The following content was produced by the Star-K’s Rabbi Zvi Goldberg and applies to Pesach, Sukkot, and year-round travel to hotels. The original article appears here.
Kashering – A hotel kitchenette requires the same method of kashering for Passover as a home kitchen. Please consult the “STAR-K Pesach Kitchen” for more information. Kosherization must be completed before Passover.
Bedikas Chometz – One who is staying at a hotel and did not bring any chometz into the room should perform bedikas chometz without a brocha.1Some hotel rooms have a “mini-bar” that is pre-stocked with drinks and snacks by the hotel. If there are food items in the mini-bar which are not kosher for Passover, one should ensure that the staff removes those items. Alternatively, the mini-bar should be sealed off and the staff informed that the guest bears no responsibility for those items.2 Ice from the icemaker may be used, but the ice bucket in the room should not be used. The coffeemaker also may not be used.
Kiddush– In a hotel there is often a Kiddush after davening, before the day meal. In order to fulfill the mitzva of kiddush, one must eat a k’zayis of mezonos to create “Kiddush b’makom seuda”. On Pesach, this creates a unique issue since often there is no gebrukst being served, so the cakes are made from potato starch or nut flour and not matza meal. These cakes are shehakol.
If there are no mezonos cakes, or one’s custom is not to eat them, one could fulfill the Kiddush b’makom seuda by drinking a reviis (3.8 fluid oz) of wine or grape juice. Each person listening to Kiddush must drink this amount. (The one who recites Kiddush should drink at least 5 ¾ oz. (this is slightly more than a half-reviis to be yotzai Kiddush and then another reviis for b’makom seuda of wine or grape juice)3
Electronic Locks and Doors – Although electronic door locks are commonplace, certain hotels, especially those near large Orthodox communities, still have a few rooms set aside that use a key and it is worthwhile to attempt to find these. Although electronic card keys may not be used and are muktza on Shabbos, guests may leave them at the front desk before Shabbos, and then ask non-Jewish staff members on Shabbos to open their door.4
When walking into or out of the hotel, one should use manual non-electronic doors. Service or staff doors are likely to be non-electronic, and may be available to guests with special authorization. If there are no manual doors, one should wait until a non-Jew opens the electric-eye door with his movement and then proceed through the doorway. Due to the difficulty of coordinating one’s movements with those of another person, caution should be taken to avoid unwittingly activating the door.
Sensors for Lights and Heating/Air-Conditioning – Guests tend to leave the heating and air conditioners running while they are away from the room; therefore, some hotels are installing energy-efficient thermostats. When it senses that the room is unoccupied, the thermostat adjusts the climate to an energy-efficient setting. When the guest opens the door to re-enter the room, the thermostat readjusts to the original setting. The sensor may also turn the lights on or off, depending upon whether or not someone is in the room. It can also alert housekeeping that the room is empty and may be cleaned. One may not stay in such a room on Shabbos unless these sensors are disabled by the staff prior to Shabbos.5 Opening a balcony door may turn off the air-conditioning. If so, one must avoid opening the balcony door on Shabbos.
Hallway and room lights may be motion sensitive to turn on upon entrance. Furthermore, some hotels require the room key to be inserted in a slot in the room to keep the lights and AC active. When one leaves the room, he removes the key. As a workaround, one can request from the staff (before Shabbos) to leave his hallway lights on continuously for Shabbos, and to provide him with a key that can be left in the slot all Shabbos.
One must ensure that a light in the refrigerator does not illuminate upon opening the refrigerator door.
Bathrooms – Hotels may be equipped with sinks and toilets that are controlled by an electric eye, particularly in the lobby. The bathroom may have automated lights that are activated when the door is opened or one walks into the room. We suggest avoiding hotels on Shabbos that do not offer a different system.
As always, toilet paper should be prepared before Shabbos. Boxes of tissues should be checked to ensure that the tissues are separated from one another (some might be perforated but not separated).
Security Cameras – There may be security cameras in the hotel. It is best to avoid being videoed by such cameras on Shabbos, since the image is projected onto a screen. However, if this is difficult to avoid and one has no interest in being seen by the cameras, then he is permitted to walk past them.6
Elevators – In case of need , one may use a “Shabbos elevator.” The elevator is set up to stop on each floor and remain open for a short while. Walking through the door while it is open must not trigger any detectable change. One should enter or exit the elevator as soon as the door opens. He should not block the elevator doorway, as this will activate the electric eye.
Escalators – May generally be used on Shabbos. Some escalators are “on-demand” and stop or are slowed until someone steps on them; others have a counter triggered by breaking an electric eye sensor. These may not be used on Shabbos.
Please note – The term ‘Shabbos’ in the above article refers to Yom Tov, as well.
For year-round information see www.STAR-K.org/articles/kashrus-kurrents/501/the-travelers-halachic-guide-to-hotels
- The rooms may be like a makom she’ain machnisim bo chometz. One must also check his car, clothes pockets, and luggage without a brocha. For further discussion, see Piskei Teshuvos 437:1.
- Otherwise he may have achrais, responsibility, for the chometz should it be damaged or stolen, and one may not take responsibility for chometz on Passover.
- Shemiras Shabbos K’hilchasa 54:23, also see Shaar Hatziyun 273:29.
- As this is a sh’vus d’shvus b’makom mitzvahh or oneg Shabbos. Activating the lock mechanism is an issur d’rabonon. One should not ask the non-Jew to open the door for minor reasons.
- One may inquire with management if covering the sensor before Shabbos will solve this problem.
- Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, in a personal conversation with Rav Moshe Heinemann (also cited in Orchos Shabbos 15, note 55). See also Responsa of Rav Shmuel Vozner quoted in Orchos Shabbos pg. 513, and Shulchan Shlomo 340: note 12b citing Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach.