How Concerned Are You About Hotel Room Safety?

Filed Under: Hotels

Reader Meghan asked the following question on the “Ask Lucky” page of the blog:

Hi Lucky!

Have you thought much about hotel room security/safety? I’ve been reading your blog for a long time but don’t recall any posts on the topic. Might you consider one? Unfortunately, I think this topic is more on women’s minds but still should be an important issue for everyone.

I generally feel pretty safe in my hotel rooms but I sometimes worry about someone breaking into the room either when I’m in it (and forget to use the deadbolt and latch) or when I’m away. This vine I just came across isn’t making me feel any safer.. Kind of scary in fact.

Here’s the Vine video that Meghan references, which shows someone easily being able to break into a room at a Sheraton:

I’ve certainly picked up a lot of strange habits over the past eight months of living in hotels full time, though many of them are habits I had before.

For example, in 2012 I wrote a post about seven (logical) hotel habits of mine, and then last year I shared three of my (perhaps) more paranoid hotel habits. These include:

  • Walking into the room very slowly (in case there’s someone in there, you don’t want to startle them/make them think you’re the one breaking in)
  • Checking the bathtub/shower (I’ve seen too many thrillers, I guess)
  • Checking all the closets (same reason as above)


I generally do this every time I enter the hotel room.

But beyond my slightly paranoid habits, am I actually concerned about hotel room safety? Not really… at all.


  • I always use the deadbolt when in my room, and there’s not really an easy way someone can break in while that’s in use
  • When you’re not in your room there’s a chance someone could break-in, though that’s no different than when you’re not at home
  • Hotels have limited entry/exit points, security cameras, and rooms in close proximity, so there’s limited upside to someone trying to break in or steal something, in my opinion — the biggest risk is with housekeeping staff

As much as I can be a paranoid person, hotel room safety isn’t something that concerns me in the slightest. Frankly, I’d be kind of terrified living in a standalone home. I’ve long lived in apartments with interior corridors and on higher floors, and I feel as safe in hotels as I do in those types of buildings.

I’m curious how you guys feel about hotel room security — is it something that crosses your mind, and if so, what precautions do you take?

  1. I’ve always been more concerned of slipping in the bathtub while taking a shower. Too many hotels, like this Hilton I’m at now have no bath mat, and has no texture coat.

  2. Lucky, you stated “Hotels have limited entry/exit points, security cameras, and rooms in close proximity”.
    I admit, I watch a lot of those true crime shows (20/20, etc.) and I am always amazed when they find a dead body in a hotel room, a dorm or an apartment where the person was beaten, raped, etc. How could no one hear anything?

  3. I’ve had a few instances that have given me pause. I was once upgraded to a huge suite that had several doors, one was to a bedroom off of the main suite and opposite of the master bedroom. It was a little after 1:00 am when I heard someone trying to get in. Luckily I had dead bolted all the doors so the person could not get in. I called down to the front desk and told them what was happening and they told me that the additional room was not part of the suite. My response was, well why did you leave the adjoin door open! Needless to say, the room had been used by us and this hotel was emphatic that I unbolt the door and lock the adjoin door, so I did. 10 minutes later I heard him on the phone calling downstairs asking to be moved to another room or have housekeeping sent up.

  4. Hotel lobbies are public areas and it is the impossible for hotel staff to know who is a guest and not. When access to elevators are not secures I am always extra careful.

  5. Well not so long ago a drug addict English guy managed to sneak into 3 women with kids romm from united arab emirates in Cumberland hotel central london,stabbing them and leaving terrified kids behind,he managed to enter their room cause one of the sisters left the door partly open when going out to buy some snacks,lesson always close the door,use safety chain,look in the loop before opening and always leave do not disturb sign.

  6. Not paranoid at all. That said i keep finding myself lucking the batroom door from inside when going to bathroom. I totally not afraid that someone enters the hotel room, it is deadlocked. i guess it is a habbit? 🙂

  7. Ground floor could be a potential safety risk. I feel fine up at least one level. Only precaution I take is to make sure the door closes behind me every time I leave and doesn’t stay slightly ajar. (and always there throw the deadbolt or secondary latch at night, but I think of that as normal) It is super easy for non-guests to gain access to a hotel but I’m not worried about my room. If you are really concerned, also make sure that there aren’t peoplr near you when you go in. Lastly, if there is someone you are worried about on the floor when you are going to your room, do a lap around the hotel until they go away so they don’t know where you go in. All in all though, use common sense and you’ll be very safe in most rooms. HTH

  8. @Lynn, this isn’t common – but the way to combat the very rare instance (and things like domestic abuse) it is to always call the front desk if you hear something. Usually that kind of thing happens bc no one wants to call it in, in case they’re wrong about what they heard.

  9. I am curious about one thing – does using the “do not disturb” sign make your room more or less likely to be broken into?

    I have to say I was very lackadaisical about this issue, that is until someone broke into my room and stole my wallet, while I was in there sleeping no less! Now, suffice it to say, I am a big fan of the deadbolt/chain.

  10. @ Matt — Practically speaking I wouldn’t think it would have a huge impact, since nowadays people often have it on no matter what. I suppose it puts you at slightly higher risk, since you’re more likely to be out of your room if using it.

  11. I admit to being stunned that still in this day and age there are people at hotel desk who say very loudly the number of your hotel room before giving it to you – granted more and more hotels are being more covert about your hotel number disclosure but, still, as a woman who travels frequently, I am stunned by how many hotel employees don’t abide by this basic tenant.

  12. When I’m not in the room, I leave the room television going at a volume someone can hear by quietly listening at the door, and put out/turn on the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign.

    I never, ever put out/turn on the ‘Clean Room’ sign, as that’s a dead giveaway that I’m not in the room.

  13. Interesting that people’s views on safety is orientated around intruders etc

    First thing i do after quickly checking my room, is read the fire evac notice and then physically walk the route, counting the doors (smoke will disorientate and to familirise myself with this new environment) I also keep a headtorch next to my bed – again, this is a strange environment.

    Maybe a bit OTT, but military training wont let me not do it now 🙂

    I also do the things listed in the above comments too.

  14. A few more security suggestions (especially for solo travelers):

    1. When traveling, do not tell strangers you encounter what hotel you are staying at. It my seem like innocent small talk but there is no upside to letting a stranger know your location, especially if you are alone.

    2. Upon check-in, when asked how many keys you would like, always request (at least) two keys. This way, even if you are checking in alone, the front desk (and those within earshot) will not assume you are traveling alone.

    3. Inquire if the hotel has a safe for guests. This is likely a more secure option than using an in-room safe for valuables.

    4. If you feel as though you are in danger walking to your room because there is a suspicious person may be watching or following you:

    (a) Go to the front desk and ask for someone from hotel security to escort you to your room. There is literally no downside to this and it may convince the suspicious person to move on.

    (b) If you don’t want hotel security to accompany you, go to the front desk and ask them to call your room in 5 minutes to make sure you made it there safe.

    c) If going to the front desk is not an option, before you walk to your room, place a cell phone call to the front desk or a friend and ask them to stay on the line with you until you are in your room safe. A criminal is less likely to try to push you into your room if they know you are on the phone and can at a minimum scream for help.

    (d) Upon arriving at your room, call hotel security and request that they keep a watch out on your hallway for suspicious activity. Again, no downside to this.

    5. Check under the bed when you enter your room.

    6. If your room has a balcony, make sure the balcony door is locked at all times.

  15. We stayed at a hotel in Vegas and our kids were the last to return to the room. They didn’t use the deadbolt. Later someone with a key entered our room and left after realizing it wasn’t their room. I contacted the manager and didn’t get a response back. Makes you wonder how many different keys they actually issue.

  16. I was staying in a hotel room in San Diego and it must have been maybe 1am in the morning when I heard someone come through my door but whoever it was, was stopped because I had the indoor latch chain locked. So I rant to the door because I thought it was my boyfriend coming back from work and I looked out the door and down the hall but it was silent and not a soul in site. So the next morning I got a janitor to explain what had happened and he said,” you see my key can hardly work to open your door, there is no way possible someone could have opened it”. So I’m curious as to who opened that door.
    This also happened when I was in Laughlin, NV at a casino. My boyfriend and I were in bed and someone used some kind of key device, they opened the door at 3am in the morning and then walked back out of the room. Very strange both occurances.

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