Book the Safest Hotel Rooms When Traveling
It’s probably not a good idea to read hotel horror stories before you set off on your much-anticipated vacation or important business trip. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from others’ experiences and from travel experts when it comes to booking the safest and quietest rooms possible.
You might have already thought about avoiding rooms next to the elevator, ice and vending machines, fitness facility, and pool if you want a quiet night’s rest, but there are other considerations you should make before picking a hotel and booking a room.
When booking your hotel and room
These are the questions you should ask the requests you should make when booking a hotel room, whether you’re traveling internationally or around the U.S.
- Call prospective hotels and ask about their security for guests. Ideally, you want security officers employed by the hotel touring the building 24/7. A hotel that uses a contractor to supply its security force is better than one that doesn’t have any, but experience has shown these “outsourced” officers are less motivated to care for guests as well as those employed directly by the hotel. Also ask if their front desk is staffed 24 hours a day and if there are surveillance cameras in public spaces.
- Request a room on the side of building furthest from the lobby, which would be the main entry point for any attacker or burglar.
- According to International SOS, the world's largest medical and travel security services firm, you should choose a room in U.S. hotels above the first and second floors but lower than the sixth and seventh floors. Floors three through five are less likely to be burgled and they are within reach of most fire engine ladders. In a worst-case scenario, you could even jump from a window on those floors and expect to survive.
- Ideally, you want a room near an emergency exit regardless of floor.
- Avoid rooms on floors immediately above or below any public or event rooms or you may have to endure a loud, late-night event.
- If room doors open directly outside, rather than into an indoor hallway, ask for a room overlooking an interior courtyard instead of a parking lot—both for quiet and safety.
- Solo female travelers can consider booking a room at a hotel with a women’s only floor. A growing number of national and international hotels are offering such an option for added safety and cultural accommodation.
- Avoid rooms with interlocking doors, if possible. That’s just one other entry point into your room and a less-than-perfect barrier against noise.
- Get a room with an in-room safe for your electronics and other valuables. You can usually also leave items at the front desk while you’re out and about. Be sure to get a receipt for anything you leave at the front desk. It’s also smart to ask if you’re covered by the hotel for any loss—from your room or from the front desk.
- Pack a door stop to halt intruders from sneaking into your room while you sleep. You can purchase door stops that have built in alarms when pressed, ensuring you’ll wake up. This is handy when traveling abroad where the standard deadbolt and lock of American hotel room doors might not be so standard.
Traveling for business
Business travelers might have some additional concerns and requests when it comes to the ideal hotel room.
- Inquire about available rooms on higher floors. Larger chain hotels especially often reserve these floors for single travelers or members of their frequent-stay program, ensuring quieter spaces.
- See if the hotel has rooms “outfitted for business.” These rooms will have multiline speaker/conference phones, fax/copy machines, secure Internet access, and expanded workspaces. They may also offer connectivity data ports that allow you to plug-and-play to the room’s TV using your laptop and/or tablet.
When you arrive
You’ve picked the safest and best hotel for your stay, here’s what to do when you check in.
- It’s best practice on the part of the desk attendant to give you your room key without publicly announcing your room number. If they do announce it, ask for a different room and for them not to announce it.
- When you first get to your room, it’s wise to prop it open and do a quick sweep of the room, not only to check it’s tidy, but to also check for any intruders…and even for the last guests who might’ve returned after checkout!
- Check to make sure the room has a functioning deadbolt, an eyehole, and posted evacuation procedures.
- Check the locks on all windows and balcony door. Notify the front desk if any are not working properly. Check these locks each time you return to the room, as housekeeping may have opened them and not locked them again.
During your stay
Finally, here are two steps to ensure your room stays secure during your stay.
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- When you’re not in your room, consider leaving the TV or radio on just loud enough that someone listening against the door can hear the sound. You can also put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door. If you still want your room cleaned, simply phone the request to the front desk.
- Always know where your essentials are in case you need to make a quick exit in the night—think passport, wallet, phone, glasses if you need them, and a pair of shoes to easily slip on. Better yet, put them together within quick grabbing distance of the bed.