Genius hotel hacks to make your stay comfortable
Most of us love to travel, but most of us also don’t love everything about travel. Here are some ways to make your hotel room a bit more comfortable.
The cleaning staff (usually) do the best they can, but hotel bathrooms can be full of bacteria. No matter how upscale or expensive your hotel is, you want to think twice about where you place your personal items. If you’re uncomfortable putting your toothbrush on the bathroom counter (and you should be), consider this DIY solution.
It’s easy — just cut a small hole in the bottom of a paper cup. That’s it, you’re done! By placing the cup upside down on the counter, you can now stuff your toothbrush through the hole and you won’t have to worry about the brush end touching the countertop. It’s an easy and free way to stay germ-free.
Hang your clothes in the bathroom
Bunching your clothes in a suitcase will get them severely wrinkled, but ironing clothes is just one extra chore no one wants to do. And that’s your dilemma – you want to look neat and pressed, but without having to put in the extra work. Fortunately, with this helpful hack, you won’t have to worry about it.
Hang your clothes in the steamy bathroom after you shower for five minutes. Afterwards, move them to the drying rack. Absorbing the steam will naturally get rid of most — if not all — the wrinkles. It’s like having a portable steam cleaner on vacation with you.
Nice and dark
Get jet lag? Changing time zones will sometimes have you nodding off in the middle of the day. However, it can be tough to fall asleep when it’s bright out, no matter how tired you are. Pulling the curtains helps, but still lets in some light. And you really want a dark room to get the best sleep possible and wake up feeling rested.
Most hotels will leave a coat hanger with clips in your room. Use it to clip the curtains together — you’ll be amazed at how much darker the room gets. Once you’ve caught up on your sleep, you’ll be refreshed and ready to explore a new city.
Conditioner works as shaving cream
Maybe you forgot to pack some, or maybe you just ran out. But now you’re stuck without shaving cream and you’re starting to look like Grizzly Adams. Should you buy a whole new can, only to have to throw it away when you pass through customs? No! Use the conditioner your hotel provides.
Unlike shampoo, which opens your pores, conditioner closes them up, making it ideal for shaving without irritating your skin. Slather it on, shave, and rinse. Your skin will feel soft, smooth, and clean-shaven. And since your hotel will replace your conditioner every day, you won’t have to worry about running out of your new shaving cream.
There’s nothing worse than trying to spread cold, hard butter on your toast. Actually, we take that back, there are lots of worse things. That said, it is annoying. Every time you try to butter your toast or your bagel at the breakfast buffet, you end up shredding it instead. Lucky for you, there’s a hack.
Just put the packaged squares of butter on top of the toaster while your toast cooks — it’ll melt inside the package and be perfect for spreading by the time your toast is done. Just be careful you don’t drop it in the slot of the toaster. And keep an eye on it – the toaster gets warm and you don’t want to end up with a soggy mess if it melts all over.
Hair dryer also works as an iron
Most of the time, your hotel will provide you with an iron. It’s a lifesaver when you want to look nice but your clothes have been in a suitcase for hours. But if they don’t, and you don’t have time to steam up your bathroom, a blow dryer will work in a pinch.
Just hang your clothes on a rack and point the hot air at the wrinkles. You’ll be surprised how well this works! If you need a boost, spritz a little water on your clothes (just shake it off your hands) to get out the most stubborn wrinkles.
Add some moisture
We all know how dry hotel rooms can get — but there’s an easy way to fix that. Just drape a wet towel over the radiator by putting a suitcase rack next to it. This makes sure all the air that circulates your room is properly humidified. It’ll help you sleep better, especially if you’re not used to being in a dry climate.
If it feels dry in your hotel room, give this trick a shot. Your nose and throat will thank you when you wake up in the morning. You can even add ice to the towel if it’s too hot in there. You’ll feel like you had a humidifier in the room with you, and find yourself breathing and resting much better with this easy hack.
Keep your shampoo from leaking into your luggage
It seems that no matter how hard you screw the caps onto your bottles of shampoo, face wash, conditioner, etc., some of the contents inevitably leak out into your bag. And the last thing you want to deal with after a flight is trying to find someplace to wash your shampoo out of your clothes. There’s an easy way to fix this.
Unscrew the cap and place a plastic bag over the top of the bottle — make sure you leave a little slack — then screw the cap back on over the bag. Now you don’t have to worry about your toiletries ruining your clothes. This works easily for any bottle – lotion, conditioner, any of them. You won’t waste toiletries or ruin your clothes.
No bottle opener? No problem!
You might think you’re out of luck if you want to enjoy a bottled beverage but have no bottle opener. You’d be wrong! There’s a little-known hack than can help you open almost any bottle, and it’s right in your room with you. Most hotels rooms now are equipped with fire doors — the door closer doubles as a bottle opener.
Just put the cap of the bottle up just above the “elbow” of the door closer arm and slowly pull the door closed. When done right, the cap should pop right off. Nifty! Just make sure you go slowly so the cap comes off neatly.
Does your favorite beverage come with a cork instead of a cap? Don’t worry, we’ll get to that later.
Clothes hanger doubles as a doorstop
In most hotels, the doors automatically close as soon as you let go of them. This can be annoying if you’re bringing in a bunch of luggage in at once, or if you have multiple people with you and they don’t all have key cards. Sure, you could prop the door open with a suitcase, but it’s bulky and will get in the way of anyone trying to walk in or out of the room.
If the clothes rack is close enough to the door — or if you can find something else to hang it on — you can use a coat hanger to hold the door open. Just put the swinging arm door lock through the coat hanger. Now hang the hanger on the rack like you normally would. The hanger will act as your personal doorman, holding the door open while you bring in suitcases or let in the others.
Sick of leaving without your charger?
It’s so frustrating to get home from a trip and realize that you’ve left yet another phone charger in a hotel room. The solution? Make it impossible to leave without it! With this simple trick you won’t get far without your phone charger. It’s easy, just loop the cord through your key chain and tie a loose knot.
Now, if you check out without your charger, you’ll remember it when you get to the car and don’t have your keys. It’ll be annoying returning to your room, but it beats leaving your stuff behind. And it’s much better than having to buy another phone charger when you get home.
Bring an HDMI cable
The whole point of travel is to get out and explore. But doing that all day and night will wear you out — that’s when it’s time to flip on the TV. If you’re in a foreign country and can’t speak the language, the local television stations will get boring fast. Even if you’re lucky to find something with English subtitles, you probably don’t want to have to read an entire movie or show.
If you have a laptop and an HDMI cable, you can plug in your device and watch all your favorite shows from whatever streaming service you prefer. Binge your favorite series for a while in between sightseeing stops. This can be a life saver!
Hotel walls are sometimes thin, and people like to party on vacation. And loud hotel guests don’t necessarily realize that some of their fellow guests need to get some rest. If your neighbors are keeping you up, stuff a towel under the door to muffle the noise. You’ll be surprised how much this simple trick will help you get to sleep.
It also comes in handy if you anticipate you’ll be making some noise yourself. Why not be considerate to those in the rooms next to you? If you have young kids, this will also help them at naptime, when there are likely to be more people walking and talking in the hallways.
Practically every hotel provides ice, but not every room has a refrigerator. And if they do, it’s usually full of those vastly overpriced snacks and drinks. Never take stuff from the minibar! The overpriced drinks aren’t worth it, no matter how badly you want some cold water. The lack of a fridge can be frustrating when you want to enjoy a cold beverage — but have no fear, there’s a workaround.
Fill your sink with ice and stuff your drinks in there to keep them cool. It works just as well as any fridge and it’s really simple. And the best part is, there’s no cleanup. The ice will melt down the drain and do your job for you.
Ironing board as a table
Feel like ordering takeout or would you rather just eat some snacks in your room instead of going out? That can be annoying if you have a big family and the hotel room only has a small desk. Your only other option is the bed, and you don’t want to end up sleeping in a bed full of crumbs. What are you going to eat on?
The ironing board comes to the rescue! Fold it out and place it between the bed(s) and the seat(s). You’ll find it’s a bit narrow for a dinner table, but it’ll do the trick. Just be sure to put a towel or something over the ironing board to avoid staining it. When you’re done with your meal, shake the crumbs off the towel and into the trash and you’re all set.
Turn it up!
Packing light is essential for any experienced traveler. That might mean you don’t have room to take a Bluetooth speaker with you. Which would be fine, except that you might enjoy listening to your favorite podcast or some music while you’re getting dressed. If you find your cell phone isn’t giving you the volume you need, here’s a simple hack to help — it’s one that cooks and dishwashers likely already know.
Simply put your phone in a cup or bowl. When the sound is focused in one direction it’ll be louder — sort of like when you cup your hands around your mouth to shout during a sporting event. But don’t let it get too loud. You don’t want to bother your hotel neighbors.
The shower cap has other uses
You might not think you need the shower cap the hotel provides you with, but trust us, it’ll come in handy. If you want to be comfortable on your trip, you’ll likely want to pack a couple different pairs of shoes. But do you really want your muddy running shoes rubbing against your nice suit? Lucky for you, there’s an easy (and free!) hack that will keep your clothes clean.
That’s where the shower cap comes in. Simply stretch it over your sneakers and voila! The soles of your shoes are completely covered and the shower cap will catch any dirt that falls off. Your suit is safe and you’re good to go.
You can also use your shower cap to hold a wet swimsuit in your luggage, and to cover your leftover food.
No need to go to the laundromat
If you’re traveling light, going to the laundromat and paying for a full load of laundry just seems like a waste of money. Not to mention, who wants to spend valuable vacation time waiting for clothes to be clean? Luckily, there’s a simple trick that costs nothing, though you’ll still need some coins.
It’s simple, just wash the clothes in the sink.
But wait, you say: “Hotel room sinks rarely have plugs and all the water just drains out. It’ll take ages for me to clean one pair of jeans.” Fear not. Just put a piece of plastic — like a sheet of cellophane or a plastic bag over the plug hole. You can even use the liner from the hotel’s ice bucket or a shower cap. Place some coins over the plastic to keep it in place. Now get to scrubbing.
Cook your own ramen or oatmeal
Just because you’re on vacation or a business trip doesn’t mean you have to eat out every meal. Just like at home, sometimes it’s better to stay in and eat. Save some money by making some food yourself. That can be tricky without a stove. Fortunately, you don’t need one boil some water.
The coffee pot in your hotel room doesn’t just make coffee or tea — it can make food too! With some creativity you can make a number of delicious dishes with just a coffee maker and a bowl. Pretty much anything that can be cooked with hot water is fair game here.
Dryer sheets keep your clothes smelling fresh
Ever notice how when you travel, your clothes start to smell like the inside of your suitcase? If you don’t like spraying your clothes with a deodorizer, consider packing dryer sheets with your clothes. They take up zero space and leave your clothes smelling fresh out of the dryer.
They’ll keep your clothes smelling fresh, no matter how long you keep them scrunched up in your luggage. You can pick scented sheets – lavender and fresh linen are both popular scents – or something unscented that just smells… clean.
Also, leaving a dryer sheet or two in your shoes overnight will keep them from smelling like feet.
Ask to borrow a crock pot or a blender
Want to eat more than just cup noodles or oatmeal but don’t want to pay to eat out. Try asking the hotel to provide you with some supplies. You’ll be surprised what they have on hand. You can then use your phone to look up quick and easy recipes before heading to the nearest grocery store.
It’s not uncommon for the hotel to have a crock pot or blender they are willing to loan out to guests. They usually keep unusual items like this on hand for guests with food allergies or who just prefer to not eat out. If not, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Trust us, it won’t be the weirdest request they’ve ever heard.
Take the cummerbund off your bed
Not all hotel beds have this, but many do: It’s that 2-foot band of thick fabric wrapped around the foot of your bed. That’s called a cummerbund, and it is rarely cleaned, so you’ll want to discard it immediately. That’s right – it’s the one thing that you’ll want to make sure is no where near where you’ll be sleeping.
In fact, you’ll probably want to take the comforter off as well. Many hotels don’t wash their comforters between customers. Yuck. This isn’t true of all hotels, but it’s true of enough hotels to give you pause. The reason is simple — cleaning bed sheets is easy, but comforters take more effort. Some hotels that do put the extra effort in will leave a note or tag the comforter with the date it was last washed. If you aren’t sure, call downstairs and ask. You might not like the answer, but at least you’ll know for sure.
Practice good remote control hygiene
You may have heard that the remote control in your hotel room is one of the worst sources of germs and bacteria. This is true — mostly because of how often it gets cleaned (think about how often you clean your own remote at home). And almost everyone who stays in a room touches it at some point, if only to channel surf for a little while.
If you neglected to bring some disinfectant but are still grossed out by the remote, you can put it in a clear plastic bag and tie it off. You’ll still be able to see the buttons, but you’ll pick up less germs (at least in theory). And anything you can do to avoid some germs is worth it!
If you must use the mini bar …
Hey, we get it. Sometimes you have a sugar craving that just needs to be satisfied. This usually happens in the middle of the night, when you’re already in your pajamas and don’t want to go anywhere. If that overpriced Coke or candy bar in the hotel mini fridge is just too hard to resist, there may be a way to fill your tummy without emptying your wallet.
Now this only works in some hotels — many fancy hotels will have specialized snacks you can’t find elsewhere, or a locking system you need to bypass to open the fridge door. But if not, just take a picture of the exact way the food and drinks are laid out, eat what you want, and buy the cheap version at a grocery store. Just make sure that the label is exactly identical. If you replace the consumed items, no one will be the wiser. And you can satisfy your midnight cravings.
Car air fresheners aren’t just for cars
Hopefully, when you get to your hotel room, it’ll be nice and clean and smelling fresh. But every once in a while you’ll find your room has a funky smell. It doesn’t mean the hotel is dirty or unclean. But since hotel room windows usually don’t open, the air can get stale. If the staff won’t change your room, don’t fret, there’s an easy fix.
The air fresheners made for cars that clip onto your air conditioner vents will work on the vent in your hotel room as well. So, if you find your room has a musty odor, clip an air freshener on the vent and freshen the scent. Pop one into your suitcase whenever you travel, just in case.
Duct tape to the rescue
Are your kids trouble makers that always get into things they shouldn’t? Consider packing a roll of duct tape or electrical tape to kid-proof your hotel room. It’s easier than trying to keep a constant eye on them or stressing out about what they will or won’t touch.
Use it to cover any exposed outlets and to keep pesky wires pinned down and out of the way of trampling little feet. Band-aids will also work as makeshift outlet covers. And of course, if you’re traveling with kids, you probably already have Band-aids with you.
Bonus tip: lots of hotels have outlet covers on hand — so call ahead and request them.
Misplaced your charger?
When you travel, it’s easy to leave something behind somewhere — hopefully it’s not your heart or your wallet! For some reason, it’s often a phone charger, something we all desperately need! And it’s silly to have to buy another phone charger, when you probably have plenty at home. The hotel may be able to help.
If the staff doesn’t keep one on hand they can loan you, there’s a good chance someone like you left their charger behind a long time ago. Multiply this by many different people over many years of business, and odds are the hotel has a charger that will fit your phone! Just make sure you don’t accidentally take it home with you – leave it behind for the next person who forgets their charger.
Open a wine bottle without a corkscrew
Sometimes, when you’re traveling, unwinding with a bottle of wine after a long day of playing tourist is the perfect way to end your evening. Until you realize you don’t have a corkscrew. Most hotels will loan you a wine bottle opener if you need one, but if not, there’s a number of ways to MacGyver the cork out of the bottle. One of the simplest (and perhaps the least messy) is to use a key.
Note: you’ll want to either use a very solid key or one you don’t mind bending.
First, stab the cork with a key at an angle. Get it deep in there. Once it’s down deep, twist the bottle around the key. Once it’s loosened a bit, you begin lifting the cork while twisting the bottle until the cork pops out the top. Here’s a video demonstration of the technique.
Invest in a mini power strip
Unless you’re traveling solo, you’ll probably run into a situation where more than one person needs to charge their phone at once. Especially if you’ve all just gotten back to the room, and everyone’s phone batteries are almost dead already. If there’s a limited amount of outlets, this can cause serious problems — even ruin a friendship. Just kidding, but it is annoying.
That’s why if you’re traveling in a group, one of you should always bring along a mini power strip. Now, everyone can charge their phones at once, and everyone’s happy. It’s a small investment that will pay in big returns when it comes to convenience.
Tip your housekeepers
This one’s not a hack, per se, but it will build up some good karma, and that never hurts. For some reason, most people still tip valets and room service, but many neglect the housekeepers. It’s a difficult job, and some extra money from each room cleaned goes a long way. So be generous to those who are doing the difficult job of keeping rooms clean and tidy, because they definitely deserve it.
Leave a note with the money so they don’t assume you just left it by accident. If you don’t let them know specifically that it’s for them, they won’t touch it.
On that note, consider not using the “Do Not Disturb” sign when you step out for the day: Housekeepers often get paid by the hour, so if there’s not enough rooms to clean, they may get sent home early with less money to take home.
Ask for a late checkout
Doesn’t hurt to ask. The worse than can happen is that they say no. But if you get lucky, you’ll get to hang out a little longer before having to go to the airport.
However, given that the hotel industry is highly competitive, hotels are incentivized to build a loyal group of visitors (especially those that travel regularly for work). For that reason, they might be more inclined to give you perks than you think. It helps if you know what to ask for – and a late check out is a reasonable request.
As long as the hotel isn’t swamped (the weekend of Comic Con, for example, is not an ideal time to ask) and don’t have someone scheduled to come to your room that day, there’s a good chance they will let you have the late checkout free of charge. It might be only a couple of hours, but at least you can sleep in and take your time getting ready instead of having to rush out the door quickly.
Hey – doesn’t hurt to ask.
If you travel a lot, join a hotel rewards program
As mentioned before, the hospitality industry is very competitive. Hotels are eager to build a loyal following to ensure a steady flow of clients. And once you are part of their rewards program, hotels love to treat you right and keep your business with their brand.
Just like with airlines, staying loyal to one hotel chain or brand has its perks. Many offer free nights stays, upgrades, complimentary meals, or room service to their rewards members.
If you travel regularly for work and know you’ll be checking in a lot in the near future, passing up on loyalty rewards is literally leaving money on the table. Perks programs are usually free to join, and the rewards they give you can make your trip so much more enjoyable.
Just make sure the hotel chain you pick has location at your anticipated destinations.
Wrap the remote
One surface that may or may not get a lot of love from the housekeeping crew is the TV remote. Yet, if you think about it, there are several reasons the remote might have some especially questionable cleanliness. By the time you get to your room, a lot of hands have touched that remote, and who knows when was the last time it was cleaned?
When people are watching TV, they are comfortable. No one is around – imagine all the Cheetos fingers that have pressed that exact button.
Don’t worry: there’s an easy work around. Grab a basketliner from the hotel bathroom and wrap the remote in it. You can still see and use all of the buttons, but without having to touch what is one of the germiest items in the room. Problem solved – questions you don’t really want the answer to don’t need to be asked. If only all of life’s problems were so easy to resolve.
If you’re hotel room doesn’t have a fridge, but you have some cold ones you want to keep…well, cold, don’t put that wastebasket away after you’ve wrapped the remote. That wastebasket has more gifts to give.
Use a liner to keep your trash in (outside of the basket). Use another liner in the basket. This is going to be a makeshift cooler for all of your drinks, without dripping ice anywhere.
If you can get some ice from a nearby convenience store or better yet, if the place you’re staying at has an ice machine, get some. Most hotels have a free ice machine on each floor.
Fill the wastebasket with ice and drop whatever you want kept cool in there for a makeshift cooler that works for hours. When the ice melts, dump the water down the sink and go down the hall for fresh ice from the hotel ice machine.
This pillow is juuuuust right
Ever get stuck in that weird place where one pillow is a little too low, but two pillows is a little too high? Don’t despair – humanity’s collective wisdom has come up with answers. But if you’re like most people, you’re not being picky. Your neck is used to sleeping at the same height every night at home, and anything else feels awkward.
A towel is the perfect answer to these pillow height problems. Fold it so it provides the amount of height you’re looking for and viola!
The towel can do double duty. If the pillow the hotel provided you is a little too soft for your liking, you can put a smaller towel into the sheet to had a little more firmness to your pillow. Whatever you need to do to get it just right.
No wonder a towel was the most important thing a universe traveler could bring along with them in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe.
Got kids? Lighten your load
Many people don’t know this, but it’s fairly common for hotels to offer strollers, baby tubs, and other large, cumbersome items parents have to lug around the airport, train station, long car ride, etc. Especially if the hotel in some way panders to kids or family experiences, such as Disneyland Resorts. Bringing your own equipment on a flight is inconvenient, bulky, and even costly, if you have to pay extra to bring it on board.
Spare yourself the trouble: Leave the loads of baby stuff at home. Simply rent them from the hotel when you get there. You might not even have to rent it – some hotels might have them free on a first-come first-served basis.
Many hotels list their rentable items on their website, but if you have trouble finding if a particular establishment has what you need, a quick call can spare you extra checked baggage fees and unnecessary baggage.
Did you bring your charger but forgot that little block thingy with a USB port and the prongs to fit a wall outlet? That’s frustrating, because you’re this close to being able to charge your home, but now you’ll need to go out and buy one of the charging blocks.
Don’t panic – in most hotels, you have options. And one of those options is the side control panel of the room’s TV.
If you see a flatscreen, you’re in luck: Odds are it has a USB port. Unfortunately, these types of ports tend to charge at a snail’s pace. But a full night on the juice line should get you a full charge for your nest day. So put your phone on the t.v. charger when you hit the bed, and you’ll wake up ready for a full day of scrolling.
Because home is where the internet and charged smartphone is.
Heading out the door for dinner, but need your laptop to charge? That could be a problem if your room’s power is controlled by your key card. Or is it?
When we see a mounted control panel with what looks like a card insert, we often assume the room’s key card is what activates power in the room. Trouble is, if you pull the keycard out, the power goes with it. Which means you can only charge your device if you’re actually sitting in your room. And that might be a problem, if you know you’ll be needing it right away.
But what if we told you that card shaped slot is just an illusion? That’s right – it’s just there to make you think you need to have your card in there.
In most hotel rooms, it is. It’s just a motion detector, so sliding a firmer piece of paper or even another card will have thee same effect. Now your devices can charge while you’re hittin’ the hotel bar!
But wait…is that true for the doors?
Uh….we hope not.
Improv hotel kitchen
Desperate times call for desperate measure. And being hungry, in another city, and not having access to a kitchen is what we’d call desperate.
To be honest, this hack is for experts only – and even for them, it looks like an accident waiting to happen.
But we have to admit, we’re impressed with the ‘hackiness’ of this set up.
The heat from the iron can certainly get to stove level temperatures, but you can’t just put anything on the surface of a hot iron. It must be able to with stand that kind of heat.
Enter: The coffee carafe. It was born for this moment. Together, the coffee carafe and hot iron make an unlikely, but successful, hotel kitchen hack. Just be careful, please, because this really does look rather precarious.
Bring all your favorite products…next time
Are you particular about what toiletry products you use? Does the thought of using some mystery shampoo at a hotel make you feel….unsettled? You may be able to make that a one-time experience. If you are in love with the products you use at home and don’t want to switch them up, this is an easy hack to keep in mind for your next trip.
Next time you’re at a hotel and use up the shampoo and conditioner in the little bottles hotels often provide, take them with you. They are often just the right size to bring in your carry-ons, so TSA won’t make you throw it away. That way, you can refill them with your favorite products along without fear of confiscation. So hold on to them at home, and you can bring them with you on the next time you travel.
Next time, nothing but the finest toiletries no matter where you are. Your hair will thank you for it.