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Should Hotels Ditch Bibles Once and For All?

June 17, 2010 at 9:55 AM | by | ()

The yin and yang of top-drawer reading material at the Shangri-La Sydney.

When we first enter a hotel room, we like to poke around and open drawers, checking out every tiny detail. But we were shocked to see a bible—and The Teaching of Buddha—when we flung open the nightstand drawer at the Shangri-La Sydney recently.

We shouldn't have been, of course. Bibles have been a mainstay of hotel rooms for at least a century. But aside from this encounter, we haven't actually seen one in eons. As hotels increasingly focus on providing geeked-up rooms with fancy light settings, glossy flatscreen TVs, and (more, please) free WiFi, they seem to be leaving the good old Gideons behind. But is this a good thing or not? Are hotels losing their religion, and does anyway care?

We admit it—we didn't even crack the covers of either of these tomes, and probably wouldn't flip through the Torah, the Koran, or a book on Scientology either. It's just not our bag, especially when we're either traveling for work or enjoying a hotel room on vacation.

But in these spiritually-challenging times, we realize that some hotel guests may need a spot of inspiration or religious clarity before they tuck themselves in at night. But should that inspiration come from the Bible? Or another religious text? We're all meant to be hyper-aware of cultural sensitivities these days, and politically correct when it comes to people's belief systems. So how can a hotel cater to everyone? Should they even bother?

Tell us: Do you read the Bible or any other religious literature during your hotel stays? Would you? Do you think hotels should ditch the bible-in-the-drawer practice altogether, or perhaps make a range of religious books available on Kindles or another media device?

We could go on and on with the questions—but what we really want to know is what you think. Share your stance on religious texts in hotel rooms in the comments below. Preach away!

Archived Comments:

Worth keeping

It's a good question.  But I have found myself reading these books from time to time, especially when alone on a business trip.  Forget being politically correct.  As a guest, it's interesting to read about the culture I'm visiting.  When in Japan, I learned about Buddah.  When in the Middle East, I picked up a bit of knowledge about the Koran.  When in Utah (or any Mariott) I have read a bit of the book of mormon.  And when visiting any traditionally Christian country (or hotel brand from such a country), I sometimes get inspired to read the best-selling book of all time (the Bible).  There is already too much digital info out there (and I'm a sucker for most of it).  Having a physical book is a refreshing break.  And we need spiritual influence, especially these days when we're so far out of touch with reality (airports, taxis, and hotels are not, I'm sorry to say, reflective of what really counts in life).  Go Gideons!


I think it's very presumptuous of hotels to only provide a Bible, on the assumption that everyone who stays in the room will be Christian. I'm an atheist.  Why not provide some of the works of Paul Kurtz, who's written inspirational books for secular humanists?  The best way to cover all the bases is not to provide anything.  I think it's safe to assume the people who really need Biblical inspiration will bring their own.  

I kinda like it

I never use it but I like the security of knowing that anytime you need spiritual help, it's right there in your nightstand. However, maybe they could ditch bibles and offer spiritual meditations for all religions?

Get rid of them

There should be a collection of books from all the major religions, not just Christianity. Just having a bible is an outdated idea that doesn't apply in our modern day religious life.

AKA Hotels

AKA Hotels, at least the Arlington one, has a copy of "everything i ever need to know i learned in kindergarten" in lieu of any religious material! I thought it's a brilliant answer to this question.

Who's complaining?

Can anyone show marked evidence that Hotel Bible placement degrades or lessens the integrity of an establishment? Does it affect the bottom line? Has it inspired a rebellion of sorts, defacing any respectable Hotel's reputation? Are we inundated with consumers filing protests? Or is there a blacklisting of Hotels which ever-so quietly hide Bibles in an obscure location? A hotel Bible can be a welcomed source, just as a phone-book. It's there if we need it. Just as hotels add amenities for comfort & security, even unopened Bibles contribute an intangible source of the same. It is not the Bible which contributes to man's downfall. I last recall, the hopeful Word of the Bible has not changed, only man's interpretation. The singleness of the Gospel does not fit all of our ways, thus the move to throw it out with the trash.  How often have we thrown away things now considered priceless?  Yet we may still find Bibles in bookstores. To try & dispose of Bibles, one would have to search the hearts of those whom believe... to no avail. Just like 9/11 is to America, you could never kill the Spirit of it.  

Unable to sleep? Reading helps before bed.

What other book could be more comforting than the Bible?
I feel that having the Bible available in the hotel room is expected and shouldn't change because of society.

Interesting question...

I have to say that being in the hotel industry for over 20 years, I have asked myself this question... and do guests read them?  YES, it may not be a large group but a small population do like them...

As to what about something other then the Bible... I have thought about that as well... and just to let you know, I have yet to find another religious denomination to provide them free of no cost, mind you some have said yes, but I have yet to see them... hence, the reason we only keep Bible...

I dont agree

Instead of putting bible, Quran should be in hotels too. ricardo quaresma

not really...

I am Muslim and like I posted before I asked the local mosque for Quran's and they have failed to deliver on them... and the Giddeon's are the only people who faithfully come ever three years to replace the old Bibles...

Writing on the subject

I'm also not understanding why other religions need to write their point of view in the other book. We have a bible and a mormon book in ours. Certain groups that book here do not believe in the Mormon book, so they will go to great lengths to write all over them.
It's just not worth it to have to replace these every other week.
I'd rather do what the other person found and have the Kindergarten book in the room.

Yes, continue

One never knows what trials someone is going through.  Having easy access to a Bible may just be what they need to see them through.

Keep them on request

As an individual who does not follow the Christian faith, I have always thoght it to be a bit presumptuous and elitist to place a bible in the nightstand.  As hotels are seeing greater religious diversity in their clientelle, I think it is very smart to remove the bibles but to keep them (as well as other holy books) on request for guests who may want them.  

I love what was mentioned earlier about the AKA hotel in Arlington.  What a great idea!

bibles in hotel room drawers

I believe that after many years of cleaning hotel rooms that the more necessary items might be condoms and ..... a bible - in case people run out of interesting things to do or people to meet


People responding in this thread do realize that hotels do not pay for Bibles placed in their rooms, correct? The Gideons are a volunteer organization that offer Bibles to hotels at no charge. Saying that hotels should carry books of this religion, that religion, or a whole library of religions is fine; those who believe this should start their own non-profit organization dedicated to doing so.