If you’ve ever stayed in a hotel room, you may have noticed a Bible sitting on the bedside table.

But have you ever wondered why it’s there?

In this article, we’ll explore whether or not hotels are required by law to provide a Bible in each room.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: No, there is no law that requires hotels to provide a Bible in their rooms.

But there are some interesting reasons why many hotels still choose to do so, and we’ll dive into those as well.

So, let’s take a closer look at the history and practice of providing Bibles in hotel rooms.

The History of Bibles in Hotel Rooms

Early Beginnings

The tradition of placing Bibles in hotel rooms dates back to the 19th century. According to historical records, the first hotel to place a Bible in a guest room was the Tremont Hotel in Boston in 1823. At that time, it was common practice for hotels to provide religious materials, such as prayer books and Bibles, to their guests. This was seen as a way to promote moral values and to cater to the religious needs of travelers.

The Gideon’s Bible

The practice of placing Bibles in hotel rooms gained wider popularity thanks to the efforts of the Gideons International. The Gideons are a Christian organization that was founded in 1899 with the goal of distributing Bibles to hotels, hospitals, and other public places. The first Gideon Bible was placed in a hotel room in 1908, and since then, the organization has distributed millions of Bibles around the world.

The Gideon Bible is a small, pocket-sized Bible that contains both the Old and New Testaments. It is often placed in the top drawer of hotel room nightstands. The Gideons also provide a card with the Bible that reads, “This Bible is a gift from the Gideons International, placed here for you by one of our members.”

Modern Day Practices

While the tradition of placing Bibles in hotel rooms continues, it is not as widespread as it once was. In recent years, some hotels have stopped providing Bibles in guest rooms, citing reasons such as the need to provide more diverse religious materials or the desire to avoid offending non-Christian guests. However, many hotels still offer Bibles, and some have even expanded their religious offerings to include texts from other faiths.

It is important to note that there is no legal requirement for hotels to provide Bibles or other religious materials in guest rooms. While some state laws may require hotels to allow guests to practice their religion freely, this does not extend to a requirement to provide religious materials. Ultimately, the decision to provide Bibles in hotel rooms is left up to the individual hotel.

Whether or not a hotel provides a Bible in its guest rooms, travelers can always bring their own religious texts with them. Additionally, many hotels offer chapels or prayer rooms for guests who wish to practice their religion during their stay.

Religious and Cultural Considerations

One of the most common questions asked by travelers is whether hotel rooms are required by law to have a Bible. The answer is no, there is no law that requires hotels to provide a Bible in their rooms. However, many hotels choose to offer a Bible as a courtesy to their guests as a way to accommodate their religious and cultural needs.


The Bible is a holy book for Christians and is considered to be a source of guidance and inspiration. Many hotels in the United States, which has a majority Christian population, provide a Bible in their rooms as a way to cater to their Christian guests. Some hotels also offer other Christian amenities, such as prayer mats and rosaries, to accommodate the needs of their guests.

Other Religions

Hotels may also provide religious texts and amenities for guests of other religions. For example, hotels in areas with a high Muslim population may offer prayer mats and copies of the Quran in their rooms. Some hotels in Israel may also provide copies of the Torah in their rooms to cater to Jewish guests.

It is important for hotels to be mindful of their guests’ religious and cultural needs and provide amenities that will make them feel comfortable during their stay.

Atheism and Secularism

For guests who do not follow any religion or are secular, hotels may provide other amenities to make their stay more comfortable. This can include books on philosophy, art, and culture, as well as access to fitness centers and other recreational activities.

It is important for hotels to be sensitive to the needs and preferences of all their guests, regardless of their religious or cultural background. By providing a variety of amenities and services, hotels can ensure that all guests have a pleasant and comfortable stay.

Alternatives to Bibles in Hotel Rooms

While it is common for hotel rooms to include a Bible in their drawers, it is not required by law. Some guests may prefer to have other reading materials available to them during their stay. Here are some alternative options that hotels can consider:


With the rise of technology, hotels can offer guests access to e-books or audiobooks through their smartphones or tablets. This can provide guests with a variety of reading materials and can be a more environmentally friendly option than providing physical books.

According to a study by the American Hotel and Lodging Association, 87% of hotel guests use their smartphones while traveling. By providing access to e-books or audiobooks, hotels can cater to the preferences of their tech-savvy guests.

Secular Literature

Hotels can also consider offering a selection of secular literature in their rooms. This can include books on travel, history, or local culture. Guests may appreciate having the opportunity to learn more about the destination they are visiting.

By providing a diverse range of reading materials, hotels can ensure that they are catering to the preferences of all guests. This can also help to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for guests of all backgrounds and beliefs.

Customizable Options

Hotels can provide guests with the option to customize their room amenities based on their preferences. This can include selecting the type of reading materials they would like to have available in their room.

By offering customizable options, hotels can cater to the unique needs and preferences of each guest. This can help to create a more personalized and memorable experience for guests.

Option Benefits
E-books or audiobooks Environmentally friendly, caters to tech-savvy guests
Secular literature Caters to diverse range of guests, promotes inclusivity
Customizable options Personalized experience for guests

Overall, hotels have a variety of options when it comes to providing reading materials for guests. By considering alternative options to Bibles, hotels can create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all guests.

The Future of Bibles in Hotel Rooms

For years, it has been common practice for hotel rooms to include a copy of the Bible in their bedside table. But with changing attitudes and industry trends, the future of this tradition is uncertain.

Changing Attitudes

In recent years, there has been a growing movement to remove Bibles from hotel rooms. This is largely due to concerns over religious inclusivity and the separation of church and state. Many argue that it is not appropriate for hotels to promote one particular religion over others.

Furthermore, studies have shown that the majority of hotel guests do not use the Bible during their stay. In fact, a survey conducted by the American Hotel and Lodging Association found that only 16% of hotel guests read the Bible in their room.

Industry Trends

Despite the changing attitudes towards Bibles in hotel rooms, some hotel chains continue to offer them as a standard amenity. However, others are starting to move away from this tradition.

For example, the Marriott chain of hotels has recently announced that they will no longer offer Bibles or any other religious materials in their rooms. This decision was made in response to feedback from guests and a desire to be more inclusive.

The Role of Personal Choice

Ultimately, the decision to include Bibles in hotel rooms should be left up to individual hotels and their guests. Some guests may appreciate having a Bible available to them, while others may prefer to have a different religious text or no religious materials at all.

As consumers, we have the power to voice our preferences and shape the industry. By providing feedback to hotels and choosing to stay at establishments that align with our values, we can help to shape the future of Bibles in hotel rooms.

Overall, the future of Bibles in hotel rooms is uncertain, but it is clear that the industry is moving towards greater inclusivity and a recognition of diverse religious beliefs.


In conclusion, while there is no law requiring hotels to provide a Bible in each room, the practice has a long history and is still common today.

Many hotels view it as a way to cater to the religious beliefs of their guests, while others see it as a tradition or marketing opportunity.

However, as attitudes and trends change, the future of Bibles in hotel rooms may be uncertain.

Alternative options are emerging, and it may ultimately come down to personal choice whether or not to include a Bible in a hotel room.

Regardless of what happens, the presence or absence of a Bible in a hotel room is unlikely to have a significant impact on most guests’ experiences.

So, the next time you check into a hotel room, whether or not you find a Bible on the bedside table, you can rest assured that it’s not a legal requirement.

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