That Time Someone Broke into Our Hotel Room at 2am

Do Not Disturb

Yep, it really happened.  Technically the guy didn’t realize he was breaking in.  But let’s back up a sec.

Why do hotel rooms in South Africa not have latches or safety chains?  Seriously, why?  My scientific sample is 3 hotels in two major cities of varying niceness (not including safari lodges).  No safety chains.  No latches.

On the very first night of our trip, we were staying at the City Lodge at the JNB Airport.  We had to transfer to our first safari the next day and an airport hotel for our jet lagged souls was the easiest.

At 2am, I woke up to the sound of someone opening our hotel room door.  I shoved Mr. P awake (gender roles, awesome.  He also kills spiders).  He leapt out of bed and ran to the door, yelling the whole time.

Poor strange guy who tried to get into our room.  He was so freaked out.  He was halfway down the hall by the time Mr. P got there.  Turns out the hotel checked him in and gave him a key to our room.  In the middle of the night.  Obviously, we weren’t pleased.  He told us that he’d go back to the desk to yell at them and straighten it out and we could go back to sleep.  Right, after we calm the hell down, sure we’ll go back to sleep.

I thought this was an issue just for the City Lodge.  But nope.  Our super nice boutique hotel in Rosebank did not have a latch.  Neither did the Protea in Cape Town.

I hope someone can shed some light on this.  In a country where travelers are warned about crime, why aren’t there latches?  We can put aside the social commentary on crime and whether the warnings are necessary or correct for a sec.  Let’s agree for the sake of argument that it is an issue if the hotel room binder includes information about what to do if you get carjacked as well as what the hotel pool hours are.

Any thoughts from folks who live there or who have traveled there more than me?  This doesn’t affect my desire to go back to South Africa.  We were already dreaming of our next trip before we left.

Photo courtesy Pelle Sten via Creative Commons license.

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