Is It Safe to Use a Hotel Room Safe?

Wondering if hotel safes are secure for your valuables? Our guide covers risks, staff access, and tips to enhance safety for travelers' peace of mind.

By
Tobi Miles
July 6, 2024
Wondering if hotel safes are secure for your valuables? Our guide covers risks, staff access, and tips to enhance safety for travelers' peace of mind.

Travelers often struggle to trust a hotel when they travel with sentimental and valuable possessions. This is understandable as hotel theft is unfortunately quite common and can happen to anyone. So, is it safe to use a hotel room safe?

It is safe to use a hotel room safe if you add a portable lock. This will make it so that hotel employees cannot access your safe with a key or digital master code. Some hotel employees can get into your hotel room safe in case you forget the code, the keypad dies, or the lock mechanism fails.

Other deterrents such as your do not disturb sign can also help keep people away from your possessions. Always choose reputable hotels to mitigate the risk that someone will break into your safe and steal from you. Follow along as we explore whether or not it is safe to use a hotel room safe.

Can Hotel Safes Be Opened?

Hotel safes can be opened by the hotel staff in case of an emergency. Typically, certain hotel staff members will have either a master code or skeleton key for the safes. This is because it is common for hotel guests to either lose or forget the code and they won’t be able to access the safe.

Understandably, this information can make any hotel guest feel uneasy knowing that other people can access their belongings. This doesn’t mean that every staff member has the master code, and it’s typically kept under lock and key. It is typically safe to use a hotel room safe, but you should be aware that some hotel staff members may be able to open it up.

In many cases, hotel guests are thankful that the staff can access their safe. That is because safes are imperfect, especially if they are digital, and the battery may die. A hotel staff member is often able to open the safe for you with a key even if the digital keypad died.

Is It Safe To Leave Valuables In a Hotel Room?

It is safe to leave valuables in a hotel room, but only if you take the proper precautions. A safe is one of the best ways to protect your valuables while traveling. Sure, some hotel staff members have access to your safe, but it’s better than leaving your belongings out in the open.

The hospitality staff at a hotel typically doesn’t have access to your safe, but they can access everything else in the room. Many hotel hospitality and turn-down service employees are honest, but it’s not worth the risk. Hotel crimes are sadly more common than you may think, so it’s not safe to leave valuables in your room unless you use a safe or luggage with locks.

Luckily, there are several ways to ensure that your valuables are as safe as possible in a hotel room. Let’s take a look at the best ways to secure your valuables in a hotel room with or without a safe.

Portable Safe

Bring your own portable safe when you stay in a hotel room if you want to be extra careful. That way, only you and whomever you traveled with can access your safe. This isn’t an ironclad solution, but at least nobody at the access can easily get into your safe.

The only downside to this option is that nobody from the hotel can help you if you are unable to open it. Make sure to bring the backup key for the safe or the digital master code in case the keypad or locking mechanism fails. You can find portable safes for between $40 and $80, and they can give you peace of mind when you travel.

Do Not Disturb

Another easy way to protect your valuables in a hotel room is to simply use the do not disturb sign. This simple piece of paper will stop hotel staff from entering your room. However, this sign doesn’t mean that dishonest hotel staff won’t attempt to get in.

Most hotels will only honor the do not disturb sign for 3 days. After 3 days, turn-down service employees are likely to use their skeleton keycard to enter your room and clean it. They will always knock first, but that doesn’t help if you’re not in the room.

Hotels use the 72-hour rule to make sure that the room isn’t damaged and that the guest is safe. Until then, you can use the do not disturb sign to keep people out of your room and away from your belongings. Many weird things have been found in hotel rooms, but you don’t want them to find your valuables.

Portable Lock

You can make your hotel room safe harder to access if you add a portable lock to it. Only you can unlock the portable lock so you don’t have to worry about the hotel staff. Luckily, portable safe locks cost between $7 and $18 and are readily available online.

Anyone can easily attach a portable lock to a hotel room safe. Most portable locks work via a key system, but some feature a digital keypad. You can even find portable locks that feature a keypad that releases the key after you enter the code. This takes extra steps, but it makes it safe to use a hotel room safe.

Avoid Lobby Safes

You can find the least secure safe in a hotel in the lobby. Many reputable hotels have safes in the lobby that guests can use to stash their possessions. It can be tempting to use this safe because it may seem more secure, but it simply isn’t.

Not every employee can access your belongings, but they will be more available than if you use the one in your room. You will also have to go out of your way to get your money, jewelry, and prized possessions if you have to go to the lobby. It’s nice that hotels offer this service, but it’s not the safest way to secure your belongings.

Check Your Safe

Check your safe before you leave the hotel. Turn-down staff members are supposed to return your items if you leave them behind in your hotel room. This applies to items left in the bedroom, bathroom, drawers, closet, and yes, the safe. With that said, it is difficult to rely on hotel staff to return items to you when you leave them behind.

That is why you should scour every corner of the room including the safe before you check out. You can always make a claim to the hotel if you forget something, but there is no guarantee they will return it.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is worth every penny if you frequently stay in hotels. If you qualify for it, travel insurance will cover cancellations and thefts at the airport or in your hotel room. This is essential if you travel a lot for work or leisure.

Of course, coverage varies based on the individual and which service you use. Travel insurance services will typically cover up to a set amount of stolen items. Your prized possessions are invaluable to you, but it isn’t always possible to get a full reimbursement. Even still, every bit helps and it’s better than arguing with a hotel to get reimbursed after someone steals from you.

Are Hotels Responsible For Stolen Items?

Hotels are responsible for stolen items in most cases, but regulations vary based on your location. For example, some states, such as California, only hold hotels responsible for theft valued up to $1,000. States like Nevada typically only reimburse guests for up to $750 worth of stolen items.

Unfortunately, there is no country-wide rule about how hotels should reimburse guests for theft. Hotels will typically only reimburse guests if they can prove that the hotel staff was negligent. This applies to staff mishaps such as leaving doors cracked after turn-down service.

The most likely scenario in which a hotel would reimburse you is if you discover the stolen items after they clean your room. Always report the theft as quickly as possible to begin the process and yield the best results. You should hire an attorney if you don’t have travel insurance and if the hotel is hesitant or unable to reimburse you quickly.

So, Is It Safe To Use a Hotel Room Safe?

It is safe to use a hotel room safe in most cases, but employees can still access it. They have keys and or digital master codes that they can use if you lose your code, or the digital keypad dies. Hotel theft has risen over the last few years, so it may be worthwhile to bring a portable safe.

Many travelers put a portable lock on the hotel room safe so that employees cannot access it. You can also use a portable safe instead of the one that the hotel provides to protect your belongings. Otherwise, you can hang the do not disturb sign on your door, and hotel staff won’t enter the room for up to 3 days.

Tobi Miles
Article updated:
July 6, 2024 6:08 AM

Tobi Miles is a University of Florida graduate turned globe-trotting culinary explorer and digital nomad expert. As the founder of "Bytes & Bites," he combines his passion for international cuisine with practical advice on remote work, inspiring others to experience the world through food and cultural immersion. With 32 countries under his belt and a knack for uncovering hidden culinary gems, Tobi is redefining the intersection of work, travel, and gastronomy for a new generation of adventurers.

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