Do you think the hotel room safes are reliable? We have used them in the past. Do you have doubts about their ability to prevent theft?
–Sharon, Bend, Ore.
As you know, Sharon, I constantly travel, and I have to tell you: I can't remember the last time I used an in-room safe at a hotel.
The fact is, hotels are not responsible for anything that is stolen from (or lost in) your hotel room. And that includes the in-room safe. And there are all sorts of things that could potentially go wrong with hotel safes.
First off, many hotels have some sort of override system to open safes in case of emergency, forgotten passwords, etc. If poorly managed, this system might also allow unscrupulous employees to open the safes.
Second, many people use very simple pass codes—like 1234 or 0000—so they won't forget them. But the first thing a thief is likely to do upon entering your room is head straight for the safe and try these codes.
And finally, there's plenty of room for human error in setting your code and locking the in-room safe. You might not reset it properly, leaving the default code in effect, or you might not completely lock it, leaving you vulnerable as well.
But there's another reason to dislike the in-room safe: Hotels sometimes charge you for using it, upwards of $4 per day.
Instead of worrying about all this, if you have anything that's extremely valuable, use the safe-deposit boxes located the front desk at many hotels. Not only are you better protected from losses this way, but you won't have to pay for it, either.
For more hints on preventing theft in hotels, read this Q-and-A.