6 Bizarre Hotel Superstitions You’ll Pick Up While Traveling

Hotel Superstitions: Raintr33 Hotel, Changi, Singapore

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

Spot the missing floors. Image: Wikimedia Commons

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.

Hey, it’s just good manners! Although someone else might still go through your belongings

Don’t look or feel like a ghost when you travel. Breeze through flights with these air travel tips!

3. Don’t sleep in front of a mirror

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.

W Singapore AWAY Room
A mirror beside the bed at W Singapore Sentosa Cove. I doubt anybody would stay here alone though!

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.

Hotel superstitions: watch how you place your shoes. Image: Brooke Raymond/Flickr
“Stop being so neat! You don’t want to get possessed!”

5. Occupy all beds

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.

Hotel Superstitions: Mount Kumgang Hotel Room
Hotel room in Mount Kumgang, North Korea. Complete with twin beds, unpredictable blackouts, and possible in-room surveillance.

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?

What hotel superstitions do you practice, if any?

Next Up…

Browse all our favorite places to stay.
Got a taste for the macabre? Attend these festivals and traditions.

Show Comments (9)

Your email address will not be published.

  1. This is really interesting! I’m a Filipino and we do have a lot of superstitious beliefs. I have forgotten most about it though but your post reminded me of all the others that we have. I’m not superstitious at all but it’s interesting for me. 🙂

  2. I knew about the missing 4th, 13th & 14th floors, but I’ve never heard of the rest!! I might just have to start taking on a few of these… don’t want those spirits thinking they can mess with me!

  3. I had no idea that there were hotel superstitions. I don’t think I’m particularly superstitious as a person but I definitely have my own little habits that other people would be confused by. I’d definitely be interested in hearing stories about someone who didn’t do as the superstition says and what might have happened. It’s really interesting 🙂

  4. hahah, I love it! I’ve traveled extensively in Asian countries, and my mother’s family is Filipino (cheers to the double dose of gothic Catholicism and islander superstitions), this post is spot on! In Thailand, ghosts -and interacting with them- is just woven into the fabric of everyday life. It’s cool. Different, but hey, isn’t that why we travel? To look at things differently from what’s “normal” back home?

  5. I’m not superstitious at all but I never sleep facing a mirror – there’s always light reflected or you keep yourself awake by catching your reflection wriggling around! I’ll have to keep an eye out for the 4th floor next time I’m in an Asian country. It’s not a thing in Europe, only the 13th!

  6. This is a unique post! I’ve stayed in a haunted hotel before and these tips would have been useful. I’ll remember them the next time I stay in an old hotel.

    1. Good question. Well, being at the end of the hall means little human traffic so spirits supposedly prefer those areas. If you’re stuck in one, let in some fresh air and turn on the TV so you don’t hear anyone passing by or talking in the nonexistent room next door…

Send this to a friend