This article explores the various considerations and topics relating to staying in and visiting Hotels with personal firearms and especially concealed firearms.
Jump Directly To A Section:
- What Laws Allow or Prohibit Guns in Hotels
- Policies of the Major US Hotel Chains
- Securing The Firearm in the Room
- Beware Bars in Lobbies
- Stairs, Elevators, Doorways, and Hallways
- Instances Where Guns Were Left/Found in Hotels
What Laws Allow Or Prohibit Guns in Hotels?
Very few states have specific laws about firearms in Hotels. I looked hard and these are the only restrictions I can find:
- Maryland allows that “an innkeeper may refuse to provide lodging or services to or may remove from a lodging establishment an individual who: the inkeeper reasonably believes possesses property that may be dangerous to other individuals, such as firearms or explosives.” This allows only that the hotel can remove you from the property.
- Wisconsin law prohibits handguns from hotels but the prohibition doesn't apply to individuals licensed to carry a concealed weapon if the licensee is not consuming alcohol.
If you know of one I'm missing please mention it in the comments below.
Now, hotels are private property and state laws generally to some degree allow or empower private property owners to determine and enforce any restrictions they choose. Meaning, that individual hotels have the legal authority to restrict or prohibit firearms on their property. Depending on the state where the hotel is located; to violate one of these restrictions may be a criminal act.
Policies of the Major US Hotel Chains
In searching the internet for firearm policies from hotels I mostly came up short. I found a few old forums where someone had posted an email they received from Marriott that indicated Marriott doesn't allow firearms in any of their hotels but not only was that all I could find it also turned out to be contrary to what Marriott told me. So I personally contacted each of the below brands and am including the response I received from their corporate team.
In many cases, individual hotels may have their own policies outside of or beyond the below corporate policies.
IHG Hotels Gun Policy (Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Avid, Staybridge, Candlewood, Hotel Indigio, EVEN Hotels, Kimptom, Hualuxe, Intercontinental Hotels & Resorts,
IHG does not have a system-wide policy regarding the ability to carry firearms on property at IHG branded hotels. Rather, we believe this decision is a local one that rests with our franchisees, the overwhelming majority of which do not have policies prohibiting firearms at their hotels. In those specific instances, a guest would be advised of this policy during the reservation process. (Email received Aug 8th 2018)
Choice Hotels Gun Policy (Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality Inn, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Cambria Hotels, MainStay Suites, Suburban, Econo Lodge, Rodeway Inn)
Our hotels are individually owned and operated and required to comply with state, local and federal laws. Each hotel develops their own policies and procedures. (Email received Aug 3rd 2018)
Marriott Gun Policy (Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance, Delta Hotels, Autograph Collection, Courtyard, Springhill Suites, Fairfield, Towneplace Suites, Protea Hotels, Starwood, Stregis, The Luxury Collection, Westin, Sheraton, Meriden, Tribute Portfolio, Design Hotels, aloft, Four Points, Moxy, Galord Hotels)
Marriott's policy is to comply with national, state and local laws or regulations governing firearms in the communities where we operate. Where it is legal to carry firearms, our hotels generally allow guests to bring guns into the hotel, unless special circumstances merit an exception. Where carrying firearms is unlawful, it is of course unlawful to carry guns into our hotels. Where it is unlawful to carry a gun because alcohol is being served, we will post such restrictions if we are required to do so by law. (Email received Aug 3rd 2018)
Hilton Gun Policy (Waldorf Astoria, Conrad Hotels, Canopy, Hilton, Curio, DoubleTree, Tapestry Collection, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton, Tru, Homewood Suites, Home2)
I tried various ways to reach Hilton to inquire about their policy. If they ever do end up getting back to me I will insert it here. Until then I will assume that the email being shared on various gun forums is accurate and true. It states that Hilton Hotels do not allow anyone to possess firearms in any of their hotels.
Also, Woodspring Hotels are clearly anti-gun and will “eject guests for having any firearm regardless of license.”
There are plenty of other hotels and properties that aren't part of one of the above brands. I really can't contact them all but you can always call and ask if they have a policy before you book.
Other Considerations In Picking A Hotel
Please consider the following when making hotel reservations:
- Select a hotel with electronic locks. These locks are generally changed with every stay so it's unlikely there is a duplicate key to the room.
- Make sure the hotel rooms have a deadbolt and peephole on the door.
- Check guest rooms and the lobby for smoke detectors and fire sprinklers.
- Select a hotel with limited outside entrances.
- Ensure hotel personnel are trained in guest security.
- Be sure the hotel is not located in an area with a high crime rate. Check city statistics before making a reservation.
- Ensure the parking lot is well lit. 13% of crime at hotels are car break-ins.
Please consider the following when choosing a hotel room:
- Select a room between the 4th and 6th floor of the hotel. These rooms are high enough to protect you from intruders, but low enough to be reached by an emergency fire ladder.
- Try to avoid staying on the ground floor. If you must, try to reserve a room with the window facing the courtyard, rather than the parking lot.
- Though rooms located next to the elevators tend to be noisier, they are the safest. Consider that rooms located near vending machines are also noisy.
Securing the Firearm In The Room
When you check into your hotel ask the front desk not to give out your name or room number to anyone. This will limit the risk of someone who may discover you are a gun owner trying to break into your room.
There may be a number of situations in which you may need to leave a firearm in your hotel room during a day. Perhaps you are in Orlando and plan to spend the day at Disneyworld where no guns are allowed. So you leave it in the hotel room. You have some options.
You could use the Hotel Safe – Hotel Safes are relatively secure. They can ALL be opened by hotel staff so you need to consider how much you trust the hotel staff. The safe may protect your firearm from the thief who breaks into the room but less likely from the housekeeping staff. A quick search on YouTube will show you how easy it is for unauthorized users to break into the safe even without the hotel's override access system. You can purchase a BloXsafe Lock or Milockie Lock on Amazon which are products that go onto a hotel safe to add additional individual security.
Alternatively, you can use your own safe. When I stay in a hotel room I either got there by plane or by car. If by car, then I can use the same safe I keep in my car (read more about vehicle firearm storage here). If by plane, then I can use the same safe I used to securely transport the firearm in my checked baggage. Either way, I'm never at a hotel without a safe that I brought with me.
If you do use your own safe be sure to secure it to something. Use a security cable to connect it to a heavy piece of furniture or something similar so a thief can't remove the safe and open it later with bigger stronger tools. Both the safes I recommend via the above link are compatible with most security cables.
Additionally, even if not leaving the firearm in the room during the day, it is safe to assume you will have it with you during the night while sleeping. Depending on who else is in your room and your other feelings about nighttime storage of a firearm you may consider using a bedside safe then, also.
Beware Bars in Lobbies
Many hotels have a bar in the lobby where guests can order and consume alcoholic beverages. By simply walking through, or sitting down in that bar area you could be in violation of the law in many states. Check this webpage where we keep an updated list of each state's laws relating to establishments that serve alcohol: What States Prohibit Guns In Bars?
If you want to visit the bar leave the firearm in the room. If you are hungry or want to be in the restaurant or lobby sit in an area away from the bar or order room service.
I have been to a few hotels where the check-in desk was effectively part of or an extension of the bar. In those circumstances, I'm inclined to just do my very best to stick to the check-in procedure and hurry away from the bar.
Stairs, Elevators, Doorways, and Hallways
Hotels are full of transitional spaces where you can easily be caught off guard. Here are some tips and considerations for some of these transitional spaces:
Elevators: After entering an elevator stand near the control panel with your back up against the side of the elevator. Offer to push the floor button for anyone else who enters behind you by asking “what floor?” Quickly familiarize yourself with the control panel. Keeping the controls close to you makes it easier to push the Alarm or Call buttons if needed. Keeping your back to the wall makes it harder to be surprised by an attack.
Stairs: Stairwells get considerably less traffic but also leave you less boxed in and without escape. When using stairs keep your head up and look around corners so you won't be caught by surprise.
Doorways: Don't open the door unless you are absolutely certain the person requesting entry is authorized. Call the front desk when in doubt.
Hallways: Hallways are fatal funnels and can leave you with no means of escape or cover in a gunfight. Be familiar with rooms like laundry, vending, ice, and other rooms in the hallway that might provide a means of escape or cover.
Instances Where Guns Were Left/Found in Hotels
Don't forget your gun. It happens … more than you might think and below I'm including a list of news stories to prove the point. If you stash the firearm somewhere you generally wouldn't think to check when leaving the room you will be more likely to leave it. Under the mattress, in a drawer, on the shelf of the closet. These are places where you might be tempted to put the firearm but are less likely to remember to retrieve it.
- Colorado man leaves a gun in Park City UT hotel room's nightstand (July 2008)
- Gun Stolen From Hotel Room in Myrtle Beach (May 2018)
- Chaperone finds Gun In Nebraska Hotel Room Nighstand Left by Missouri Man (April 2018)
- Washington State Man Arrested in Plymouth When Housekeepers Find Guns (April 2018)
- Hotel Guest in Brooklyn NY Leaves Gun Under Mattress (May 2017)
- Texas Man Asks Hotel To Mail Him The Gun He Forget in His Ithaca Hotel Room (Jan 2016)
- Officer leaves a firearm in Detroit Hotel and is Suspended (Dec 2014)
- Army Captain Arrested and Then Pardoned After Leaving Gun in NJ Hotel (Dec 2014)
- Officer Leaves Duty Guns in Mobile AL Hilton Hotel (Jan 2011)
What other questions or comments do you have about Concealed Carry in a Hotel?