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In 1924 David Hilbert conceived a paradoxical tale involving a hotel with an infinite number of rooms to illustrate some aspects of the mathematical notion of "infinity." In continuous-variable quantum mechanics we routinely make use of infinite state spaces: here we show that such a theoretical apparatus can accommodate an analog of Hilbert's hotel paradox. We devise a protocol that, mimicking what happens to the guests of the hotel, maps the amplitudes of an infinite eigenbasis to twice their original quantum number in a coherent and deterministic manner, producing infinitely many unoccupied levels in the process. We demonstrate the feasibility of the protocol by experimentally realizing it on the orbital angular momentum of a paraxial field. This new non-Gaussian operation may be exploited, for example, for enhancing the sensitivity of NOON states, for increasing the capacity of a channel, or for multiplexing multiple channels into a single one.

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Physical Review Letters