Are hotel safes safe?

Hi all! Going on vacation. To a hotel instead of camping! We’ll need to secure our passports, etc., while on excursions… are the wall safes in hotels really secure?

Depends on the hotel/resort. They are always patron-programmable so you can set your own code for it, but most small safes like that will have a master code that the employees may or may not possess. I would advise #1 don’t take anything you can’t afford to lose; #2 make and carry photocopies of your passport; #3 if possible ask if there is a safe at the front desk you could secure your most valuable items in. I tend to travel lightly and bring only what I absolutely need from home. A reputable hotel/resort should be safe enough. You could always request the staff not enter the room and leave towels and things at the door, but they won’t always do this.

Bottom line, be careful, but you needn’t necessarily be paranoid.

I think the question that you should be asking yourself is
“are they safer than my other options”?

For me - I will always put my passport inside and leave it there during my trip. (I don’t carry valuables at all) - but then, at worst losing my passport just means a trip to the nearest NZ Consulate.

TO me, I think the chances of losing my passport from the safe are a LOT less than dropping it somewhere, being pickpocketed or whatever if I carry it out.

My wife on the other hand always carries her passport with her…

I wouldn’t store something irreplaceable in one, but for your passport and a reasonable amount of money, a hotel safe should be fine. I’ve probably logged a full year of nights spent in really sketchy hotels and hostels, and with some common-sense precautions I have never once had a problem.

I would be interested in hearing your common-sense precautions, even sven!

Thanks for everyone’s replies so far.

I’ve only ever had one issue with a hotel safe and that’s an easy one to avoid via this handy rule:

Rule 1. Before checking out of the hotel and driving for 90 mins across New England, always ensure you have removed your passports and return tickets from the safe in your room.

The hotel was very helpful and didn’t laugh at us once, I got the impression that we weren’t the first.

FWIW, I stayed with my parents for a couple of days at the Hilton Grand Vacation club in Orlando last fall. The day I left (they stayed a couple more), my dad went to take some money out of the safe in the bedroom. He couldn’t get it open so he called the staff in only to find out that someone had gotten into the safe, took all the money, and reprogrammed the digital code. In all, they lost about $300 or so. The manager pretty much told them to go pound sand and that it wasn’t Hilton’s fault because the condo front door didn’t latch when my parents went out for a few minutes (they had computer records on the door since it had a digital lock). How that would help someone get into the safe is anybody’s guess.

Last I heard, they were writing a stern letter.

I was a system admin at a large Chicago hotel, so the hotel safes that you program your own number into are quite safe. Everything is recorded everytime you open and close it and everytime someone types a number in.

The same for doors as well.

You can easily see if anyone was messing with your safe, or even if someone stuck the wrong keycard in your door. It’ll record that.

If they have a safe behind the front desk I would use that. Those are the safest. Those are just like safe deposit boxes in banks and if you lose the key it must be drilled. There IS NO additional key. At least in the 20 years I’ve worked in any hotel I’ve ever worked at.

One off topic thing is if you’re flying REMOVE you’re driver’s license from your wallet and put it in your safe. If you lose you’re driver’s license, you’re not getting on that plane. (Well you might, but I’ve known a few people that weren’t allowed.)

So either that or get a back up driver’s license or state ID, so you’ll have additonal ID to get on a plane

I have stayed in many, many hotels over the years, from 4 star $400 a night places to low joints that were so crusty that I slept on a chair instead of the bed—I have always been distrustful of hotel safes, for just such a reason as above. I am certain that if money turned up missing, the hotel management would gladly tell you where to jump, and then show you the fine print in your registration agreement telling you that you are legally SOL.

I may just be paranoid, but they seem like they are a invitation to dishonest hotel employees to have a night out on my dime…

Many hotels offer a safe deposit box at the front desk. They are generally as pretty secure, operating in the “your key + their key = open” standard, and, worse case scenario, any tampering/theft that occurred would be on the security tapes, which is more than you can say for the room safes.

ETA: Also, this places all responsibility for things, if they do go missing, on the shoulders of those working the front desk, who often become the master key holder/responsible for the deposit box safety, instead of the possibly ambiguous and unidentified housekeepers.

I work at a well known Las Vegas hotel. Every single day someone forgets something in the safe. The facilities department can open the safe to retrieve the belongings, but no other department (even Security) has access to the safe without the owner’s programmable passcode. Although there are some people who can open your safe to steal your items, the people who have access to the rooms (like housekeepers or security) can’t. If facilities has to open a safe, they call the security department to actually get them in the room, and then facilities opens the safe while security is present. If anything valuable is inside, the contents are verified by at least two and usually three different people before being brought to Lost and Found or wherever it’s going. I have worked at the property for nearly two years, and have never heard of an item being stolen out of the safe. Probably a dozen items a day are stolen from the rooms, but never from inside the safe.

I usually keep my stuff in my luggage and my luggage locked when I’m gone. If I have one, I’ll use a cable lock to lock my luggage to something secure. If I have money or things that I think will be safer in the hotel room, I’ll often hide it by taping it up behind a picture or stashing it in a loose ceiling tile. I also keep money stashed in shoes, the stitching of my backpack, etc. I don’t leave tempting looking stuff (or evidence of that stuff, like computer power cords) laying around. And I try not to travel with anything that would really hurt me if I lost it.

But I travel in sub $10.00 rooms and hostels in some of the poorer parts of the world. In America, I’d probably be a bit poser with the precautions. Those housekeepers must face temptations every day- chances are it’s not my stuff that is gonna break them.

Here is an interesting issue - Thefts of items from hotel room safes seems to be vary rare in the United States, however, once you go internationally, especially to certain heavily trafficked tourists areas like Spain, Canary Islands, Caribbean Islands, and parts of Mexico, it seems that some of the hotels in these locations have problems with dishonest hotel employees who enter hotel rooms when you are away, use the master code to open the room safe, and remove items that may not notice - such as taking $30.00 of cash our of $200.00 you left in the hotel room safe. Of course your room safe has no evidence that it was ever opened so you would not give it any thought.

Here is a video some guy did of a dishonest hotel employee stealing money out of his in room hotel safe. Theft from hotel room safe video.

Here is more information about thefts from hotel safe - This is a link to a word search on where the words were searched with “money stolen safe” You can see various travelers who have documented thefts from their hotel room safe - again mainly when traveling internationally.

I would not say this is a prominent problem - but you you should be aware of when staying in international hotels which use seasonal employees in lower socio-economic areas.