Is Your Hotel Room Smoke-Free?

a cigarette burning with a lighter

Doing a quick search, I was quite surprised to find that the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport hotel still has eight smoking rooms.

Smoking used to be much more common than it is today. In the world of travel it was frequently seen in places such as airplanes, as well as in hotel rooms. Airlines started banning pipe smoking in the late 70’s and continued on to a total smoking ban on most airlines by 2000.

Then came the 2006 Surgeon General’s report on the dangers of secondhand smoke, which revealed bad news. It was also determined that smoke from hotels rooms does not stay confined, but spreads out in the other rooms and common areas.

Have you ever requested a non-smoking hotel room, only to walk in and immediately think that the hotel is not 100% smoke-free? Maybe there’s an ashtray on the table, you smell a strong powdery masking scent that doesn’t quite cover the acrid smoke smell, or your sinuses clog up and your eyes start watering.

Calling down to the front desk you might find that the room is nonsmoking and perhaps the entire floor, but not the whole hotel. Unfortunately, even after a cigarette in a nearby room has been put out, the smoke can still travel under the door, through the air conditioning vents, and remain on drapes, beds and couches. Even if smoking is only allowed on balconies it can waft into an open door or window. Resorts have an especially difficult time with this, because guests often leave doors/windows open to appreciate the wonderful weather. Even if they offer smoke-free rooms, allowing guests to smoke on a patio or balcony may cause other guests to get annoyed when the smoke carries over.

Those with health issues may be especially upset to book a non-smoking room only to consistently smell smoke coming from…somewhere. In a hotel that has smoking rooms, usually a good bet is to get a corner non-smoking room that has non-smoking rooms below and beside it.

Westin was the first big hotel chain to implement a 100% smoke free environment in all of their hotels across the US, Canada, and Caribbean after hearing the news. This extended to all of their restaurants and bars too. Marriott soon jumped on the bandwagon, and made all of their US properties smoke free too.

Today, the list of smoke free hotels in the US includes all Marriott, J.W. Marriott, Renaissance Hotel, Ritz-Carlton, Fairfield Inn, Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn, Spring Hill Suites, Sheraton, W Hotels, Aloft, Westin, Le Meridien Element by Westin, Four Points by Sheraton, The Luxury Collection, St. Regis, Comfort Suites, Cambria Suites, Shilo Inns, and Heartland Inn properties.

Comfort Inns will go 100% smoke-free starting July 1, 2016.

Some individual Hilton, Hyatt, Holiday Inn, Best Western, and Hampton Inn locations may be smoke free, but their US portfolios as a whole are not.

I’m surprised that Hyatt isn’t 100% smoke free yet. They do offer a non-smoking room guarantee, but there are still smoking rooms to be found. Here’s part of their policy –

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I have never requested a non-smoking hotel with Hyatt and received a smoking one, and not all of their hotels have smoking rooms. I would personally refuse to stay in a smoking room if only offered one, and if the hotel was full I’d walk.

With 42 million smokers in the US there is still a demand for smoking rooms, even if that number is decreasing. As more and more hotels move to 100% nonsmoking, it can be difficult for smokers to find a compatible room. is a website that was started to give smokers an easy place to find and book hotels guaranteed to have smoking rooms.

Doesn’t California have a non-smoking hotel room policy, I asked myself. How about Washington?

Turns out, they don’t. As of October 2, 2015, state laws require all hotel rooms be 100% smoke free only in:

North Dakota

Local laws in some cities require hotel rooms to be 100% smoke free. But there are none in DC or Washington and the small list for California cities is:

El Cerrito
Morro Bay
Palo Alto
Rohnert Park
Santa Clara County
Santa Monica
Walnut Creek

Texas didn’t have any local laws requiring hotel/motel rooms to be 100% smoke free in 2014, but in 2015 it has added two –
Wichita Falls

Here is a full list by state.

There are also several websites that offer lists of hotels that are non-smoking, though you can usually find that information directly on a hotel chain’s website as well.

I think it is only a matter of time before smoking will be banned in all US hotels at least, but in the meantime it is good to know which properties/chains have smoking rooms and which ones do not.

Do you think hotels should offer smoking rooms?