Erin Andrew’s hotel peep hole incident and recent lawsuit shouldn’t keep people from traveling. With simple, smart travel know-how, you can be confident each time you walk in a hotel front door!
I’ve spent over 4,000 nights in hotel rooms and on a fear scale, this incident rates down near zero. That’s primarily because I take precautions, now as a matter of habit, that reduce what could be a big fear down to almost nil. And, in the case of Erin Andrews where a camera and rigged peep hole was set up from the adjoining room where the stalker was allowed to know Erin’s room number, the probability of this happening to someone else is downright low.
What are these hotel safety precautions I take that you can also employ? Here’s the checklist:
Before Pulling Up to the Hotel Front Door
- Have the hotel’s phone number in your mobile phone
- Call ahead, request a security guard to meet you in the parking lot and walk with you into the hotel. I do this for late-night arrivals where valet parking is not an option.
- Use valet parking if offered, especially if self-parking is in a big garage where you may not feel comfortable walking alone, whether it be late at night, early in the morning or anytime at all. I love this offering by the Marriott West Loop in Houston – valet parking at the self parking rate for solo-traveling women and wish more hotels offered this.
At the Front Desk
- Ask for a room with an entry door inside the building. If outside entry doors are all the hotel offers, then ask for a room nearest to the office and in a well-lit area.
- If traveling solo, ask for two keys (this gives the impression that you’re not traveling alone).
- Watch your bags at a busy check-in desk, especially your purse and laptop tote which you may not be paying full attention to while checking in.
- Ask for a non-adjoining room. Having an adjoining-room door in a room concerns many travelers, not only for the safety aspect but also for the noise factor since there’s no insulation.
- If your room number is said out loud, ask for a new room. Hotels are usually great about not doing this these days, though mentioning it since it’s still worth paying attention to.
Upon Entering Your Room
- Do not set the dead bolt immediately! Wait until you’ve checked out the room as it would slow you down if you needed a quick exit.
- Check the bathroom and closet for anyone in the room. Women have also shared with me that they check under the bed and behind draperies.
- Now set the dead bolt.
- Check that the desk phone works. If you ever have an emergency and need to call the front desk, you definitely want the desk phone to work and I’ve had several that have not.
- Cover the peep hole with tissue. That alleviates any concern that the peep hole has been reversed and someone can see in. I wish more hotels had peepholes with covers, as I had in a hotel in Scotland.
- Use a trouser hanger to keep drapes tightly closed. Simply hold the hanger on it’s side so the clips are vertical, then pull the curtains together and clip them.
When Someone Knocks on the Door
- Ask who it is (do not open the door).
- Ask Room Service to call before they knock on the door.
- Call the Front Desk if you’re unsure who it is.
Safety in General
Ask at the front desk for what measures they’ve taken to ensure your safety. Most hotels have very good security in place, though we may not know about it or see it. For example, a hotel in a large downtown area that I stayed a a few times purportedly had the best safety measures in place of all the nearby hotels. I didn’t feel that, however, since I felt unsafe walking through their parking garage to the stairway. Had I asked about their parking garage security, I might have felt safer at this property and been a more repeat guest. Same with elevators as many travelers see that anyone, without a room key, can enter many hotel elevators – ask about elevator and hallway safety. Also ask about safety within the fitness center, the neighborhood around the hotel and other areas in and around the property that you’d like to use.
With this practical and simple checklist of safety items, you, too, will feel more confident in your upcoming hotel stays.
If you have another tip or two to share, please add them to the comments below. That helps us all be safer and more confident in our travels!