Hotel Security: What Room Is Safest?

Choosing the right hotel is an important part of any travel plan. This is especially true if you are traveling to a moderate or high-risk destination. Westerners who travel, particularly to high-risk destinations, need to choose their hotel and hotel room carefully.

One of the first things you want to consider in high-risk countries is access control. Does your hotel screen guests and visitors? Do the baggage and packages going into the hotel get screened? In Pakistan or Turkey, for example, and several other high-risk destinations, the higher-end hotels generally have this level of security.

The setback is another consideration when choosing the right hotel. One of the most common means of terrorist attacks today is suicide car bombers. ISIS and other groups target Westerners and specifically target the hotels where Westerners stay. Make sure that the hotel you choose to stay at has appropriate setback and positive vehicle access control whenever possible. Ensure that the room you choose is situated away from the front of the hotel or the parking lot.

Choosing the right hotel room is also important, even in low-risk cities and countries. From a strictly safety perspective, you need to be aware of certain limitations of any rescue operations in the event of a fire. Even in the most developed countries, firefighters‘ ladders cannot reach above the seventh floor. If you become trapped in your room in the event of a fire and your room is located above the seventh floor, there is no way for emergency responders to rescue you.

Most fire departments in the third world or underdeveloped countries likely can only reach the third or fourth floors of a high-rise building.

Another reason to consider carefully your room in a hotel is in the event of a terrorist attack. While statistically this is unlikely, if you are a Westerner and stay at name-brand hotels, like the Marriott or Four-Seasons, you have a greater chance of being victimized.

Different experts offer different advice, but in general you want to have a room that is high enough so that you have some advance warning if chaos erupts on the ground floor yet not too high so as to be beyond any rescue attempt in the event that the attackers set fire to the hotel or attempt to blow it up.

This argues for a room between the third and sixth floor.

Another factor to consider when choosing a room is proximity to the emergency exits. The ability to quickly and directly leave your room and exit the hotel through the emergency exits can be critical to your survival. Some hotels today are enormous. The emergency stairwells can be relatively long distance from some of the rooms. Keep this in mind when checking in and attempt if possible to get as close to the stairs as practical.

Finally, even if you have the safest room in the hotel, perhaps next to the security guard command center or by two different sets of stairs, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with your surroundings. Make sure you know not only the location of the stairs from your room, but the entrances and exits from the hotel lobby.