When you’re staying at a hotel, there are many tips, advice and outright hacks you can do to improve your stay. We’ve gone over some of them in the past:
- How to get free upgrades from hotels
- 12 things you should do when checking/out of your hotel
- Why you shouldn’t keep your hotel balcony door open
- How to override hotel thermostat settings
- Easy hack to gain more storage space in your hotel room
But I’ve noticed that every once in a while, I’ll see a post, usually in the sidebar of whatever article I’m reading – and usually a “sponsored post” – about why you should always put a towel under your hotel door.
I never click on sponsored posts, but I saw this “warning” enough times that I decided to do some investigative work. Apparently, there are a few reasons:
The thought is that if the hallways outside your hotel room are noisy, putting a rolled-up towel under the door will decrease how much sound gets into your room.
It sounds good in theory, but the consensus is that it doesn’t do much. I mean, although SOME noise will be blocked at the bottom, you still have 3 sides of a door for the sound to get through. There’s also the door itself – I mean, it’s not made to be soundproof and chances are good it’s not solid or even thick enough to muffle sounds very well. If the noise is that loud, it’s also going to ooze through the walls, which are usually not very thick (you can hear the people in the room next door, right? That shows you how thin those walls are).
To block light
If you’re trying to go to sleep, chances are your room will be dark. Chances are also good that the hallway will still be lit up. If the light coming in from the crack under the door is enough to keep you awake, then sure, roll a bath towel and put it under your door to block out the light.
To block smells
Other websites also suggest another reason for rolling a towel under your hotel room door; not to keep sounds out, but to keep smells (from cigarettes, pot, etc.) in.
I think this comment from Reddit, written by VampNightClub about 6 years ago, who said they were a night auditor at a hotel, says it all (post edited only for adult language):
The legendary “TOWEL TRICK” has fooled NO HOTEL WORKERS EVER!
SO I am the NA at my property. I can’t count how many times I have went to put the bill under the door when, LOW AND BEHOLD! I find it blocked by a towel…. People do you really think you are fooling anyone with this tactic? In case you are not “industry” they do this so we can’t tell they are smoking in the room. (Funny it happened last night, YET I could still smell pot even through the towel! IN THE HALL WAY!) Well the folks last night and 2 people from earlier this week CAN KISS $250 EACH good bye. FOR F**KS SAKE PEOPLE THERE ARE ASH TRAYS AND PRIVACY AT EVERY EXIT, JUST GO OUTSIDE! That’s what I do…….
Of course, if you’re smoking in the room, it will take more than just a rolled-up towel for you to lose your “incidentals” deposit. Leftover smoke smell in the room, evidence of ashes, butts/roaches left somewhere, etc. But rolling a towel under the door to not alert anyone isn’t fooling anyone.
In the event of a fire
If your hotel is on fire, you’d obviously want to evacuate as quickly as possible. But if that’s not possible, you want to turn your hotel room into an area of refuge and seal the room. When wet, That rolled up towel can help decrease the fire’s smoke from entering your room (also use wet towels to block the rest of the door and vents into your room).
Why we used the “rolled towel trick” once
On a related note, Joe and I stayed at a Hyatt in 2022 where we used the rolled towel under the door of our connecting room (we didn’t know the people in the next room). Here’s why.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary