17 Ways to Hack Your Hotel Room

May 7, 2015

When travelers book a hotel room, they can usually count on finding many of the conveniences of home, and some of the fun perks, like tiny shampoos. But, for routines that go beyond sleeping and grooming, a hotel room can sometimes fall short. Here are 17 ways to make the most of your room:

1.    Set the mood

Turn your hotel room mug or water glass into a speaker. Just remember to be mindful of your neighbors … and make sure it’s empty.

2.    Bring an HDMI cable

Then you can play anything that's on your laptop, on your TV (provided it's not an old-school box). Whether you want to stream shows you have downloaded, or enlarge your work, sometimes plugging your laptop in (admittedly not the most high-tech solution), is the easiest solution. Pro tip: if you have Google Chromecast and you've got Wi-Fi hooked up in your room, you can stream shows directly from your tablet, smartphone or computer.

3.    Never move another piece of furniture to find an extra plug

Some hotels are short on sockets -- carry a small, three- or six-port mini power plug to maximize availability.

4.    Draw the curtains, and keep them closed

When it's naptime, sleeptime or hungover time and the curtains don't close all the way: connect the ends of each curtain with the clips on a hanger. Instant blackout shades.

5.    Use the shower as a steamer

Not many hotel rooms come equipped with a steamer, but you can create your own by turning up the hot water and closing off the bathroom. Hang a suit, dress, or whatever needs to be steamed in the bathroom (as close to the shower as possible, without getting it wet of course) and wait a few minutes to see the wrinkles disappear.

6.    Or, consider a hair dryer

If you don’t have time to steam up a bathroom, take the hotel hairdryer and hold really close to the shirt ... move it up and down and it's like an instant steamer! Just be careful not too hold it too close, for too long.

7.    Child proof with a roll of tape

Some hotels are already equipped with child-friendly gear like cribs and outlet covers -- just call ahead and they’ll set everything up before your arrival. For childproofing on the fly, remember: a roll of tape will go a long way. From taping washcloths to sharp corners to keeping drawers from closing on curious fingers to covering outlets to making sure a bathroom door doesn't lock, it's worth keeping a roll of tape in your suitcase if you have kids.

8.    Fight boredom

If bad weather has you stuck indoors, have the kids build a pillow fort, write postcards to friends back home, or hold a treasure hunt with convenience-store finds like candy and stickers hidden around the room. Or plan ahead by bringing DVDs, coloring books and portable games.

9.    Plastic bags can be a real lifesaver

Have a wet swimsuit you don't know what to do with? Not too keen on sticking dirty laundry back in your clean suitcase? Ice bucket, hotel laundry bags (see why we think if you take anything from a hotel room, it should be this) and even packing your own dry-cleaning plastic bags in advance will be a saving grace.

10.    Put that shower cap to use

Cover your room service leftovers and pop them in the mini fridge so they stay fresh.

11.    Make conditioner your problem-solver

Don't underestimate this hair product, not only does it earn credit for keeping your locks smooth, it also can be used as a makeup remover, shaving cream, cuticle cream and more.


12.    When life gives you lemons and sugar, make a DIY scrub

If you rub a lemon slice on dry elbow and knees they will soften instantly. Throw in a couple sugar packets and water and you've got yourself a homemade scrub. The hotel bar is a great source for lemon slices.

13.    No excuse to skip the gym

While you probably shouldn’t attempt pull-ups on the doorframe or swing around a jump rope, the average hotel room affords plenty of space to do squats, pushups, jumping jacks, crunches, lunges and triceps dips. Resistance bands are lightweight and portable enough to fit into any carry-on. You can even use the luggage itself as weight resistance (just don’t overdo it—you still have to get it into the overhead bin on the way home).

14.    Especially when staying in these hotels

Find a hotel chain that also appreciates your favorite ways to exercise. Kimpton Hotels and Virgin Hotels offer in-room yoga mats, and Westin hotels have a running program in place with New Balance in which guests can borrow shoes and clothes plus get running routes near the property.


15.    Stay connected

Free Wi-Fi is an increasingly common hotel amenity, but some hotels still charge by the hour and even by the device. Frequent business travelers should invest in a Wi-Fi base station like the Apple AirPort Express, which turns a single wired Internet connection into a Wi-Fi hot spot, so you can connect all your devices without extra charges. And consider using Skype for business calls to avoid racking up cell phone minutes or room-phone charges.


16.    Housekeeping can bring just about anything

One of our deal experts was a hotel inspector in a previous life and recommends asking housekeeping for just about anything ... within reason. This includes, toothpaste, hair ties, deodorant, a razor, a band-aid; some 5-star hotels even have disposable swimsuits!

17.    Look and ask for perks

Who doesn't want free Wi-Fi, parking, shuttle service, breakfast, cocktail or a corner room on a higher floor? Whether you leave your request when you make a reservation, call ahead, tweet at the hotel or ask at check-in -- or shameless plug, book a Travelzoo hotel deal with a perk included, anything that makes your stay that much sweeter is a good hack in our book.

Nile Cappello, Megan Mitchell and Kelsey Rexroat contributed to this report.

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