What To Know Before Using The Mini Fridge In Your Hotel Room

Though most hotel rooms are designed to approximate the comforts of traveler's own homes, there are certainly more than a few ways they simply aren't the same. One glaring contrast is the hotel room refrigerator. Always a little smaller, out of the way, and somehow never cold enough, these fridges often push the limits of what you might consider "amenities." Nevertheless, the hotel room fridge isn't going anywhere, and you'd likely even be upset if one weren't offered, so it's always good to know what you might be getting into before your next vacation. 

Mini-fridges in most hotel chains are actively kept at a slightly higher temperature than your average home refrigerator, which means that only certain types of food items should be stored in them. While it might be safe to keep your water bottles at a refreshing level, make sure you know that your fridge will be cold enough to contain those slices of pizza you weren't able to finish, and were planning on eating for tomorrow's breakfast! 

Leftovers won't last long in your hotel fridge

So, why offer a refrigerator at all if it's not going to do the one thing it's designed to do? Well, first off, keeping a fridge at a slightly warmer temperature isn't completely useless. Most hotel fridges are kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit, which will still keep, for example, a carbonated beverage chilled acceptably. But, 40 degrees Fahrenheit also falls into what the U.S. Department of Agriculture deems "the danger zone" which means it's ineffective for perishable foods, such as take-out leftovers. From the range of 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, bacteria can begin to grow, which could lead to illness if consumed. If possible, make sure of your fridge's overall temperature before you make any decisions on what to store inside. 

Hotel management likely keeps these fridges running at lower capacity for specific reasons. One is everyday energy efficiency, as keeping a fridge colder would use more electricity, thus running a higher bill. Another rationale is that keeping the appliance's cooling fans cranking would certainly generate more noise in your room. Since customers are treating their hotel rooms as a respite from their busy days, errant noise from a machine isn't something they'd be happy with. 

Other options for keeping things cold at your hotel

Luckily for frequent travelers who eat on the go, there are precautions to take to ensure your perishable items stay fresh. If you have medications, breast milk, or anything that needs to be kept at a constant, specific temperature, you can usually take it down to the lobby where an employee will gladly store it in an actual refrigerator. 

Another tactic you can put into action is making use of the ice machine. By filling the complimentary bucket with ice, and placing any food you want to last longer directly in it while refrigerating simultaneously, you'll create a makeshift cooler that will lower the overall temperature in that fridge. The ice will still melt gradually, but it will buy you far more time than the fridge on its own. And, as with the one you've got at home, make sure the refrigerator door shuts completely after using it.

Ultimately, it still might be the best idea to go into your hotel stay knowing that keeping perishable food for later might be more trouble than it's worth. Instead, pick up snacks for your hotel stay that can be kept safely at room temperature, and use the fridge to chill your sodas and beer. Remember, "safe travels" should always include keeping your food free of spoilage!