Blackout Blinds At Hotels… Why Are They So Rare?

Filed Under: Hotels

I’ve written in the past about my biggest hotel pet peeves, though don’t think I’ve written a post specifically about the hotel features I like most.

I’d say some of my favorite things in hotels are exactly the opposite of my pet peeves. Off the top of my head, I love hotels with:

  • Truly high speed Wi-Fi. Virtually all hotels advertise “high speed internet,” but in reality that’s often not the case. When you live in hotels and work on the internet, actually high speed internet is probably the most valuable thing a hotel can offer.
  • Good pillows. Comfortable beds have become pretty standard across the board at most chain hotels, though one thing that isn’t quite as common is good pillows. I hate square pillows, and love longer, full body pillows. Too bad they’re still pretty rare.
  • Showers with good temperature control, water pressure, and ideally two shower heads. Good water pressure and temperature control should be a given, though I’m always amazed how many hotels can’t get that right. A shower with (at least) two shower heads is a nice added bonus.

All of the above I see with at least some frequency, though here’s one I don’t see nearly often enough, and it’s quite possibly my favorite thing ever — electronically controlled blackout shades. And I’m not just talking about blackout curtains or half-assed shades, but shades that make the room so dark that you can’t see anything, even if the sun is beaming against the window.


When you have nontraditional hours, it’s one of the best ways to stay well rested, in my opinion.

For example, when I landed in Lisbon this morning and arrived at the Sheraton, I put down the shades and managed to get “real” sleep. That’s not something I can usually do after a flight since I’m solar powered, and generally can’t sleep if it’s light out. So even if there are curtains, if there’s any light seeping through, my naps consist mostly of tossing and turning.


I guess the one downside to blackout shades is that it makes it tougher to get over jetlag. It makes it much easier to get a “good” night of sleep during the day when it’s light out, making it tougher to adjust to local time… if that’s the goal.

Why are true blackout shades such a rarity in hotels? And I guess along the same lines, why don’t hotels advertise them more? In looking at the room descriptions of the Sheraton, they describe the Bang & Olufsen LCD TV (I don’t watch TV), the “natural daylight” in the bathroom (okay?), but fail to mention what I consider to be the single best feature of rooms in this hotel.


Am I the only one that cares about blackout shades in hotels?!

  1. I would guess too many people pull on them, break them etc. It’s also very easy to close them and tell if there are pin holes which is a deduction on their condition when they get their corporate QC inspections.

  2. I don’t have any problem sleeping in daylight; I live in a loft that has only translucent shades on some windows (none at all on others). And I don’t really like to mask the time of day. If it’s light outside I want some light inside. But of course I agree that people should have the choice.

  3. I fully understand you, the sleeping experience is much better and you actually feel well-rested when you get up. Luckily, it’s a requirement for our crew hotels to have those blackout shades.

  4. I also love blackout window treatments, but only the truly electronic all-blackout versions that go on the outside of the window (Rome Caveleri, Hotel de Paris, etc.). I love them so much, I tried to get them installed in my home, but couldn’t find anything similar in Los Angeles.

  5. I suspect it’s the fact that most people (especially business people that work at least 8-5) don’t sleep when it’s light outside.

  6. Lucky, I’ve got to agree with you. Frustrating when you haven’t slept at all, and trying to take a good nap while it’s light outside and no good blinds. I’d be all for those electric blinds you talk about. I actually want to get some for our house, but my wife is worried that we’d sleep too much.

  7. I agree with you wholeheartedly. I’m even shocked at how many properties don’t even have good blackout curtains.

    We travel a ton with our kids (who are currently almost 3 and 1.5) and they both take naps and I like it when they sleep later than 4:30am when the sun starts showing it’s first rays.

    We are currently in transition due to my hubby changing jobs and we have been living in hotels as well. The last property we stayed at was the Hyatt House in Sandy UT. We were able to get a one bedroom suite which is great when traveling with the kids but the main room (where the kids slept) only had blinds. We struggled with sleep on our first day there and after that, I went for the classy move and put tin foil over their window.

    It helped some but we still hand light seeping through way after bedtime and much before it was time to wake up.

  8. Lucky

    Black-out drapes or shades are not that rare. Someone commented above….find where the airlines put their flight crews. Most airlines put the flight and cabin crews in the same hotels. So ask the flight attendants. Be honest, and tell them what you are looking for….black-out drapes or shades. Most flight attendants will be honest with you. Overseas airlines will probably be more likely to have rooms with shades for their crews, but legacy carriers with overseas flights probably have them, as well as the express carriers. I can tell you some of the ones that my company uses. HNL-Ala-Moana, SLC-DoubleTree, HKG-Excelsior,Marriott SkyCity, only know these because my company gets great rates at them, that I am allowed to use. The hotels that airlines use are not necessarily at the airport, per the examples.

  9. Never experienced this until staying at the MGM in Vegas. They made damn sure that the green from the lights outside the building did not come into your room. The entire window treatment, three layers, was electronic. It. Was. fantastic.

  10. I actually like natural daylight in the bathroom. Too many hotels don’t have this and if the lighting isn’t great putting on your face and hair in the morning is a real b!tch.

  11. Right there with you on the blackout shades. I wish I had them at home as well.

  12. Couldn’t agree more with you on all of your requirements, but especially on the blackout shades. I love the new rooms in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas that have them. It improves the room immensely. An absolute must for a truly special stay, IMHO.

  13. Agree with @Guy – the blackout/automatic shades/drapes at Aria are impressive as well.

    Seeking tranquil hotel sleep, my biggest hotel pet peeves are guests (and staff) who yell down the hallway at each other and door slammers.

    There’s nothing like the “BAM!” of a neighbor’s hotel door to remind you you are in a hotel, even though you are 100% comfortable in your room.

  14. I wonder if they’re considered a liability risk (guests hurting themselves tripping in the dark). Buy some high quality eye masks and get used to them, problem solved.

  15. This is seriously one of my pet peeves in life…I worked 15+ years working the off shift hours (swings and grave yard shifts mainly) as a large Data Center Supervisor for one of the biggest Lotteries in the world. I spent months in hotels that never recognized there are huge amounts of people that work off-hours especially in IT.

    It’s the first thing I look at when I check into a hotel – I want it pitch black 24/7 if I draw the curtains wherever I stay on the planet…

    Now, as a leisure traveler, since I’m retired, I of course want this for every hotel I stay at. I enjoy my naps due to jetlag anytime I want and any hotel that has less than that, I will check-out immediately and find a better hotel.

    I won’t stay in a room with paper thin curtains. Ever….The rest of the world runs 24/7 when they travel, why shouldn’t I stay at hotels that understand that basic need?

  16. I bring thumb tacks and usually reroute the bedspread and/or top blanket(s) to cover the shades to make my own black out curtains for hotels which are deficient. I leave them on the room to remind the hotel that they are lacking in the black out shade department and also leave an email complaint to the manager (because I am sleeping during the day shift hours the manager works) that he needs to buy the black out shades for all the rooms.

  17. I would like to add something to the list: power outlets. It’s amazing that I’m still waiting to find a hotel that actually has more than three plugs. Well, I have a laptop, iPad, iPhone, normally my iPod as well, electrical razor, etc. Then if I take my wife, that’s doubled.

    Nowadays, I take my own extension cord with me, the only way to have everything charged and ready when I want it to.

  18. Hotels that do not check their alarms! I was just awakened hours before I wished and could not go back to sleep.
    Also upset with myself because I should have just unplugged the darn thing last night!

  19. Blackout shades I’d think would be more expensive but who knows. In addition, I guess it depends on the culture but why don’t you wear eye masks that are provided to you by the airline or hotel? I always wear them when I’m sleeping on the plane since I always had an issue sleeping when that tiny amount of light (either from the background light of the IFE or the seatbelt/no smoking sign) is there.

    Two shower heads? I’m guessing you like to shower with another person at the same time? šŸ˜‰

  20. We ordinarily stay with friends in Lisbon but on one occasion had to book into the Sheraton for the weekend. The blackout shades were the best thing ever, as I can’t help but be awake when I can see the sun. And it certainly helps if you’ve been dancing at Trumps until 6:00 am, but I digress…

    I wish more Northern European hotels would do this; nothing worse than being jarred awake by the blinding Stockholm sun at 4:30.

  21. I’m one more fan of the too rare blackout shades. Also, Why does every hotel room “traditional blinds” always come with the 3inch gap feature?

  22. @Lucky, staying at the Hilton Istanbul Bomonti Hotel in October, and one of the amenities listed on the rooms are ‘Black-out curtains’ among other great amenities for the rooms!

  23. At least domestically, most of the hotels I’ve stayed at had decent blackout curtains. Some were 100% effective, others were about 95% effective. I don’t think the expense of motorized curtains is necessary to be effective, just sufficient overlapping of the curtains and the wall to make a seal.

    I do carry two sleep masks with me, one padded, one with eye cups for when I leave my contacts in.

  24. It’s amazing how unimaginative people are. I sleep in daylight so why don’t you? I use eye masks so why don’t you? Fact – many people have sleep issues – needing darkness, & quiet where possible. Fact – many people find eye masks v uncomfortable & even if they don’t sleep with them, take them off to swollen puffy allergic eyes.

    Canada has a law that means hotels must do everything to ensure paying guests sleep well (after all what they are paying for). It is the only place I have found where there is some understanding of this issue, and blackout curtains are there in all rooms – after all you often don’t have to draw them if you don’t want to.

    And finally YES what idiocy to advertise soaps in bathrooms etc but not state clearly ‘we have blackout curtains’ without which I don’t ever proceed with bookings, unless I find small-windowed (preferable only 1) rooms which allow me to put up black plastic bags, but already my rest is spoiled!!

    And more than finally who are all these idiots who think white curtains or blinds are a good idea (they neither curtail nor blind out the light – clue in the words); a recent fashion which causes many people so much discomfort and tiredness when travelling. Oh and I have wonderful roll down metal blinds on the inside of my bedroom at home in the UK.

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