Is a Bare Light Bulb in a Hotel Shower ok?

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Everything had gone smoothly the night prior when I checked in to a four-star well-known chain hotel, and I’d had a good night’s rest. In the morning I lazily got in the shower, started to shampoo, and when I tilted my head back my eyes casually rested on the light above my head which was just a bare bulb. My eyes widened, which was not good given the rivulets of suds that now ran down my face and stung my eyes.

I grabbed a towel to wipe my eyes, and looked up again. Yep, it was a single bare bulb sticking down. I finished my shower quickly, during which my mind raced to think of the last time I had seen a bare light bulb in my hotel shower. Not just in the bathroom, but the shower itself. The hotel stay prior to this one? No. The one before that? Nope. I couldn’t recall any, but then, I don’t make it a point to look closely at the light in the shower.

Then my Mechanical Engineering background kicked in, and I started rationalizing to myself in my head. “Let’s see, the ceiling is pretty high so I’m guessing 8 feet. Local building code probably allows a bare bulb with 8 feet ceilings as long as it is rated for damp locations.”

But then the worrying thought entered my head that maybe there was supposed to be a covering over the bulb. Perhaps it was just my hotel room in particular that was missing the cover that perhaps had been removed during some maintenance and forgotten. The bulb was sticking down quite a bit. Plus, my background is not in Electrical so I started visualizing a hot bulb in the steamy shower that had a corroded base. Water conducts electricity, and what if a guest was Brian Kelly tall at 6’7″, and accidentally touched the bulb? Would a ground fault situation be possible?


I called down to the front desk almost immediately after hopping out of the shower. The conversation went like this –

Magic of Miles – Hi there! So, um. I’m curious about the light in my shower. It seems to be just a bare bulb. Is it only my room, or do all guest rooms have the same set up?

Front Desk – Oh, is your light out? I can send someone up to replace it.

Magic – No, the light is working, but there is no covering over the bulb. Is there supposed to be a cover or is it supposed to be like that?

After a lot more explaining and back-and-forth, the answer came back that yes, all the guest rooms at the property had the same setup. Because the bulb was (somewhat) recessed in the ceiling and the ceiling height was high enough, a cover was not required. Good to know, but of course I poked around online to see if what she said seemed correct.

I found this, which may or may not pertain to hotel shower lighting (and some readers may have more knowledge) –

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 4.31.11 AM

I wondered briefly why other hotels typically have bulb covers in the shower when this one did not? Possibly to avoid worrying guests like me.

I’m quite sure that this hotel complies with safety regulations, even if no one at the front desk could give me specifics. Still, I sure wouldn’t want to accidentally touch the bulb while in the shower. 

Have you ever seen a bare light bulb in the shower? Why or why not is this a cause for concern?

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  1. TonyM

    While stopping in Ollantaytambo Peru this little hotel on the river was recommended to us by a friend who stayed there a month before we were planning to go, even had the room number. We booked it. The bathroom had an exposed light bulb and it even flickered! *queue the music from Psycho. The light didn’t bother me as much as the mold on the ceiling.

    • Melinda

      Yikes TonyM! Sounds like a place to avoid, and maybe your friend snickered when you said you’d stayed there. :p

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