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Keeping valuables at reception

Posted by mattocmd on 6/9/2010 at 11:06

OK, so am I just a paranoid person or it is a bad idea to keep valuables with reception in guesthouses in SE Asia?

I've never done it but have read of others who use that service via this website.

Has anyone ever heard of any horror stories about this, such as the hotel getting "robbed" and the items being stolen? I gotta imagine is happens from time to time.

Any thoughts?

#1 mattocmd has been a member since 13/6/2007. Location: United States. Posts: 365
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Posted by eastwest on 6/9/2010 at 12:52

You will probably get a variety of opinions here.

I don't do it unless I'm really familiar with the people running the guesthouse.

I must say that almost all guesthouses have reliable staff and probably nothing would happen.

My reasons for not doing it are these:
- I don't think is any safer than leaving something in the room. If you ask your room not to be cleaned less people will know you have valuables (ok, I travel like a pig when I have valuables).
- If any outside robbers want to do bad it's the most obvious/easiest way to get valuables (most guesthouses have the closed envelops behind the counter system). A door-to-door check would take much more time and effort. If they do, you're in trouble anyway.
- What guarantees can the guesthouse really give? Do they return valuables money if things are missing? Most likely not. It's also not fair to ask/expect the staff to give their lives for your valuables.
- If the guesthouse staff is not trustworthy (which is rare) your belongings won't be safe anywhere (reception or room).
- For smaller/cheaper guesthouses reputation damage is of minor concern so if something were to happen the "I'll write a bad review" threat won't really help.

I also never carry passport and so on (I leave them in the room) on me while on the street. Leaves me less worried about things (robberies etc.) and I can enjoy things better (that's what I came for). Insurance and copies of papers I do keep separate.

I know my logic isn't flawless and there will be people who point out the pros of a service like that.

#2 eastwest has been a member since 17/12/2009. Posts: 778
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Posted by shaydan_01 on 6/9/2010 at 13:55

I don't usually do it, but I have left cash and passports at reception before. Make sure firstly that they are actually putting it in a safe and not just leaving it lying around somewhere. Secondly, count the cash (if it is cash) in front of them and make sure that they record how much cash is in there and give you a signed receipt, that way if anything is missing you have proof of witness.

The best way for you to ensure that they haven't been through your stuff is to get them to keep in a large envelope which is sealed with sticky tape. Sign your signature across the tape so that if the envelope is opened you will be able to notice.

Most guesthouses have notices stating that they will only be responsible for belongings deposited at the reception desk.

Either way, there is always a risk and the best place to keep anything super valuable is on your person. Don't forget, travel insurance!

#3 shaydan_01 has been a member since 16/11/2009. Location: Australia. Posts: 80
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Posted by KazAussie on 6/9/2010 at 15:55


There is no straight-forward answer to this one. It depends what security the reception desk has. If it has a safe or even a solid filing cabinet you are usually pretty safe leaving stuff there, but in all cases as Shaydan suggested put it in an envelope and sign over ALL the seals (not just the flap at the top).

I tend never to leave anything much in my room (unless it has an in-room safe).

I don't tend to carry a lot of cash but whatever I have I split up between my wallet, my hang around the neck travelsafe thingy and my bag (which might be back in the room).

I also have three copies of documents such as passports, travel insurance and photocopy of credit card and ATM cards, spread around as above.

I figure that way if I lose one, or even two out of the three I am okay. The other thing I tend to do is scan in all my important documents, and just save them in the drafts folder of my email account. So I can access them.

That said, I have never had anything pinched, although I have left the odd camera on the seat of a taxi. For that reason I don't carry expensive camera gear and I make sure I copy my photos up to the internet regularly... you can replace the camera but not the photos.

Hope this helps.



#4 KazAussie has been a member since 18/7/2009. Posts: 221

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