How To Check For Bed Bugs In Hotel Rooms & Hostels

  • Written By Dan Edwards on December 23, 2017
    Last Updated: December 23, 2020

Do you think bed bugs enter your home because they were just in the neighborhood or because you didn’t keep a clean enough house? If so, you may be surprised to discover that you’ve been misled. It turns out that one of the most common ways bed bugs get into your home is by hitching a ride from another bed bug-infested location. In fact, many people pick up bed bugs in hotels and other commercial buildings.

If this is news to you, don’t worry. Lots of people are unaware that bed bugs hide in hotels, hostels, schools, and even movie theaters. That’s because these places certainly don’t want to advertise if they get a pest problem.

Of course, oftentimes staying in a hotel or hostel is necessary, or you want to visit a movie theater without worrying about bringing home an infestation. The good news is that I’m going to give you all the information you need about why bed bugs enter these places, how to check for them, and what to do in order to prevent bed bugs from sneaking home with you.

Why Are Bed Bugs Commonly Found In Hotels & Hostels?

The truth is that hotels and hostels are some of bed bugs’ favorite hideouts. It actually makes a lot of sense. Hotels contain multiple rooms with sleeping humans, making them essentially buffets for bed bugs. Because bed bugs primarily feed on human blood, they go wherever they can consistently find a blood meal from people, and hotels fit that description.

Hostels are similar. They are a reliable place to find sleeping people. Sleeping people don’t move, and that’s why they’re the prime target for bed bugs, which can’t jump or fly like some other biting insects.

Bed Bugs In Hostel

Don’t let that information fool you, though. You don’t have to be asleep for a bed bug to bite, and beds aren’t the only place you’ll find them. Even if you stay up all night or sleep in a chair, you can still get bitten by bed bugs. Even worse, they can make their way into your luggage and travel back with you, which is one of the main ways in which bed bugs get into the home.

Note that if you’re taking shared transportation, like taxis, buses, or airplanes, bed bugs can hide out in vehicles too. People may not always sleep in these places, but they do sit still for long enough periods of time that a bed bug can have a meal. Bed bug bites tend to go unnoticed because the bites are not painful and the bugs are small.

The bottom line is that hotels and hostels are among the most common places that pest control professionals find bed bug infestations.

Do Bed Bugs Only Inhabit Dirty Hotels?

People like to associate bed bugs with dirty conditions and assume that if they keep their house clean or only travel to clean lodgings, they’ll never encounter these pests. That’s absolutely false. Bed bugs, like many insects and other small pests, don’t care one way or the other how clean or dirty a hotel room is.

Unlike cockroaches, for instance, dirty conditions provide nothing additional for a bed bug to eat. They survive almost entirely on human blood. That means the main condition required for any place to be appealing to bed bugs is for humans to be there often. If they can find a consistent meal, then they are happy to make that place their home.

When Do Bed Bugs Come Out

What makes more of a difference than how clean a place actually is, is how cluttered it is. Clutter provides additional places for bed bugs to hide, and that can make locating and getting rid of them a bit more difficult. Clutter is usually more of an issue in homes, though, than in hotels and hostels where people don’t tend to store all their belongings.

This is NOT how your room should look during an infestation. Keep the area tidy to minimize potential hiding places.

You may have seen that some methods for eliminating bed bugs include vacuuming, washing bedding, and using a steam cleaner. Those methods, however, do not help because they keep a place cleaner, but because they aid in picking up and killing existing bed bugs.

How To Check A Room For Bed Bugs

How do you know if the room or hostel you are staying in has bed bugs? The first thing to do is to thoroughly inspect the bed. Bed bugs are pretty good at hiding, preferring to find a dark crevice to hang out in. That means you may not see them out in the open on the bed or even under the sheets. You should, instead, look under the edges of the mattress, where you may find eggs and hiding bugs.

CC Image courtesy of louento.pix
CC Image courtesy of louento.pix
CC Image courtesy of louento.pix

Living bed bugs are going to try their best to stay out of sight most of the time. You can check for their presence without actually seeing them, though. By looking at the sheets and other bedding, you can see if any blood, fecal matter, or molted insect skins are on the bed. Unlike the bugs themselves, these things can be spotted when you’re awake.

Bed Bug Stains
Blood stains from where a bed bug gets squashed shortly after feeding – CC Image courtesy of louento.pix

Because their favorite meal tends to be found lying still in beds, it’s a common spot to find them. You shouldn’t end your search there, however. Even if you don’t see signs of bed bugs on the bed, they may be hiding behind the headboard or on nearby furniture, or even in baseboards on the wall. You may also want to check under the phone, inside books in the room, in the carpet seams, or behind picture frames–anywhere tiny insects could hide.

Other places to check include under the cushions and in the crevices of chairs, or in furniture or closets.

CC Image courtesy of louento.pix

What To Do If You Find Bed Bugs In Your Hotel Room

If you do find signs of bed bugs, don’t panic. It’s unlikely that they’re going to get into your luggage in the first few minutes you arrive in the room. Just contact the front desk or management, make them aware that there is a pest infestation in your room, and ask for another room that is several rooms or floors away from the first.

Bed bug infestations are usually contained to just a few rooms in a hotel, not the whole building. You should be able to safely relocate and continue your stay at the same hotel. It’s, of course, a good idea to repeat your search in the new room.

You can read reviews for various hotels before booking a trip to see if they’ve had problems with bed bugs recently. But one review claiming bed bugs were found shouldn’t completely deter you from staying in a particular establishment. Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to identify by people who are not familiar with them, so it’s possible that the pest someone saw was something entirely different. Also, as noted, infestations are often confined to only a few rooms.

You’ll be happy to know that many hotels have prevention strategies put in place to stop bed bug infestations from taking root in the first place. They hire pest control professionals to do regular checkups

Ways To Prevent Bringing Bed Bugs Home With You

There are some easy steps you can take to reduce your risk of transporting bed bugs with you when you leave a hotel or hostel. The first thing to do is to make sure you don’t inadvertently pick up bed bugs while you’re performing the initial search of the room.

The best way to keep bed bugs out of your luggage is to put it in the bathtub. Bed bugs rarely take up residence in bathrooms. It’s the least likely room for them to be in. In part, this is because they have difficulty crawling on slick surfaces like tile and ceramic. The other reason is that they’re unlikely to find a meal without getting caught in a bathroom.

The worst place to keep your luggage is on the bed or floor. Bedding and carpets are easy surfaces for bed bugs to crawl on and lay eggs around, and that makes your luggage an easy target for insect hitchhikers. Keep all of your clothing put away when you’re not using it. Really, anywhere that is off the floor and away from the bed reduces your risk of picking up pests in your bag or suitcase.

Another good precaution is to use a plastic zipper case to cover your luggage and keep bugs out. Alternatively, you can cover your luggage with a plastic garbage bag. Use these coverings even while traveling to and from the hotel in order to prevent picking up bed bugs in vehicles.

When you get home from your trip, wash and dry all the clothes you brought with you, whether they’re clean or dirty, and vacuum your luggage. You may also want to steam it, if you want to be extra safe.


Finding bed bugs in hotels is no fun, but it’s a fairly common occurrence. Take reasonable precautions by checking your room before settling in and cleaning all your clothes and luggage when you return home. If you notice signs of bed bugs after traveling, you can attempt to get rid of the infestation yourself, but you may need to contact a pest management professional for treating a severe infestation.

My Favorite Bed Bug Treatment Products

While getting rid of bed bugs without buying any additional products can be done with very small infestations, I believe that by purchasing just a few additional products, you’ll be so much better equipped, and will be able to stamp out an infestation before it gets worse. Below is my list of essential products.

Bed Bug Patrol Bed Bug Killer Spray Treatment, 24oz Kills Bed Bugs on Contact with Residual Protection, Natural & Non-Toxic, Child & Pet Safe. Recommended for Home, Mattresses & Furniture.

Bed Bug Patrol Bed Bug Killer Spray Treatment, 24oz Kills Bed Bugs on Contact with Residual Protection, Natural & Non-Toxic, Child & Pet Safe. Recommended for Home, Mattresses & Furniture.

Bed Bug Patrol Bed Bug Killer – One of the best bed bug sprays that I’ve yet to personally use. Not only does it have a reported 100% kill rate against live bed bugs in controlled tests, but it’s also child and pet friendly. This product can be used against both light and heavy infestations, and most importantly, it’s laboratory tested and completely chemical-free.

Studies conducted using the treatment showed an impressive kill rate of 83% within just 30 minutes after application, and 98% within the first four hours, leading on to an eventual mortality rate of 100% over time.

Queen (13-16 in. Deep) SureGuard Mattress Encasement - 100% Waterproof, Bed Bug Proof - Premium Zippered Six-Sided Cover

Queen (13-16 in. Deep) SureGuard Mattress Encasement - 100% Waterproof, Bed Bug Proof - Premium Zippered Six-Sided Cover

SureGuard Mattress Encasement – It’s thick, durable, and is certain to help stop bed bugs of all sizes from getting to, or from, your mattress.

The protector prevents bed bug transportation by using SureSeal technology, and by using an extremely fine zipper that not even bed bug nymphs can impregnate.

Bed Bug Interceptors – 8 Pack | Bed Bug Blocker (Pro) Interceptor Traps (Black) | Insect Trap, Monitor, and Detector for Bed Legs

Bed Bug Interceptors – 8 Pack | Bed Bug Blocker (Pro) Interceptor Traps (Black) | Insect Trap, Monitor, and Detector for Bed Legs

In my experience, the best and most effective bed bug traps are usually the ones that are designed to work in the simplest of ways. I’ve used the Bed Bug Blocker Interceptor Traps extensively and I find they do the job better than any other trap I’ve tried. You also get a very generous 8 interceptors per pack.

Simply place them directly underneath the bed/table/chair legs you’re trying to protect, and watch the bed bugs fall into the traps time and time again with no chance of escape.

ZappBug The Oven 2 XL Large Bed Bug Heater | Real Reviews | Time-Tested | Excellent Customer Service

ZappBug The Oven 2 XL Large Bed Bug Heater | Real Reviews | Time-Tested | Excellent Customer Service

ZapBugg Bed Bug Heater – Specially designed to kill all stages in the bed bug life cycle, including eggs, without the need to purchase expensive pest control heat treatment solutions.

Simply place infested items into the ZappBug heater and it will automatically reach the all-important bed bug killing temperature, so you can be sure the items will come out free from all life stages of bed bug once the process is complete.

Large and small versions are also available.