There's a lot to consider when booking a hotel—cleanliness, amenities, location—but one of the most important bits of information to know before you hand over your credit card is whether there are bed bugs.
These harmful, blood-sucking critters are known to cause red bite marks, inflammation, blistering, allergic reactions, fatigue, anxiety and irritability. Essentially, coming into contact with bed bugs is a nightmare and the last thing you want to have happen on a trip or stay anywhere.
According to Pest Strategies, an online resource for homeowners and people dealing with pest-related problems, nearly every hotel in NYC has been affected by bed bugs at some point since the 1990s.
It's easy to see why—bed bugs infest new properties by clinging to clothes or hiding inside someone’s belongings and they are resistant to most commercial pesticides, so the only way to remove them is through traps, vacuums, or heat treatments. And once a bed bug is fed, it can live between 135 and 277 days without a meal and up to 2 to 16 months in general. Female beg bugs can lay five to eight eggs per week.
Grossed out yet?
Pest Strategies compiled thousands of hotel reviews from Tripadvisor, Bed Bug Reports, and Bedbug Registry while filtering out the less-than-credible reviews and came up with a list of the top 10 worst NYC hotels with bed bug problems—and Manhattan has the most.
10. The Westin New York Grand Central (212 East 42nd Street)
The four-star Westin New York Grand Central Hotel is new to receiving bed bug complaints, having received nine total bed bug reviews in total. However, seven of these reviews emerged in the last three years, the report states.
9. The Empire Hotel (44 West 63rd Street)
Despite its Gossip Girl fame, this four-star boutique has a reputation for bed bug sightings, the last of which was reported in March 2020, Pest Strategies says. It holds an all-time count of 15 reviews since 2004.
8. La Quinta Inn by Wyndham Queens (37-18 Queens Boulevard)
This two-star hotel is of the few hotels in NYC to receive two bed bug reviews in 2020. Sure, it provides convenient access to LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport, "but before you hop on your next flight out of the city, you might want to check for hitchhikers," the study states.
7. Courtyard by Marriott / Midtown East (866 Third Avenue)
The latest bug review was in April 2021, but this location has "a cleaner track record than most hotels in the Top 10," the report says. Since 2008, the three-star hotel "only received 12 bed bug complaints (which is fairly decent), and only two of these reviews appeared in the last three years. Still, April 2021 is too recent for comfort, and as we already know, when there’s one bed bug, there’s probably many."
6. The Manhattan at Times Square Hotel (790 Seventh Avenue)
Over the last 13 years, the 3-star hotel has received 25 bed bug complaints, with its worst year appearing in 2010 with six reviews. "But unlike many NYC hotels that shut down for the majority of 2021, The Manhattan at Times Square is back up and running, receiving its latest bed bug complaint in April 2021," the study says.
5. Hotel Edison (228 W 47th Street)
This /Times Square four-star art deco hotel has been around since 1931, so it's had more time to rack up some 22 bed bug complaints since 2007. "The upside is that Hotel Edison’s annual rate of reviews has declined since its worst year in 2009 (six reviews)," says the report. "But since the last complaint arrived in December 2019 (and it’s literally right next door to other bed bug hotels), we suggest checking those sheets before lounging on those sheets."
4. The Millennium Hilton New York One Plaza (1 United Nations Plaza)
This 55-story hotel in Lower Manhattan has been a four-star establishment since 2004, but it has received 12 bed bug reviews and only three complaints over the last three years." But since the Millenium Hilton received two online complaints in April 2021, there’s reason to suspect that the hotel might pose a higher risk to visitors this year than other locations," Pest Strategies says.
3. The Bowery House (220 Bowery)
This hotel/hostel has only been open since 2011, but it gained five bed bug reviews in 2012 and 2015, respectively. "Since then, The Bowery House has acquired eight bed bug complaints since 2018, which is technically more than any other New York hotel," the study notes. "As far as our ranking goes, the Bowery’s main saving grace is that it only received 20 all-time reviews (fingers crossed that it’s not because it avoided the internet between 2004–2010). "
2. Wellington Hotel (871 Seventh Avenue)
"With 20 all-time reviews, The Wellington is not the most likely hotel to host bed bugs," the report says. "However, the hotel received its latest complaint in November 2020 and four reviews over the last three years. At this rate, the hotel appears to be making little progress from its worst review years in 2013 and 2017, with three reviews each."
1. Queens County Inn & Suites of Long Island City (40-34 Crescent Street, LIC)
Over ten years, this location received an average of three complaints per year, the report states.
"Queens County Inn and Suites saw their worst review years in 2012 and 2015 with six complaints each, which means their three reviews after 2016 are significant improvements, to say the least," it goes on to say. "And like any hotel, we’re sure there are plenty of redeeming qualities about this property that are not left out of online reviews. But when it comes to bed bugs, it’s safe to say you might be rolling the dice."
You can see the runners up here, if you're curious.
If you've seen a trend here, you're right—of 188 hotels with one or more bed bug reviews (after 2016), about 80% of them were in Manhattan and contributed 85% of all online reports for hotels in NYC since 2004 (1,249 in total). And curiously, almost 58% of these are located within a quarter-mile radius of Times Square in Manhattan, the report notes.
Perhaps it's because Times Square has more hotels in its vicinity than any other neighborhood, but we can't forget about the bed bug infestation at the AMC Empire 25 multiplex in 2015.
And there's no sign that the number of bed bug sightings is decreasing by a large amount since the great bed bug scare of 2015. In fact, the number of bed bug complaints has already hit 14 six months into 2021, so it’s possible that the final count for this year could outpace reports from previous years, the study states.
So, now with all of this dizzying information buzzing around our heads, we're left with one question: What can you do to spot bed bugs when you're at a hotel?
Pest Strategies says to check the mattress, furniture drawers, loose light sockets, curtains, sofas and closet spaces for obvious evidence like bed bugs themselves, bed bug larvae (tiny, pellucid eggs with brown spots), bloodstains from feeding or squished bed bugs, fecal spotting and exoskeleton shedding around harborages and a “buggy” odor produced by bed bug pheromones. And of course, do your research before booking.
Wishing you sweet, bug-free travels!