Why Hotels Avoid Ceiling Lights

Have you ever noticed that hotel rooms in the U.S. are filled with lights everywhere – on the dresser, nightstands, desk, and even floor lamps or wall sconces – but rarely have ceiling lights? There’s actually a reason behind this design choice. Let’s find out why.

Cost-Efficiency Takes the Spotlight

As a general rule, ceiling lights illuminate a wider area compared to floor or table lamps. They are positioned higher, allowing the light to spread further. Surprisingly though, hotel rooms usually feature four or more lamps instead of a single ceiling light that could provide the same amount of illumination. Of course, nightstand and desk lamps are meant for close-up lighting needs, but you get the point.

So, why the absence of ceiling lights?

Cost Savings Overhead

The answer is simple: cost. Several years ago, builders successfully lobbied for a change in the electrical code that permitted the light switch to be linked to a receptacle instead of the ceiling light. This adjustment saved them the expense of wiring a ceiling box, installing drywall, and fitting an overhead light. In comparison, making certain receptacles capable of functioning as switches is relatively inexpensive, as code requirements already mandate the presence of receptacles. Additionally, since many hotel establishments, particularly chains, employ prefab or poured concrete slab construction methods, the installation of a ceiling light becomes even more challenging. This trend is also observed in modern apartment complexes.


Naturally, there are exceptions to this practice. Older buildings, constructed before the code change, may still feature ceiling lights. Some establishments, especially upscale ones, are willing to invest more in ceiling lights to enhance their guests’ overall experience. Furthermore, bathrooms typically have ceiling lights (or at least high sconces), and kitchens in suites or extended-stay accommodations often include ceiling lighting. Since both areas involve water usage, building codes stipulate appropriate lighting for damp locations. It’s safe to say that overhead lamps are simply more practical in these spaces, as good lighting is essential in bathrooms and kitchens.

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That being said, even with all these reasons, the Hyatt Centric Key West Resort and Spa has a ceiling light in its closet. Talk about going against the norm!

By the way, ever wondered which outlets in your hotel room are connected to the switches? Well, here’s a fun fact – it’s impossible to tell. Just remember to charge your phone using an outlet that remains powered even when you switch off the lights at night. Alternatively, use the individual on/off switches on the lamps or simply utilize the USB ports. 😉

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