Cracking the Code: Mastering Hotel Room Light Switches

by joeheg

I don’t usually complain about minor issues. In fact, I’m generally the opposite and tend to let things go if they’re not major problems. For instance, when we checked into a room with a broken shower head, I didn’t make a fuss and ask for compensation. However, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t quietly frustrated about how the hotel staff didn’t notice the hanging shower head.

The same goes for minor hotel inconveniences I’ve mentioned before. Complaining to the hotel won’t help because many of these “grumps” are due to the hotel’s design and are not the fault of the hotel staff. For example, when there’s no nightstand or shelf on both sides of the bed or when the shower leaks water onto the bathroom floor.

But recently, I’ve come across a new pet peeve that’s really been bugging me: struggling to figure out how to turn the lights on and off in hotel rooms.

Why Not Use The Light Switch?

When we check in at a hotel, the first thing we do is take pictures of the room, for this website. In order to get the best pictures, it’s my job to turn on all the lights. The first thing I try is the light switch by the door. However, most of the time, this only turns on the light in the hallway. All the lights near the bed and by the desk are still off.

Then comes the game of figuring out how to turn on the lights.

Beginner Level

These are beginner-level rooms. There are only a few lamps, and there are only a few ways to turn them on. The new trend is not to have a switch on a table lamp but to put a switch on the electrical cord. Once you learn that trick, you’re set.

a bedroom with a large bed and a deska bed in a hotel room

The standing lamp in the corner

This one stumped me for a while, I looked at the lamp in the corner and couldn’t find any way to turn it on. The hidden trick is that the switch is often located on the floor as a foot pedal. This makes little sense as these lamps are usually placed behind furniture, which makes it awkward to turn it on and off.

a hotel room with a bed and a deska room with a bed and a desk

Level Complete! Now things get difficult

Once you’ve learned about the light switch on the cord and the floor switch for standing lamps, now it’s time to get to the tricky ones. How about this light behind the headboard? Where’s the switch for this one? I believe it was on the side of the headboard.

a bed in a hotel room

Advanced Levels

If you’re ready for to play in expert mode, check out these rooms. The more forms of lighting there are, the harder it is to figure out how to use them all. In this room, we have hallway lights, ceiling lights, hanging lights and a lighted backboard.

a room with a bed and a television

Finally, we have this room at the Hyatt Place. There were lights by the bed, on the desk, and hanging from the ceiling. There was also a light over the seating area and missing from the photo is a standing lamp behind the chair. Add to the equation that the shades worked from a switch on the wall, which had no markings on it.

a room with a bed and a couch

Final Thought

I remember the days when one switch on the wall controlled all the lights in the room. Maybe there was a light on the nightstand, but that used a knob by the bulb or, eventually, a switch on the base of the lamp. What was wrong with this design?

Now we have rooms with lights that you can’t figure out how to turn on or off. Switches on the wall that seemingly do nothing at all, or rooms where you have to walk across the room to turn off the lights, leaving you to walk across an unfamiliar space in the dark.

All I want is to be able to turn the lights on and off without having to remember if the switch is on the lamp, on the wall or on the floor. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

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1 comment

Robert Baranov May 14, 2024 - 3:41 pm

One of my pet peeves. The hotel room is dark and you get up to go to the bathroom and can’t find the light switch. Why can’t a few of the light switches be illuminated so that you can find them?


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