• Sunday, June 16, 2024
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Be cautious of hotel room safety


Access to your room by strangers, and protection of your belongings, are the basic issues of hotel security. This is where the question of electronic door locks and key control comes into play. It is a virtual certainty that people unknown to you such as the cleaning staff will enter your room when you are not present, and the door will be left open for a period of time each day. Well-managed hotels have elaborate security procedures in place to control who is issued a key.

Some hotels can monitor when and with which key a room is entered, and there are usually regulations about staff room cleaning procedures to thwart intruders. Out of the way hotels in foreign countries, and some hotels in less developed countries, often do not have secure door locks. In some cases, the hotel staff may actually target you and your belongings. Your level of security awareness and the precautions you take must be adjusted for each city and area you visit, but there are standard minimal precautions that apply almost anywhere. Here are some tips to protect yourself and your belongings when you travel:

Do not leave valuables in your room when you are absent. Use the hotel safe, and get a receipt for what you leave there. Professional thieves and hotel staffs are usually aware of every possible hiding place for valuables. Some hotels provide a safe in each guest room for storing valuables. Be aware that there could be an insurance liability coverage issue if you use a guest room safe rather than using the main hotel safe (for instance, your credit card loss/theft policy may not apply if you use the room safe). When you are in your room, lock the door, use the chain lock, and use your door peephole to identify people who knock at your door. In situations where there may be no chain lock and no peephole, you should carry a good quality traveler’s door lock, a doorstop alarm that wedges against the base of the door, or a motion detector.

Do not open the door for unexpected visitors. Call the front desk to verify that someone claiming to be making a service call is from the hotel. Overseas, where a language barrier may complicate such a call, you should definitely carry your own interior door lock so that even someone with a key may be barred from entering when you are in the room. Some hotels and motels that do not have their own dining facilities allow food to be delivered to your room from outside the hotel. It is best to have such deliveries made to the lobby. Delivery to your room allows an outsider to meet you, know your room number and determine whether you are alone. It is especially perilous for women traveling alone to have such details known by an outsider. Also, be careful about the leftovers you leave on a tray outside your door. A single drinking cup with lipstick marks and/or remnants of a single meal can alert passersby to the fact that you are alone in the room and can help them to determine your level of vulnerability.

When you are sleeping, make sure that your deadbolt lock and chain locks are in place and that no window or sliding door will provide access to an intruder. When you are not in your room, you may want passersby to believe that it is occupied. If possible, find out the hours for maid service, so that you may place the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on your door and leave the TV or radio on at an audible level. At out-of-the-way foreign destinations, this may be difficult because room cleanings may not be at appointed hours, and maids may have instructions to take down ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs in your absence. Most security specialists advise you to keep your room key with you at all times in and out of the hotel so that no one (including hotel staff) can see by checking the front desk that you are not in your room. If you decide to use a hotel fitness room or pool, it is a good idea to leave your key at the front desk rather than with your belongings. At some foreign destinations, hotels require you to turn your room key in as you go out.

With a few simple precautions, you can improve your personal security and protect your belongings even if there may be criminals lurking about your hotel.