Door latch
Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

Waking Up to a Stranger In a Hotel Room Bed

“At night around 4:00am I wake up and realize somebody is touching me, not purposely but more accidentally. I turn around and there is another guy sleeping in the bed next to me. I immediately jump up, turn the light on and ask the guy … he is doing in my room. The guy is obviously drunk or high on some stuff. I go to reception and they help me get him out. Turns out his room is across mine. Everybody is dumbfounded except the guy, he thinks its his room. A further very disturbing fact is that this guy has only his underpants on and nothing else, he didnt have any stuff/phone/closes with him in my room.”

Waking Up to a Stranger In a Hotel Room Bed

The paragraph you just read was excerpted from what FlyerTalk member ujean purportedly experienced in a hotel room with a single queen bed at a Hampton Inn by Hilton hotel property which was newly constructed somewhere in Europe. “This happened because the door mechanism didn’t work correctly. The door shuts with enough force that everybody would assume it is closed, as opposite to a very slow closing door. Fact is the door lock was placed wrongly so that in order to really close the door you would have to punch it. In the morning they offered their apologies, but nothing else.”

The relating of this experience had inadvertently launched a contentious debate in the aforementioned discussion on FlyerTalk: are doors to hotel rooms expected to close and shut automatically and therefore the fault of the staff of the hotel property; or should ujean have been more proactive to ensure that the door to the hotel room was properly shut and locked? Should ujean be compensated for what happened? If so, what would be fair compensation?

Lock the Door to Your Hotel Room

Although not a common occurrence, having two guests accidentally assigned to the same room happens more often than you might believe — and by simply using the latch or deadbolt on the door to your hotel room, you can very easily prevent someone else with a key that can open the door from unexpectedly entering into your room.

Another more common reason to secure your room by locking the door is to prevent a member of the housekeeping staff — or other employee of the hotel or resort property — from barging into your room.

Use the Door Latch of Your Hotel Room

Door latch
Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

Door latches come in a number of varieties. Some are in the form of a bar; while others are chains. Rarely is a hotel room door not equipped with a latch or chain — although I did encounter such a room in Riga recently where the door lock using the key from inside was the only method of securing the room.

One negative aspect of using the door latch is something completely avoidable but yet can happen anyway: when your hands are full with luggage as you attempt to leave the room and hearing that loud kerunk as your body is jolted from trying to open the door while the latch is still engaged…

…so include disengaging the latch of the door of the hotel room as part of your checklist of leaving the room when you are checking out of the hotel before grabbing your luggage to leave.


I have always used the latch to the door of a hotel room, as it is the best method of ensuring my privacy. I have been fortunate in not recalling during my years or travel ever having some stranger unexpectedly enter my hotel room — or me barging into the hotel room of another guest. Even a member of the housekeeping staff cannot enter my room when the latch of the door is used — easily, anyway.

The second or two to use the latch of the door of your hotel room can potentially save you time and aggravation in the unlikely event that someone other than yourself gains access and entry into the room in which you are staying. After all, I have yet to hear someone say that an unknown person has entered his or her room with the latch engaged — and I know that I have never had this issue in the years in which I have been staying in hotel and resort properties…

Still, taking a few seconds of your time to prevent a possible intrusion — whether it is accidental or intentional — is so easy to do…

…so please: be sure that your room is secure — and a lesson to be learned from the story imparted by ujean is to definitely ensure that the door to your hotel room closes and locks properly — before retiring for the night, as waking up to a stranger next to you in bed in your hotel room can be unsettling, to say the least…

All photographs ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

  1. Reminds of the time, about 27 years ago, that my then-wife and I were staying in a cheap, fleabag motel near the airport in Las Vegas. There was no deadbolt on the door. In the middle of the night, we woke up to the sound of a key turning in the lock. We both leapt up–naked–and blocked the door with our bodies, yelling at the person that the room was occupied. The baffling thing was, he kept trying to push the door open, even with people in the obviously occupied room blocking the door and screaming at him! Finally he gave up and went back to the motel office, as did we, and of course what had happened was the absentminded clerk had given both of our parties the same room. Anyway, that got the blood pumping! Still…I think waking up with someone in the bed next to you is definitely worse.

  2. Wow! I can’t believe this happened to you, it’s amazing you didn’t lose your cool (I definitely would have.)

  3. “Rarely is a hotel room door not equipped with a latch or chain — although I did encounter such a room in Riga recently where the door lock using the key from inside was the only method of securing the room.”

    This statement is simply not true. As Marriott Titanium member, I have stayed at hotels all across Europe with no latch or chain. I’ve also encountered no latch or chain in various non-Marriott hotels in the US. A few years ago, I had a security guard enter my room in the middle of the night claiming that that the room should have been vacant. Obviously a mix up, and the hotel offered me a free night in compensation.

  4. Ensuring that your door is locked and the interior door latch is secured is paramount.

    About seven years ago, I was staying a chain hotel next to DFW Airport. About 3 am I am woken by a light that appears on in the room. As I slowly open my eyes, I first notice that my door is open and I can see into the hallway and a suitcase holding the door open. Then I realize there is someone standing at the foot of my bed leaning over looking at me as if straining in the partial darkness to see if there was someone in his bed. Immediately, I sat up and calmly asked “who are you?” The guy panicked and bolted out of the room grabbing his bag on the way out the door. The door slammed shut and I sat there in a totally dark and quiet room wondering if that really just happened or was I awoken from a dream.

    Calmly, I got up to check the door and secure the latch, which I had obviously failed to secure and promptly went back to bed with the intention of addressing this issue in the morning. Come morning, I spoke with the front desk and as suspected, they made a mistake is assigning the room to this guy. Obviously, this would not have happened has I done my part in securing the internal latch. Lesson learned.

  5. If someone does not secure their door from the inside, they cannot blame anyone but themselves if someone is able to get into their room.

  6. My habit is to throw the latch anytime I am in the room, period. We teach this to our children. Unbolting the door then just becomes a habit.

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