20 Hotel Room Hacks To Improve Your Stay

The cost of travel grows higher, year after year. Other than airfare, one of the biggest budgetary constraints for travelers is accommodations. You need a place to stay, after all. However, one of the most common complaints about hotels is the lack of amenities, according to Hotel News Resource. Even as hotels offer fewer amenities (or amenities for a fee) to guests at all levels, from budget to luxury, you can elevate your stay without spending an extra dime — if you know a few hacks.

While several of these hacks require a bit of trip pre-planning, don't worry if you aren't a big planner. Quite a few of these are also just ways of negotiating with a hotel after forgetting something or making creative use of what's already there. Whichever kind of traveler you are, the planner or the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type, we've got an idea for you. Although our hacks can't replace something like a rooftop pool overlooking the ocean, they should make things a little more comfy and homey. 

1. Sign up for loyalty programs

Most hotels have loyalty programs, which are free to join. Often, if you aren't already a member when booking directly with a hotel, they'll offer you a sign-up during your room booking process. Since these programs are free of charge, you have nothing to lose by signing up.

From that first booking, you can start racking up hotel loyalty points for future stays, bonus perks like free water or snacks, and even potential room upgrades. Plus some loyalty clubs allow you access to member lounges, which offer free meals or drinks once you reach a high enough status level. Not to mention, clubs like Marriott Bonvoy extend to so many hotels you could earn a lot of points if you are loyal to one chain.

2. Pack a mini-power strip

One thing hotels need more of is outlets. Especially if you're traveling with more than just two people, fighting for outlet access can be an uphill battle. A mini-power strip will help alleviate the lack of outlet availability and can save you some headaches.

What makes these little accessories particularly handy is that you can plug them in and set them up on a nightstand. For folks sharing a room but not the same bed, the nightstand in between the beds is a terrific central charging area. By placing the power strip on the nightstand near the back against the wall, there is little lost space with significantly more charging capabilities. Bonus points if you can put it between the lamp and the wall to take up even less surface area on the stand.

3. Make your shower a steamer

Hotel irons and steamers can be problematic little gadgets if you need to straighten out a shirt, pants, or a dress at a hotel. Although housekeeping will dump water out of them or even refill them in some hotels, hotel irons can leave your clothes smelling funky from over or improper use (from personal experience).

That's why hanging things in the bathroom when you're taking a hot shower is an excellent in-between option. You can get a lot of wrinkles out hanging your item near the shower; just be mindful that your clothes don't get wet.

4. Childproof with electrical tape

Remember how earlier we mentioned that there aren't enough outlets in hotels? Unfortunately, sometimes, when there are outlets, they're within reach of kiddos. You can prevent mishaps with little fingers and enticing sockets by covering the socket with electrical tape.

When placing the electrical tape over the outlets, be careful of the wall itself to not damage it. Before checking out, try to remember to remove the tape to save housekeeping the trouble. You could also pack some of those plastic outlet covers; just don't forget to bring them home again.

5. Put ice in the sink in lieu of a mini-fridge

While many of us are accustomed to hotels having mini-fridges in the rooms, that isn't necessarily the norm. So, if you find yourself in a room without one, adding ice to the sink to keep your food and beverages cool will work in a pinch.

Your makeshift fridge won't keep things ice-cold forever, though it makes for a terrific temporary solution. This also works with the ice bucket, too, though you should add a liner to the bucket before putting things in there for hygiene purposes.

6. Don't be shy about extras at breakfast

We're not advising you to hoard items from the complimentary or even paid breakfast buffet. However, you should grab an extra item or two to have on hand in case you get hungry later. After all, the food is there for guests to use as they need it. And not everyone is a big morning eater.

Our go-to extra breakfast item snag at the end is often something simple to pack later, like a banana or apple, a little cereal box, or yogurt if it's possible to go back to the in-room mini-fridge before heading out for the day.

7. Use conditioner as shaving cream

Most of the time, the front desk will have toiletries available if you've forgotten them. Even so, some hotels won't have shaving kits available. If this happens, hair conditioner will get the job done.

Conditioner makes for a good shaving cream because it softens the hair. This makes it easier to shave while also treating your skin at the same time. Think of it like a budget spa day for your legs or underarms — or wherever!

8. Keep the curtains closed with a hanger

If your hotel doesn't feature blackout shades for those tough mornings, consider using the pant hangers in the closet to clip your window shades closed. Pinch the fabric with the pins from the pants hangers to pull the stubborn hotel shades shut.

Depending on the size of the curtains and the fabric, you may need two sets of pant hangers. Just don't forget to put the hangers back in the closet when you're done with them.

9. Tell the hotel if you're celebrating a special occasion

If you're on a trip for a special reason like a honeymoon, anniversary, or birthday, be sure to let the front desk know. They won't always surprise you with things like free wine or chocolates or anything, though there is a zero percent chance they will if you don't tell them.

Who knows? You could get even luckier. If possible, hotels may upgrade your room to make your special occasion just a little more special. This doesn't necessarily need to be a hack to try upon checking into a hotel, either. If you'd like to surprise someone you're traveling with, consider leaving a note on your reservation. 

10. Always book direct

Third-party sites can be tempting. They'll often dangle a good deal in front of you as a means to scoop you in. However, booking directly with the hotel will more often than not get you a better deal.

Even if booking directly is slightly more expensive, you're more likely to get a better room or an upgrade by communicating with the hotel. There's no way to negotiate through a third-party site. Plus, if you're a rewards member, you can make sure that you receive member perks and loyalty points for the stay.

11. Use a rolled-up towel for added soundproofing

According to Hotel News Resource, another common guest complaint is noise. Grab one of the spare bath towels from the bathroom, roll it tightly like a log, and put it in front of your door. This blocks any light from the door jam and adds a bit of soundproofing, too. This is a particularly helpful tip if you're staying at a family-friendly hotel.

Or, on the opposite end, any soundproofing will be helpful if you're staying at accommodations during special events. Anyone who has stayed at a hotel during a nearby comic convention, concert, or sporting event knows how rowdy it can be.

12. Ask about extended-stay discounts for long trips

If you plan on staying at a hotel for a week or more, it's worth asking the hotel if they offer extended-stay discounts. Oftentimes, they'll have these discounts listed in the "specials" category on their websites, too, if you're feeling shy.

Discounts for extended stays can reach upwards of 30%, but from personal experience, you can expect the discounts to be closer to 5 to 10%. Still, a small discount on the cost of a stay at an extended-stay hotel can translate to pretty significant savings. 

13. Bring painter's tape for extra darkness

A big hotel pet peeve of ours and, most likely, a lot of travelers are the random lights in an otherwise pitch-black room. Alarm clock faces, television source lights, or even nightlights built into outlets can feel so bothersome when the room is otherwise totally dark.

Bring some painter's tape along and cover those bad boys up to avoid the unavoidable green blinking. Painter's tape or masking tape is meant to be removed easily so it shouldn't gum up the surfaces, which is a bonus.

14. Request a top-floor room

Booking a top-floor room isn't just for the views. The location all but guarantees you a much quieter hotel experience. You'll still have neighbors on either side and below you, but without neighbors in the room above you, you should experience less noise.

Since you're further from the ground, your levels of street noise are significantly dampened as well. Even when staying in a major city, you can leave the city's street noise behind you after stepping onto the elevator. 

15. Turn a shower cap into something else

Shower caps are incredibly versatile little hotel freebies. Although they're obviously meant to protect hair in the shower, a lot of travelers (like us) use them in other ways. They can be used to secure toiletries to avoid leakage, shoe bags to protect your clothes from dirty shoes, or even as wet garment bags.

You can even take some inspiration from shoe covers to keep mud off of your shoes outside, though you'll need two shower caps for both shoes. Get creative. There are so many ways to use these. 

16. Make a toothbrush holder with a spare cup

Setting a toothbrush on a hotel countertop is a big-time travel ick of ours. To avoid that, a cup in the bathroom makes for an excellent barrier between a toothbrush and a questionably clean counter.

You can either use a disposable cup or a reusable cup like a porcelain mug. The best way to use a disposable cup as a holder, though, is to tip it upside down and poke a hole in the cup's bottom. Using it right side up is tricky, as the toothbrush will likely tip it over since it's heavier than the cup.

17. Handwash laundry in the bathroom

Many hotels offer laundry services, though they'll usually cost you a pretty penny. To avoid spending that cash, wash your laundry in the sink or bathtub instead. Ring your clothes out really well and hang them wherever you can to dry them evenly. Bonus points if you use the clothes hangers and hang them up to avoid wrinkles.

As an additional hack, if you didn't bring any laundry detergent, the hair conditioner works incredibly well — plus it leaves your clothes super soft!

18. Pack a portable kettle

We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that hotel coffeemaker is probably not clean. Hotels rarely (if ever) properly clean those and, frankly, you never know what people put in them. That's why bringing your own portable kettle is probably a good idea.

Travel kettles come in collapsible designs, making for easy packing. Some hotels also have hot water available in the lobby area in large carafes if you would rather not pack a travel kettle.

19. Utilize a car vent air freshener

Hotel rooms can smell funky. You never know what kind of smelluation you'll walk into — even at a high-end hotel. One way to combat that is to bring along a small air freshener for your car in whatever scent you prefer.

These little wonders can be connected to the room's air conditioner (if it's within reach). Once the air turns on, the air freshener will begin to circulate scent around the room. Voilà, no more stinky hotel room.

20. Build a towel humidifier

Hotel rooms are notorious for having dry air. That's how travelers developed this neat trick to place humidity back into the atmosphere. It's quite simple to get that moisture back out to protect your body from the ravages of dry air.

Simply place wet towels around the room. As they dry, the evaporated water will reinvigorate the air around them with moisture. Just be sure to ring out the towels really well before placing them around the room to avoid making a mess.