7 things to always do when you check into a hotel room

A women wearing a hat and pulling a suitcase looking out of the window in a hotel room
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Staying in a hotel should be a fun and relaxing experience. It’s a time to get away and distance yourself from the responsibilities of home — so long as you’ve followed these 7 tips to help your plants survive while you're on vacation. However, while this is a time to relax and unwind, there are still steps you should take to ensure your stay is a safe and pleasant one. 

There’s nothing more annoying than anticipating a holiday of a lifetime, and being let down as soon as you check-in to the hotel room. And while a small mistake, such as a lack of shampoo, can be an inconvenience, some things can outright ruin your vacation. That’s why you should take the time to check over your hotel room to make sure it’s up to scratch. To help you out, we’ve listed 7 things to do as soon as you arrive in your room. Follow these tips, and you can ensure peace of mind during your stay.

1. Check the locks work 

Someone opening the door into a hotel room

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First, make sure you can lock the door and secure your windows effectively. There should also be mesh curtains you can draw during the day to hide the contents and occupancy. If you’re concerned about break-ins, you can always request a room which isn’t on the ground floor.

Remember to check you can get into your room easily as well. If you’ve got more than one key card, test each to make sure they work independently. There’s nothing worse than arriving late at night and struggling to get into your own room.

2. Check for bed bugs 

A bed bug up close

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Don’t let the bed bugs bite when you’re on vacation. Always check your bedding to make sure it’s clear of these nasty pests before you spend a night. Hotels are one of the 5 ways bed bugs can invade your home. This is because bed bugs can easily be carried on clothes, which means they can spread to hotel rooms from previous travelers with ease. It’s essential that you inform the hotel of a potential infestation so it can warden off the room and treat it to prevent these bugs from spreading further. If bed bugs are confirmed while you're staying in the room, your clothing and the room will require professional cleaning.

Signs of bed bugs include yellow shed skin and eggshells — these will be tiny, but they’re still visible to the eye. Tiny black spots on the sheets can also indicate bed bug feces. A musty odor might linger on top of this. Failing that, if you sleep in the bed unknowingly and get bitten, dry blood may be evident on the sheets. The bed bugs themselves are visible if you look closely enough too. Above all, give the sheets a thorough check before you settle in to make sure there's no evidence of these pests. 

If you suspect bed bugs at home, here’s how to get rid of bed bugs and how to tell if you have them.  

3. Listen out for noise 

A woman holding a pillow over head head at night as she struggles to sleep from noise

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While everyone’s excitable and often noisy as soon as you arrive, try to take a moment to listen to the ambient noise in your room. If the walls are particularly thin, and the neighbor’s TV is overly loud, or there happens to be a dog next door, it can indicate that it’s going to be tricky to sleep or relax later on. 

It’s worth checking the noise of the appliances in your room as well — if the AC is overly noisy, or the plumbing is particularly loud, this can make your stay an uncomfortable one. If you’re concerned about the noise, ask if you can change rooms for this reason — something as little as moving you down the hall can make a big difference. 

4. Check the phone works 

A phone by the bed in a hotel room

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The phone in your hotel room is used for more than early wake-up calls — it’s there for emergencies as well. So you should always check if it's functional when you arrive. Get the direct number for the front desk and test it to make sure it works. Call a number outside of the hotel as well, so you know you can reach anyone necessary as well as the emergency services if needed. 

Have a note of the hotel address details next to the phone too. You will need to know this should you reach out to the emergency services. Check your own phone picks up enough signal to make any calls to loved ones as well. Wi-Fi needs to be reliable and consistent for video calls, and for those who are staying for business.

5. Clean high touch surfaces 

Someone cleaning a remote control with a wipe

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While the cleaners will (hopefully) make the rounds in between guests, it’s hard to believe the room is scrubbed from top to bottom each time. Covid is still around, and there are plenty of viruses which can ruin your vacation as well, so it’s worth cleaning high touch surfaces yourself to ensure no bugs take hold before your holiday even starts.

Multi-purpose disinfectant wipes are widely available, such as Clorox Disinfecting Wipes ($11.79, Amazon). Wiping down high traffic areas, such as the door knobs, remote controls and toilet handles, is a good way to ensure there’s no bacteria or germs lurking in your room. To clean the light switches, while switched off, dampen a microfiber cloth with a multi-surface cleaner, then wipe over the surface. Never spray anything directly onto the light switch.        

6. Use the safe 

Someone opening a hotel room safe

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If you’re carrying valuables with you, it’s much better to store these in the room safe versus hiding them in the room itself. Of course, no hotel room safe is 100% secure — the hotel staff will also have access to it should you lose the code you’ve set. For this reason, you might prefer to store high value items in the hotel’s main safe (if it has one), where you can have a receipt for what’s been stored. You can check that there’s a security camera in place to monitor this safe for peace of mind. Safe deposit boxes might also be available. 

If you’d like to stick to the room safe, it’s still better than nothing. Make sure you use a code which isn’t easy to guess, such as 0000 or 1234.

7. Make sure you have everything you need

Amenities on a hotel room bed

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Before you collapse on your bed and make yourself at home, make sure you do in fact have everything you need. Check you’ve got all of the necessary toiletries and amenities in the bathroom, including shower gel, shampoo and conditioner as well as hand soap. There should be enough towels for the whole family too. 

If there’s tea and coffee, check you’ve got milk and sugar as needed, as well as bottled water if the hotel supplies this. Even small details, like checking the remotes and bedside lamps work, are important — broken amenities can ruin your stay. If you’ve forgotten any essentials, such as toothpaste, the hotel can often supply amenities to help here too, so it’s always worth asking.

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Katie Mortram
Homes Editor

Katie looks after everything homes-related, from kitchen appliances to gardening tools. She also covers smart home products too, so is the best point of contact for any household advice! She has tested and reviewed appliances for over 6 years, so she knows what to look for when finding the best. Her favorite thing to test has to be air purifiers, as the information provided and the difference between performances is extensive.