Safety Tips for Travelers Staying in Hotels

Virginia law requires hotels to take precautions to protect their guests.[1] One such precaution required by Virginia law is that  hotels provide “suitable” locks on the doors and windows of all guest rooms.[2]

The Virginia Supreme Court declared that innkeepers and guests have a “special relationship” because guests entrust their safety to the innkeeper. Guests have little ability to control their environment, and therefore rely upon the innkeeper to make the property safe.[3] For these reasons, if the hotel knows or should know of any dangers or threats on the premises (i.e., if the criminal misconduct is “reasonably foreseeable”), the hotel must take reasonable precautions to warn and protect their guests from any criminal act that is likely to occur. However, hotels are not required to warn or protect their guests if the hotel does not know or have any reason to foresee the danger. In other words, hotels are not required to “absolutely insure” the safety of their guests.[4]

Although hotels have some duty to their guests, there are steps that you can take to help keep yourself and your loved ones safe when you are staying in a hotel:[5]

  • Be sure that the door of your room has a dead bolt lock and a peephole.
  • Be sure that the windows and balcony entrance to your room have locks.
  • Lock your doors and windows at all times.
  • Do not leave your doors ajar or sleep with the windows open.
  • If possible, choose a hotel that has electronic locks on its guest room doors instead of old-fashioned keys, which can be lost, stolen, or copied. If you lose your electronic key card, ask the hotel to re-key your room immediately.
  • Avoid guest rooms that are located on the ground floor of the hotel, especially if the room has doors and windows that open to the outside, or is located adjacent to the parking lot.
  • Choose a hotel that has limited access and guest rooms that open to an interior, well-lit hallway.
  • Avoid rooms above the sixth floor, which is the maximum height that some fire department ladders can reach.
  • Be observant in the elevator.  If possible, stand near the elevator control panel with your back to the sidewall. If you are attacked, push as many floor buttons as possible. If someone is behaving suspiciously, exit as soon as possible.
  • Be observant and careful in the parking lot or garage.  Try to park close to an exit, and walk with a group whenever possible. Keep your car keys in your hand.
  • When checking into a hotel, beware of people standing nearby who might be listening to your conversation with the desk clerk. Ask the desk clerk not to announce your room number to the lobby; they can point to it, instead.
  • Be wary of anyone who knocks on your room door and claims to be a hotel employee (maintenance person, housekeeping, room service, etc.) unless you are expecting them.  If that happens, call the front door to confirm their identity before you open the door.

Whether you are staying in a hotel for work or play, alone or with others, following the recommendations listed above can help to keep you and your loved ones safe.

About The Author: Ashley Davis is an attorney at Allen & Allen. Her role enables her to serve as a valuable resource to a team of 30 trial attorneys. She has more than ten years of legal experience and currently serves as the Blog Editor for the firm.

[1] Va. Code § 35.1-28.

[2] Id.

[3] Taboada v. Daly Seven, Inc., 271 Va. 313, 626 S.E.2d 428 (Va. 2006), citing Yuzefovsky v. St. John’s Wood Apts., 261 Va. 97, 540 S.E.2d 134 (Va. 2001).

[4] Id., citing A.H. v. Rockingham Publishing Co., 255 Va. 216, 220, 495 S.E.2d 482, 485 (1998).

[5] See for a comprehensive list of safety tips.