Hotels are a necessary part of the travel experience. Be it one night or several months, a hotel is your temporary home away from home. But the difference between a hotel and your home is that a hotel can be fraught with danger. I don’t mean to be an alarmist, but we all know that there are bad people in the world—and a hotel might just be a good breeding ground for them. Let me offer these eight points that you may not have considered when you check into your temporary home.
Mum’s the word on your name. When you check into a hotel, you want to avoid saying your name out loud. Present your confirmation to the front desk clerk, but there is no reason to announce your name to any eavesdroppers who might use it later trying to get you to let your guard down.
Protect your room number. Most better hotels no longer print room numbers on keys and cards. Most better hotels also do not announce your room number. But, if your room number does get announced, ”bellman, take Mr. Smith to Room 716,” ask for another room. Again, there is no reason for anyone to know your room unless you want them to.
I’ll take two. Ask for two keys. Especially if you are traveling alone. Most hotels rent by the room and not by the bed, so it doesn’t matter if it is single or double occupancy to the hotel. This way, if anyone is eavesdropping, they can assume that you are not the sole occupant.
Watch your pass. Make sure that any parking passes required to be displayed on your vehicle do not display your name or your room number. If your car is seen across town with a sticker that states your name and room number, how hard is it to convince a front desk clerk or a housekeeper for a spare key?
Look around. Always check out your room before you accept it. Prop open the door while you check it out in case you need to make a quick retreat. Make sure it is clean, the windows are secure, the door locks, and there are no boogiemen in the closet or under the bed. I checked into the Hilton at Stansted airport once and the hotel had forgotten the sleeping man had extended his stay and sold us the room. We all were very surprised! But check outside of your room as well. Locate the fire exit and make sure the door to the stairwell actually opens. Count the doors to the stairwell—it will help in a smoke filled corridor.
Going up? Keep an eye out in elevators. If you feel uncomfortable, don’t take it. If you are in there with someone else and you feel out of sorts, press the next floor and get out. Choose your floor last—no need to allow others to select their floor based on yours. And finally, if possible, stand near the control panel. If you get in trouble try to press as many buttons as possible (other than the emergency stop)—the goal is to open the door and get out or call for help.
Hotel communications. If someone calls or comes to your room unexpectedly, verify the legitimacy with the front desk prior to answering any questions or opening the door. Never open the door for someone you did not request or verify. It is always a good idea to vacate a room when a hotel employee is working in there (maintenance or housekeeping). You never want to be in a room alone with a stranger.
Knobs and knockers. Never hang anything on the doorknob. Do Not Disturb—easily turned around by a prankster (I have done it) to request maid service. Make Up Room Now—pretty much says the room is vacant. Be cautious on ordering any services like breakfast or dry cleaning. Often the order forms indicate your name, room number, and an expected time for the service. What happens when the bad guy collects yours at night knowing that you are expecting a knock at the door at 7:30am?
Be reminded, bad things happen everywhere in the world and the only person who is responsible for your safety is you. But taking a few extra minutes to observe your surroundings, and keeping safety in the forefront of your mind could quite literally save your life. Do you have any safety tips you want to share? Please leave a comment!
PS: Here’s one more. In a high rise hotel, make sure you stay below the 8th floor. The tallest ladders and booms on rescue apparatus is about 100′, when you factor in that they will be away from the building, 7 floors is about the max!