The last thing you want to worry about on holiday is hotel safety. But a great day spent sampling French cheeses or exploring Roman ruins can be spoilt if you return to a ransacked hotel room.
While there’s no need to be overly concerned about thefts, natural disasters and personal breaches, threats to hotel guests are always possible. We aren’t suggesting you batten down the hatches and prepare for the worst, but it pays to take some simple precautionary steps to ensure your holiday is as trouble-free as possible.
Here are seven ways you can stay safe at your hotel.
1. Do your homework
Before booking your hotel, start by doing some research on the security situation of the city and/or country you’ll be visiting. Pay close attention to location, too. Are there particular neighbourhoods that are safer than others? Is your neighbourhood considered safe to walk around in after dark? Is there a police station nearby? All these factors are important.
2. Know your area
When choosing a hotel, don’t just consider the rates and amenities. Find out about the hotel’s level of security. Try to call ahead and ask whether the front desk is staffed 24 hours a day; if they have security guards on the premises; and if there are security cameras in operation in communal areas. Another important question is whether guest room floors are restricted to guests only. If the hotel staff is vague about security measures, or any answers don’t sit right with you, book elsewhere.
3. Choosing your room
When you arrive at your hotel, avoid taking a room on the ground floor, if you can. Safety experts say rooms above the third floor are safest, as these are high enough to be difficult to break into through windows, but not too high for fire ladders to reach.
When it comes to motels where the doors open directly onto an outdoor area (as opposed to a hallway), try to request a booking that overlooks an interior courtyard, rather than a parking lot.
4. Be discreet
To make sure nobody knows your room number except you, ask the desk attendant to write it down on a piece of paper and pass it you, instead of announcing it out loud. If the desk attendant calls it out too loudly, politely ask to be given a different room.
5. Get the lay of the land
While you’re checking in, ask for the telephone call out line and which number you should dial in case of emergency.
Once you arrive at your room, immediately locate the fire escapes and check your proximity to the nearest emergency exit (you should always avoid lifts during emergencies).
Test the locks on the windows and doors. If any are loose or malfunctioning, alert the front desk. It’s a good idea to check the locks each time you leave the hotel, as housekeeping may open them and forget to lock up again.
6. During your stay
Even when you’re in your room, it’s good practice to keep the door locked. Never prop the door open and disappear, even for a quick moment.
When you’re sleeping, keep a pair of shoes by the bed – along with your wallet, phone, passport, a torch and your room key. This will save time in the event you need to leave in a hurry.
Keep your valuables safe during the day by using the hotel safe, locking them in your suitcase or leaving them with the front desk. If you choose this last option, make sure you get a signed receipt on the hotel’s official stationery of anything you’ve left with them.
While you’re out for the day, you might consider leaving the TV or radio on. A more environmentally conscious option would be to put the Do Not Disturb sign on your door.
7. Stay vigilant
If you notice anything suspicious or you’re concerned about the security of your hotel during your stay, don’t hesitate to let the staff know. Areas where lights have burnt out or windows are stuck open may be cause for concern. Even if you yourself are not at risk, it might help someone else.
What actions do you take to stay safe at hotels? Have you learnt any lessons the hard way?