Lewis Hamilton’s Hotel Hacks Every Traveler Needs to Try


Lewis Hamilton first stepped into the Mercedes-AMG Petronas car over a decade ago. Before his signing, Mercedes was struggling to produce as a team, but with the young, cunning Brit behind the wheel, things changed. Since then, Hamilton has scored the record for most wins, pole finishes, and podium finishes in the most competitive motorsport in the world. No matter how gifted the athlete, leading the pack like that doesn’t come solely through natural ability, and the driver has found a formula for success that follows him across the globe.

Men’s Journal spoke with Hamilton on how he prepares to drive circuits he’s never seen before at speeds over 200 miles per hour, his favorite cross-training activities, and the travel routines that keep him at the front of the pack.

Men’s Journal: F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix has a start time of 10p.m. PT. How are you prepping for a night race—any hacks?  

Lewis Hamilton: Preparing to drive a new track means as much simulation work as possible to get a feel for the course. I have two full days that I’ll do in the sim before I land in Vegas. It’s important to adjust your internal clock, so before we get to Nevada, the team is spending some time in Los Angeles. I’m already adjusting my mornings to waking up and going to bed later to fit with the schedule of a night race. I’m also making sure my meals and nutrition intake fits the new schedule.

The key is adjusting the light I’m taking in—using different bulbs with different brightness so I can maintain a good circadian rhythm. Since we travel so much, I always make sure the rooms we’re staying in have blackout curtains so I can get a deep sleep at any hour. I like to keep the room cool, which makes the bed more welcome. The bed itself is also crucial, I like a firm pillow because I like to sleep on my side. The ones I have at home are Tempur-Pedic.

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Do you struggle with sleep?

I’ve never been a great sleeper. For years I would go to bed at 2 or 3 in the morning and sleep for about five hours. But, to be honest, that worked for me, because our days are leading up to the the main event, which is later in the afternoon. So if I wake up at 5 in the morning, I’m probably peaking a lot earlier in the day than if I wake up at 8. So I’m sticking with waking up later, though these days I’m trying to get more like seven hours of sleep a night.

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The Mercedes Benz team has a partnership with Marriott Bonvoy and The Ritz-Carlton, which seems like a smart one given how much you travel. How do you make a hotel feel like a home away from home?

One of the most important amenities is a coffee machine in the room, because I like to have coffee when I wake up on race day or any day for that matter. I love to play music, it calms me so I’ll have my music equipment in the room as well. I have a keyboard that folds in half so it’s easier to travel with. I really want that hotel space to feel like home. The Marriott team takes that to another level, and sometimes they’ll even have a picture of my dog, Roscoe, on the nightstand.

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It’s also about what I have them take out of the room. I have them take out all the snacks and anything from the minibar, because when you’re working strange hours your body can crave comfort. The easiest way to get that is from food, so I want to eliminate any temptation I might have to deal with later. Instead, I’ll make sure the fridge is filled with healthy snacks like fruit. 

Lewis Hamilton has trained with Grant Roberts for years to hone his strength.

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What’s the most challenging part about being a Formula 1 driver?

The Formula 1 season is very challenging for all the drivers. We’re going to 24 different countries, maybe more throughout the year, sitting in planes all the time. Rest and recovery is a huge part of making sure we’re on point when it comes to showing up to the races ready. There’s an immense amount of travel involved. My mindset is greatly benefitted by meditation, so I try to prioritize it. I don’t always get to, and I can feel the difference, but the schedule can get very hectic. I always do better when I can put that focus into my mental game.

I like to start my day with positive affirmations, no matter what state I’m in, and focus on the things I want to do. That’s where things like playing music comes in handy. Competing has become very serious business, and we work hard, perhaps too hard. There’s immense benefit to smiling to the body and mind. Exercise is also a great way to help me stay sharp, on top of being critical to succeeding in motorsports.

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Speaking on that, how do you train leading up to and during a Formula 1 season?

I love to run, so that’s one of my favorite ways to exercise and stay on point during the season. If I can get a good 40 or 50K in during the week, I’m in a good place. That’s on top of the regular workouts I’m doing in the gym. I never had a trainer when I was younger, but when I got to Formula 1 I started working with a trainer who was primarily a physio. His program had me doing a lot of cardio and swimming. That was because back in the day we had to maintain a weight of 68kg [150lbs], which made it difficult to maintain any muscle.

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They changed those rules and now you can be heavier, so these days I sit around 74 or 75kg [163 or 165lbs]. That’s great because in my own free time I love to lift weights and get after it. I’ll go to an underground gym in Los Angeles with my friend Miles Chamley-Watson, who’s also an Olympic fencer for some intense sessions. He’s very slender and tall, which is great for his sport, but means I definitely got him beat when it comes to the pullups. The only problem is after one or two good sessions I’ve usually put on too much and have to ease back.

Formula 1 cars have a top speed of 214mph.

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Any unexpected cross-training that helps on the track?

During the winter months I do a lot of cross-country skiing and hiking. I also love to surf, which usually turns mostly into me swimming because I don’t surf that well. That’s what I’ll be doing ahead of Vegas, getting into the ocean on a board before I’m back on the track.

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I see you’re a fan of ice baths. How do you think cold plunging helps you recover?

I do a lot of ice baths, or cryotherapy if it’s available, for recovery. That’s been a game-changer for me. There’s barely any suspension in our cars. I don’t know if people understand the toll your back and arms are taking. There’s a lot of pressure going through your lower back, knees, and ankles during a race. The lower body is very tense. Getting in the cold for a good three minutes really helps bring down the body temperature and resets you mentally.

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Those are even more crucial on the race weekends, before or after the race sessions. I used to save the cold plunges until we got back home, but this past year we’ve brought them behind the garage. I’m so hot when I get out of the car, and there’s no shower where we are. I’m heading to engineering soaked with sweat. They’ve become such a big part of my regime that I‘ll bring a cold plunge into the hotel room when I can. That and a little coffee are the best way to start a race day.

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