Are you planning a trip and wondering how to observe Shabbat in a hotel? You’re in the right place!

Shabbat is a special time each week, offering us a unique connection with G‑d that's different from the rest of the week. The many details of Shabbat observance offer us numerous opportunities to align with G‑d's will, bringing more blessings into our lives.

Experiencing Shabbat in a hotel comes with its own set of challenges. From electronic doors to motion sensors, thermostats, and communal spaces where carrying may be forbidden, Shabbat in a hotel often requires careful consideration and planning.

If you know you’ll be spending Shabbat in a hotel, contact the hotel in advance to identify potential halachic issues. Additionally, upon arrival, you may need to meet with the staff to discuss your specific needs. The good news is that they're likely to be accommodating once they understand your concerns.

Here are some of the most common issues, as well as possible solutions:

Electronic Sensors

Many hotels now use smart systems for energy conservation, which can pose a challenge for Shabbat observance. These sensors control climate, lighting, and toilet flushing, and even notify housekeeping of room occupancy. You can usually deactivate the sensors by covering them with paper or another handy item.

Motion-sensitive lights in hallways may be problematic as well. If there is minimal lighting and the sensor activates full lighting, you can theoretically ignore this additional light. But if the hallway is otherwise dark, you would inevitably benefit from the light you’ve “lit” on Shabbat. In this case, ask if it's possible to have continuous lighting in your hallway.

Some hotels require room keys to be inserted into a slot to activate lights and air conditioning. In this case, check to see if you can get a spare key to leave in the slot over Shabbat.

Motion-Activated Toilet

If it’s already Shabbat and you discover that the flushometer in the bathroom is activated by a sensor, don’t worry. To preserve basic human dignity, there are special halachic accommodations.

You can use an auto-flush toilet by activating the sensor in an unusual manner (kile’acher yad), such as walking away from the toilet on your heels or the sides of your feet.1

An easier alternative is to place a tissue or paper towel over the sensor before walking away. Even though it’ll eventually fall off by itself, your movement will not have directly activated the flush.2

Security Cameras

If there's no alternative route, you can walk in front of common security cameras.3

Electronic Doors

There are several types of doors that you may need to take into account:

Automated doors: Many hotel entrances have automatic doors that are triggered by a sensor. It’s best to find out in advance if there’s a regular door (such as an employee entrance) that you can use.

If you must use the automatic door, wait for a non-Jew to trigger the sensor with their movement and then follow through the doorway. (Be careful, since you don’t want to trigger the sensor or bump into the person you’re following.)4

Key card: Most modern hotel rooms are accessed through electronic key cards or fobs, which you can’t use on Shabbat. They’re also considered muktzah, which means you shouldn’t even carry them.

Some hotels, especially those that serve Shabbat-observant Jews, offer rooms with regular keys. Alternatively, (ideally before Shabbat) arrange for hotel staff to open the doors for you as needed.5

If you’re not concerned about someone entering your room, there are simple solutions, such as stuffing some paper in the latch hole, taping the latch, or weighing down the door handle from the inside. The door can then be pulled closed and pushed open.

Alternatively, attach a long string to the inner handle and feed it under the door so that it slightly sticks out into the corridor. When you need to open the door, pull on the string to operate the door handle. Be sure to test this method in advance, and make sure the string is both inconspicuous and easy to access.


Shabbat laws prohibit carrying in a “public domain.” This includes transporting things from a “private domain” into a “public” one, or vice versa. In this context, a “private domain” refers to an enclosed area, while a “public domain” is generally defined as an unenclosed major thoroughfare that is regularly used by the public.

However, to avoid confusion as to what constitutes a private or public domain, the rabbis said that you can only carry in an area that is both enclosed and privately owned.

So if there’s a common area or courtyard surrounded by individual homes, you can’t carry items between the common area and the homes, even if the area is properly enclosed. In order for an area to be considered private, it needs to belong to a single household or entity.6 (However, you can carry items within the enclosed yard itself, as long as they were there when Shabbat started.7)

In order to symbolically join multiple families into a single household, King Solomon and his court established the concept of eruv chatzeirot, whereby everyone in the area contributes food (or, as is usually done, one person can gift the food to everyone) to be kept in one of the houses. Since they all share food, they are now one household. The word eruv means “blending,” as the purpose of this food is to combine the entire community into one.8

A hotel consists of rooms that open into a central hallway, similar to a shared courtyard. Although a hotel (or, for that matter, an apartment building) is considered properly enclosed, there are some halachic authorities who are of the opinion that you would still need an eruv chatzeirot to carry from your room into the hallway or vice versa.9

Most authorities, however, are of the opinion that there is “strong reason”10 to be lenient in this instance. Since the entire hotel, including the appliances and furniture in each room, is owned by one person (or group of people) who has the right to enter any room, no eruv is needed.11 12

Of course, the above only applies if one is staying within the confines of the hotel building. If you wish to carry outside, from one building to another, the area would need to be enclosed by a wall or fencing, or by an eruv constructed with poles and wires (the details of which are beyond the scope of this article).

Read: How an Eruv Works

Mini Bars

Hotels commonly offer pre-stocked minibars, and you’re charged when you remove an item. If the hotel staff manually checks which items were removed, you can take an item on Shabbat.13 But if there are sensors that track purchases instantly, you can’t.

If you plan on using the fridge, check to see if a light is activated when you open the fridge door. If so, you can easily disable it with tape or by unscrewing the bulb.


The use of elevators on Shabbat poses many challenges, so try to get a room on a lower level. If the hotel has a “Shabbat elevator,” discuss the specifics with your rabbi.

Shabbat Candles & Meals

Even though you are on the road, you must still light Shabbat candles. See this article for a discussion of the best place to light when sleeping in one place (such as your hotel room) and eating your meals somewhere else.

If you’ll be eating in your room, be sure you’re set with challah, wine, Shabbat food (warmed on a hot plate in a permissible manner), and printouts with Kiddush and Grace After Meals.

Finally, wherever your travels take you, we hope you enjoy your Shabbat experience. And remember: the more difficult the mitzvah, the greater the reward!