Surprisingly, hotel guests complain more about noise to the hotel’s management than cleanliness or maintenance of their rooms. And rightly so, privacy and peace are any guest’s utmost expectations.
Generally, most hotel rooms are NOT soundproof. However, they are insulated and might keep a certain degree of noise out, but they’re not originally designed to be soundproof. Every hotel is different in terms of its construction and management which reflects on how soundproof it may seem to the guests.
Some high-end or newer hotels are built with anti-vibration materials or soundproofed HVAC systems. Some only have soundproof doors or floors with an STC rating of 49+, enough to combat noise from hallways or elevators. While some have thin walls and no soundproofing done during or post-construction.
Why Are Hotel Rooms Not Soundproof?
Studies show that more than 90 percent of the noise that bleeds into a hotel room is from its windows. In a research by the National Sleep Foundation, 74% of a batch of 1000 travelers stated that they would’ve preferred a room with no windows just for a good night’s sleep.
Windows and patio doors are an absolute necessity for any hotel but are the primary culprits of noise ingression. To combat this, hotel windows have double or triple-panes, and doors are mostly made out of heavy steel or heavy wood.
This is the extent of soundproofing in any regular hotel and seems to be an appropriate treatment for the little noise that hotels expect.
This expectation is mainly because hotels aren’t usually located in very congested or heavy traffic areas where noise is a grave issue. What can disturb you in a hotel room are sounds from the next room, a loud visitor, noise in the hallway, and the AC, ventilation, or heating systems.
It seems as if hotels don’t realize the importance of sound control between hallways, floors, and walls during the building process. Some rely solely on the architectural plans that incorporate old techniques of insulation and soundboard that aren’t effective on their own.
Moreover, construction-wise, hotels do not have cast concrete flooring or masonry brick walls in all their rooms. Most of them have wood or aluminum framing with thin insulation sheets. Soundproofing involves adding mass and density to the walls so they can absorb and dissipate as much noise as possible.
The concrete flooring or brick walls take up some of the floor space in the room and decrease the room size overall. And because of that, hotel owners are tempted to use thin walls between rooms to maintain a big room size.
Needless to say, high-rent hotels and motels do have some arrangements like acoustic wall panels or window and door seals.
Can You Soundproof A Hotel Room On Your Own?
You can’t soundproof a hotel room on your own because you can’t construct or deconstruct the structures inside it. Most of the noise in hotel rooms comes from the walls, windows and doors. The best way to soundproof an already constructed wall is to use a combination of soundproofing and acoustic materials to control all (low, mid, and high) frequencies of sound. This includes the use of floating panels or fiberglass for the ceiling, acoustic panels or foam, drywall and soundproofing tiles for walls and seals, plugs and soundproof curtains for the windows and doors. But since you’re a visitor, you can’t do any of these. What you can do is ensure that you travel prepared for a non-soundproof hotel room.
How To Soundproof A Hotel Room?
Hotels with soundproof walls are difficult to find, but here are a few simple ways to reduce sounds entering a hotel room yourself.
Travel With A White Noise Machine
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If you’re one of the light sleepers, a white noise machine is a must for you. You can invest in a travel-size white noise machine if you frequently travel.
White noise machines work wonders. It’s suggested that you use an actual white noise machine instead of an app on your phone for the best results. Some hotels might also provide you sound machines if you ask them.
This is the best way to create a relaxing sleep environment. These machines will mask all noise entering your room with a slow and calm hum.
Request A Room Away From Noisy Areas Of The Hotel
There are certain areas and spots in a hotel that are almost always noisy. This includes the area around restaurants, bars, or pools.
You can request the management to give you a room far away from these areas and save yourself from unwanted noise. Ballrooms, gyms, and any area that’s open for people to visit at all hours should be avoided.
Typically, you will find all of these amenities on the first floor of the hotel. So, try and get a room on the third floor or above.
Steer Clear Of Ice Machines And Elevators
We all know how noisy ice machines are. You should book a room that is not right beside a vending or an ice machine.
The same is the case with elevators. In a thin-walled hotel room, you will be able to hear people going in and out of the elevator at all hours of the day. Not to forget the “Ding” at every arrival.
Most of the elevator traffic seems to be at the late hours of the night, and you wouldn’t want any “Ding-ing” when you’re trying to snooze. The ideal room would be in the middle of the hallway where it tends to be the quietest on every floor.
The middle room will always be away from laundry rooms, elevators, ice and vending machines, concierge closet, and emergency exits as well.
Book At An Airport Hotel
Presumably, travelers stay at airport hotels between flights and are there just to crash for a bit. These hotels will often have soundproof windows and walls because they have to block the noise from aircraft engines nearby.
So, staying in an airport hotel is a win-win because you’ll be sure they have been rigorously soundproofed against loud plane noises.
Avoid Rooms With Adjoining Doors
Try to avoid rooms that have an adjoining door with the room next to it, unless of course, you have friends in the other room.
Any opening in the wall will only add spaces for noise to flow in or out of the room. Even if the door is said to be soundproof, you will still hear muffled voices from the other side.
Obtain Clear Information From The Front Desk
It’s always smart to inquire at the front desk at the time of booking if there is going to be any event held at their hotel. For instance, there could be a wedding reception or there’s a football team staying in the hotel.
If so, you can consider other options in that area or just ask the hotel if there’s a room available away from all the hurly-burly.
Just like every trip, every hotel is going to be a different experience. Some soundproof, most of them noisy.
The best you can do is to make the room quieter to get your well-deserved hours of sleep in that hotel.
You can wear earplugs, noise-canceling headphones, use a white noise machine or ask for a room away from all the noise.