People love to travel and not just during the hot summer months.  Winter is also a busy time at airports.  Some people travel for business purposes, to attend sporting events, to take mid-winter vacations, or to visit relatives and friends.  Whatever the reason, lots of luck.  If you’re planning on staying at a hotel or motel, you’ll need it. 

Virtually any room you book will be presentable, but looks can be deceiving and too often they tell only part of the story.  The other part is that rooms at some hotels and motels are absolutely filthy or have hidden cameras watching your most private moments.  And in some hotels and motels safety of person and property is a problem.  These issues are not limited to economy lodges in the middle of nowhere but are of concern even at well-known and very pricey establishments. 

“You would think paying more for a hotel would get you a cleaner room, but investigative reporters have found that not always to be the case,” says Jennifer Stagg, a naturopathic physician and author.

So just how dirty are some hotel rooms?  Probably more than you would imagine.  This being a family paper, we won’t go into all of the details, but we will point out some of the issues you may want to bear in mind.   

One of these is hygiene.  Don’t assume that bathroom counters and faucets are always as clean as they appear to be because they are not.  They are, in fact, sometimes cleaned with the very same cloth used to clean the commode, thereby transferring germs to them. 

And that, “Can lead to gastrointestinal infections,” according to Dr. Stagg.  “There may also be GI and respiratory viruses lingering on surfaces.”  Moreover, those cloths are often used from room to room.  In a related issue, drinking glasses found on kitchen counters or in bathroom medicine cabinets may only be rinsed, not washed, and therefore they too are not necessarily sanitary.

Even worse, fecal matter has been found on shower handles, doorknobs, remotes, light switches, coffee makers - and even on sofas, chairs and telephones.

Travelers are sometimes shocked and revolted because they find hair and a variety of stains on pillow cases and/or blankets.  According to Dr. Stagg, “Organisms that cause diseases can be found on bedding - including comforters and pillows - that are not washed.  These items also may pick up dirt and other repulsive matter if the cleaning staff tosses them on the floor while making the bed.” 

Most people don’t think twice about touching the electronic key to their room.  However, since these are never cleaned, they are loaded with all sorts of germs. 

Even ice buckets may have an assortment of germs because visitors sometimes use it as a receptacle when they need to vomit.  MRSA, for example, an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that causes infections in different parts of the body, has been found on phones and remotes.  Phones also can harbor E. coli or respiratory viruses from people holding the instrument too close to their mouths.”

Smile And Say Cheese

The number of hidden cameras found in hotels are on the rise and when they are discovered vacations that start out great quickly turn into an experience memorable for very different reasons. 

Visitors are advised to be on the lookout for these.  “Look around the room,” recommends Adam Coughran, a former police officer in Orange County, California, for nearly 20 years.  “Does something look out of place?  Does something look like it should not be in that room?” 

Even if not, that’s no guarantee that all is well.  Cameras have been and are hidden in virtually anything: fake smoke detectors, lights - even fans.  And they are camouflaged so skillfully that even when looking at one it may be difficult to recognize that it is there. 

Coughran says hidden cameras are an emerging trend in rental properties and hotels.  Most states have laws requiring hotels to disclose whether there are any cameras and whether they are turned on.  However, most often the cameras are not placed there by the hotel management. 

Bathrooms and bedrooms are prime targets for these.  People who have been spied on or filmed feel violated and angry; they also worry about becoming blackmailed, which can wreak havoc on their finances and on their sanity.     

Unauthorized Guests

According to USI security, any time - but especially during busy travel periods - thieves can sneak into others’ rooms to steal.  When they do they are usually looking for valuable items that are easy to carry and easy to conceal - things like rings and other jewelry, watches, cash, phones and cameras.     

Parking lots and garages also pose risks as people leave their cars unattended for hours and sometimes for days, making the items left in them vulnerable to theft.  

According to USI, “many people look at hotel visits as an opportunity to act in ways they never would at home. They might vandalize your property, destroy things, or get into altercations with other guests.”

Whether traveling for business or pleasure it’s important to be alert to the dangers out there.  Exercising a little bit of caution can prevent a great deal of anguish.


Gerald Harris is a financial and feature writer. Gerald can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.