How to Tell if Your Hotel Room Has Bedbugs

Lisa Fasol 

Sometimes bed bugs making an unwelcome appearance in hotel rooms, and while hotels might want to keep that information quiet, there are a number of ways you can find out about infestations before you book a stay. Then, when you check in, be sure to search your room for any signs and notify staff immediately if you find them.

How to Find Out If Your Hotel Has Bed Bugs

Before you book your hotel, head to the Bed Bug Registry, a site that collects reports of bed bugs from hotel guests. The Registry allows you to look up a particular hotel—or all hotels in a given city—and see where guests have reported encounters with bed bugs in a hotel or apartment building nearby.

If your hotel is listed with bed bug sightings, don't panic. Pay attention to the date of the last report of bed bugs. The hotel may have already cleared up the problem. You can also check review websites like TripAdvisor to see if anyone has recently reported bed bugs at a hotel. If you stumble across anything that indicates the presence of bed bugs, call the hotel and inquire about the situation prior to booking.

How to Look for Bed Bugs in Your Room

Once you check in, take some time to look for the telltale signs of bed bugs in the hotel room. Adult bed bugs grow to a half an inch long, and you can spot them with the naked eye. They are, however, good at hiding, so you'll have to look closely. Common places for bed bugs to hide in hotel rooms are in the seams of the mattress (pull up the sheets to look closely), in the cracks of the bed's headboard, in the baseboards, and in the folds of upholstered furniture. Bed bugs will appear as reddish-brown ovals in these places.

Also, keep an eye out for droppings the bed bugs might have left behind in the hotel room. They'd appear as small brown spots, possibly tinged with blood. Check the sheets and mattress for these tiny spots.

What to Do If You See a Bed Bug

If you suspect there are bed bugs in your hotel, take plenty of pictures with your cell phone to show the hotel manager. Don't expect any bed bugs you see to stay in one place while you call down to the hotel staff; they crawl about as fast as ants and like to hide.

If you have a reasonable suspicion that bed bugs are infesting your hotel room, consider leaving, as bed bugs travel to other rooms through cracks in the ceiling, floors, and walls. That means that switching to another room is not a safe bet. Let the hotel manager know right away about the bed bugs; the hotel needs to be able to address the problem immediately. 

Even if you don't see any signs of bed bugs in your hotel, be careful not to allow any the opportunity to hitch a ride home with you. Don't put your clothes on the carpet or on upholstered chairs. Likewise, keep your suitcase off the floor and the bed. Use a metal suitcase rack if one is available.

How to Treat Bed Bug Bites

Bed bugs typically bite people at night, and they leave small red welts, usually clustered in one area, that eventually become inflamed and itchy. Sometimes it takes a few days for the bites to show, and some people might not show any symptoms at all. If you get bit, you can sooth the irritation the same way you would a mosquito bite—use anti-itch creams, take antihistamines, or apply ice.