Hotels are ditching nightstand bibles. The new religion is Wi-Fi

Pray for an upgrade.
Pray for an upgrade.
Image: Riccardo Guerrini/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
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Hotels guests are seeking a connection with something they cannot see. But no longer of the spiritual kind.

Religious materials, particularly bibles, have been a nightstand staple at American hotels for decades. Yet innkeepers are now ditching holy books for more modern amenities.

A survey conducted by the American Hotel and Lodging Association and hotel research firm STR found that 79% of American hotel rooms included religious material in rooms, compared with almost all of them—95%—a decade ago.

But hotels, faced with increased competition due to a building boom and competition from Airbnb, are trying to appease the modern traveler—a fickle customer and a noted workaholic. For many travelers these days, rooms with no Wi-Fi access would be unthinkable. Nearly all—98%–of the 8,000 respondents in the survey said their properties had in-room wireless internet, up from 82% a decade ago.

One hotel bucking the trend is president-elect Donald Trump’s new one in Washington, DC, right across from the White House, which includes bibles and a printed note that tells guests “if you want to continue your spiritual journey,” hotel staff will provide the Gita, Talmud, or Quran.

The least likely hotels to have religious materials in their rooms are those in airports—just where guests are most likely to be in need of prayer.

Image by Riccardo Guerrini on Flickr, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Correction: This story previously said that the number of American hotels with bibles and other religious materials in their rooms had fallen to 46%; this was due to an error in the survey, which was corrected by the American Hotel and Lodging Association and STR.