Check The Hotel Bible, People Are Leaving Cash Inside?

There’s an urban legend that you can find cash tucked into the bible in your hotel room. And I’m here to say that I cannot tell you that this won’t happen. Some of you will want to check, at least leaf through the pages of the book in the nightstand!

While this has been a trope for many years, there’s a good bit of play to it from a video on TikTok where a hotel guest shakes loose $20 bills.

Here’s the argument for why you’d expect this,

  • People who want you to actually read the bible leave the money there as an incentive. If money is there often enough, even if it’s highly infrequent, people will know to look. And once they pick up the bible, they might read it.

  • And there’s a reasonable theory that this is a good way to do charity – that the most noble giving is anonymous, and one way to find someone in need is to bet that they’ll find themselves at a low point away from any home reading the bible for solace.

  • Or maybe other guests have just forgotten the money there? Maybe you don’t trust the hotel safe, figuring staff can open that. And if you’re going to leave some cash in the room for safe keeping, a bible makes a good hiding place! Or at least you think that someone would feel too guilty – that maybe they can get over the hump to steal, but their conscience would kick in if they’re literally stealing from inside a bible? But it’s not a place you think to check on your way out of the room, so the money sits.
@carlnassib someone lmk if it works #hotel #winter #fyp #bored #christmas ♬ original sound – Carl Nassib

Bibles have been in hotel rooms for over 100 years, dating back at least to 1908 at the Superior Hotel in Superior, Montana. The Gideons, which was formed by two men sharing a hotel room in 1898, give them away for free. The average life of a hotel room bible is six years. Guests take them, even though they say ‘thou shalt not steal’ inside. I’m not sure how necessary distributing bibles is any longer. You can get the content online for free.

At a Hyatt in Reno I found the bible placed in the bathroom. That may seem like an odd place for it, but in the bathroom you do have a rather captive audience for reading.

Do you ever peek inside hotel room bibles? Have you ever found anything inside?

(HT: Paul H)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I’ve heard the story too and routinely check, never found anything. Once in an old textbook got $1 that must have been a bookmark. Doubt if there would be any better luck with the Book of Mormon, which is also occasionally seen in hotel rooms. I did find some loose coins in a hotel safe, which was a good reminder to always check for your stuff before leaving. Frankly I’ve had better luck with loose change in the big comfortable chairs of coffee shops. Urban mining at its finest.

  2. I can actually say I’ve seen this. I was staying in a hotel room, and my 8 year old niece came in and she was playing around and grabbed the Bible and found $1. Nothing major, moneywise, but shocked she found anything.

  3. @drrichard: “….with the Book of Mormon, which is also occasionally seen in hotel rooms.”
    Presumably that was a Marriott, then?

    I don’t object to Bibles in hotel rooms. Sometimes there is timely advice to be found there.

  4. Leaving money in Bibles might incentive the maids to add checking in them as part of their cleaning routines.

    No one has ever been forced to read anything that is in a hotel including Bibles where they are offered. That is equally true about watching TV or any specific channel.
    As long as the Gideons have people that are willing to donate to put Bibles in hotel rooms, more power to them.
    And there are a growing number of hotels that are putting either the Book of Mormon or the Quran in hotels.

  5. I find the Bibles in hotel rooms invaluable for when my kids run through all the toilet paper in our hotel room and we need a few extra sheets.

  6. Years ago, the end pages of Gideon bibles were often where hookers would write down their contact information. Travelers looking for “companionship” knew that was a quick reference, cutting out the need to ask the bellman.

    Saw it myself in a number of them back in the 70s.

    Of course, this was all pre-internet.

  7. Only thing I ever found was a copy of Hustler under the Bible in the downtown Denver Embassy Suites. Had to be 30 years ago. Nice touch keeping the sinning and the salvation side by side.

  8. I won’t open or use any drawers during short hotel stays. Hangers and the luggage rack I’ll use instead. It’s too easy to forget to check every drawer at checkout. Even when I do use drawers on longer stays, I skip past the nightstands where bibles and BoMs are usually found.

  9. Thanks for the tip. I’ll look this evening and if there is cash in the Holy Bible, I will leave it but if it’s in the Mormon Bible I’ll gladly accept the donation. 🙂

  10. @highperf @david I know your comments are meant to get a reaction from those that have religious beliefs. The only reaction you’ll get from me is how sorry I am for both of you, however I always pray and will continue to do so for people like you. I’ll also continue to pray for your families especially your kids, highperf.

  11. That tik tok was complete bogus nonsense. Anyone who believes that was real is an idiot.
    As far as the self-righteous “I’ll pray for you” crap: So you’re saying you can convince God to change his mind? What? Did God make a mistake or something…?

  12. I’ve been a member of the Gideons for 20 years. We receive countless e-mails about people’s interactions with the Bibles. One thing I didn’t think about before joining Gideons is that many people get hotel rooms in order to commit suicide (this way, their family doesn’t find them nor need to clean the mess). We’ve received countless e-mails from people who claim to have done just this, put the gun (or pills, or razor, etc) into the nightstand as they prepared, then when they went to get that tool instead grabbed the Bible, started reading it, and changed their mind about suicide.

    @Steven Livingston, to answer your questions, no, God did not make a mistake and we’re not going to change His mind. Prayer is not meant to change God’s mind, but to change ours to match His. However, I will admit to being bothered when fellow believers use prayer to troll the nonbelievers.

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