. If anything you should throw those throw pillows to the floor where they shall remain until your stay is done. Maybe that's where they got their name in the first place...
11 The Unprotected WiFi
Free WiFi is so amazing when you're traveling especially when you need to look up reviews of that bistro around the corner or find your way by bus to the Louvre. It's just a part of the travel toolkit nowadays and we totally get it. In saying that, if you're logging into any free WiFi willy nilly you could be giving hackers a backstage pass to your photos, financial information, e-mails, etc. If there isn't a password required then let it pass you by.
Even when passwords are part of the process, be cautious about doing any banking or bookings with your credit card until you are on a safe network. How are you supposed to know? Check out apps like Acrylic Wi-Fi or Lookout that have built-in antivirus and security features.
10 The Telephone
Do you love having bacteria all over your face and hands? Or perhaps you're in the market for the cold and flu passed on like a baton in a relay race by the guests before you? We're willing to bet not. Phones are the furthest thing from clean, including our own cell phones so why take the chance on the lousy landline that's likely been used by thousands of strangers before you?
If you absolutely must use the phone (or are just a straight up rebel!) be sure to wash your hands or use some hand wipes to disinfect any areas that came into contact during your convo.
9 Communal Computers in the Business Centre
This is a breeding ground that is totally best to be avoided if we're honest. They aren't well protected or regularly monitored which makes it easy for cybercriminals to get a hold of your private information.
According to Forbes "attacks, while not sophisticated, and requiring little technical skill, nevertheless allowed the criminals to access a physical system, stealing sensitive data from hotels and subsequently their guests' information. The Secret Service noted that the criminals were able to obtain large amounts of information including other guests' personally identifiable information, login credentials to bank, retirement and personal webmail accounts, as well as other sensitive data flowing through the business center’s computers."
You're better off saving any important business for when you return back.
8 The Library
This is a pretty great amenity to have, especially if you just finished the latest Dan Brown novel and need something to take to the beach. While the communal hotel library can be tempting, it's really not worth it especially if it's a sharing library where other people are leaving behind their beach reads.
Used books can carry anything from bed bugs to bacteria to good old fashioned germs. If that doesn't phase you, you could always take the book and stick it in a plastic bag then into that in-room fridge's freezer for a few hours before handling to kill off the bacteria. See, we told you not to use that either!
7 Shampoo / Conditioner
Ah yes, the generic travel-sized 'luxury' soaps left in our room to remind us that this is our 'home away from home'. Well, that is until you realize that the face soap, body soap and hair soap all have the exact same ingredients but one has just been dyed green to throw you off 'the scent'.
If you've ever washed your hair with hotel soap you know that in almost every case, this stuff makes your hair go CRAZY, gives you dandruff, or smells like your great Aunt Edna or ALL THREE.
It's best to be avoided if possible, no matter how impressive the packaging is.
6 The Spa
The spas in hotels are so alluring. They always seem to mention it as you're checking in after a long flight or stressful commute so it can be tempting to sign up for some impulse pamper time but it's usually a trap.
Hotels know that you'll have pampering on the mind and they price their spa services accordingly by marking them up considerably. Sure, you can call it a convenience charge but the truth is, you will have a better experience for less if you do a little research.
Even if money is no object, it's always best to check out reviews to make sure that your treat to yourself will be a treat indeed.
This amenity's details are often buried deep in the fine print. If you're booking off third party sites like Expedia, sometimes they'll advertise parking as a perk without mentioning that the free lot is 6 blocks away with the closer lot reserved for valet and/or paying guests.
It's always a good practice to think about parking before booking because it can come as quite a surprise when those fees crop up. It can be worth it to check out forums of past guests who might have tips for local parking that the hotel may know about but probably won't tell you about.
4 The Pool Loungers
Okay, we know this one is hard to get around if you're having a pool day. Maybe it's more like 'unprotected' pool loungers. In other words, you're gunna need multiple towels to cover the surface before laying yourself down. For whatever reason, people tend to act like total barbarians when they are outside of their own house and perhaps the least respected piece of furniture of all is in fact, the pool lounger.
Whether people are eating on them, walking on them, or worse- you can protect yourself by providing a layer that safely separates you from the cushion in question.
3 The Restaurant
Unless it's renowned and well-rated, you will more than likely be paying exorbitant prices for very mediocre food. As a seasoned (not bland) traveller, we all know that there's no reason for overpriced, sad food. There are always food markets, food trucks, street vendors and other budget-friendly options awaiting us in our destinations if we just do a bit a due diligence.
If you're really in a bind and willing to pay the price to eat in-hotel, opt for the room service because the prices are normally about the same (aside from a small service charge), and, at least you can eat in bed.
Who doesn't love a white fluffy robe? They are like a warm hug after a long day and they can be very tempting when you see them hanging in the closet. That is until you think about what people wear under said bath robes. The answer is absolutely nothing.
Robes are leisurely so that means a naked person has laid down in said robe, has worn said robe prior to their shower, has potentially exercised in said robe (there are crazy people out there!!) so as inviting as it is, it can also be a little creepy. Unless you're at a five-star resort, say no to robes.
1 Gym Equipment
Sometimes people go away on holiday and imagine there to be a little fairy that follows them around and cleans all the things for them or at least it would seem that way from the state of the in-hotel gym. Wiping down the machines, props, and weights after each use is not only common courtesy but absolutely essential hygiene practice but it doesn't always happen. Since hotel gyms tend to carry the scent of yoga mat rubber and bleach by nature, it can be easy to assume that means that they are regularly cleaned. They are not.
If you need a workout, take the stairs to your floor or do some tricep dips off the edge of the bed but steer clear of the hotel StairMaster.