New Study Reveals That Some Luxury Hotels May Be Germier Than Three-Star Stays

Avert your eyes germophobes—a new study reveals the most germ-filled surfaces of hotel rooms.

hotel room two beds
Photo: Getty Images

TravelMath—a trip-planning website—sent teams to nine different hotels and took 36 different samples to test what dirt lies beneath the shiny exterior of a hotel room. In each of the rooms, they tested the remote control, the bathroom counter, the desk, and the phone. What they found is enough for travelers to start adding bleach wipes to their “must pack” list.

Turns out, hotels have a lot of germs and, according to TravelMath’s findings, they may be even dirtier than airplanes—or schools. Perhaps even more surprising: the results showed that four- and five-star hotels actually had more germs than rooms at three-star hotels.

The study revealed that most germs were found on the bathroom counters of four-star hotels with over 2.5 million bacteria levels in colony-forming units (CFUs), with the remote control in five-star hotels coming in a close second with more than two million CFUs. If you’re staying in a four-or five-star hotel, also be aware of the desks, which harbor more than space for penning a postcard. The smallest colonies of germs were found on the phones of hotels (just 4,252 CFUs) probably because most people use their own phones these days—save for when calling for room service.

While most of the germs found weren’t particularly dangerous, you’re still going to want to wash your hands after touching the bathroom counter or TV remote before you head off to dinner.

Disclaimer: It’s important to note that a study of nine hotels isn’t necessarily indicative of widespread germ problems in hotel rooms, but it is a good reminder that “clean” doesn’t always mean germ-free and hand washing is always a good idea—especially when traveling.

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