How To Avoid Cockroaches in Hotels

Hotels are supposed to be a place of peace and relaxation, so if you ever find a hotel infested with roaches, you have every right to be repulsed. Unfortunately for travelers, there’s little way of knowing whether your hotel has an infestation before you stay there.

Hotel rooms are prone to cockroach infestations because of the number of people going in and out. To minimize contact, inspect the hotel room as soon as you arrive for feces, exoskeletons, egg shells, stains, foul odors, and cockroaches. Cockroaches sneak into luggage, so place your suitcase as high up as possible. You could wrap it in cling film to prevent cockroaches from entering. Keep dirty clothes in a separate sealed bag, and keep all food items in a plastic container.

It’s not a pleasant thought to be sharing a hotel room with roaches, so you might want to ask the hotel for a refund and attempt to find somewhere else to stay.  

Are Cockroaches Common in Hotels?

Sadly, cockroaches frequently plague hotels. As described by the Journal of Economic Entomology, roaches are common in apartments. While hotels aren’t apartments, they contain multiple units used by several people, emulating the basic structure of an apartment block.

You could argue that hotels are even worse because they experience a constant stream of people coming in and going out, increasing the risk of a roach infestation in multiple rooms.

Similarly, those staying in hotels won’t always know that there’s a cockroach infestation, particularly if they spend most of their day sightseeing, exploring the local area, or tied up in meetings.

When cockroaches are most likely to come out at night, people using the hotel are sleeping. This means hotel staff won’t always know there’s a pest problem to deal with, meaning the pest problem is at risk of becoming out of control.

Why Do Hotels Have Cockroaches?

Despite common misconceptions, cockroaches aren’t always the result of an unclean and unsanitary environment. Because doors and windows are open so frequently, cockroaches have ample opportunity to get inside. People staying in hotels also have every chance to bring the pests into the rooms they’re using through their suitcases. Cockroaches live in hotels because of:


Self-catering hotel rooms are most at risk of attracting cockroaches, but food from room service, the mini bar, or snacks eaten in-between meals leave enough crumbs for cockroaches to eat. Plates and cups containing leftover food and drinks are more commonly left out in hotel rooms for cleaners to remove, meaning there’s the opportunity for roaches to strike.

With multiple people residing in a single area, there’s more food and garbage lying around. And if cockroaches can’t find enough food and water in one room, they can easily move onto the next.

are cockroaches common in hotels?


Because hotels are usually big with multiple hiding places, there’s plenty of shelter for cockroaches to hide out. Using baits and traps can be difficult, as roaches escape them by going into a different room. Cockroaches go where there’s space for them to:

  • Grow
  • Hide
  • Reproduce

The only effective way to remove cockroaches from hotel rooms is to clear out the inhabitants and fumigate all rooms. For hotels, this means they miss out on income when people aren’t staying there, putting their business at risk.

Messy Rooms

People staying in hotels often live out of suitcases or throw their clothes on the floor. Cockroaches eat clothes, especially if there’s leftover food or bodily fluids on the garments. Cockroaches will also get into luggage because holidaymakers neglect to put their suitcases in a safe location.

Those staying in hotels should keep their rooms as tidy as possible to prevent roaches. Similarly, this should help minimize the risk of the pests returning home with you.

Do Most Hotels Have Cockroaches?

Not all hotels have cockroaches – it’s a difficult metric to measure for sure. But as long as there’s food, water, warmth, and shelter, all hotels are at risk. Even luxury 5-star hotels can be affected if preventative measures aren’t in place.

Hotels in warm climates, such as Orlando, Florida, Las Vegas, Maui, and Hawaii, are most likely to encounter cockroach problems. Cockroaches love warm, humid areas where they can breed. When it gets too hot, they wander into homes and businesses to escape the heat. To determine whether the hotel you’re staying in has a cockroach infestation, look out for the following signs:

Cockroach Egg Shells

Female roaches create egg casings called ootheca, which carry their unhatched eggs. In most cases, the ootheca remains attached to the cockroach until it’s almost time for the nymphs to hatch.

Before hatching, roaches hide the ootheca away somewhere safe and secure to prevent other cockroaches and bugs from eating the eggs. Ootheca in broad daylight means that the hotel room has a severe infestation because the mother couldn’t find anywhere for the eggs.

Even people without any experience in dealing with ootheca before should be able to spot them, as they’re the same color as roaches. Ootheca starts out as oval, but the nymphs tear them apart to get out of them.

Shed Exoskeletons

Cockroaches molt and shed their exoskeleton to make room for longer, bigger bodies. On average, nymphs molt around six times until they become adults. Exoskeletons are relatively easy to spot, as they’re similar in color to roaches. Unfortunately, if you only find a single exoskeleton, there’s bound to be more cockroaches lurking in the room.

If the skin looks large and fresh, it means that the roaches are about to reach sexual maturity – or already have. As a result, there could be a horde of nymphs somewhere in the hotel room.


If there are roaches in your hotel room, they’ll leave black feces that look like tiny coffee grounds. Cockroaches defecate as they walk, so the waste often ends up all over the room. However, roaches navigate secure routes where they know they’ll be safe. They use these paths to travel around hotel rooms and mark these routes for other cockroaches using their poop.

Foul Odor

A single roach won’t leave a noticeable smell, but an infestation will leave a detectable odor. That’s because cockroaches store uric acid in their fat.

They also give off pheromones to communicate with the rest of their colony, which smells musky and oily. If they think the hotel room’s a good home, they’ll let the other roaches know to come and join them. They also release these pheromones when they mate and die.


Cockroaches leave irregularly shaped brown smear marks as they scuttle around. These stains are made up of harmful pathogens that can make humans and animals sick, so avoid touching them with your bare hands.

Cockroaches Themselves

Most cockroaches come out at night where they’re safe under cover of darkness. According to the Chulalongkorn University, roaches are predominantly active during 5 P.M and 6 A.M, when they leave their nests and hunt for food.  

This means if you find roaches during the day in your hotel, the infestation is severe. The pests are getting pushed out into the open to scavenging during risky hours of the day as the colony competes for the limited available food.

Where Do Cockroaches Hide in Hotels?

There are several hiding places in hotels, giving cockroaches access to a whole host of areas where they’re safe. There’s also plenty of food and water available, enabling roaches to survive, breed, and multiply. Even though cockroaches are hard to find, the most common places to hide are:

Garbage and Trash Stores

Cockroaches feed off decaying matter and are primarily attracted to foods with a foul smell. Rotting food, such as fruits and vegetables, gain a more pungent fragrance as they mature. That’s why you’ll find cockroaches hanging around in garbage cans. Because hotels have several guests at one time, they have a lot of trash to deal with, giving roaches plenty to feast on.

Laundry Rooms

Laundry rooms are another excellent place for cockroaches to live. They’re warm, humid and give roaches access to starch-based detergents and fabrics they’re happy to eat. Cockroaches hide behind washing machines and dryers where they’re unlikely to be seen, providing that all-important shelter they need to survive.

Kitchens and Buffet Rooms

Where there’s food, there are cockroaches. Hotel areas used for food preparation and storage or rooms holding buffets are a common target for pests, as there are crumbs, spills, oils, and grease that they feed off.

These kinds of hotel rooms also tend to have plenty of nooks and crannies that cockroaches can hide in. However, they’re also busy with cooks, staff, and guests, so roaches rarely come out during the busy daytime periods.


Cockroaches prefer to be near a water source, as they need it to survive. That’s why you’ll commonly find them hanging around bathrooms, showers, and underneath sinks. In hotels, the bathrooms are usually dark, as they rarely have windows, which allows roaches to take shelter and remain hidden. They also used pipes and sewage systems as their hiding spots.


Cockroaches can get into your luggage if you leave it lying around. Even if you put your suitcase under your bed, roaches can still crawl in. Luggage provides a warm, dark space for cockroaches to live, making it an attractive hiding spot. It also gives them an excellent base to find food and water from.

In extreme cases where cockroaches are desperate for food, they eat fabric suitcases. Your luggage is also an ideal spot for them to lay their eggs.


If you leave your clothes in large piles while you’re in your hotel room, cockroaches may target them, particularly if they’re old and dirty. As we’ve already mentioned, roaches can smell the faintest whiff of food, including spills left behind on tops and pants. They’re also attracted to body odors and other bodily fluids.

Even washed clothes aren’t safe. Cockroaches eat starch, and if there’s leftover washing powder or detergent on your clothes, they’ll munch on them. That’s why you should hang your clothes in a wardrobe, put them in your suitcase and seal it, or put them in a plastic bag or wash bin.

Can You Get a Refund if Your Hotel Has Cockroaches?

Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to whether you can get a refund or not. Every hotel will have specific terms and conditions when you book, and some are more detailed than others, waiving their responsibility. However, hotels have a duty of care to their guests, so it’s entirely reasonable to expect a refund.

The first thing to do is to inspect the room for any signs of cockroaches. If you’re planning to claim from the hotel, you need proof, such as photos. If the hotel room doesn’t meet your expectations, you must speak to the hotel manager in a relaxed, calm manner to get a satisfactory resolution.

Explain the situation and show the manager the proof you have of cockroaches in the room. Wherever possible, take detailed notes to have evidence of who you spoke to if things don’t get resolved in the way you’d like them to. At this point, ask for compensation for the inconvenience caused.

If you’ve booked through a third party, your situation might be a little more long-winded. You should still be able to find a resolution, but you’ll need to contact the company you booked your hotel through. As well as providing you with a refund, they may help you find somewhere else to stay.

If you don’t manage to get a refund, try to contact someone further up the food chain. Send emails to all the contacts you can find associated with the business and share your photos and notes so that they can’t argue against giving you a refund.

You won’t always be able to resolve the problem amicably through the hotel directly. If not, you can contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or file a lawsuit. 

Whenever you book a hotel, read the reviews online from guests who have already stayed to flag any potential pest issues.

How To Prevent Bringing Cockroaches Home From Vacation

If your hotel room has a roach infestation, there’s a significant risk that you could bring the pests home with you. As this is something you’ll naturally want to avoid, you’ll need to take specific steps to prevent this from happening, such as:

Examine the Hotel Room

When you arrive at your hotel room, inspect the room for any signs of cockroaches, paying close attention to drains, drawers, wardrobes, and down the back of furniture. If you do spot roach signs, report it to the front desk and ask for a room that’s much further away. If one room’s infected, it’s likely the adjacent rooms are too.

Do the same thing before you leave to go home. Even if you didn’t see cockroaches during your stay, it doesn’t mean there aren’t any. Thoroughly inspect your suitcase and clothes, carefully packing each garment one by one to eliminate any pests. This should leave you with the confidence that you don’t have roaches in your luggage.

do most hotels have cockroaches?

Don’t Leave the Suitcase on the Floor

We’ve already briefly mentioned this one, but don’t let your suitcase touch your hotel room floor. Instead, place it somewhere higher up, such as on a table or top of a wardrobe, and leave it there for the duration of your stay. Doing so makes it harder for cockroaches to reach the case and allows you to have a better view of any pests in the room.

It also minimizes the contract between the roaches and your luggage, reducing the risk of you taking one home.

Wrap Your Suitcase in Plastic

If you’re worried about roaches going home with you, wrap your suitcase in plastic or cling film. Not only will this stop cockroaches from getting in, but it will suffocate any that are in there. We realize this isn’t the most fun thing to be doing on vacation, but it can help put your mind at ease while you’re staying somewhere unfamiliar.

Seal Dirty Clothes

It’s unlikely you’ll be able (or want to) wash your clothes before you leave your hotel room, so instead, seal all dirty clothes into a separate bag to reduce the risk of cockroaches smelling and eating them.

As we’ve already mentioned, dirty clothes are more attractive to roaches and are one of the most common reasons why they’d be in your luggage in the first place.

Wrap All Food

If you’re staying in a hotel room, the chances are you’re on vacation. Part of the fun is stocking up on culinary delights from somewhere unfamiliar. While you shouldn’t let cockroaches stop you, put all sweets, chocolates, and treats in a plastic container that cockroaches can’t reach. That way, you can enjoy them when you get home.

Following these steps should hopefully help you avoid coming into contact with cockroaches and taking them home with you at the end of your stay. As soon as you arrive home, unpack your suitcase slowly and inspect your clothes for any signs of pests.

Photo of author

Jack Andersen

Hi, I'm Jack. A close friend of mine went through a cockroach infestation about 5 years ago, so I'm here to share what I've learned with everyone. I hope that you find the information useful.

Leave a Comment