Stupid Tip of the Day: Do Not Lock Yourself Out of Your Hotel Room

A rare moment for me occurred when I accidentally left my key cards in the room just as the loud click came from the door to my room as it shut, assuring me that my belongings are safe and protected — from me as well as almost anyone else.

Stupid Tip of the Day: Do Not Lock Yourself Out of Your Hotel Room

No problem, I thought, as I was on my way to breakfast downstairs. I will just ask for new key cards to the room.

“Sure, not a problem,” the woman behind the front desk said cheerfully just after I arrived and imparted my really-not dilemma. “I just need to see your identification.”

As I presented my drivers license to her — she studied it but never took it out of my hand — she said to me that she thought I was a “no-show” because the records show that I had not checked in. “That is strange,” I responded, somewhat puzzled. “I checked in last night and was here all night.”

She reached over to the area of the front desk where printed reservations and key cards are kept, awaiting their guests to pick up when checking in — and lo and behold, there was my reservation with a set of key cards, as though I had never arrived. She attributed what happened to the incorrect way the person the night before checked me in as a guest.

“I am going to give you a new set of key cards, which will void the ones left in your room,” she said.

“Good thing these are not real keys like in the past,” I joked. She laughed. “We would really have a problem then!”

The interesting part of this experience for me is that she and management of the hotel property were just going to let it go and not charge me for the night had I not shown up — despite the new policy of guests requiring a reservation to be cancelled within 48 hours of arrival. Regardless of the fact that that was not an issue this time, I felt strangely good about her saying that to me.


The woman behind the front desk did everything correctly to ensure that the inconvenience I caused to myself was minimized as much as possible while still protecting my security. I have heard of experiences in which people could ask for a new key without showing any form of identification; and I have also heard of experiences which one thing led to another and resulted in more significant issues for the hotel guest.

I could tell you that I had thoughts on my mind as I left to head on downstairs for breakfast — as shown in the photograph at the top of this article, I left my key cards on a shelf in the bathroom in my room and still am not sure why I did that, as I never bring key cards into a bathroom — but really, I have no excuse for my momentary lapse. I cannot recall the last time I left keys in the hotel room from which I accidentally locked myself out — but this example shows one of the benefits of key cards versus actual keys.

Always leave the key cards to your hotel room in a place where you know not to forget them every time you want to leave the room…

Hampton Inn Kanab

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

…whether that place is the night stand by the bed…

Hampton Inn Kanab

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

…on the dresser next to the television — or even in your pocket. This repetitive action practically ensures that you will never accidentally lock yourself out of your hotel room — unless you break that routine, as I did on that morning. Not concentrating on what you are doing is easy to do; so the routine helps to prevent accidentally leaving the key card in the hotel room from happening.

If you have a companion, ensure that each of you has a key card. This further lessens the chances of accidentally being locked out of the hotel room.

As always, I look forward to reading of your tips and advice in the Comments section below.

All photographs ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

2 thoughts on “Stupid Tip of the Day: Do Not Lock Yourself Out of Your Hotel Room”

  1. Mark says:

    So funny story…this happened to me just last night here in SFO. No big deal, went down to the front desk to say I just locked myself out and need a new key. Then they asked for ID, which of course was in my wallet right next to my room keys, in the room…so I had no ID and while I could verify all of my info to the front desk agent they said for security reasons they couldn’t just give me a key and would have to have security meet me to let me in the room. I figured they would want me to grab my ID and prove it was me but nope, the security guard just popped open my door and said there you go, and walked away. So tell me again Marriott, why couldn’t I just get a key????

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I am still scratching my head with that experience, Mark — especially as the security guard was no more sure of your identity than the person behind the front desk…

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