Hotels and security

August 22 2003

ok, so I didn't get around to blogging about Exchange, Mitch Kapor, and'll wait until Monday, I think.
One topic that I wanted to get going for weekend discussion is that of hotel security.  In my travels, I've stayed in many, many, many hotels.  Some have been ultra-luxurious, ultra-hip, historical, or just loaded with character.  Of course, a few have been less-than-ideal, too.  The one thing that almost every hotel has had in common, though, is a lot of door security.  Peepholes.  Strong, impressive deadbolt locks on the door.  In some cases, two or three locking devices are present.  The doors are almost always set to lock automatically, too.
Since most of these locking devices only work when you are actually inside the room, I was just wondering, what is the point, really?  Are (or were) hotel room invasions a common occurance?  Do hotel staff routinely ignore "do not disturb" signs?  Do hotel guests actually open their room doors without looking in the peephole or asking "who is it"?  How risky are all these locks if you need to leave the room in an emergency?
Now I just know that Mike Werner will have a story or two to share on this topic, but I am not talking about some of the honestly scary places he's been to.  I'm talking about hotels like the Renaissance in Paris La Defense, where you have to use your room key just to activate the elevator (ah, here we have a minor counterpoint -- I was told quite honestly that the hotel does this to prevent prostitutes from soliciting at guests' doors.  Really).  Are we looking mainly at a placebo effect, something that makes guests feel safer, but isn't really necessary?
All these questions, I'm sure there must be interesting answers.

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