How Do Hotels Know If You Smoke On The Balcony?

Smoking isn’t as common as it used to be and most hotels offer only non-smoking rooms.

This doesn’t stop people from trying to get around the rules and smoke in their hotel room or on the balcony though. 

So how does a hotel know if you smoke in your room or on the balcony?

Hotels have a variety of ways to tell if you’ve smoked in your room, chiefly the smell it will leave behind. Smoking on the balcony might avoid some of this, but other people can complain to the hotel, the smoke can travel into the room, and you’ll be leaving behind trash. All of this can get you caught.

Hotel Smoking Policies and How They Know

Your balcony is considered part of your hotel room and the non-smoking rule for your room extends to this area.

While they may not do anything about you smoking on the balcony, the hotel will know that you did. 

Chances are your room isn’t the only one with a balcony and you aren’t the only one enjoying the breeze. Your smoke will travel to other balconies and can be smelled by other people in their rooms as well. 

Other guests are likely to complain to hotel staff about the smell of cigarette smoke, which can be traced back to you. 

Even if you only smoke outside on the balcony, some of that smoke is going to get into your room. The smell lingers in fabric and on surfaces, and the housekeeping staff will notice it. 

It isn’t uncommon for housekeeping to go through your trash if suspicion arises either. Anything you throw away inside the room can be easily found or smelled in your trash can. 

Aside from other guests alerting hotel staff of smells and the trash being left behind, hotels use different kinds of technology to ensure guests aren’t smoking in their rooms. 

Hotels of course have smoke detectors in their rooms in case of a fire, but they also have air sensors. 

A FreshAir Sensor is normally used in hotel rooms and can detect smoke from cigarettes and marijuana. They’re typically connected to the hotel’s network and will alert staff that your room has been smoked in. 

These sensors can’t be tampered with, as removing them from the walls will also alert hotel staff. 

Smoking on the balcony instead of in your room doesn’t mean the sensor won’t detect that you were smoking either. Smoke can still get into your room or follow you in on your clothes. 

What Happens if You Get Caught

FreshAir sensors are super sensitive and reliable, to the extent that you won’t easily be able to just deny that you were smoking.

Hotel staff will also try to verify that it was you smoking if the sensors don’t go off but there is sufficient suspicion that you were smoking in your room or on your balcony. 

Once it has been verified, the hotel will likely impose fines on your credit card for smoking in your room. Incident reports are filed in case the guest tries to dispute the fees. 

If you are still checked into your room, you may be asked to vacate the room and leave the hotel. This is covered under the terms and conditions of the hotel that allow it to modify or cancel your reservation. 

Can You Vape In A Hotel Room?

Vaping and smoking are both considered smoking when it comes to smoke-free policies at hotels. You can always ask the hotel staff if you can vape in the room, but it’s best to go outside to do this at non-smoking hotels. 

While vape smoke isn’t the same as cigarette or marijuana smoke, it can still set off smoke detectors if you fog up the room or the cloud goes right to it.

The smell also lingers in fabrics, especially if you’re using a larger mod that puts out big clouds. 

The sensors hotels use to detect smokers aren’t just smoke detectors either.

They can also detect nicotine in the air and alert staff that you’ve been smoking or vaping in your room. 

While it may be easier to get away with vaping in your hotel room, you’ll face the same smoking fees if you get caught.

The best option is to only vape outside, just as you should only smoke outside of your hotel room. Otherwise, you run the risk of paying additional fees to the hotel. 

How do hotels disguise smoke?

One of the simplest ways hotels get smoke smells out of rooms is by using ozone purifying units

These are small air cleaners that they let run in the room for a while to get rid of the particles causing the cigarette smell left in the room. 

The ozone that the unit lets out neutralizes the smelly particles in the room and is one of the safest sterilization methods and dissipates quickly. 

They don’t use any chemical agents or cleaners and won’t cause anyone who may be allergic to such things to have a reaction. 

The hotel staff will also remove all the linens and fabric items in the room to be cleaned.

If the smell is deep in something like the mattress, it will need cleaning and may need to be replaced. 


Whether other guests complain or a sensor gets set off, hotels will usually find out if you smoke on the balcony or inside your room.

This includes any cigarettes, marijuana, or vapes you intend to use while staying at the hotel. 

If you get caught smoking in your room, you’ll be charged fees for the cleanup and breaching the hotel’s policy on smoking.

If you do plan to smoke while staying at a hotel, the best option will be to do it in designated smoking areas that are outdoors.