10 Dark Secrets of Hotels and Motels

Hotels are a necessary part of the world and have a different reputation depending on where you go and what type of hotel you are looking for. However, most of us tend to think that apart from an occasional hiccup, most hotels are doing their best and are at least liveable places to stay the night. Unfortunately, the less expensive the hotel, the more problems may be lurking underneath the surface, and the more horrors might await.

Related: Top 10 Hotel Rooms With A Dark Past

10 They May Not Be for Nefarious Purposes, but Most Hotels Have Secret Rooms

Many people, due to movies and books, consider hotels, especially the chaperones, to be a place of mystery and potentially of horror. Hotels are legendary in fiction and in popular myths for having secret rooms, passages, and who knows what else lurking beneath. And the truth is, most hotels probably do have secret rooms. Now, the good thing is that, as far as most hotels go, these rooms are not there to do anything nefarious but to help satisfy guests. They are a way to provide a room when overbooked or when someone special comes around.

That being said, sometimes something a little harder to explain comes around. Recently, a viral TikTok made the rounds where a guest in a New York hotel claims to have knocked their way through their wardrobes into a back passage that led to a long corridor beyond. Speculation was rife that it was meant for human trafficking or other dark purposes.

However, the guest had to basically break down the back of the wardrobe to get in. The story itself is hard to verify, and the video could be from anywhere. Even if it were from a hotel, the nailed-up back wardrobe simply suggests poorly done renovation. However, there is no way to tell for sure.[1]

9 Many Drug Dealers Use Cheap Hotels as a Place of Business

While you may not see too much of it at more expensive hotels, at economy-priced hotels or motels, drug dealing is unfortunately relatively common. Dealers see value hotels as a place where they will not have to pay rent for the first and last month and can pretty much come and go as needed, with no real commitment. It also isn’t suspicious for a fair amount of traffic to go through a hotel every day. However, if you live in a house or even an apartment, the number of people coming to regularly visit you can quickly attract the notice of the authorities.

Furthermore, drug dealers often see a value hotel as a place that will be easier to bully. You see, a more expensive hotel or apartment complex will have more money to hire people, pay attention to what is going on, and deal with problem people. A more budget-friendly place doesn’t necessarily want the riff-raff, but the drug dealers know they will have trouble kicking them out and take advantage of it. Of course, there are also hotel owners who know and just don’t care as long as the guest pays on time.[2]

8 Hotel Swimming Pools Are Not Always Disease Free

The swimming pool is one of the classic parts of staying at any hotel or even motel. You go get yourself sweaty and tired on vacation, come back to the hotel, and finish the day relaxing at the pool. Some people don’t own a pool and will go on a staycation to a local hotel of some kind in order to give the kids a chance to swim. Now, while many hotel pools are perfectly safe, a study from 2000-2014 by the CDC found that 1 in 3 water-related disease outbreaks were related to hotel swimming pools. Now, while this is concerning, it doesn’t mean all hotel pools are unsafe and that you have to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

The CDC also advises that there are ways you can look out for your own safety and get a decent idea of how clean the water you are looking at is before you decide to take the literal plunge. The tricks to sussing out safe pool water mostly involve analyzing the pool water the way you would drinking water. You want it to be free of any discolorations, contaminants, or particles, and it should be clear.[3]

7 Hotels Are a Domestic Violence Hotspot and Are Not Safe for Victims

Hotels can be a great scenic getaway and a fun place to spend time with your family, but they can also be a place where people don’t want others to see what they are doing. For this reason, hotels tend to be a domestic violence hotspot. Predators see hotels as a place where they can vent their rage on vacation, far from home, where no one can see them. Even if you can drown out the sound if you hear something that sounds like domestic violence from a nearby room, it is best to report it—you could save a life.

On top of this, some women who can afford it and are running from abusers go to hotels in the hopes that they can escape from their abusers there. Some do this thinking this might be more anonymous than going to a women’s shelter. While they might have a bit more control and personal privacy in a hotel room, they are not going to be as safe. Hotels are very public places, and while hotels will not intentionally give out your information, it isn’t hard to stake them out. They are simply not a safe place for those hiding from people who want to hurt them.[4]

6 Regulations on Bed Bugs Are Extremely Limited

Bed bugs are easily the worst nightmare of any traveler. They are creatures that have evolved solely to suck our blood without us detecting them in the process. They will also hitch a ride in your luggage, go home with you, and continue terrorizing you long into the future. As they are such a public health problem, you might imagine that most hotels have laws they have to answer to in regard to bed bugs, giving you at least some protection.

However, laws on bed bugs are kind of limited. Many countries have little to no regulation on them at all, and the United States only has 21 states that actually have laws that concern bed bugs. As for federal law in one of the biggest countries—the United States—there are actually no federal regulations whatsoever when it comes to bed bugs. There are some guidelines published by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, but they have no teeth. This means in the majority of locales, how well the hotel deals with bed bugs is based on how much they are worried about their reputation and not any actual laws making them do so.[5]

5 Prostitution Is Common and Sometimes Hard to Differentiate from Trafficking

Many people may have heard that prostitution is common at hotels and may not find this particularly surprising. However, it isn’t just the value hotels or motels, but pretty much all hotels. It is likely that nearly all hotels have at least some level of prostitution activity. They may just attract a different class of it. Now, while some of these people really are just independent sex workers trying to make a living, there is also a much darker side to it.

That darker side, of course, is human trafficking. A lot of the time, sex traffickers get away with their nefarious deeds because the hotel staff is underpaid, undertrained, and really has no idea what they are even looking for or what to do if they thought they spotted it. This is why some experts believe that in order to stop sex trafficking, which happens at pretty much all hotels, it is important to train hotel staff to spot it and know what to do. With proper vigilance, sex trafficking can be greatly curtailed, but it really starts at the top with the major hotel umbrella companies.[6]

4 Homeless Families with Kids Are a Common Sight

Unfortunately, when people become homeless, they do not always become homeless by themselves. Sometimes, they lose their home, and on top of being homeless, they have children to find a roof for as well. These people usually end up in a hotel or a cheap motel and often get stuck there for a long time. Now, this may seem odd as even a cheap motel is going to cost a lot more than an apartment, but sometimes it is not so easy to quickly get into a new place, and it can be costly.

Many places will require the first month’s rent and a hefty deposit, as well as other application fees. With the high cost of the hotel making it hard to save, it is easy to get trapped. It is also not just the United States but also the United Kingdom that has this problem. In the UK, the number of families staying in hotels past the six-week legal limit is going up. This, of course, is psychologically terrible for children, as they are in a cramped room with no proper way to cook food and no privacy.[7]

3 You Could Be Renting a Room Someone Died In

Most people are pretty uncomfortable with the idea of staying in a room that someone died in. However, if you are staying in a public accommodation, you have a relatively decent chance, and it is not something you can really avoid. Now, actual statistics on hotel-related deaths are pretty hard to pin down, likely because the hotels really don’t want to openly advertise that sort of thing. Still, regardless, it happens more than most people think. Most of it isn’t even violent in nature but simply the result of a heart attack, an overdose, or sometimes a suicide.

When someone does die in a hotel room, the area is closed off, similar to a crime scene, while police investigate. It is then cleaned up and sold to the next guest in line who needs that room. They are also not going to tell you that someone died in a room for obvious reasons and are not obligated to do so. Now, there are some things you could look for, such as brownish stains in splatter patterns or recently redone wallpaper on only part of the room. However, these are only suggestive and would only indicate a violent death, which won’t be most of them.[8]

2 Hotels Are an Intervention Spot for Suicide

Hotels are seen as a great getaway for a lot of people, but there is also a smaller subset of people that sees them as a getaway for a darker reason. The unfortunate fact is that hotels and especially motels are a hotspot for suicide, and it is something hotels have to watch out for. In recent years, it has become more of a known intervention spot among experts looking to prevent suicides.

Now, as for how often this actually happens, statistics on overall hotel suicides can be hard to find, and the hotels are not exactly keen on publishing them. However, a study in King County, Washington, from 2002-2004 found that there were 223 per 100,000 suicides at hotels and motels, which was significantly higher than the rest of the state. The few available statistics bear this out, but they don’t answer the question of whether people go there to kill themselves, or whether it is the atmosphere itself, or both. At the very least, there is no question that if someone is already considering it, there is little about the environment that is going to dissuade them.[9]

1 Some Hotel Owners Have Been Caught Working with Human Traffickers

Unfortunately, sometimes, the reason that sex traffickers are getting away with what they do is because they actually are the hotel owners or they are working with the hotel owners. There have been unfortunate cases where the management or ownership of hotels have been directly involved or so knowledgeable that they could not have possibly claimed innocence of what was going on.

For example, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, a hotel owner was sentenced, along with a co-defendant, for both sex trafficking and drug trafficking. Two companies involved were also put on five years probation and given hefty fines. In another case in Northeast Philadelphia, a hotel owner was forced to pay 24 million dollars in damages to eight victims who were underage and had been abused at his hotel for three years without him doing anything.

Even if he could not be found criminally complicit, the fact that he had to pay that much money shows he clearly knew but was happy to make a profit off the money their abusers were paying him. As for why hotel owners can get away with this for so long—the reason is that many hotels are owned by individuals and are not answerable to much more than an occasional franchise inspection.[10]

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