Hide your room number
Keep your room number hidden as you move about the hotel. This will prevent unwelcome calls or visits, particularly for female guests. It will also help prevent other guests from charging things to your room.
Do not advertise where you are staying
It is inadvisable to display the name of the hotel you are staying at when you are out and about in the town. Do not display the key-card or material showing the name prominently. You do not want to be noticed as being from out-of-town, and it is wise to minimise the risk of being followed or ambushed.
Secure the door
If you are worried about a hotel employee entering your room while you are asleep, carry a plastic door-wedge with you in your luggage. Push the pointy end under the door when you go to bed.
In some countries it is possible to purchase a special strong strap that prevents the dead-lock from being opened from the outside. This only works when you are inside, of course!
Use a door alarm
You can buy an inexpensive personal alarm that kicks up a rumpus when the door is opened. These either have a magnetic strip or a pin that pulls out. Attach it to the door and if the door opens the alarm will sound. If you use one of those you will need to take some Blu Tack, or similar removable putty (Prestik, Zorkai, Tack-it, Poster Putty, etc.) to make it easier to hold it in place.
Check the fire exits
As soon as you get into your room, locate the fire exits. In many countries it is customary to have a map of the fire exits on the back of the door. Secure the room and go to check the exits. Check if the fire door is blocked or locked and complain if either of those is the situation.
If there are no notices, check the signage in the passage. If that does not help, ask at reception.
Beware the sensored mini-bar
Beware of the mini-bar – some Dubai hotels and others have scanners built into the fridge, and if you take anything out you are automatically billed for it. The scanner does not put it back in stock if you return the item to the fridge.
Electricity in Green hotels
In Green-minded hotels you will frequently have to put your key-card into a wall unit in order to have electrical supply in the room. This means, for instance, that you can only recharge your cell phone while you are present. In some older hotels you can fool the sensor using a piece of card to hold open the contacts. More modern hotels read the key-card and you can’t use that trick.
Two pin connector fits most places, with thumping
A European-style two-pin plug is surprisingly versatile. Since that is commonly the sort of electrical connection cell phone chargers come with, this is useful to know. It fits into the deep German-style socket (also used in Turkey) without a problem. It can, with a minimum of violence, be forced into the live and neutral sockets of the UK and Irish style three-pin socket (though to be honest a “toothbrush”-style 1 Amp adaptor plug is inexpensive and less likely to upset hotel management, should they see it).
Which floor to book?
Fire and rescue equipment works best up to the fifth floor. If that is a concern to you then you are best advised to stay on a lower floor.
However, theft from rooms is more common on the lower floors. The higher you go the lower the risk usually is of theft by outside parties, because the thief does not want the risk of discovery. Since it takes significantly longer to get out of the hotel from higher floors the risk of a theft being discovered and ground floor staff being alerted is greater for the thief.
Don’t leave them in your room unless you feel you can trust the safe in the room. Your other options are 1) take them with you, which may work best if you are big and scary-looking and do not have a lot of valuables with you or 2) leave them in the main hotel safe for safekeeping. Our personal view is that by checking things in to the hotel safe you tend to draw unwanted attention to yourself and your belongings, which may increase the risk. Rather travel with few valuables.
With a bit of planning you can probably reduce your valuables while on holiday to a cheap watch, a cell phone, your passport, a small amount of cash, your credit cards and a camera. Those can be carried distributed about your person without attracting attention. A sling bag with a woven nylon strap (not easily sliced by a knife) and a flap that cannot be opened by pulling can securely hold the bulkier items.
“Please service this room”
Never put out the “Please service this room” sign as it advertises to all and sundry that you are not there. Handy information for would-be thieves. Phone room service instead.
“Do not disturb”
If you greatly mistrust the hotel cleaning staff then you could leave the “Do not Disturb” sign displayed even when you are out of the room. This is only recommended for times that you have genuine reason to mistrust the staff. Most of us enjoy having our bed made, towels replaced and things cleaned and tidied.
If you are booking your hotel as a DIY on line, be sure to email them any extra safety requests, such as lower or higher floor if that is a concern.