I was watching “Thunderball” the other night, and in one scene the dashing 007 enters his hotel, walks up to the desk, says “Room 304”, and the woman behind the desk gives him a key for room 304. This strikes me as a remarkably stupid way to run a hotel. I know I’ve seen it in other movies and TV shows, “Fawlty Towers” being a prime example. Was this ever the case in hotels, where they kept your key at the desk and you had to ask for it every time you wanted to get into your room? If so, what was the advantage (it seems a lot easier to just keep your own key), and how did they prevent thieves from putting on nice suits, requesting your room key, and stealing all your stuff?
Of course I know not to trust anything I see on TV, but why would they bother getting it wrong in such a stupid way if it had nothing to do with the plot? I’m guessing it had to be the custom somewhere at some time.