“Suffocation danger exists!” it screamed. How could that be, I wondered, when the small steel container on the top shelf of the wardrobe had a door measuring no more than 10 x 6 inches?
“Perhaps it’s for a hamster or something,” suggested my wife helpfully. “But who’d take a pet rodent to a nice hotel for the weekend?” I replied. “And if anyone did, the thing wouldn’t suffocate anyway because there are two blooming great holes drilled in the back.”
Still, you can’t be too careful and if the warning saves the life of a single hamster or a foolhardy tiny guest then it will have been worthwhile.
In-room mini-safes are handy for storing valuables and passports but I’m not sure how thief-proof some of them are. Especially if they are not securely bolted down.
The best in-room safes, according to Mike Bevans, owner of Linthwaite House Hotel in Windermere, are those that are big enough to take a 15-inch laptop and have a socket for charging.
Yet he still believes the best bet in many cases is to deposit valuables in the hotel’s own safe. “Hotels should only receive a package not knowing what the contents are – and make sure you get a receipt,” he says.
Mind you, even taking that precaution isn’t fool-proof. Andrew Lowe, owner of Perthshire’s Four Seasons Hotel, recalls working at a very upmarket Scottish country house hotel 30 years ago when a wealthy guest handed in a bank bag to store in the safe.
“We were told it contained £19,000 in cash to buy a car,” relates Andrew. “However, when the customer checked out he forgot to take his money. On remembering the following day, he called to say he’d drop by to collect it. Which was fine – except that by the time he arrived another member of staff had paid it into the bank. He wasn’t pleased!”