Why Some Hotels Skip the 13th Floor

Kimpton Gray Hotel, Chicago
Kimpton Gray Hotel, Chicago | © Scott Szarapka/Unsplash
Nikki Vargas

Travel Editor

According to Otis Elevators—the world’s largest manufacturer of elevators, escalators and moving walkways—an estimated 85 percent of elevators leave floor 13 off their button panels. What is it about the number 13 that awakens superstition and fears of bad luck in even the best of us? Today, on Friday the 13th, we explore why some hotels choose to skip the 13th floor.

The absence of floor 13 in office buildings and hotels alike is an oddity we’ve all witnessed. Historically, the number 13 appears in the bible: there were 13 guests at the Last Supper, which preceded Good Friday or the day of Jesus’ crucifixion.

The associations between Friday and the number 13 are weak—as both Friday and the number 13 are considered separately unlucky, but there is no evidence of the combination being a bad omen. Friday marks both the day Eve gave Adam the apple and when Jesus was killed. In short, Friday the 13th is heavily rooted in biblical lore and has since morphed into a pop culture nomenclature for superstition.

The number 13

Films like Friday the 13th have further solidified the fear of Friday the 13th, while historical tragedies have unfolded on this fateful day, fueling the fear. “In more recent times, a number of traumatic events have occurred on Friday the 13th, including the German bombing of Buckingham Palace (September 1940); the murder of Kitty Genovese in Queens, New York (March 1964); a cyclone that killed more than 300,000 people in Bangladesh (November 1970); the disappearance of a Chilean Air Force plane in the Andes (October 1972); the death of rapper Tupac Shakur (September 1996) and the crash of the Costa Concordia cruise ship off the coast of Italy, which killed 30 people (January 2012),” writes History.com.

While the historical and biblical significance of Friday the 13th is clear, why would hotels go so far as to skip the 13th floor? USA Today suggests that the absence of number 13 in elevators may be due to Triskaidekaphobia, a fear of 13. Like most severe phobias, a person with Triskaidekaphobia will experience psychosomatic symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, panic, increased heartbeat and difficulty breathing.

To accommodate guests with Triskaidekaphobia, many hotels have decided to remove 13 from their elevator panels and stairwells. While a logical decision for a business based on customer service, the eerie absence of 13 continues to spark superstitions and fuel the imagination.

landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article