Home Hotels Why Are Some Hotel Rooms So Damp?

Why Are Some Hotel Rooms So Damp?

by joeheg

There’s a feeling when you step foot into a hotel room for the first time. It’s like a reveal on one of those shows on HGTV; who knows what’s behind the door? Is it an amazingly nice room or a dingy space with a garbage bin from the hotel down the block? (we actually had this happen to us in London)

What’s even worse is when you walk into a hotel room and the climate control just isn’t right. Sure, some hotels set the thermostat too high when no one’s in the room, but that’ll eventually be resolved. The absolute worst is when you walk into a room that’s cool but just feels damp…

Or should I say…MOIST?


Personally, I have no problems with the word, although I know many people hate it with a passion. While I don’t hate the word, I do hate a moist room. (Ewwwwww)

Honestly, I never gave much thought to why some rooms feel like that. Upon looking back at rooms I’ve had with this problem, they usually have an air conditioning unit built into the wall instead of a central air system.

When a friend of ours was shopping for a new A/C system for her house, another friend who works at a home improvement store cracked the code. He was explaining why you should buy a properly sized unit for your home and why a unit that’s larger than necessary isn’t a good thing:

Essentially it will get you cold quick, but will not run long enough to dehumidify. So you will be cold and wet – like in an old motel room with the AC toggle button on LOW.

So that’s the key! The A/C unit isn’t too weak. It’s too strong or running inefficiently. It’s cooling the room down too quickly and turns off before it gets a chance to remove the humidity from the air. An optimal cycle is around 20 minutes. Less than that and you have cold, humid air. Cold air can’t hold water well, so you end up in a moist room.

You may not be able to do anything to prevent this. If the room thermostat is poorly placed, possibly in the line of air blowing from the air conditioner, it’ll tell the unit the room is cooler than it is, and the unit will keep cycling on and off, otherwise known as short cycling.

There are other reasons the air conditioner may be running at a less than optimal level. Common causes are if the cooling coils are dirty or the air filter is clogged. How often do you think a Quality Inn cleans the air conditioner units in the rooms?

I’ve had fewer problems in scorching climates than moderate ones. The Comfort Inn in Sonora, TX and the Holiday Inn Express in Carlsbad, NM, had in-room units that worked great even when it was over 100 degrees outside. But a Radisson hotel in Williamsburg, VA felt like a cold sauna once the temperature hit 90.

I wish I could give you a solution to this problem. Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do as a guest if your room is too damp. However, if your room is just too warm, it might be your thermostat and there are ways to hack that sucker!

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Lara S. August 25, 2021 - 1:20 pm

I wonder if you could let the room get warm when you were out during the day and then run the AC in the evening and the fact of having to cool the room down a lot would therefore make it less humid as well? I don’t know, anything to break the on for five minutes off for 45 minutes cycle might help?

Thanks for the info!!

Craig B March 1, 2022 - 5:01 pm

I know a solution that would definately work (at least it should in theory) If you know a hotel room is likely to be “clammy” (the term I use), just pack a small 1500-watt space heater and turn it on high when running the a/c once the room reaches or gets below the desired temperature. On high, they put out 5120 BTU/hr heat which will cancel out 5120 BTU/hr of the excess cooling capacity. This will cause the compressor to run long enough to dehumidify adequately. Its not very energy efficient, but youre not paying the electric bill so who gives AF.


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