Once, when checking into a hotel, a guest from the next room noticed me knocking on my room door before I swiped my key card.
“Why did you knock if that’s your room?” she asked, head tilted quizzically.
I shrugged and smiled. “Oh, you know…just in case.”
If, like me, you’ve traveled a fair bit and stayed in various hotels, I’m sure you’ll agree that some places just give you the creeps. I’ve also heard my fair share of creepy tales from travel industry folks, some of whom have blacklisted accommodations because they’re particularly “dirty”!
Better safe than sorry, as they say. These hotel superstitions may not make sense, but I do observe them, if only to give my brain some false sense of security because I frequently stay alone in hotel rooms. They certainly make me feel safer when I hear strange noises in the dead of the night…
1. Hotels missing the 4th/13th/14th floor
You might be too busy luxuriating in your room or digging into the buffet to notice this, but just look in the elevator: you’ll realize that level 4 (or 13 and even 14) is somehow missing. This is more likely in older hotels in Asia (especially Hong Kong), because the number 4 sounds similar to the word for death.
In newer and swankier hotels, level 4 usually doesn’t have rooms yet: it might be used for dining, gym/pool facilities, meeting rooms, or staff areas. Next time, take a look at which floor you’re on!
2. Knock on the room door when first entering
Yes, the last guest probably checked out a mere a few hours ago and Housekeeping was in there polishing the glasses with Pledge, but I always knock on my hotel room door when first entering. This politely informs any resident spirits that a new guest has arrived so they’ll leave me alone during my stay.
This is an oldie that applies to anywhere you’re sleeping. The belief is that your soul, which leaves your body at night while you’re asleep, may get confused by your reflection and fail to return to your body. A more practical explanation, though, is that you’re likely to freak yourself out if you wake up, bleary-eyed, to what looks like someone else in your room.
Since you can’t choose where your mirror/dresser is placed in the hotel room, I’ve heard of people going to extremes and placing towels over mirrors! I just try to sleep on the side of the bed that’s not facing a mirror.
4. Arrange your shoes to point in different directions
Why make it harder to zip to the breakfast buffet? Because clearly, you don’t want to be possessed by ghosts. Putting your shoes together neatly or leaving them the way you stepped out of them makes it easier for any malevolent ghost to step into your shoes and take over your body. I usually give one shoe a little spin when I kick them off, but if you’re a neat freak, well…too bad.
Single guests are usually given a room with a double bed, but on the off chance that those are fully booked then you might have to make do with a twin-bedded room. Now, instead of just picking one bed and leaving the other untouched – mess it up. Toss the pillows, turn down the blanket, dump your clothes and towels on it. Just make you send the message that extra company (living or otherwise) is not welcome!
I have to admit this one is tough for me because to do because it means unnecessary extra work for Housekeeping. If the room generally feels airy and comfortable, or if I’m staying for just one night, I’ll let it be.
6. Make some noise…especially if you’re at the end of the hall
Are you the type to turn on the television in your hotel room just to have some background noise? Good for you, because apparently signs of vitality and energy deter spirits. Some even say you should do this if you are put at the end of a long hall or near an emergency stairwell, as ghouls like to gather in areas with low human traffic.
There’s no doubt that the sounds of the TV can cover up unfamiliar and annoying, if not scary, noises you might hear. If you’ve stayed alone in a hotel room, you’ll know that the unfamiliar smells and sounds from plumbing and air conditioning, confusing light switches, and automated electronics can frazzle the nerves. However, I’ve heard far too many freaky tales of a hotel room TV turning on or off by itself!
Let’s just attribute these to the energy-conserving features of today’s smart devices, shall we? I personally keep the TV off as I like my peace and quiet, or I play music from my laptop when working.
Do you follow hotel superstitions?
I have no delusions about these hotel room superstitions: I know they don’t really do anything. However, these little routines can help us feel more in control and put our minds at ease, especially if you’re a business traveler or on a road trip where you’re sleeping in a completely different place every night. If it means you can sleep more soundly and wake up refreshed, why not?