More Power Outlets in Hotel Rooms: the Weekly Wish

by on August 14, 2014 · 28 comments

in Hotel Industry, TPG Contributors

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Today TPG Contributor Nick Ewen continues his series The Weekly Wish, looking at flaws, shortcomings, and room for improvement in the world of travel and loyalty programs. Today’s wish: more power outlets in hotel rooms.

As fellow frequent travelers, I’m sure many TPG readers experience the same need I do to be connected on the road. The last several years we’ve seen an incredible shift in technology from desktop and laptop computing to mobile devices. More and more travel providers are recognizing this shift; airlines are adding Wi-Fi to their planes, hotels are adding things like eCheck-in, and virtually all companies now have some type of app. The prevalence of mobile electronics increases our need for places to power them, which leads me to something that’s sorely lacking in my preferred hotel chains, and the subject of today’s Weekly Wish: for hotels to increase the number of easily accessible power outlets.

How often have you encountered full outlets at the hotels you frequent?

How often have you encountered this problem in your hotel room?

Let me start with a bit about what inspired this post. I currently hold top tier status with three of the top hotel chains: Hilton, Hyatt, and Starwood. I’m also Silver Elite with Marriott, and occasionally branch out to a Holiday Inn Express or Club Carlson property. As a frequent business traveler for the last seven years, I’ve found that NONE of these chains provide any level of consistency when it comes to power outlets. Some have plenty of options, other require me to crawl under a desk to unplug a lamp when I need to charge my iPhone. One of the most infuriating examples is the common lack of outlets anywhere near the bed.

Many of us have been there: after a day of traveling, meetings, phone calls with colleagues and/or loved ones, or even just vacation, you make it back to your room and are ready to crash. Your phone and tablet batteries are drained; maybe you’re like me and you use Google Maps as your go-to navigation app in rental cars, or maybe you enjoy listening to music or downloading (and watching) videos on a long flight. Now that the FAA allows gate-to-gate use of electronic devices, your trusty tech companion is running on fumes. You set the alarm, but want to make sure the phone doesn’t die overnight. Sadly, you can’t find an outlet near the bed! The alarm clock, cordless phone, and/or lamps are taking up all available socket space. You manage to pull the mattress aside to unplug a lamp you won’t be using, and only then can you drift off to sleep, knowing that your device will be back to 100% by morning.

Don’t get me wrong; many hotels (especially newer ones) are doing a much better job at this. Red Roof Inn, for example, is already seeing how important accessible outlets are to the traveling public. Their upgraded locations now feature four outlets built into the nightstand. I encountered something similar during my recent stay at the Hampton Inn & Suites in downtown Gainesville, Florida.

The downtown Hampton Inn in Gainesville gave some nice charging options right on the nightstand!

The downtown Hampton Inn in Gainesville, FL provided some nice charging options right on the nightstand!

Yes, that’s a six-outlet charging station (four regular, two USB) plus another plug on the left lamp.

I found a six-plug adapter next to the couch at the Hyatt Place Sarasota-Bradenton Airport last month:

This six-plug adapter greeted me in Sarasota last month.

What’s a six-plug adapter like you doing in a place like this?

And just this week, I visited the new Le Meridien Tampa and found a nightstand equipped with a 120-volt and USB charger (plus an empty outlet next to the bed):

Notice the built-in chargers right in the nightstand!

Notice the built-in chargers right in the nightstand!

However, I find that these examples are the exception rather than the rule. I travel with a laptop, personal phone, iPhone, and an iPad. Some nights, all four of them need to be charged. In many hotel rooms, I have to strategically plan out how that will happen:

“Ok, the computer will take up the one conveniently-located outlet on or near the desk. Then, the iPad will need most of the night to charge fully, but I can charge my personal phone before I go to bed and my iPhone in the morning while I’m at the gym and/or breakfast.”

In this day and age of connectivity, it’s absurd that more hotels haven’t updated their available power sources. As the above examples indicate, there’s no need to tear down walls to add new wiring for new outlets; some simple adapters like the one I found in Sarasota will do the trick. Power strips at Home Depot start at less than $2 each, and six-plug adapters are as little as $3.96. Even surge protectors are less than $4! Keep in mind that these prices are at retail stores; a large hotel looking to equip hundreds of rooms with more power outlets would likely receive much lower wholesale prices.

It would also help travelers who are prone to leaving things behind in a rush to make it to meetings or the airport on time. How many of you have mistakenly left behind a charger because you were forced to plug it in behind the television or on the floor by the AC unit? I’m up to three lost chargers. Granted, I bear the brunt of the responsibility for these losses, but having more plentiful and conveniently located plugs would be a significant help.


The Point Breeze Bed & Breakfast in St. Michaels, MD has added power strips to every room.

Some smaller properties are recognizing this fact and trying to avoid the added cost to their customers and to themselves. My wife spent this past weekend at Point Breeze Bed & Breakfast with some of her girlfriends; it’s a small but beautiful inn on the water in St. Michaels, MD. Joan Foster Schneider, the innkeeper there, started noticing how frequently guests would leave behind chargers after finding creative spots to power up their devices (it is an old house after all). She still gladly returns these missing items to guests, but she recently equipped each room with a conveniently located power strip. By all accounts, the new strategy is working splendidly.

At the end of the day, the number of plugs likely won’t make or break your decision of where to stay, but it would certainly be an easy way to add convenience to the lives of frequent travelers.

belkin mini surge protector

Not enough plugs? Bring your own.

If your hotel isn’t hip to the needs of techie travelers, you can still take care of your power needs by bringing your own multi-plug adapters or charging apparatuses. Here are some of the options out there:

AViiQ Portable Charging Station: These products make it easier to organize cords and much harder to leave chargers behind. Use the cable rack system, four-plug USB hub, and included wall plug to charge four devices at a time from a single outlet.

Belkin Mini Surge Protector: One of the lightest and most compact surge protectors out there. This includes three 120-volt plugs plus two USB ports, and it swivels to ensure flexibility in tight spaces. It also provides a $75,000 Connected Equipment Warranty, which will cover damage to devices from an electricity surge or spike.

myCharge Peak 6000: At just over 8 ounces, this rechargeable power bank includes three built-in cords for Apple products (30 pin, not lightning), USB, and Micro-USB devices. It can be a lifesaver if you’re in a place with no outlet (like a car or plane), but it also plugs directly into the wall, allowing you to use it as a multi-prong adapter when you do have access to an outlet.

This is not an exhaustive list, so please share your own suggestions below if you’ve had success with other devices. If you do decide to purchase any of these, remember to price shop online (the links above take you right to the manufacturer, but other sites like Amazon may be cheaper). Also, be sure to go through an online shopping portal to maximize your point & mileage earning.

What are your thoughts? Do you get as frustrated as I do when you can’t find convenient plugs in your hotel rooms? Please share your thoughts below!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Ron Zember

    Note that the Belkin mini surge protector does not work overseas with an adapter (you need a transformer). After learning this the hard way, I now carry a Monster Outlets to Go strip Monster MP OTG400 BK Outlets To Go 4 Outlet Travel Power Strip (Black) by Monster

  • PatMcPSU

    How about power outlets in airports? Or power outlets on airplanes? At a minimum, the seats in first class should all have power outlets by this point.

  • ncsurob

    I also bought the Belkin, but since it doesn’t work overseas, I purchased the Anker 5-USB port charger.

    This way I don’t have to bring the tablet charger or phone charger. Everything I have is micro-usb or lightning, so it just a matter of having enough cables. I use an amenity kit bag from Air China to keep it in a small package.

    The 4-port wall charger is also a good choice.

  • Neil Jaehnert

    I travel with the smallest/lightest/cheapest 6′ extension cord I can find – with multiple sockets. This allows me to bring only one adapter and still plug in multiple devices – and it gets the devices closer to where I need them. But yes, better hotel room design would help. I was at the Hilton Glasgow last week and there were no outlets anywhere near the bed.

  • SoCal9

    When traveling to Europe whose hotels are notoriously skimpy on outlets, I bring adapters (1 or 2) for their outlets and then I pack a 9′ extensions cord. I plug the adapter in the wall and plug my US chargers, etc. into the extension cord. So far I haven’t caused any power outages!

  • TXmama

    My complaint is a related one…when I do find the outlet it is often so over-used that there is a poor connection with my plug. I plug in my phone and in the morning it is still drained because the plug never made effective connection with the outlet.

  • wwittman

    Happily, I’ve noticed an increasing trend toward bedside lamps with an outlet or two in their base. That’s a good thing.
    in this day and age when EVERY guest has an iphone that needs to charge and be within reach of the bed, it’s ridiculous that any serious hotel still requires you to pull the bed away from the wall and fish for an outlet.

  • UrbanPhoenixInjunCAM

    I stayed at RITZ MARINA del REY last weekend and I had to crawl around under the desk to find one available outlet for my PowerMac.
    My boyfriend had to hunt for another outlet behind the bed for his phone.
    The same thing happend at RITZ PHOENIX last year– I was crawling around looking for an outlet I could use.
    And they charge $12 a day for internet, after you plug in.

  • Jason Loeffler

    Here is a code you can use for AViiQ that will give you 20% off charging stations. PCS20TPG

  • Ven

    It seems much like when wifi was becoming a thing, cheap, budget hotels are generous and the expensive, big name hotels you need to hunt around to find an outlet.

  • Eric

    Two comments:

    1) Your laptop has at least two USB ports. Use them! Leave those stupid charging brick adapters and home and use your micro-USB/Lightning/30-pin cables to charge up your tablet and phone.

    2) Monster makes a very nice 3 outlet plus USB charging strip with plenty of room between outlets for things like camera battery chargers, etc. It runs just fine on 220V too.

  • omg

    The most expensive hotels (who also charge $10-$15/day for wifi) are the biggest offenders for not having power enough (or any) power outlets. Upon check-in, you get to crawl around on the floor to look under beds and tables to find any. And along the way, at times, there is the great treasure of finding things like used condoms or a smelly lost sock.

  • asdfwerasdfa

    or how about those cheap-ass audio connections in airplanes?… You know, the ones that you have to become a contortionist to make it fit just half way in so that you can hear audio (don’t let the weight of the cord break the connection, you have to gently rest the cord on your kneed for 9 hours). United seems to be the worst (for me).

  • Friendly Flyer

    Bring a power strip to the terminal. You’re a rockstar. I just leave them behind.

  • Nick Ewen

    Absolutely! I am currently sitting in the airport in Columbia, SC and had to walk to the other end of the terminal to find a plug. The nice thing is that many airlines are adding power to their seats (especially on new models like Delta’s 737-900 aircraft), and I am starting to see more and more charging stations pop up in airports. Still room for improvement though!

  • gudsv

    Every hotel should take a lesson from the Michelangelo Hotel in central Milan (5 minute walk from the central train station). It’ s not a fancy hotel, but a good business-type one.

    They had tons of power outlets — plus even some on the lamps near the bed.

    And their WIFI was free — and every room had their own secure connection (a “mini’ secure hub spot with their own password — somehow connected through the TV — LG I think).

    The service there is also terrific. I’ve stayed there a few times. I got there one day at 9 a.m. from an early train from Rome– expecting to be able to only check my bags… the front desk staff told me if I could wait 20 minutes, they would expedite the cleaning of a room for me. They gave me a free coffee while I waited in the lobby — and personally came up to me 10 minutes later offering the room.

  • Nick Ewen

    Agreed. It’s almost like they are afraid that a multi-plug outlet will somehow take away from the luxury of the property. And don’t get me started on finding interesting things in the room. Rancid buffalo chicken…enough said!

  • Nick Ewen

    You nailed it on the head. Sadly, I still think that big name hotels are behind the times with WiFi, but like outlets, I do think that they are wishing up to the connectedness of today’s traveler (both business and leisure).

  • Nick Ewen

    Interesting…I have never stayed at a Ritz before, but good to know that this is something to look out for!

  • Nick Ewen

    This is big, and I too have seen an improvement in this area. Personally, I would love to see not just a single outlet but multiple (or at least a regular and USB plug).

  • Nick Ewen

    I’ve been there! Another problem that would be solved with more multi-plug adapters.

  • Nick Ewen

    Love the amenity bag suggestion. I use one from Turkish Airlines when I need to lug my projector on a flight. I really like the hardcover case.

  • Nick Ewen

    Sounds like they really take the notion of being a “full-service” hotel literally (as opposed to a “full-service if you pay enough fees” hotel). Combining solid customer service and simple (but essential) amenities is a sure fire way to engender loyalty among your guests. Thanks for sharing!

  • Nick Ewen

    Great suggestions. One of my computer USB ports is always taken up with my wireless mouse receiver (I just hate my touchpad), but I have definitely used the other to charge my phone in a pinch.

  • Nick Ewen

    Which airports do you frequent?? Sadly I would bet that some travelers take them, while others are picked up as “lost” items by cleaning crews. Still, this can be a HUGE thing, especially if you are in a little airport dealing with a delay on the last flight of the day. Everyone calling to rebook or to keep family members informed, and then they have to fight over two pairs of outlets!

    Keep making those deposits in your “good karma” bank…

  • goodmove

    A great hotel that does this just right is the Lancaster Hotel. Outside of having numerous power outlets throughout the room, they are also all US and Euro-friendly.

    I stay at this hotel every time I go to London now. Its prices are somewhat reasonable considering it’s great location. It’s across from Hyde Park (many rooms have views of the park), it sits on top of the Lancaster Gate tube stop, it’s a 5-minute walk to Paddington Station (which gives you access to the Heathrow Express train). For tourists, it’s also on the block of several “hop on, hop off” buses stops. It’s also right next to a residential neighborhood, so there are some good pubs to have a beer and meet locals.

    The rooms are big, the elevators are fast. Taxis are waiting outside, and there’s also a Barclay’s bicycle portal, too,…if you want to rent a bike.

  • PatMcPSU

    If I were single, I would definitely invest in a power strip to start a conversation with attractive flyers of the opposite sex. They are this generation’s lighter.

  • Ricky Wong

    I use a Monster Outlets To Go 3 USB ( It’s usually good enough, and is nice for travel. Also works with 220V (despite description saying otherwise – see reviews).

    If I’m driving, I don’t mind dragging some extra weight for an extension cord and/or more 3-way splitters. Less likely (but still possible) to drag one or two of these when flying.

    I also use a 5-port USB desktop charger. This lets me charge 5 USB things with only 1 wall outlet. Very useful when outlets are scarce (especially when international, and each thing needs an adapter… until…)

    For international travel (including when international friends come to the US!), I have a VCT USP600. The thing is huge, but it’s nice to be able to know that you definitely have enough ports for everything, while only needing to convert the outlet type once.

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