Sleep better in hotels with these 10 tips

Trying to sleep when you travel is a challenge – sure, some people may be born with the ability to sleep anywhere, but others (myself included) need a little more comfort to grab a good night’s sleep. In this list, you’ll find ten tried and tested tips for getting a better nights sleep in a hotel room.

Best of all – most of these tips don’t involve spending (too) much. So, check out these ten tips, and with a bit of luck, your next hotel stay will be a more relaxing experience!
Get rid of distractions

You don’t have to be insane to lose sleep over little things like noises or blinking lights – anything that is out of the ordinary can become a major distraction.

My personal pet peeve is poorly closing drapes – so I travel with a drape clip (a chip clip also works fine). Before I go to bed, I’ll close the drapes, and clip them shut so I don’t get an early wake up call from the sun coming through any gaps. Call me crazy, but I prefer that extra hour of sleep in the morning.

Fan / Air Conditioning for white noise

This is a personal favorite of mine – and one I don’t mind sharing! If you need a little white noise to fall asleep, set the “fan” switch on the thermostat to “on” instead of auto. This way the fan will provide background/white noise all night long – and it won’t sound as loud when the heat/ac turns on in the middle of the night.

Pick a hotel with a better mattress

Hotels know when they have a good mattress – and they’ll market the heck out of it. Everyone knows the Westin has Heavenly Beds, and that Hyatt offers the “Grand Bed”. This kind of marketing isn’t just for show – a good hotel bed is worth a fortune. If a good night’s sleep means a lot to you, find a hotel that has upgraded its beds – the extra couple of bucks will be well worth it.

Your own alarm clock

This one really only benefits you in the morning – but if you’ve ever been woken in the middle of the night by the hotel alarm clock, you’ll appreciate staying in control of your own wake-up time.

Any time I arrive in a hotel room, the first thing I do is check the alarm clock, and turn off any previously set times. With your own alarm clock, you don’t have to worry about learning how to set it, and you won’t have to worry about missing your wake-up call if you set it incorrectly. My personal favorite is the Moshi voice controlled alarm clock – I can set the alarm on this thing using spoken commands. Added bonus – it has soothing alarm sounds instead of the horrible buzzers on most cheap hotel clocks.

Stick to your usual schedule

Just because you are “on the road” does not mean you need to stay up later than usual. If you have a routine at home, use it on the road as well. The closer things feel to your usual routine, the easier it’ll be to fall asleep. Do you watch the Daily Show before sleepy time? Do it in your hotel room. If you can’t sleep without a nice cup of tea, call room service and splurge on that $8 cup of tea – anything that helps you fall asleep is worth a couple of bucks.

Create the perfect climate

A really good bed and comfortable linens won’t help you sleep well if the room is as dry as the Sahara. If you suffer from low humidity in the room, you could invest in a travel humidifier (about $50), or you could be creative and place some damp towels around the room in the hope that they help. Running a hot shower with the door open right before sleeping can also help.

Traveling by road? Bring your own pillow and blankets

If you are traveling by road (or just have plenty of open room in your luggage), you could consider bringing your own pillow and/or blankets. I’ve done this when I’m traveling to a hotel I know suffers from poor pillows. It may add a couple more pounds to my baggage, but I’ll gladly take that if it means a great night’s sleep.

Pick the right room

A quiet room starts when you check in. Ask for a room at the end of a hallway, away from elevators and on a high floor. Front desk staff usually know their own room layout quite well, and a smile along with a polite request will often get the best tips on a quiet room.

Improve the bed through housekeeping

Dislike the pillows? Prefer some more sheets? This is exactly why hotel phones have a housekeeping button. Unless your request is for a second mattress or someone to sing a lullaby, the housekeeping department will usually be able to help with most requests. A call for a synthetic pillow, or a few more down pillows won’t be a problem, and can usually be arranged any time of day.

White noise generator

Do you travel with a smartphone? Check for mobile versions of white noise/sleep noise generators. On my Android powered phone, I use “Sleepy Time”, an app with almost 100 different noises. I can set a sleep timer, turn the noise on, and drift off to a babbling brook, washing machine or even city noises. The apps are usually priced around $3.

Of course, you can still pop into your local Brookstone and pick up one of their popular devices – but why invest more when you can turn your phone into what you need.

Need help getting some sleep on a plane?

Check out these tips from airplane sleep expert Mike Barish!

Hiding valuables in your hotel room

Every hotel tells you not to leave valuables in your room. They suggest using the hotel safe, and for the most part that’s a good plan. But what if the hotel safe isn’t safe? What if the “safe” is merely an unlocked drawer at the reception desk? This is too often the case with hotels in the developing world.

One option is to always keep your valuables with you. This isn’t always convenient or wise, such as if you’re going out on a pub crawl where you might be bum-rolled or attending a religious service where it would be inappropriate to bring a camera. So if you must stash stuff in your room, here are some ideas.

Under the mattress: This old trick is surprisingly effective for small items if you take a few precautions. First, make sure to stash your passport/money in the middle of the mattress, where it can’t be found by simply pulling up one corner. Also, spread out some clothes or a book on top. The cleaning staff will be less tempted to disturb the bed. Finally, make sure to do this after the bed has already been made for the day.

Hiding in plain sight: In the Edgar Allan Poe story “The Purloined Letter”, a clever thief baffles police by hiding a stolen letter in plain sight by refolding it and adding a different address. People make assumptions about what they’re seeing, and thus are easily fooled. A pile of worthless papers can easily hide a passport. A few dollars left carelessly in plain view keeps the thief from looking further.These are two of my favorites, and in twenty years and 28 countries of travel I’ve never been robbed. (Well, I got my pocket picked the first hour I was in Pakistan, but that wasn’t in a hotel room). Looking for fresh ideas, I decided to ask a creative group of people–authors. Here’s what they came up with.

Lock your suitcase: Brenna Lyons says, “have a locked suitcase. Someone could steal the entire suitcase, but that’s extreme. Or they could get lock cutters and cut the lock off…also extreme.”

Hide stuff in other stuff: Brenna Lyons again, “One thing I’ve done before is get a dark-colored plastic bottle and place something small and valuable, wrapped in tissue and/or plastic, inside it. If it looks like shampoo or something, people don’t tend to look twice. If you have one of those little clear toiletry cases with a bunch inside, and one or two have valuables in them, they really don’t look. If you’re really inventive, you can put something like shampoo or lotion in the container over or around the valuables (either using a plastic bag or a smaller bottle).” Jean Hart Stewart has a hollowed out paperback she uses to hide stuff, and she puts it with a bunch of real paperbacks. She better not have destroyed one of my titles!

Taping an envelope in a hidden place: I do this too, but Bob Nailor describes it best.
“Bring a spare envelope and tape. 1) Tape to bottom of trashcan and DON’T USE IT! Housekeeping won’t move it.

2) Tape to bottom of desk, table, or inside of drawer.
3) Tape it to the inside of bi-fold doors, on a solid section, if available. As the doors are opened, the doors close on themselves, hiding the envelope.”

Where do you stash your stuff? Share your secrets in the comments section!

Three important questions to ask when booking a hotel room for a person with a disability – Hotel tip

If you’re booking a room for a person with a disability, be sure to ask about the following:

  1. Does your wheelchair accessible room have a roll-in shower? Many just have grab bars over a tub.
  2. Does your hotel supply a shower chair? If it does not, plan to bring one with you. We tend to have poorer balance away from home.
  3. Is there an accessible exposed outlet by the bed? Power wheelchairs should be charged at bedside, and CPAP machines should be plugged in by the night stand.

If your hotel has an ADA coordinator, use him. The service is free and will guarantee that your needs are met.

$19 hotel room, bed not included

For $19, I wouldn’t expect much out of my hotel room. But a bed, lights and toilet paper are among the things I would consider to be basic necessities at any price. That’s not the case at the Rancho Bernardo Inn, where guests can elect to have different features of their hotel room removed in order to decrease the price.

The “Survivor Package” starts at $219 for deluxe accommodations and breakfast for two. Take out the breakfast and the price goes down to $199. Take out the AC or heat and you’re looking at $159. The removal of pillows, sheets, lights, linens, and toiletries decreases the price incrementally to just $39. Then things really get interesting. For $19, the resort will remove the bed and replace it with a tent. Basically, you’re paying for an indoor campsite.

The hotel’s manager says he wanted to do “something different” for a promotion. This gives guests on a budget a cheap, and memorable, way to enjoy the resort, which is set on 20,000 acres in San Diego. There’s a a golf course, three pools, three restaurants, and a spa that was named as the best by Conde Nast in 2008.

The deal has already been quite popular, with over 50 people making reservations for the $19 rooms. The promotion will run from August 16 to 31.

[via CNN]



Prank calls tell guests to trash their hotel rooms – guests comply!

There is a dangerous new prank sweeping the nation – one that can cause thousands of dollars in damage to hotel rooms.

Let me say right away that I love pranks, I’ve pulled quite a few of them myself, but what is happening in these hotels takes things way too far, and could seriously injure someone.

Imagine getting a phone call in your hotel room from someone claiming to be from the front desk.

The employee informs you that there is a major gas leak, and you are told to throw the toilet tank out the hotel room window You are then then told to break through a wall using a lamp.

Then the caller instructs you to throw the mattress out the window to catch your fall when you jump out of it.

It all happened in a matter of minutes, until the hotel manager knocked on the door to address a noise complaint. $5000 in damages later, it turns out it was all a joke, pulled off by people that could be anywhere in the country.

Hotel owners are being warned to be aware of this new phenomenon, but in many cases the damage has already been done – $50,000 in damages to an Arkansas hotel as part of a “fire alarm test”, $10,000 in Alabama after a guest was told to activate the sprinklers in order to put out a non existent fire. Or how about the Nebraska hotel where an employee asked a trucker to drive through the lobby as that was apparently the only way to silence the fire alarm he had just set off.

Let it be a warning to hotel staff and guests – be alert for anything suspicious as normally would, but don’t fall for phone calls demanding that you do things that don’t seem right. If there is a gas leak, it won’t help anyone if you trash the room. If someone calls your hotel room with weird demands, and claims to be from the front desk – hang up and call the front desk yourself.