Do You Use the Hotel Safe to Store Valuable Items?

On my recent trip to Mexico City, I met up with my friend Sven who runs a travel blog based in Belgium. It was his first time in Mexico City and I wanted to show him around the city. He came over to my hotel room at the Four Points Colonia Roma and the first thing he told me was “Is there a safe in the room?” I said, “What are you going to put in there?” He said, he needed to put his laptop, camera, and passport in the safe. I was like “What?? A laptop fits inside a safe?”

Well, lo and behold, the safe was pretty big and I was surprised that it could fit a lot of things, even a laptop! When I first started travelling, I started to put items in the safe, but it got old fast. I was tired of entering the code and sometimes the code entered wouldn’t unlock it. The first thing I do when I enter a hotel room is put the “Do Not Disturb” sign. I don’t trust housekeeping or anyone who wants to enter my hotel room without permission. Even on a five night stay, I wouldn’t want anyone in my room just because I am afraid of theft. I can make my own bed and housekeeping usually hangs a fresh bag of towels on my door.

I carry a lot of valuables and leave my extra phones and laptop in room. I always carry my original passport in my pocket though. I was shocked when he asked me if there was a safe in the room. I think it’s one of the most underrated items in a hotel that is seldom used by guests.

Do you use the hotel safe to store valuable items?


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5 Comments on "Do You Use the Hotel Safe to Store Valuable Items?"

  1. I clearly spend more time actually inside hotel rooms than you do because you’re absolutely nuts to trust DND signs. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been walked in on by hotel employees when I’m in the room with the DND sign on the door. It’s happened across all star levels and chains. I expect DND signs to be ignored and always throw the lock. I’ve had that lock “clacked against” by many hotel employees.

    OTOH, I generally trust hotel staff. The key is this: any thief will be quickly rooted out of staff. Keycard logs, security cameras, etc. All you need is theft accusations from two different guestrooms (and I’m guessing in some countries it would only require one) and they’re gone. So the probability of a maid or other staffperson stealing from your room is miniscule, IMHO. I’ve never had anything stolen and have left valuables scattered all around the room.

    • As for the actual question, no, I never use safes.

    • I think I’m less paranoid now because I’ve stayed in so many hotel rooms thus far and haven’t had anything stolen. You’re right, sometimes I do notice that some things have shifted in my room after coming back to the room (with the DND sign on). On one occasion, I noticed that I left all the lights on when I left the room, but all the lights were turned off when I returned. I was paranoid and then figured out there was a motion sensor in the room that was placed to conserve energy.

  2. I always put out the DND sign, and use the safe when traveling internationally. I have a lot of camera and electronics gear, none that valuable but a major inconvenience if they disappeared, and don’t really need new towels and soap every day.

    What I do need every day is a new supply of coffee, so I find a maid in the hallway and they are usually happy to give me a multi-day supply.

    In spite of DND’s, you should expect a “health and welfare” check every few days just to make certain the room occupant hasn’t “fallen and can’t get up” or worse.

    At the end of the stay I leave a tip equaling what I would have left if the maid had come in and cleaned the room every day…it’s just a rounding error to my budget, but a major benefit to the maid and her family.

  3. Hotel staff is under no obligation to respect a DND sign, and most hotels require someone to look in once a day or once every two days whether or not the sign is on or not. Hotel rooms that respect DND signs reportedly become a tempting target for meth cookers and these days probably are a fire hazard as a result of that. So you need to expect someone on the staff WILL enter your room each day if it’s a halfway decent place. If you’re actually in the room, make sure the deadbolt is engaged because staff can and HAS walked in on me even with the sign on. Yes, I use the hotel room safes. They can be opened by staff in about 5 minutes as you find out the first time you get one where the battery goes dead but they keep an honest person honest by not presenting a staff member with the chance to commit an impulse crime. There are many places where it is NOT recommended to carry your passport around because of the high risk of pickpockets. I know a lot more people who have been mugged or pickpocketed than people who have had items taken from hotel safes. It isn’t even close. In fact, right now I can’t think of anyone who has had their room safe robbed, and I used to be in a cash business. The majority of people have been mugged or pickpocketed or purse snatched at some point though. So, yes, the odds seem to suggest that using a room safe is the smart thing to do.

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