Are you thinking about lighting a candle in your hotel room? Maybe you are trying to create a romantic setting in your room or just freshen up your temporary living space a little bit. But either way, you might be wondering if you will actually be allowed to light the candle in your room.
In this article, I’ll provide you with everything you need to know before you ever strike a match to light a candle.
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Can you light a candle in a hotel room?
Generally, you are not allowed to light a candle in a hotel room. Some hotels may not explicitly prohibit you from lighting candles but you should use a lot of caution because there is always the risk of starting a fire and/or damaging the hotel’s property.
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What hotels say about lighting candles
Our research team contacted dozens of hotels from different chains (Hilton, Marriott, IHG, Hyatt, etc.) and brands and inquired about their policies for lighting candles in hotel rooms.
Hotels almost universally stated that lighting candles in hotel rooms was not allowed. However, there were some properties that gave us more of a “softer” no meaning that they would not encourage guests to light candles but lighting candles was not necessarily prohibited.
Therefore, I would expect most hotels to frown upon bringing candles and lighting them in your room. If you are allowed to light the candle and you choose to do so, I would recommend you considering all of the factors below.
What could possibly go wrong?
When lighting a candle in a hotel room, there are a few potential outcomes that you should think about.
Starting a fire
It is reported by the National Fire Protection Association that from 2014 to 2018, US fire departments “responded to an estimated 7,610 home structure fires that were started by candles per year.”
Moreover, these fires “caused an annual average of 81 deaths, 677 injuries, and $278 million in direct property damage.”
It might seem unrealistic but lighting a candle too close to something flammable like the curtains or combustible wood furniture in your hotel room could set up a fire that spreads very quickly.
Consider that experts state it “takes all of 30 seconds for a manageable fire to turn into something that is dangerous and fast-moving.”
That’s probably how long it would take you to find the nearest fire extinguisher in a hotel floor. By the time you come back to your hotel room you could be dealing with something very serious.
So if you decide to light a candle just be extra careful. And don’t do careless things like fall asleep when it is lit or leave the room while there is an open flame.
Setting off the sprinklers
Contrary to what a lot of people believe, smoke is not supposed to set off fire sprinklers.
In fact, according to Koorsen:
Fire sprinkler systems are actually quite sophisticated, and are designed to be heat sensitive so that sprinklers only activate when the temperatures rise to fire-induced temps, usually somewhere between 155 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
So if your candle produces a lot of smoke and the smoke reaches the sprinklers, you should not have to worry about sprinklers going off and damaging thousands of dollars worth of property.
But if something in your room catches fire and produces enough heat, those sprinklers could be set off and then you could cause a lot of property damage that way.
Setting off the fire alarm
Generally, unless a candle is burning very close to a fire alarm it should not set off fire alarms in your hotel room. The reason is that they typically do not emit enough smoke to be picked up by the fire alarm.
But in some cases it could happen.
For example, if you had a powerful fan on it could feed the flame of the candle enough produce more smoke and that could trigger an overly sensitive fire alarm
Or, if something was wrong with the candle or match you are using, it’s possible that a large stream of smoke could be created that could trigger the alarm.
Those situations should be pretty rare though.
However, if you were burning multiple candles at once that might emit enough smoke collectively to trigger the fire alarm. This is especially true if you were to blow out all of the candles at the same time (snuffing out the candles individually should reduce the smoke).
So burning candles should not usually set off fire alarms in hotel rooms but it could happen under certain circumstances. And if it were to happen, you might have to deal with the local fire department as well as a lot of unhappy guests who were forced to leave their hotel room.
Related: Can You Smoke Weed in a Hotel Room?
Candle soot is created when there is incomplete combustion of the fuel and it’s the black substance you might find on the rim of a candle.
Sometimes you can easily remove soot but other times it can be trickier.
If it gets into a white mattress or furniture, it might be virtually impossible to remove. That means that you could be hit with a cleaning fee by the hotel so you want to avoid getting messy with your candles as much as possible.
Air quality issues?
You may not be aware that burning certain types of candles indoors can cause air quality issues. For example, according to the EPA, “burning candles containing lead core wicks can result in indoor air concentrations of lead
above EPA-recommended thresholds.”
It seems that most modern candles should be safer to burn but the substance of the candle and wick should always be taken into consideration.
Also, if you are burning a strong scented candle, especially close to check-out time, it’s possible that the scent could linger for quite a while. It might even permeate the hotel furniture/linens.
This could affect the guest after you which could make them unhappy as well as the hotel unhappy. Keep in mind that some people have extreme sensitivities to scents and it could cause major health issues for them.
Alternatives to candles
If you’re simply trying to make your hotel room a little bit more romantic the best option would be to get a flameless candle. There are different types you can get but it is not hard to find battery-operated candles that will allow you to set the mood without setting the fire alarm off.
Another alternative to bringing a candle is to use a wax warmer. A wax warmer is a device that burns frequent wax but usually does not have a wick and therefore is flameless. These can be a less flammable option than a candle which means it could make more sense to use these in a hotel room assuming they are permitted.
Essential oil diffuser
If you are looking for something pretty easy to use you can look into an essential oil diffuser. These can be pretty cheap and all they require is water and an outlet to work. Within seconds you can have your hotel room infused with the scent of your choice.
Most hotels do not seem to permit burning candles in hotel rooms because of the obvious risks of starting a fire. However, some properties are more lenient and don’t seem to have an official policy prohibiting you from burning the candle.
If you do choose to light a candle in your hotel room then I would highly recommend that you use a lot of caution to minimize the risk of a fire. Also, you may want to consider some safer alternatives mentioned in this article.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.