Adjusting a hotel wall thermostat might have little or no effect on the room’s temperature. That’s because it is increasingly common for these thermostats to allow guests to change temperatures by only a few degrees one way or the other—or not at all. In some cases, the thermostat even might give guests the impression that they are adjusting the temperature, but the number the guests set on the screen does not actually alter the room temperature.

And the latest hotel thermostats have not only temperature sensors but also motion sensors, so even if the thermostat temperature is adjustable, it might switch into power-saving mode when its motion sensor thinks the room is unoccupied, which could happen at night when you are asleep. That means you could wake up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat or freezing cold.

What to do: Enter the make (and model name and number, if displayed) of the thermostat into a search engine, along with the term “bypass” or “hack,” to discover step-by-step directions posted by travelers who have figured out ways to gain control over many common hotel thermostats.

Example: With certain Inncom-brand thermostats commonly used in hotels, you should hold down the “display” button while pressing the “off” button, followed by the up arrow and then release the “display” button. This accesses “VIP” mode, which allows you to set the temperature above or below the hotel’s normal limits.

Insider trick: If you cannot override a hotel thermostat and its motion detector sets it to uncomfortable temperatures as you sleep, buy a helium-filled Mylar balloon and let it float around the room as you sleep. The balloon likely will drift on the air currents created by the heating/cooling system, which should be enough movement to convince the thermostat motion sensor that someone is present.

This strategy is not especially useful on your first night in a hotel—by the time you discover that the motion sensor is problematic, it likely will be too late to get a balloon. But it can be helpful when staying at a hotel for multiple nights or returning to a hotel where you have encountered motion sensor problems in the past.

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