Trip Planning - 16 min read

How to Find Hidden Cameras in Your Airbnb or Hotel Room

Town and Tourist

Town and Tourist, Updated October 8, 2022

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You understandably need as much privacy as possible in the comfort of your Airbnb or hotel room. It is difficult to get comfortable when you hear horror stories of people that find hidden cameras in private spaces. Because of that, you may find yourself wondering how to find hidden cameras in your Airbnb or hotel room.

To find hidden cameras in your Airbnb or hotel room, you can use a network scanner or smartphone app. Some apps such as NOI can detect the magnetic field that a hidden camera produces as well as scan for lenses. Make sure to visually inspect light fixtures, coffee pots, windows, mirrors, and cluttered areas for lens reflections.

It is normal to find cameras in public areas of hotels and Airbnbs as long as they disclose them. However, it is unethical and a violation of your privacy if a hotel or Airbnb host hides cameras in private spaces. Follow along as we explore how to find hidden cameras in your Airbnb or hotel room and get the privacy you deserve.

Can Airbnbs Have Cameras Inside?

Airbnbs can have cameras inside, but the company doesn’t allow cameras in all areas of the property. For example, you cannot put cameras or audio recording devices inside private rooms in a house. This includes bathrooms and bedrooms, but you may still put cameras in the kitchen or hallway.

Airbnb stipulates that hosts must disclose the existence of cameras and recording devices of any kind. Cameras aren’t allowed in Airbnbs even if they are in acceptable areas if the host fails to disclose that they are there.

You can check the listing to see if the Airbnb host discloses whether or not there are cameras. Many listings will feature a specific description of the recording devices on the property if there are any at all. Unfortunately, some Airbnb hosts don’t comply with the rules and may even hide cameras on the property.

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Hidden Cameras Found in Hotels

Hidden cameras are sometimes found in hotels and it can be alarming for even the most seasoned traveler. Hotels understandably use security cameras throughout the halls to ensure the safety of the guests and employees. You will find cameras in the lobby, hallways, laundry rooms, and throughout the property, but they aren’t typically hidden.

The average traveler won’t find a hidden camera in their hotel room, but it does happen. This is a scary situation for anyone and it is a violation of your privacy. Hotels don’t direct their employees to hide cameras in rooms, but that doesn’t mean that someone won’t do it undirected.

It may sound far-fetched, but private investigators are sometimes to blame for hidden cameras in hotels. In some cases, a private investigator will illegally stash a hidden camera in a hotel room without ever retrieving it. This is an illegal practice for private investigators that aren’t associated with law enforcement, but it can happen.

How to Check for Cameras

The only way to ensure your privacy if you are suspicious of a hotel or Airbnb is to check for cameras. Your search will hopefully turn up empty in most cases assuming the Airbnb or hotel is reputable. However, guests around the world continue to find hidden cameras in their rooms no matter how rare it may be.

You don’t need to check each area of an Airbnb or hotel for cameras. Focus your search on private areas if there are already disclosed cameras in open areas like hallways and kitchens.

You will only need to search the bathrooms and bedrooms or sleeping areas if the host disclosed cameras in permissible spots. Luckily, it’s easy to find hidden cameras in your Airbnb or hotel room with household items and modern technology.

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Visual Inspection

The first thing that you need to do is visually inspect the private areas of your Airbnb or hotel room. Look for cameras in cluttered areas such as a dresser or shelf where they could be difficult to overlook. Keep in mind that modern security cameras are often tiny so you will need to search vigorously throughout each room.

The easiest way to spot even small security cameras is to look out for their reflection. Use your phone or a flashlight to shine around the room and look for a reflection from the camera lens. This is much easier if you dim or turn off the other lights in the area so the reflection is more prominent.

Check spots near electrical outlets as many cameras require a hardwired power source to operate. In that case, you can simply follow the wire trail to the source and find the camera. Otherwise, you should always check keyholes and openings throughout the room that would give a hidden camera a good view.

Check Devices and Appliances

Hidden cameras can be deceptively elusive some people hide them inside devices and appliances. It’s common to find hidden cameras in light fixtures and appliances like toasters and refrigerators. Light fixture cameras are common in security because of how easy it is to conceal them.

Inspect speakers and clocks as well because they can easily house a hidden camera. You can even find hidden cameras in common household items like coffee pots. It may seem like overkill, but it’s worth checking all of these common items for hidden cameras if you are suspicious.

Several electrical devices feature built-in cameras, such as some models of the Amazon Alexa. This should be a red flag when you stay at an Airbnb if the host didn’t disclose cameras in the listing. You can report this to Airbnb if you are uncomfortable or feel as though you were misled by the host.

Look for Computers

Most of the average computers and laptops are equipped with cameras in this day and age. Guests can easily overlook a computer when they stay at an Airbnb because they fade into the background. Not all Airbnb hosts have a computer on the property, but it’s not uncommon.

This doesn’t quite count as a hidden camera, but a computer can certainly be used as one. The webcam on a computer or laptop can be operated discreetly and from afar with modern technology. You can simply block the view of the webcam during your stay or even reach out to the owner or rental manager.

Use a Hidden Camera Detector

Credit: APK Pure

Believe it or not, you can find several hidden camera detectors on the market today. They pick up on frequencies and scan for recording devices, or “bugs”. The only downside to hidden camera detectors is that there are many on the market but not all of them are effective.

There are several types of hidden cameras and recording devices and their technology changes all the time. Because of that, it is hard to ensure that each detector can identify every modern hidden camera. Many hidden camera detectors are effective, however, and they are easy to use.

Hidden camera detectors are handheld devices that you can use to sweep a room for cameras and recording equipment. Scan the area thoroughly and make sure to the closet, shelves, and anywhere a camera could be concealed.

Related Read: Can You Live In A Hotel?

Check Your Windows

Windows are an often overlooked location for hidden cameras in hotel rooms and Airbnbs. They provide a clear view for a hidden camera which is the worst-case scenario when it comes to privacy. Someone could easily hide a camera on the sill between a window and the screen.

Inspect the windows and look for a blinking light that would indicate a camera is recording. Look for a lens reflection or simply open the window and visually inspect the sill.

Inspect the Perimeter

It’s all too easy for someone to hide a camera outside of your hotel room, Airbnb, or rental property. Modern cameras have a great range so it’s easy for them to see into your private space from afar. The only way to identify hidden cameras outside of the rental but on the property is to inspect the perimeter.

Relegate your inspection to locations that can peer into your Airbnb or hotel room. This could include exterior walls, bushes, trees, and outdoor decorations. Use a flashlight or hidden camera detector to spot lenses or pick up on frequencies.

Use Your Laptop

It is common to travel with a laptop computer, and that may be all that you need to find a hidden camera in your Airbnb or hotel room. Your laptop holds the door to countless network scanning programs and valuable information.

Programs like Nmap let you map the area for suspicious networks that could pose a risk to your privacy. This is just as useful for finding harmful networks and hackers as it is for detecting hidden cameras. Other programs like Lansweeper and Network Analyzer Pro are also effective and can give you an idea of how secure you are in your hotel room.

Set up your laptop and scan for networks using any one of these programs right upon arrival. This will let you know whether or not you need to investigate your Airbnb or hotel room further.

Related Read: How Late Can You Check Into A Hotel?

How to Find Hidden Cameras Using Mobile Phones

Mobile phones have never been so advanced, and they are more capable than ever of detecting hidden cameras. You can find hidden cameras using mobile phones in several ways thanks to smart features and special apps.

Even standard phone features such as a flashlight can help to find hidden cameras in your Airbnb or hotel room. There are several ways to find hidden cameras using mobile phones no matter which smartphone you have.

Scan for Networks

Credit: Null Byte

Use your phone to scan for networks that seemingly make no sense to find hidden cameras. People generally dedicate their hidden cameras to a separate network of their own. They do this so that people can’t get into the network and access the camera remotely.

Apps like iNet and Fing allow you to scan for networks that can help you identify hidden cameras in your Airbnb or hotel room. These programs can give you enough information to at least identify a secret network in the area. The only downside to this is that you will have to sift through several networks depending on close you are to neighbors.

Narrow your search down to strong signals which would indicate that it is coming from the hotel room or Airbnb. Not every network that you encounter will be nefarious, however, and they could simply come from somebody next door.

Hidden Camera Detector App

Hidden camera detector apps do exactly what the name describes, and they’re essential when you stay at an Airbnb. There are several hidden camera detector apps available for smartphones currently. They each work differently depending on the app that you download, but they all utilize similar methods to detect recording devices.

For example, detection apps such as NOI can identify hidden cameras based on their magnetic field. Hidden cameras produce a magnetic field that is detectable using modern technology if you have the right app or device. Hold your phone near the suspicious area and your app can tell you if there is a magnetic field.

Many of these apps also scan for networks tied to a hidden security camera. Some apps utilize your phone camera to survey the area for hidden camera lenses in your Airbnb or hotel room. It is ideal to use an app on your phone in conjunction with a visual inspection to make sure that you don’t miss anything.

Use Your Phone Camera

You may not even need to purchase or download any special hidden camera detector app. All that you need is your phone camera in many cases and you should be able to find hidden cameras. Turn off or dim the lights in your Airbnb or hotel room and pull up your phone camera.

Many modern smartphones have a function that allows your camera to switch to a night view in the darkness. Switch to your camera’s night view mode and look around the room with it to scan for hidden cameras. You can tell that there is a hidden camera if you see a small and bright light.

Hidden cameras generate a light that is typically invisible to the human eye whether it’s light or dark in the room. However, these lights will appear clearly if you use some sort of night vision function on a camera.

Flashlight

Modern phones are typically all equipped with a flashlight which makes it easy to find hidden cameras. Turn on your phone flashlight and closely inspect your Airbnb or hotel room for reflections. Get as close to suspicious areas as possible to reflect light off of the lenses and find the cameras.

You can also use your phone flashlight to identify false mirrors in your Airbnb or hotel room. It is sadly a somewhat common practice to hide cameras behind a false mirror to make them more elusive. Approach the mirror in question with your phone and shine the flashlight on it.

Adjust your distance to the mirror several times to find the right angle and look out for transparency. False mirrors appear transparent at the right angle with the right light. You should be able to see a hidden camera behind a false mirror using a flashlight unless, of course, it’s a standard mirror.

Talk on the Phone

You can even find hidden cameras in your Airbnb or hotel room if you simply talk on the phone. Security cameras and audio recording devices can cause radio and electromagnetic interference. This will manifest as unexpected sounds that can cut in and out during a phone call.

Call someone when you get into your Airbnb or hotel room and slowly walk around the area. Listen closely for noise disturbances such as sizzling, crackling, or voices cutting out. Stop once you hear a disturbance and focus on that particular area as you search for hidden cameras.

Check the Wi-Fi Listing

You may not need to use a network scanner if you check the Wi-Fi listing and something strange comes up. People that are unhinged enough to hide cameras in your Airbnb or hotel room don’t always have the best foresight. They may leave behind a trail by way of a suspicious Wi-Fi network name on your phone’s listing.

Check your phone when you get to your hotel or Airbnb and open up your phone’s settings right away. Scroll through your settings until you reach the available WiFI networks. Keep an eye out for any suspicious WiFi connection names that stand out.

What Device Can Detect Hidden Cameras?

You can use devices such as radio frequency detectors and spectrum analyzers to detect hidden cameras. Spectrum analyzers allow you to pick up on signal frequencies and amplitudes that can help detect recording equipment.

Devices like the Latnex SPA-6G Spectrum Analyzer make it easy to detect hidden cameras without complex technical knowledge. Radio frequency devices are typically more affordable and easier for the average person to use.

They detect frequencies of varying strengths and can indicate that there is a hidden camera or audio recorder around. You can find reliable and effective radio frequency detectors for under $100 that are easy to use.

Simple bug detectors cost between $25 and $50 but you need to make sure that it detects hidden cameras. Some bug detector devices only scan for audio recording devices which have no place in your Airbnb or hotel room either. Hidden camera detection devices aren’t as necessary now that you can simply use an app on your smartphone.

What To Do if I Find a Security Camera in My Hotel Room

Contact the hotel or rental property manager immediately if you find a security camera in your hotel room. You can either change rooms or check out altogether if you discover a concealed camera. Many travelers would understandably want to change rental properties entirely to play it safe.

This can be a hassle, but it is worth it if you feel that your privacy has been violated. Hotels don’t place security cameras inside hotel rooms, but that doesn’t mean that a previous guest didn’t leave one behind. You can ask to change rooms if you are still comfortable staying on the property, but not everyone is comfortable with that.

A guest can request a refund at a hotel, but you aren’t guaranteed to receive one. The hotel will likely conduct a local investigation and they may even include law enforcement. Make sure to take pictures of the camera to document it in case you plan to take legal action or if the rental property denies your claims.

Do Hilton Hotels Have Cameras in Rooms?

Hilton hotels don’t have cameras in rooms on an official basis. There have been reports of guests discovering hidden cameras in their room at a Hilton hotel, but the company doesn’t authorize this. You will find cameras in the public and common areas when you stay at a Hilton hotel, but you should never find one in your room.

The only people that can legally hide a camera in your Hilton hotel room are law enforcement officials. It is illegal for hotel staff or even private investigators to plant a hidden camera in a Hilton hotel room. Contact the hotel manager or corporate office if you find a hidden camera in your room at a Hilton hotel.

Can You Press Charges if You Find a Hidden Camera in Your Hotel Room?

Yes, you can eventually press charges if you find a hidden camera in your hotel room. You can typically begin this process as a civil claim in most cases. However, there may be a police investigation into your claim depending on the circumstances.

This can include an investigation of the hotel staff and CCTV recordings from the halls and lobby. Law enforcement may even be able to discover and arrest the culprit as a result of their findings.

In that case, you can still directly sue the culprit separately from the legal repercussions that they face. You would need to hire an attorney and contact the clerk of court to make your legal claim against the culprit.

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