Why I will always use the safety latch at a hotel

Last week I had an overall pleasant stay at a hotel in upstate New York. People were nice, my room was pleasant, the Do not disturb 3bathroom recently renovated, etc. I checked in around 930pm, getting to my room just in time to watch an episode of Property Brothers and go to bed. The next morning I ate a tasty breakfast in the hotel restaurant, but afterward the first strange thing happened. When I tried to log in to the internet using my last name and room number the system didn’t recognize me. After a few more attempts the restaurant manager was able to use a different code to get me connected. I shrugged it off, finished my work, and headed into the office.

After a very productive work day I returned to the hotel around 5:30 and decided a pre-dinner nap was in order. But when I opened my door, I noticed the second strange thing: my room hadn’t been serviced. I left that morning a little after 8, so there was plenty of time while I was out for housekeeping to come by. And in all my years of traveling, I don’t think I’ve ever not had my room serviced. Honestly though, it’s not that big of a deal to me and I didn’t want to get some poor housekeeper in trouble, (plus I was pretty tired) so I changed my clothes and started to get settled  in for my nap.

Then the third strange thing happened. I was about to lay down when a hotel employee knocked on my door with a plate of fruit and a bottle of wine. “Jane Smith?” he asked. “No, that’s not me,” I replied. “Oh,” he said, looking baffled. “I was told she’s going to be staying in this room tonight and I was supposed to drop this off for her before she arrived.” After I repeated again that I wasn’t the lady he was looking for the man left. I locked the door with the deadbolt and security latch, then finally laid down for my nap.

I got about twenty minutes of sleep before the next strange thing happened. I heard keys rattling outside my door. “Please don’t be coming to my room!” I thought. Alas, no such luck. About a minute later my door is opened, without any knocking, despite the deadbolt being locked. The only reason the door didn’t open all the way is because I had the security latch on. “Security!” someone called out.

Okay. So first off, I want to catch up those readers who missed my announcement yesterday: I am pregnant with twins. Had I not been pregnant, I would have jumped up and run to the door to see what the heck was going on. However, I am pregnant, and jumping up to do anything is just not available to me right now. In fact, it would have taken me about three to five minutes to get from laying down, to sitting, to the door to talk to this person (not exaggerating). Instead, I just replied, “Can I help you??” in an aggravated voice (because let’s face it, I was freaking aggravated).

“Security!” he called out again. And again, I replied, “Yes. Can I help you???” He said something I didn’t catch and closed the door.

I laid there for a few minutes debating what to do. Finally I decided I needed to call the front desk and find out what the deal was. Three to five minutes later I was waddling over to the phone when it rang. It was the front desk manager, who asked me what my name was. I told her, and she said, “Okay. For some reason you were not properly checked into your room last night, and we didn’t have a record of you staying there.” At this point I’ve basically had it, and gave her a list of all of the strange events of the day. She asked if she could call back in a few minutes after doing some research. At that point, she apologized profusely, said I wouldn’t be charged for the previous night’s stay, and would be awarded 10k points for the hassle. I accepted, end of story.

But I couldn’t get past that security guy just walking into my room. What if I had been showering, or changing, or doing one of the other myriad things people do in their hotel room? I had the deadbolt on, but that didn’t seem to matter. And if the security guy could get in, it sure as heck means some other person could get in too. Prior to this point I used the security latch most of the time, but I know that I haven’t been 100% in using it. I know that the security latch isn’t foolproof, but it should stop all but the most determined of people. So moving forward I will be using it every single time I shut my hotel door, forever and ever.

I know this is a long piece, and if you’ve stuck with me throughout the whole thing I appreciate it. But it’s just one of the strangest things that’s ever happened to me in a hotel. Oh, and so far I haven’t gotten my 10k points yet. If those don’t show up you can bet I will be calling that front desk manager back.

Readers, have you ever had an experience like this?

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  1. Sure have had a similar experience! But it was other hotel guests that came into our room. We didn’t have the latch on because we weren’t quite going to sleep yet (just getting settled).

    Front desk apologized briefly via phone. At checkout, when asked about our stay, we mentioned that it was fine except when other guests came into our room. She said, “I’m sorry to hear about that. You’re all set. Have a nice day.”

    Maybe I need status to matter?

  2. We had this happen twice in the same day during a stay at the Hyatt Regency at Lake Tahoe. Our stay was otherwise wonderful but even tough we were properly checked in we had staff knock once and then immediately open the door, even with the deadbolt locked to restock the mini fridge and refresh towels. The first time my wife was actually changing and only had enough time to through a towel on. What was remarkable was that while we stood there in shock he just walked in and finished stocking the towels and walked out without so much as an apology. We loved our stay but to have it happen twice in one day was unsettling.

  3. I’m a guy and a big one at that, it doesn’t matter who you are all hotel doors should be double locked with the whatever you call it thing you turn with your fingers? Thumb Latch, no idea and on top of that whatever security chain or other device you have in there should be put on, without fail no matter what sort of hotel I am at.

  4. Deadbolt can always be opened from the outside. Just check out the deadbolt on your own front door. The security latch is your only safe guard.

  5. I have a portable alarm system. I take with me when I travel. It is small and easy to activate. Just slide it under the door and turn it on. Search on amazon and you will see similar ones.

  6. All of you who have had ppl barge in,

    Deadbolt is not enough I don’t think you need to have the latch on. Also did you have DND Sign on? For me that sign is on as soon as I get into the room. I wonder if that makes a diff I think u need all 3 bolt, latch DND

  7. I learned my lesson at a hotel in Lithuania back in 2006. My office is in Chicago, and they needed me to sign a document, so they faxed it to my hotel, wrote “urgent” across the top of the document.

    I was in the shower (clear glass door — not frosted) and the front desk clerk came into my room, and came into the bathroom, holding the faxed sheet of paper, proclaiming “urgent! it says urgent!” while I’m totally naked, soaped and shampooed up.
    I’m sure the clerk thought that he was going above and beyond, helping out the American businessman, but ever since then, I use the latch!

  8. Was on a business trip 4000 miles away from home, visiting a large city, staying at a hotel assigned to me by my employer. The room was to be shared with a co-worker who would be arriving four hours later.

    In my hotel alone I received a knock at the door. Somewhat surprised, I went to the hotel room door and stood behind a locked door and asked who it was at the door. I was advised it was the police and they asked for me to open the door. This seemed odd to me.

    I did not unlock the door nor did I convey any suspicion.

    My response. I politely advised I will call the front desk to have some one from management come to my floor and to please wait.

    I phoned the front desk and advised the police were at my hotel room door. The front desk informed me they did not notify the police. The front desk also could not be bother to follow up either.

    The strange man at the door left and nothing happened. It just seemed strange to me and I am glad I listened to my intuition. I would say if someone comes to your hotel door and says it is the “police” or “security,” I would again not open the door and advise to the stranger you will be calling the front desk.

    This is why I prefer travelling by cruises. I feel safe and do not have to be on hyper alert when traveling. Yes, I am in a bubble but health and safety come first.

  9. This has happened to me as well… TWICE! I always use the DND sign, deadbolt, AND latch. On the flip side, I’ve also been checked into a room that were already occupied. This guy had his laptop out, a watch, and other valuables sitting right there…. a good reminder that your stuff is not safe inside a hotel room.

  10. Yep, happened to me (while I was pregnant and taking a much needed nap!) at the Parker Meridian in NY. Security came in saying that they had to check the safe. I was sleeping and wasn’t fully clothed because I had just done an overnight photoshoot and was exhausted. So pissed. They never really apologized and I never stayed there again.

  11. Have had a few times when hotels checked me into occupied rooms. A couple of times the occupants were there upon entry and a couple of times just their possessions were there. BTW, Misha, cruises are not immune to the issue on boarding day.

  12. I was ready to love the Radisson Blu Mayfair in London but neither of the rooms we stayed in had the inside over the door latch. I did feel a bit uncomfortable not being able to lock in that way. Now at the Intercontinental Park Lane and the door has one. It does provide a bit of piece of mind.

  13. New reader and fellow road wariorette here – congrats on your pregnancy!

    I have been checked into an already-occupied room more than once. The most memorable time, I walked into a room with a fully naked man laying on the bed!

    I walked back to the front desk and told them what had just happened. The clerk, deadpan, asked, “and was he not to your satisfaction, ma’am?”

  14. We always educate our members on Maiden Voyage to apply the chain and DND signs for the very reason that hotels regularly double allocate rooms. A while ago I was in Champneys health spa and a guy (member of staff) just waltzed in with a hot drink as if it was for a guest – but he didn’t knock and seemed very surprised to find me in there.

    I was also informed of an incident of where a hotel gave another guest the key to a ladies room, she was asleep when he entered, unfortunately he got into bed with her and sexually assaulted her.

    For these reasons and many more we only recommend hotels where we have physically tested the locks.

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