Hotel Safety

Secure Hotel Selection 

Most international hotel chains have properties staffed by local experts and managed by first class hoteliers.  You can expect levels of safety and security to be high at these chain hotels.  Ask your travel agent for a list of recommended hotels.

Making Reservations

Limit the number of people involved in helping you make a reservation.  Where practical, make your own reservations.

If you are traveling overseas to a potentially dangerous destination, consider making reservations with your employer’s street address.  Do not identify your company name.  Do not use your personal credit card.  The less information known about you, your travel itinerary or firm you represent, the better to ensure your safety.

  • If you are scheduled to arrive after 6:00 p.m., ensure your hotel reservation is guaranteed for late arrival.
  • Find out about parking arrangements if you are hiring a car so you know where you can safely park.
  • Always audit your monthly credit card statements for unauthorized use, particularly after you return from an overseas trip.

Arriving at or Departing From the Hotel

Travelers are at their most vulnerable between the point of disembarkation until arrival at their hotel and from leaving the hotel to the point of embarkation for the return trip.  Do not linger or wander unnecessarily in the car park, garage or public spaces around the hotel.  Be aware of your surroundings. Watch for distractions meant to set up a pickpocket, luggage or handbag theft.

  • Never leave your luggage unattended.  Stay with your luggage until it is brought into the hotel or loaded into your car / taxi / limo.
  • Use the bellman where available.  Luggage left in the care of the hotel means the hotel to be liable for this property.
  • Stay with your luggage until it is brought into the lobby, or placed into a taxi or limo.  
  • If arriving by car, try to park as near to the hotel access point as possible in a well-lit area.  Remove all of your belongings from the car. If necessary, place items in the trunk/boot.
  • If the valet takes care of your car leave only the keys for the car.  Often the valet service is provided by a third party provider for the hotel.
  • Travelers who feel vulnerable should consider asking the hotel for an escort to their vehicle.

Registration

Many countries will insist on holding your passport temporarily this may at the hotel, with the police or other authorities.  Ensure you get your passport back as quickly as possible.

  • Be aware of your surroundings and anyone who may be paying close attention to your arrival (other than hotel staff)
  • If you carry your luggage into the hotel, keep it with you.
  • Ground floor rooms opening to a pool area or beach with sliding glass doors and window access are considered vulnerable. Depending upon the situation exercise a higher level of security if assigned to a first floor room.
  • Travelers who feel vulnerable may want to request rooms away from the elevator landing and stairwells.  This is to avoid being caught by surprise by persons exiting the elevator or hiding in the stairwell.
  • Accept bellman assistance upon check-in.  Allow the bellman to open the room, turn the lights on and check the room to ensure it is vacant and ready for your stay.  Before dismissing the bellman, always inspect the door lock, the locks on any sliding glass doors, optical viewer, privacy latch or chain, guestroom safes, dead bolt lock on an interconnecting suite door and the telephone.  If an item is not in proper working order, request a room change.  
  • Ask where the nearest fire stairwell is located.  Make a mental note which direction you must turn and approximately how many steps you need to travel to the nearest stairwell.  In the event of a fire, there may be dense smoke and no lighting to guide your exit.
  • Also observe where the nearest house telephone is located in case of an emergency.  Determine if the telephone is configured so anyone can dial a guestroom directly, or whether the phone is connected to the switchboard.  Most security-conscious hotels require a caller to identify who they are attempting to reach rather than providing a room number.
  • Take note of how hotel staff are uniformed and identified.  Many "pretext" crimes occur by persons misrepresenting themselves as hotel employees on house telephones to gain access to guestrooms.  Avoid permitting a person into the guestroom unless you have confirmed the person is authorized to enter.  This can be verified by using the optical viewer and by calling the front desk.

Hotel Room Key

Keep your room key with you at all times.  The two most common ways thieves determine if a person is in their hotel room is to 1.) Look at the hotel room mail slot and 2.) Call the room on the house phone.  If your room key is in the mail slot, you are obviously out.  The coast is clear for a thief or someone interested in searching your room and luggage. 

Upon Arrival

  • Invest in a good map of the city.  Mark significant points on the map such as your hotel, the embassy, hospital and police stations.  Study the map.  Make mental note of alternative routes to your hotel or local office should your map become lost or stolen.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Look up and down the street before exiting a building.
  • Learn how to use the local telephones; educate yourself on what local numbers to call for emergency responders.  Make sure you always have extra coins which work in local telephones.
  • Avoid jogging or walking in unfamiliar cities.  If you must jog, be aware of the traffic patterns when crossing public streets.  Joggers have been seriously injured by failing to understand local traffic conditions.

Valuables

Valuables should be left at home.  If you must carry valuables, the best way to protect them is to secure them in your local office.  If that is not possible, the next best course of action is to seal any valuables by double enveloping them, initialing across the seams and taping all edges and seams before depositing them in the hotel's safe deposit box or safe.

Luggage

Keep your luggage locked whenever you are out of the room.  This will not stop a professional thief or intelligence agent but it will keep a curious maid honest.

Passport

Keep your passport with you at all times. The only time that you should relinquish it is:

  • To the hotel if required by law when registering.
  • If you are required to identify yourself to local authorities.

At night, lock your passport and other valuables in your luggage.  This eliminates the possibility of a mysterious disappearance while you are asleep or in the shower.

Utilize a portable or improvised burglar alarm while asleep.  Two ash trays and a water glass are quite effective as an alarm when placed on the floor in front of the entry door into your room.  Place a water glass in one ashtray.  Put the second ashtray on top of the glass.  If a straight chair is available, place it next to the door and put the ash tray/water glass alarm on the edge of the chair where it will fall with enough noise to awaken you if the door is opened.

Guest Rooms are a "Safe Haven"

  • While hotels in most locations are required by law to provide reasonable care to ensure guests have a safe and secure stay, they are not required to guarantee guest security.  You are responsible for your personal security and property.
  • While in your hotel room, keep the door closed and engage the dead bolt and privacy latch or chain.  A limited number of hotel emergency keys can override the dead bolt locks; to ensure privacy, use the latch or chain.
  • Hoteliers provide guestroom "safes" for the convenience of guests.  However, these containers are not as durable as bank safes.  They can be broken into and guests should always place money or valuables in the safe deposit box at the front desk of the hotel.
  • When leaving the guestroom, ensure the door properly closes and is secured.  Make a mental note of how your property was left; avoid leaving valuables in plain view or in an unorganized manner.
  • If you determine an item is missing, conduct a thorough search prior to reporting the incident to hotel security.  Do not expect to receive a copy of the security report, as it is an internal hotel document.  The incident should be reported to the local police, your embassy or consulate and your insurance carrier.  Hotel security can provide a letter verifying you reported missing property.
  • Prior to traveling, it is recommended you copy all credit cards, passports, air tickets and other documents to facilitate the reporting of lost or stolen items.  While traveling abroad, secure these documents in the room safe or deposit box.  Carry copies of your passport and visa.
  • Request housekeeping clean your room while you are at breakfast instead of leaving a "Please Service This Room" sign on the doorknob.  This sign is a signal to criminals the room is unoccupied.
  • If you are required to use a parking sticker on your auto, be sure it does not indicate your name or room number.
     

Around The Hotel

Many international hotels have spent large sums of money to ensure your safety and security.  Fire safety equipment, CCTV and security patrols are often part of the hotel's security procedures.  Regardless of the level of security provided by the hotel, you need to become familiar with certain aspects of the hotel’s security profile.  This will take on increased significance if you are forced, for security reasons, to stay at only one hotel in a particular location.

  • Consider varying the time and route by which you leave and return to the hotel.  Be aware of anyone who may be watching your movements.
  • Note if the hotel security locks certain access points after dark.  Plan to use the main entrance upon your return to the hotel.
  • Speak with the bellman, concierge and front desk regarding safe areas around the city in which to jog, dine or sightsee.  Ask about local customs and know which taxi companies to use or avoid.
  • Do not take valuables to the spa or gym.  Make a mental note of where the house phones are located in case you need one in an emergency.
  • Be cautious when entering restrooms in the hotel.  On occasion, unauthorized persons use these facilities to deal drugs or engage in prostitution or theft.  Female travelers should be alert to placing purses on hangers on the inside of the lavatory doors or on the floor in stalls.  These are two frequent locations for grab and run thefts.
  • Criminals often use areas around public telephones to stage pickpocket activity or theft.  Keep briefcases and purses in view or, where possible, in hand while using phones.  Caution is urged in safeguarding telephone credit card numbers.  Criminals wait for callers to announce credit card numbers on public phones; they then sell the numbers for unauthorized use.
  • The pool or beach is a known area for thieves to take advantage of guests who may be enjoying their vacation, relaxing and being a little more off guard than usual.  Leave valuables in the hotel.  Safeguard your room key and camera.  Sign for food and beverages on your room bill rather than carry cash.
  • Prostitutes take advantage of travelers around the world through various ploys including the use of "knock out" drugs and theft from the victim's room.  Avoid engaging persons you do not know; refrain from inviting them to your guestroom.