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[ISN] Hotel room security check
By Bambi Vincent
Aug 18 2010
Bob and I sleep more nights in hotels than in our own home and, to date,
we have never been ripped off in a hotel room. True, we use a certain
amount of care, but our laptops are usually left out and sometimes
valuables are more hidden than locked. We stay in hotels ranked from six
stars to no stars, depending on our sponsors and our intentions. In each
hotel room, we make a quick and automatic assessment of risks and adjust
our behavior to correspond. We have never walked out of a hotel* because
of safety issues; we simply adopt the necessary precautions.
We evaluate several pivotal points:
The room key: we prefer electronic card keys. Old-fashioned metal keys
can be copied, and where might copies be floating around? Electronic
locks are usually recoded after each guest. Most electronic locks save
records of whose keys have recently gained entry. Authorized keys are
registered to their users. So if a guest reports a problem, security can
tap into records stored in the lockâs mechanism and see the last ten or
so entries, be they housekeeping, an engineer, a minibar man, or the
Electronic key cards should not be marked with a room number. Theyâre
usually given in a folder which identifies the room. Leave the folder in
the room when you go out and carry just the un-numbered magnetic card.
If you lose the key, the safety of your room wonât be compromised.
Some hotels still use metal keys attached to a big fat ornament and
expect guests to leave keys at the front desk when going out. Iâm not
fond of this method for several reasons. First, I prefer privacy and
anonymity rather than announcing my comings and goings. In some hotels,
anyone can look at the hooks or pigeonholes behind the desk and know if
a room is occupied or empty. Second, I donât care for the delay entailed
in asking for the key on returning. I could just take the thing with me,
but its design discourages that. So third, I donât want to haul around a
chunk of brass the size of a doorknocker. And finally, these keys are
usually well identified with the name of the hotel and room number.
Losing it would expose one to substantial risk. When possible, Bob and I
remove the key from its chunk and just carry it, re-attaching it before
check-out. At other times, we go traditional and turn in the key as the
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