Mastering The Hotel Lobby: Hacks For Non-Guests To Blend In, Use The Facilities Like A Boss

I often meet people at hotels and sit in their lobby. I’m not a guest! Is that wrong? Nobody has ever said anything to me about it.

Years ago Radisson hotels had a program called “Our World, Your Lounge” where elite members of their loyalty program were welcomed any time in any hotel for a free coffee, tea or hot chocolate for two people and to use free wireless internet. This was limited to their properties in Europe, Middle East, and Africa, and was dropped back in 2011 with the introduction of the Radisson Rewards program.

I’ve never had a problem taking a water from the refrigerator in the lobby of the Andaz 5th Avenue in New York, and I’ve found it a nice central meeting place.

Here’s someone who feels comfortable as an Honors Diamond member stopping in any Hilton while on a roundtrip to use the lobby bathroom and grab a coffee to go. It’s certainly going to be cleaner than the median gas station or rest stop bathroom.

@acoupleofcoutus He takes his Diamond status VERY seriously. #marriage #couples #couple #hilton #fypage #marriedlife #coffee ♬ Funny – Gold-Tiger

If you look like you belong, and you are comfortable, nobody is really going to notice you out of place. I’m a middle aged professional white male. And since I don’t stand out, even if a hotel noticed that I wasn’t a guest (and they aren’t generally going to) they probably won’t much care.

Still, is this wrong? Is there a difference between stopping in to use the restroom on the one hand, and either taking a coffee while not a guest like the guy in this video does – or sitting and using a couple of lounge chairs in the lobby to catch up with someone? Does it matter when it’s a hotel that I’ve stayed at dozens of times, like the Andaz 5th Avenue in New York (even if I’m not staying that night) versus a hotel with no stay history?

By the way you can also stop in and use the pool and resort facilities when you’re not a guest, too – either with permission (buying access without buying a room) or on a guerrilla basis.

Some readers will do this with… better apartment complexes, too. They have pools and lots of visitors, and may have guest parking too. Once you’ve been somewhere once you have the confidence to return, knowing where things are and able to blend in.

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. When you’re “a middle aged professional white male,” they let you do it.

  2. … So the “hack” is to be a middle-aged, white male with a sense of entitlement. Got it.

  3. A middle aged…WHITE man…with a sign around his neck that reads: I DON’T BELONG HERE….will be overlooked OR given a 2nd chance almost every single time.

  4. 100% do this, 100% don’t ever have an issue and 100% hope it does NOT catch on. Shhhh….

  5. Rationalize all you want, but hotels are private property. So are Starbucks, Paneras, etc. They are for paying customers.

  6. You’re white cheap and entitled. Just because you have done it doesnt make it right to continue. Hopefully hotels will now watch this kind of behavior closer.

  7. My Hollywood agent gets a percentage of the brand Ambassador fees I accept for graciously upgrading the hotel lobby and pool area with my Rudolph Valentino presence.

  8. Why would you post this and seemingly encourage others to do it? Maybe next you could write about how to sneak into airport lounges without having access or paying.

  9. I’ve done this a couple of times before. I open the Hilton app, tell the front desk clerk I’m Diamond but not currently a guest, ask if it’s okay if I use the bathroom and hang out. Not had any friction yet.

  10. I’m a middle-aged black man who’s well dressed and have done it too. As long as you don’t stick out, you’re fine. That said, if everybody starts doing this, hotels WILL crack down on it. Guaranteed.

  11. Probably 70 to 80 percent of the time if you simply ask permission, hotels, restaurants, sandwich shops coffee shops, etc. will give you the ok as long as they’re not super busy. I know because I used to do it all of the time. Hotels would give me wifi passwords, water, donuts, bagels. Coffee shops and such would let you hang out as long as you stay out of the way and don’t use their staffs services. You should still leave a small tip as a thank you and maybe even make a small purchase. Don’t be a freeloading bum. People like the article writer are why businesses no longer allow people to sit in their stores. Even homeless people would make a purchase you cheapskates.

  12. So I’m a member of a bank and I go in there about 52 times a year and therefore I feel entitled also to if I see a pile of cash take a little. I mean I get a little when I actually go in there so why not a little when I’m not actually going to the counter. I might grab a coffee or use their bathroom or take a stack of cash.

    Come on Gary. Class.

  13. Yes it’s wrong. The fact that “Nobody has ever said anything to [you] about it” doesn’t mean it’s right. C’mon man, you know better. If you’re interpretating not being called-out as tacit approval, the civility battle is already lost.

    Seriously, people like this are the reason we can’t have nice things. Pro tip: If ever in doubt of the rectitude of your actions, simply imagine the consequences if everybody adopted your behavior. Dilbert and Dan: Asking “permission” of the person behind the front desk (and/or “tipping” a few bucks) doesn’t make it right. You’re putting them in an awkward position and asking them to condone what you both know to be contrary to a very simple principle: Hotel facilities are for hotel guests, period. Mike: you correctly wrote that “…if everybody starts doing this, hotels WILL crack down on it. Guaranteed.” So let me get this straight, you KNOW it’s wrong but still do it? Unbelievable.

    Actually, I take that back. Nowadays such entitled, self-centered, and inconsiderate behavior is increasingly “believable.” Congratulations, you’ve now joined the ranks of those whose shameless (I mean that literally) abuse of service animal policies have now resulted in those with legitimate service animals being doubted. And for what?? You can’t meet your client at a coffee shop or have a business lunch?

    Wait…. I guess I have to clarify: If you do in fact meet at a coffee shop, please know that buying a $1.29 bottle of water doesn’t entitle you to camp out all day like it’s your personal office/conference room/we-work lounge. C’mon Gary. Don’t be that guy. Please.

  14. Mastering the hotel lobby can be a game-changer for non-guests looking to enjoy its facilities like a pro! From confidently navigating the space to discreetly blending in, knowing the right hacks can make all the difference. Have you tried any creative strategies or tips for making the most of hotel amenities without staying as a guest? Sharing your experiences or insights could be super helpful for others looking to do the same!

  15. I’m glad to be a white older male, I eat at hotel breakfasts every day when I travel, if I don’t like the breakfast where I am staying I just go to the hotel next door. Never an issue. Since I don’t qualify for affirmative action jobs, welfare or even a minority SBA loan it’s one of the few perks us abused and discriminated against white males have left. Quit crying everyone else, white men have it tough.

  16. I was in Madrid a few years back, exploring the town, wandering around having good look and there was an event going on ,lots of people in a major square and I need to use the washroom. It was a very upscale hotel on one corner, lots of expensive vehicles pulling up to the valet, walked in the front door had a look around. Noticed the signs for the washrooms headed in the direction. Used facilities inside then I left. I’ve wandered through many upscale hotels in many cities through the world, sometimes looking for facilities sometimes just looking around. they are actually public spaces. Don’t set up camp and be respectful.

  17. A few days after this blog piece, an African-American male named Dvontaye Mitchell went into the Hyatt Regency hotel in Milwaukee to use the bathroom. He seems to have accidentally gone into or toward the ladies’ toilet (instead of the men’s toilet). Because of that toilet situation, he ended up pounced upon by four security guards. It ended up with him dead. If he were either a middle-aged or Trump/Biden-aged European-American male in a business suit, the chances of him being pounced upon and dying like this for such attempted toilet use? Much, much lower.

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