Hotel safety tips: How to choose the best hotel room, best hotel location

When it comes to your safety, hotels can be your best source of security while traveling. While hotels are constantly making improvements to improve their safety, there’s nothing worse than discovering your passport has been stolen or your laptop is broken thanks to a disabled door lock and a fast thief.

While you’re searching for your next hotel, keep these safety tips top of mind.

What makes a safe hotel:

Never compromise your safety for a dollar. A great deal on hotel room can certainly cushion you budget, but it’s worthless if the hotel is in a bad neighborhood or isn’t up to code on things like door locks and surveillance cameras. Once you find the right location, narrow down your hotel choices by taking into consideration the following:

  • Is each room equipped with a dead bolt lock and a peephole?
  • Does the hotel room have an electronic guest room lock? Key locks are cute and add a bit of charm, but electronic doors track the comings-and-goings of all who enter.
  • Do the hotel rooms have a telephone enabled with emergency call button or the ability dial outside of the hotel?
  • Do photos of the hotel show well-lit hallways, parking garages and lobby areas? (Side note: never book a hotel without viewing pictures first).
  • Hotels with limited entry/exit options usually have less foot-traffic, which keeps stragglers off the premises.
  • Does the hotel provide 24-hour concierge/security? Knowing someone is on duty at all times allows for peace of mind if you’re feeling unsafe.
  • Before booking a hotel room in an international destination, make sure it’s in a safe area by checking with the US Embassy in that country.

When arriving at your hotel:

  • Stay with your luggage at all times. If a bellman offers to take your bags, make sure to keep the bag with your laptop, wallet and jewelry in it, and get the Bellman’s name.
  • Once you check in, grab a few hotel cards or matchbooks with the hotel’s address on it and place them in your bag. If you get lost, you have the address and phone number ready to give to a cab driver.

Selecting the safest hotel room:

  • While the higher floors have the best views, the lower floors have quicker access to the ground. In the event of an emergency, you want to get out fast. Keep in mind that some fire departments, including those in the United States, can only reach as high as floor 8 in an emergency.
  • Whenever possible, do not take a hotel room on the ground floor if it has doors and windows that open to the outside. This is particularly important for motels with rooms off parking lots. If you can’t get a room on a higher floor, forgo your view and choose a room facing the interior or courtyard.
  • Guestrooms near the elevators are generally the safest, but can also be the noisiest. If you’re staying alone, request that your room is in the middle of the hallway or near an elevator – while the alcoves and corner rooms are very intimate and offer great views, they are also somewhat hidden making it easier for thieves to access.

After arriving in your room, check for the following:

  • If the hotel room you’re staying in has older door locks (metal keys instead of the electronic key cards) make sure to check the deadbolt and safety chain when you arrive in your room. If they seem jittery or loose, ask to change rooms.
  • Check the closets and bathrooms for anything left from the last guests and ensure all windows and adjoining doors shut and lock properly.
  • Check the phone to make sure an outside line is accessible.
  • Locate the nearest fire exit and count how many doors along the way until you reach the exit. In the event of a fire and heavy smoke, counting the doors will ensure you get to safety if you can’t see.

When you leave your hotel room:

  • Leave the television on – it gives the impression someone is in the room. Ask the maid service to keep the TV on or turn on the radio during turn-down service.
  • The ‘please make up my room’ sign is also code for ‘I’m not here’. Don’t worry about making your bed or needing clean towels – maid service keeps track of the rooms and what’s been cleaned, so they’ll get to you regardless of whether you have the sign on your door. If you don’t need your room serviced, place the “Do not disturb” sign on your door when you leave. This gives the impression you’re inside.
  • If you have valuables and don’t have an in-room safe, ask to use the security vault in the hotel. If you have an in-room safe, use it!

Now that you’re armed with the best hotel safety tips, get out of your room and enjoy your trip!