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Scared of Germs? Steer Clear of Four-Star Hotels


While high-end hotels may have more amenities, a new survey finds they also tend to have more bacteria.

While a stay at a five-star hotel may get you excellent service and a well-appointed room, it doesn’t necessarily get you a really clean one, according to Travelmath, an online trip calculator service. Surprisingly, the cleanest rooms that Travelmath discovered were in properties that rate only three-stars.

Travelmath sent investigators to nine hotels to gather 36 samples of surfaces. The study asserts that hotel rooms, in general, harbor more bacteria than a typical home, airplane, or school. Yuck!

By assessing bacteria in colony-forming units (CFUs), the team discovered the dirtiest places in their samples. Overall, the dirtiest places are:

1. Bathroom counter: 1,288,817 CFU/sq. in.

2. Remote control: 1,211,687 CFU/sq. in.

3. Desk: 604,907 CFU/sq. in.

4. Phone: 4,252 CFU/sq. in.

The bathroom counters in the three-star hotel rooms contained 320,000 CFU per square inch. That’s eight times less bacteria than the counters in a four-star hotel, which had 2,534,773 CFU per square inch, and three times less than the bathroom counters in a five—star hotel which had 2,002,300 CFU per square inch.

Germiest Surfaces in Three-Star Hotels

1. Bathroom counter: 320,007 CFU/sq. in.

2. Remote control: 232,733 CFU/sq. in.

3. Phone: 11,403 CFU/sq. in.

4. Desk: 4,687 CFU/sq. in.

Germiest Surfaces in Four-Star Hotels

1. Bathroom counter: 2,534,773 CFU/sq. in.

2. Desk: 1,800,000 CFU/sq. in.

3. Remote: 1,400, 027 CFU/sq. in.

4. Phone: 137 CFU/sq. in.

Germiest Surfaces in Five-Star Hotels

1. Remote: 2,002,300 CFU/sq. in.

2. Bathroom counter: 1,011,670 CFU/sq. in.

3. Desk: 40,030 CFU/sq. in.

4. Phone: 1,217 CFU/sq. in

Types of Bacteria

The types of bacteria differed somewhat in different rated hotels. In three-star properties, Bacillus spp was prevalent on the remote and yeast was dominant on bathroom counters. In four-star hotels, Bacillus spp dominated the remote and the telephone and in five-star most bacteria were gram negative although the phone had gram-positive cocci.

What to do as a Guest

Be proactive. Wipe down the bathroom counters, dressers, night tables and telephone with antibacterial wipes or spray. You can do that as well for the remote control, but Travelmath suggests placing the remote in a plastic bag before using it. And always, wash your hands frequently. So much for five-star cleanliness.

Below, see a chart of Travelmath’s findings. For a larger version, click here. Will these findings change your travel habits? Comment below or connect with me on Twitter, @familyitrips.

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