I spend a lot of my life in hotels. It’s part and parcel of the job. Yet, because each hotel is different, it’s important that you take a few steps to make sure that your stay is as safe as possible. Here’s how…
Arriving at your Hotel
When checking in, ask the staff for a few business cards with the hotel address in the local language. When out and about, it can be quite easy to become disorientated and find yourself lost. If the taxi driver doesn’t speak your language, all of a sudden you can find yourself in a bit of a mess. However if you hand them the card with an address they can understand, your problem is solved.
Conversely, if you want to avoid getting yourself lost in the first place, get yourself an app like CityMaps2Go. By downloading the map of your local area to your phone, you can pinpoint your location with the GPS on your phone. Even if your data roaming is turned off, this will still work.
When arriving at your room, open the door and then prop it open with one of your bags. Take a few moments to have a little security sweep of the room whilst the door stays open should you need to make a quick escape. Then, check the fire escape plan on the back of the door.
Locate your nearest exit and then go out and physically count the number of doorways from your room to the exit. In addition, check that the exit is unlocked and obstacle free. If you’re not happy with the condition of the exit, raise it with hotel staff immediately.
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Getting Comfy in Your Room
When you’re happy with your room, close the door behind you and lock it. This includes using any kind of chain or deadbolt that it may have. Whilst you’re here, practice opening the door. This may sound stupid but it’s much easier to work out how the door opens with all the locks engaged in the calm of day, rather than the stress of a night time evacuation.
As part of my flight bag, I always carry a torch. This is obviously essential for the pre-flight walk round at night, but it also comes in handy in my hotel. Arriving in your room, keep your bags away from the exit route and then place a torch by the bed. Some better hotels will have one in the wardrobe or a drawer but try and carry your own with you if you can. LED Lenser do some awesome torches covering all budgets.
Next, place a pair of shoes (not flip-flops) by the door. Very much like keeping your shoes on for take-off and landing, it’s the same in your hotel room. If you have to leave your room in a hurry, you don’t want to being doing so barefoot.
Finally, that little sleeve that your keycard came in with your room number on? Get rid of it. Would you leave your home address connected to your house keys? I didn’t think so.
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Leaving Your Room
Before leaving your room, put any valuable items in the safe. Top tip – work out how the safe locks and unlocks before you put your valuables in there. If you’re the type or person who tends to forget things, put an item in there which you know you can’t leave without. I’ll often put my uniform shoe in there. There’s very little chance of me leaving the hotel in uniform in just one shoe!
Next, remove your key card from the slot by the door and replace it with a card from a previous hotel. The card slot doesn’t need your actual keycard in there, in fact, any card or piece of paper thick enough will work. By doing this, you’ll be able to keep any electrical items charging and the air conditioning on. In addition, turn the TV on and leave it on a volume loud enough to be heard from the corridor but not so loud to disturb your neighbours.
Finally, leave the Do Not Disturb sign on the door. It’s all about creating the impression that someone is in the room. Obviously, if you want the room cleaning, you’ll have to leave the sign off.
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Checking Out of your Hotel
Before leaving your room, do one final sweep for any stray belongings. Look under the bed and check that safe! Common items left behind are adaptors in sockets and swim wear hung on the back of the bathroom door.
On the way out of the door, remember to take that keycard. A common myth is that your keycard stores vast amounts of your personal data including your credit card number and home address. This is not true. However, by taking this card with you means you will have one to use as discussed above on your next hotel stay.
Finally, be sure to get a copy of your room bill. Check the itemised list carefully and question anything with staff which you disagree with. Once you’re happy with it and have paid, take a copy with you. This way, should the hotel subsequently charge you for anything, you have proof of what you have paid for.