The following are tips to ensure that you do not end up in a mess when you check-in to your hotel room. These tips should be followed by anybody who visits India, especially Mumbai.
Mumbai is the largest city in India and hence has one of the highest number of five star hotels in the world. Of late, there has been an increased number of attacks on foreigners staying at five stars/luxury hotels because they are ‘easy targets’ for robbers.
Most foreign tourists – especially during their first trip to this country – tend to forget or ignore local travel advice either due to ignorance or naivety about India’s safety conditions. It is advisable that all Foreigners visiting Mumbai read this article prior to arriving at any hotel where you book a room.
You should note that the hotel industry in India is not regulated by any law or code of conduct, which means that you have to be careful about your safety since no one will help you if things go wrong! Most of these hotels are barely 3-4 star standards but they claim to be five stars just for the sake of business – which means most of them are not even worth being called a three star hotel. You have been warned:-
1. When checking into the hotel, ask to see their ‘licence’ and check whether it has valid contact details on it. If it does not, do not check-in under any circumstances. The licence provides information such as the name of manager etc. Unfortunately, most hotels do not even care about their licenses or they get themselves licences under some other name (to save the trouble of applying for a new name) which means you will have no idea who to contact in case of any wrongdoing.
2. Never accept your room key from the receptionist with your handbag or pocketbook – always take it without letting go off your purse/pocketbook until after you enter your room. If you are travelling with another person, give them one half each if they offer to carry it for you while escorting you to the room.
3. Once at your hotel room door, stand slightly behind so that when they open the door, you are half hidden by their body thus avoiding being seen through the peephole.
4. While at the door, make sure you do not talk to the receptionist outside the room too loudly or for too long (even though he is probably not listening) so that others around cannot hear your conversation.
5. When closing the door on departing from your room, check whether it is locked or not by gently pushing on it from within – if it does move slightly, do not enter your room as someone may have opened it with a duplicate key while you were talking with the receptionist and could be waiting inside!
If there is no reaction when pushing lightly on the door from inside, then you can try opening it slowly himself without entering immediately – if anyone tries to push his way in before you open all of the way, do not go in and immediately shut the door.
6. Never let anyone else use your room key – if you need to take it with you when leaving the hotel, then give it back upon return (if you loose it there is no way to prove that they gave it to someone else).
When taking the key out of the room ensure that you hide yours and others belongings well out of sight from casual onlookers or staff/concerned citizens who might be around at that time for any reason. You should also never leave your luggage outside your room while going down for a meal or anything else because it could be tampered with by staff during this period.
7. Many robberies at hotels been reported where people have been forced to open their doors by the hotel staff who were ‘looking for a relative’ and then wait until you or whoever is in there has gone out or falls asleep before entering and stealing items.
8. Also many thefts have been reported from people’s rooms where they failed to lock their doors properly (because sometimes it can be difficult with those card keys).
So make sure you always lock your room whenever you leave – even if only going down the hall – and do not forget to take your key with you during that time! It may be better just to keep your room door locked at all times and put the breakfast/dinner sign on it so that they know not to disturb you during this period. This will prevent anyone from knocking on your door and forcing their way in suddenly.
9. It is a good idea to check the room before going out for a meal to make sure you have everything – as there may be some other ‘visitors’ there checking if anyone is around! If you do find anything that is not yours, then please contact your hotel Manager or reception immediately with any details that you can provide (like model number etc).
10. Ensure that all windows are closed and locked when leaving your room as opportunist thieves sometimes climb up from balconies/rooftops to break into unsecured rooms through open windows – so also check whether they are fully shut and locked yourself by trying to push them slightly open from the outside to ensure they will not open an inch or so if you accidentally left them open.
Also ensure that there is nothing sat on the windowsill which could be used as a step to assist another person getting inside (such as boxes, suitcases etc) and finally check where your room key is at all times – it can be used like a master key by staff and others to gain entry into any other rooms.
11. When going out for meals or other activities always take your room key with you! Minimize the time spent away from the hotel as much as possible because you could be absent during an attempted robbery of your room. Ensure that you return to your hotel before long dark periods after sunset when most robberies tend to happen because this is generally criminals strike.
Also make sure that you do not leave your luggage outside the door of your hotel room when going out – even for a very short period (doing this can give criminals and opportunist thieves an opportunity to tamper with it during that time) and always keep all valuables like cameras, wallets, etc well hidden on your person.
12. If you wake up in the middle of the night and feel uneasy about something inside or around the room (or sense some other danger), then quickly look around at everything before switching on any lights as doing this will make you more vulnerable to attack by anyone hiding – so only switch the light on after assuring yourself that there is no one else in there apart from yourself.
13. Lastly beware of strangers who may pretend to be staff/hotel guests and who could approach you during your stay – because sometimes thieves will lie in wait around the hotel lobbies or public areas to watch for anyone who leaves their room key unattended so that they can use it later to gain access into rooms where there’s a good chance of finding something worth stealing.
And also beware of strangers offering help if your car won’t start or similar things because this is often just a ploy used by other criminals as an opportunity for something else!
14. For more tips on how to avoid being a victim of robberies etc while staying at hotels, please see this page .