Hotel room keys

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This topic contains 34 replies, has 21 voices, and was last updated by  jonathanmiller 14 Apr 2011
at 10:42

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  • Anonymous


    When checking into a hotel where there is no porter to accompany you to the room (or you don’t need / want one), make sure you’ve got the hotel reception number (as opposed to central reservations) on you before leaving reception for the room. If the room key fails to work, which from my experience is fairly common, you can then phone for assistance instead of having to trail back with your luggage and queue up again at reception. There’s inevitably no internal phone in the corridor to use, and sod’s law dictates that this will happen when you’ve been allocated the most distant room from reception, are in a hurry, and have had a bad journey already!

    I should add that this fails if the hotel has a mobile signal scrambler built into the structure (to force guests to use the room phones and pay £££). If so, vote with your feet next time and name & shame them on the forum! – I’ve yet to come across one but read that some new hotels build it in (allegedly!!!!!!).


    How clever! I would have not thought of this one.


    One thing I have noticed recently is an increasing number of hotels replacing their ‘localised’ hotel keys with one with generic branding on them (so the key cards just have a Hyatt or Hilton branding on them, including the paper wallet they give with the key).

    If you work for a hotel chain, can you please stop doing this. One of the best things about a localised hotel key, is that it has the hotel’s name and address on it; vital for getting back if you’re unsure about where your staying. Also an address written in local language (especially in destinations where they don’t use Roman lettering) is a welcome addition.


    Yep, i always get two keys, one for the wallet and one to use. I have made that long walk back to the desk. thanks


    Just as bad – your key decides to fail half way through your stay – grrr. I’ve never yet heard an explanation that answers this properly apart from “keep your key away from your phone”. This happens to me way too often. Can anyone give a better explanation?


    Yeah I’ve had the expiring key issue too. I wonder if it’s just a date keying in error by the receptionist at check in, or do hotels sometimes only validate the key for 1 night / 24 hours for some security reason?

    The other common one I fall for is where you need the room key to operate the electricity, then leave without it. Ok if you have 2 room keys but some hotels will only issue 1 if you’re on you’re own. I know others use credit cards for the electricity slot, but same problem applies if you then go out without that when it comes to the bill in the restaurant. Guess one idea would be to keep the room key from the last time, which seems to be good security advice on other threads anyway, and use that for the electricity.

    Can we fix up whoever designs hotel rooms to have our issues (see other thread about what men & women want / don’t) put to them – by Jeremy Paxman!


    Yep, I have that problem all the time. I have noticed that if I place the magnetic room key near/on my Blackberry carrying case, it is almost guaranteed to die.



    I have that same issue….hotel key cards and Blackberrys (and probably other phones too) do not go together well….but I have the impression that some hotels have more sensitive key-cards than others….
    The Swissotel The Stamford (Singapore) keycards appear most sensitive…if you look without a smile at the card …it stops working.
    Starwood hotels appear to have less sensitive cards….


    When my key failed recently at a UK Hilton, the receiptionist asked if I had kept it by my mobile which I hadn’t. She then asked where I had kept it and showed her my wallet. “That’s is” she said “your wallet is leather and it breaths and takes the data off, you will have to keep it somewhere else”.

    I asked her where she suggested I keep it bearing in mind I don’t have a man bag. She didn’t know, when I suggested my underpants she went red!


    If I keep any room key next to a payment card such as octopus in Hk or the mRT for singapore it always wipes the data on the card


    It’s also worth remembering that your key often ceases to work at 12.00 on the day you are registered to check out. This can be a pain if you’ve arranged a late check out and left the room and need to get back in.



    That’s very annoying, especially when you get to your room 3 minutes after, in a hurry and of course no house phone nearby, so its back to reception, wait in queue with everyone else checking out till it can be reprogrammed.

    I always ask now for the key to be made valid at least 30 minutes beyond my expected check-out time and I’ve never had my request refused, though some receptionists do ask why!


    The main reason for them not working is the cards are magnetised along the strips and designed for multiple usages before disposal.
    Normal credit cards only for single read/write cycles and made to last for a few years sometimes. Each cycle on a hotel key is maybe 2-3 days so have to be easily recoded. Its a fine balance between keeping costs down and keeping functionality. Mobile phones, ipods, pda’s and laptops all have a magnetic field so can mess with the keys, as can if you keep it in your wallet they key can rub on other magnetic cards and loose the key data.

    I’ve seen a few hotels offer RFID cards instead so you just wave the card near the door from inside your wallet. Also coming soon in many new phones is Near Field Communications which is touted as the next big thing – for transport cards like an integrated oyster card in you phone, stored credit card details or network billing for wireless payments and the possibility to store your hotel room key.

    On the idea of the electricity ports for cards – a nectar card or similar is great. How many places in the Bahamas or Germany accept it so its not a big loss from your wallet when heading out for the day.


    Non-working keys that quit for a myriad of reasons, including being breathed on by a leather wallet, is one of the best examples of mindless corporations’ non-think that I’ve ever encountered. If their stupid key cards don’t WORK properly, I don’t think it’s the consumer’s responsibility to keep them in your underwear. The issuers need to find a plan that works … for the consumer, not for the hotel.

    The next time some front desk moron tells me “now if this one doesn’t work, just come back down” I’m going to pitch a fit in his lobby. I am not in a hotel to run back and forth between my room and the front desk, nor wait like a cow for an employee to come and let me in. Their attitude is just stupid.

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