You know the feeling. You’re with your partner in a strange new city, you’ve been schlepping around all day visiting museums and trying strange foods, and when you finally collapse in a heap in your hotel room, it hits you. Despite how tired you feel, you find yourselves frantically stripping down, practically tripping over your underwear as you dive under the floral print comforter. It’s generally common wisdom that rented rooms get us hot, but why? Do we really have our hotels to thank for this sudden jolt?
We wanted to get to the bottom of this, so we reached out to practicing, licensed sex therapists from around the country.
“Sex is Pavlovian,” explains New York City sex therapist and author of Love Worth Making: How to Have Ridiculously Great Sex in a Long-Lasting Relationship, Dr. Stephen Snyder. “Unfortunately, most people’s bedrooms are multi-purpose and become associated with lots of other things besides sex.”
A hotel room, on the other hand, acts as a sort of “blank slate.” Gone are the piles of mail you should’ve opened last month, the wilting plants desperate for water, and the yellow walls you swore you’d find time to paint. Instead, there’s just a bed and a lockable door and your boo looking fine in their “city walking sneakers” — not much in the way of distraction.
You certainly want to be ready as soon as the mood strikes, so make sure you’ve got SKYN condoms on hand, for a closer, more intimate sexual experience. Want to push this carefree feeling even further? Put your phone in airplane mode or grayscale, so you avoid the temptation to keep checking it.
Cindy Michel, a licensed marriage and family therapist based in Los Angeles, says that staying in a hotel has a fantasy element, which helps get the blood pumping. “When we’re in a new place or on vacation we can embody riskier parts of ourselves,” Michel explains.
Dr. Uchenna Ossai, a pelvic health physical therapist and AASECT-certified sexuality counselor, says similarly hotel sex’s novelty “can act as a jump start to your sexual motivation [and gives] you a much needed dose of sexual energy to fully participate in the experience.”
Looking for inspiration to jumpstart these exciting experiences? SKYN Condoms crafted a Places of Intimacy guide, where they sent real couples around the world to take in the colors, textures, scents, sounds, and sensations in a quest to find the best places to get intimate, including a few key pulse-pounding hotel rooms.
If all this advice and the intimacy guide recommendations get you in the mood to get twisted in room 217, Dr. Michel suggests you follow that (totally normal) urge. “Some couples like to rent porn and explore new forms of sex such as kink or bdsm.” Some hotels, Michel explains, even have sex toy menus or intimate items in mini-bars for couples to dig into — which sounds more entertaining than our usual mini-bar splurge of $8 peanut M&M’s.
Rena McDaniel, a Chicago-based certified clinical sexologist, says hotels also allow us to be more more present and more playful. When you’re in a hotel room, it’s easy to focus on that fine partner of yours as they leaf through the complimentary copy of “Time Out NY” in their undies. “There’s a sense of play that comes with hotel rooms,” says McDaniel. “You can be silly, you can goof off a little bit more.” You don’t have to go all out and dress like a clown to tap into the sexy silliness (unless you want to... by all means!), but that ingrained sense of lightheartedness can go a long way.
Dr. Ossai similarly recommends having a conversation with your partner before your trip to find out what they are looking to try, or if they feel like anything is missing when it comes to sex. Or she suggests pretending like it’s you and your partner’s first time. Adding any new element can go a long way, so if you don’t normally incorporate lubricants into your sex life, a hotel room is one of the best places to expand your idea of an intimate sexual experience and try a high-quality lube like SKYN’s Maximum Performance Personal lubricant.
Now before you run to the nearest hotel with a backpack full of condoms and a designated pay-per-view budget, Philadelphia-based sex therapist Dr. Kimberly Flemke has some advice for couples with children. “Always make an agreement to set aside time to not talk about the kids.” According to Dr. Flemke, part of what makes you feel like a god of sex in a hotel room is its ability to help you turn away — albeit momentarily — from the normal roles you and your partner inhabit. It’s so easy to focus on your roles as parents that you end up just talking about what’s going on with your children, from the state of their grades to the state of their bowels.
This tip isn’t just for couples with children. The same goes for couples who have sick or elderly family members, overbearing friends, or hectic jobs. If there are people in your lives toward whom the conversation always turns, put them on your “do not mention” list for the weekend… don’t worry, they’ll definitely be waiting for you when you get home.
To that end, try not to rush through sex because you’ve got tickets to a play or dinner reservations you can’t miss, as Dr. Ossai advises against time limits. “People tend to rush through their sexual encounters for a lot of reasons; but take this opportunity to really play with your pleasure.”
Dr. Snyder has an extra tip for couples looking to tap into the hankering power of a hotel room: Don’t wait for a special trip to get down at a hotel. Instead, check out sites that offer day rates at hotels right where you live, “That’s what you’d do if you were going to have an affair, right? Why not do the same with your committed partner?”
Giaco Furino is a Senior Writer for Studio@Gizmodo.