Hotels, you either love them, or you hate them. To some, they’re a welcome break from the same old routine of home life, and to others they can be a little too alien.
No matter who you are, it’s always a little more difficult to sleep in a different environment, particularly one that is usually busy. Check out these top tips from seasoned travel experts, and see if you can snooze better next time you check in.
Chris, One Weird Globe
“Hotel rooms are often easy to fall asleep in — they’re often intentionally designed to allow easy sleep, after all.
A few thoughts:
Know yourself. If you’re naturally a side sleeper, get on your side. If you sleep with a body pillow, use one of the pillows (or look in the cabinets) as a substitute.
If the curtains aren’t blocking the light, use a blanket (or call room service). Some people (myself included) are woken up by the sunrise way before they’re ready to wake up. You can also ask to be on the side of the hotel that doesn’t face the sunrise
Set the temperature right and keep air flowing. Hotels are often either really good (or really bad) at holding the room temperature steady. Set the fan (or heat) to low or medium continuous airflow.
Don’t forget the eye mask and ear plugs. These both fall into the ‘hope you don’t need them’ category, especially at nicer hotels with good soundproofing. Either way, have them handy if you need them!”
Inma, A World to Travel
“Being on the road for weeks and months on end requires a certain degree of adjusting to new environments as quickly as possible. Hence getting a great night sleep in a hotel, especially when you are changing destinations every few days, can be both exciting and a challenge in itself.
For the light sleepers out there, these are our best three tips to make it happen:
Once you jump on a plane, adopt your final destination’s time, and rest and eat accordingly. Avoid the alcohol and drink lots of water at the same time and you will arrive fresh and reduce your jet lag instantly!
Get as tired as possible. It is a no brainer. Walk instead of jumping on a bus for just a few stops, avoid using the lift, cycle, go for a run! Whatever you choose, make it happen!
Leave the smartphone outside your room or at least away from your bed. Turn off the TV. Dim the lights. And, if you still need some distraction, just read a book or a magazine. Gadgets will only keep you awake for longer!”
“Ensuring that you get a good night’s sleep in a hotel starts before you even get there. When booking I always check that the hotel has blackout blinds (or curtains) – and although it is not common in the western world anymore, ensuring you request a non-smoking room is still necessary in some parts of the world. I also check if there is a bar/restaurant on site, and ask for a room that is located away from the ‘action’.
Once at the hotel, I always make use of the Do Not Disturb Sign – both as a message to housekeeping staff who start early, but as a subtle hint to fellow guests who may be returning home late. Common decency generally means that people will try and be quiet when faced with a ‘do not disturb’ sign.
Then just before bed, I like to take a hot bath (where available) and put something inconsequential on the TV to help my mind relax. (So that’s no horror flicks, political commentary, the news etc)”
Bruno, Geeky Explorer
“Sleeping away from home is always tricky. The more different things feel to your normal environment the harder it will be for you to have a well-rested night. You can’t obviously keep the same bed and room but there’s some little hacks that can help!
First of all, following your normal schedule and routines can go a long way. This not only includes the bedtime, but also things like that last cup of tea of the day. Basically anything you can do to remind your body of old habits will help you get fall asleep quicker.
Also, humans sleep better when the temperature is cooler (but not freezing!). Open a window or adjust the A/C to be cooler.
But there are things you can do to improve your sleep even before you go on a trip. For instance I always ask for a quiet room during check-in. I guess I’ve had too many experiences spending the night next to busy bathrooms and restaurants.
I also usually pack earbuds: you never know what awaits you on the hotel. Restoration works, loud neighbours or poor sound isolation can be awful sleep killers. Sleeping eyeshades can also be a great option if you’re used to sleep in low light conditions.”
Jeremy, The World Or Bust
“Being a digital nomad and travel blogger, I spend a lot of times in hotels, and by a lot, I mean more than in my apartment! After years of slow travel there are certain things I need to do to ensure a good night’s sleep in a hotel when often walls can be paper thin and other undesirable circumstances are more common than not.
Firstly, I always ask for a room not next to the elevator. Not only do elevators usually ding when they open, people seem to carry on their conversations as they come out of them as well.
I also ask for an interior room if the windows aren’t soundproof that face the street.
The last thing I ask for is a room on the top floor, if possible, as there should be no noise from people walking upstairs.”
Jolene & Andrzej, Wanderlust Storytellers
“Trying to get a good night sleep in a hotel can be tricky! We have even found that sometimes we get better sleep in a 3-star hotel than in a fancy 5-star one (even though the 5 star hotel had a menu of pillows on offer)! Go figure!
We have three survival tips that help us get the best sleep possible when we travel and they are:
If you are travelling to a destination that is in a different time zone, ensure you take a decent quality travel eye mask along. Whilst we try to push through the new hours and fall in the right time pattern from the get-go; sometimes you just need to pass out and the sleeping mask will be a lifesaver for blocking out the light in the room.
I never travel anywhere without my ear plugs. Mainly because my husband snores, but also because they are great for blocking out traffic noise or neighbour noise that result from thin hotel room walls. Honestly ear plugs have saved my sleep on very many occasions.
Our top tip for getting a good night’s rest is to simply make sure your days are full of adventure and explorations. We walk a lot when we explore, so often we get back to the hotel completely exhausted and drained. When you are that tired, you will sleep no matter where you are.
Another tip for those of you travelling with kids is to make sure you take something from home. We tend to pack one of the blankets from home for our baby girl, that way the smell surrounding her in her cot is like home and she tends to sleep more peacefully. If the baby sleeps, everyone will get better rest.”
Leah, The Sweetest Way
“When staying in a hotel, you can never guarantee that it’ll be both quiet and dark in your room. If you’re a light sleeper like me, it’s best to show up prepared for anything. This is why I always travel with what I like to call my “sleep kit” which consists of an eye mask and ear plugs. This way, even if you’ve got noisy traffic, loud neighbors, or an obnoxious street light glaring through your window, you can still ensure an excellent night’s sleep.
If you want to take things one step further to ensure you wake up well-rested, I’d suggest stocking up on a nighttime sleep aid prior to your trip. There are plenty of non-habit forming natural remedies that you can buy over the counter that will send you off to dreamland without leaving you feeling groggy the next morning–keep your eye out for products that contain valerian or melatonin. Sleepytime teas are another good alternative.”
Turner, American Travel Blogger
“The best way to get a good night’s sleep while at a hotel is to shut the blackout curtains before you go to sleep so no light is filtering through the windows.
Run the AC while you’re out of the room but then turn it off as soon as you to bed – this way your skin won’t dry out and you won’t have to deal with the annoying sound of the AC running.
If you find it difficult to get to sleep with any kind of background noise then you may want to invest in some earplugs to block out the sound.
Remember most hotels will have extra pillows that vary in firmness – you’ll usually find those inside the wardrobe or they may have a pillow menu that you can order from reception.
As you would at home, make sure you have water next to the bed and keep yourself hydrated – it’s tempting to go out for drinks on your first night in a new city but alcohol can really interfere with your sleep, so drink plenty of water before you hit the hay.”
Josh, The Lost Passport
“Adventure travel requires you to be energised every morning. That means not only a strong coffee but also a decent night’s sleep.
Having travelled Asia for the past four years I’ve figured a few things about getting a good night sleep in a hotel. Here are my top tips:
Choose a room away from the common facilities to escape the noise. Different people tend to stay up late and others get up early. You don’t want to be affected by all this commotion, so get a room away from the kitchen or dining area.
Request for a room facing towards the ocean or the mountains, not the road. Despite what photos show, many hotels are located along main roads. Main roads mean annoying noise. You’d much rather wake up to the sound of the waves gently crashing along the shore than a taxi driver beeping his horn.
If it is hot, make sure the air conditioner works well. Traveling through areas of Southeast Asia can be very hot and humid at certain times of the year. When you’re heading off to sleep you want to be sure that you can get the room to a comfortable temperature.
If it is cold, make sure there are extra blankets available in the room. When traveling up in the mountains the temperature tends to drop overnight. Don’t get caught out running for another blanket at 2am in the morning.
Check to see if the bed feels right for you. Some beds are way too hard to get comfortable with. Instead of sleeping on a rock hard bed, request for a mattress topper on an additional blanket to soften things up.
That’s a few top tips to get a good night’s sleep in a hotel pretty much anywhere you go.”
Roddy, Roddy MacLeod
The worst night’s sleep I ever experienced in a hotel, or rather what turned out to be the best part of a week’s worth of sleep deprivation, happened on the gorgeous and exotic island of Barbados. No, I wasn’t kept awake by the sound of waves lapping on rocks below my window with a view to die for. They had the opposite, soporific effect. Neither was I disturbed by the whistling tree frogs in the hotel garden. On the first night such welcome and gentle sounds of the tropics were completely drowned out by the racket blasting out from a disco across the road. It continued until 3am.
The next morning I spoke to the hotel receptionist about the noise, and was reassured when she told me that the disco only operated once a week. After a tour of the east coast of the island, a memorable meal and a soothing rum punch cocktail, my wife and I then retired for the night only to be rudely awoken shortly after midnight by very loud, live reggae music coming from the bar next door to the disco. It continued until 2am.
Once again, I politely spoke to the receptionist the next morning. She told me that the reggae band only played once a week, but being now wise to the situation, I asked her what was scheduled for the coming evening. Well, she explained, there was due to be an international one-day cricket match at the Kensington Oval that day between the West Indies and England, and following it, the ‘Barmy Army’ of England supporters tended to use the karaoke club next to the reggae bar next to the disco across the road as their winding-down station, so I could expect considerable disturbance until late-on. “Are there any other discos, bars or karaoke venues nearby?” I asked. Well, she helpfully continued, there’s the jazz club next to the karaoke, but that one operates only on a Friday. I mentally noted to myself that today was Thursday.
I decided that the best thing to do was to cut our losses, so we went to the cricket match and later joined the Barmy Army as they drowned their sorrows after losing the game, in the karaoke club. We had a whale of a time, by the way. The rum punches flowed. We made many new best friends. I have no idea what time we staggered across the road and entered our hotel, but we didn’t wake up in time for breakfast.
The moral of this story, in the context of what are the best ways to get a good night’s sleep while at a hotel, is that you should always research the location of your chosen residence with care. Use Street View, for example, to investigate the locale. How many bars are there in the immediate vicinity? If you spot a row of establishments including a disco, a bar, a karaoke club and a jazz club opposite the hotel you’re considering booking, it may not be an ideal place to stay for a relaxing break.
Also, always pack earplugs.
How do you manage to fall asleep at hotels? Another big issue with sleeping at hotels can even be your partner and their snoring, check out this piece to find out what type of snorer your partner is, and how you can stop them from snoring!