As we discussed previously, the average hotel door card lock has been hacked, picked, and otherwise violated in about every conceivable fashion, to the point that you should consider that whole assembly to be nothing more than a convenient way to keep the door closed against drafts.
Or, to be more explicit, hotel doors are not secure.
If nothing else, the manager, maintenance person, and housekeeping staff all have master or master-ish keys that allow them access to your room whenever they like. So what can you do about this?
As I mentioned in the previous post, you can use the privacy lock on the door frame, but those have problems of their own. You can put a doorstop in the door, but if someone still tries to force their way through the door, depending on the specific door construction it is entirely possible for the top of the door to bend in far enough for the person to do something untoward.
Or you could consider something like the Addalock.
In my previous post, I did refer to the Addalock as “more gadgety” than the alternatives, but after spending a weekend in a hotel where the door hardware was even less inspiring than average, I decided to buy one and give it a shot.
The premise is that it is a kind of doorstop, but instead of relying on the friction of the carpet, it locks into the strike plate for the door latch. Naturally, the strength of this kind of latch will be purely dependent upon the strength of the strike plate itself – in modern housing, unless you have upgraded your screws, it will not be terribly strong at all, but in hotels with their metal door frames, it should work just fine.
Based on the geometry of the tabs that insert into the strike plate, it should be compatible with most doors here in America (on account of the almost universal application of the bored cylindrical lock) but may have trouble over in Europe with their mortise locks. Likewise, it might work with some deadbolts, but the size of the bolt itself and the shape of the strike plate may cause problems. One of the first things I did on moving in was replace the “builder grade” hardware with Abloy knobs and deadbolts, and the Addalock cannot accommodate the deadbolt going through it, but worked just fine with the doorknob latch.
Installation is fairly simple – hold the metal plate with the tabs in the strike plate, close the door with the metal plate in place, insert the plastic wedge’s metal pin into the plate with the handle up, and then push the wedge into place. The pin slot on the plate and the pin track in the wedge are both notched, so the pin will positively lock into place once the wedge is all the way down. If your doorknob uses a deadlatch – i.e. it has a little half-tubular piece of metal on the back of the latch – you will want to wiggle the Addalock’s plate around a little to ensure that half-tube goes home properly.
The construction seems solid as well. The metal has no sharp edges, and the pebbled finish should hold up well over time; the plastic has no flashing, is molded well around the metal track for the pin, and should not mar or damage normal doors; and the two pieces are held together with a fairly decent chain. The whole assembly, carry pouch and all, weighs in at a hair over 4 ounces, which will not hurt your checked bag weight, and the package is smaller than a dollar bill and less than half an inch thick so it should tuck into a carry-on just fine too.
Obviously I am not going to break down one of my doors for our entertainment, but the construction and implementation of the Addalock seems to indicate it will hold up longer than most people want to spend if they are trying to surreptitiously break into a hotel room. Of course, it will not stop a proper battering ram, but if you are concerned about that level of threat you probably should not be staying at an average hotel.
And there are shortcomings. If the frame is really tight on the door, there will not be enough space for the metal plate to slide into – the instructions very adamantly recommend against forcing the door closed on the plate, likely because you stand a chance of jamming the door quite thoroughly. On the other hand, if the frame is really loose, the wedge will not be able to properly grab the door, and the Addalock will not work; but, that that point, I will wonder if the latch works at all to begin with. Unfortunately, these only work on inward-swinging doors, and, naturally, you can only use them if you are in the room yourself – this will not help you keep the room secure while you are away.
Finally, the Addalock runs $22 for one, or $38 for two, while an average rubber door stop is only $4. Given that most hotel room doors typically have some degree of fire rating, if someone were to push the top of the door with a doorstop at the bottom, the odds of the door bending are pretty low.
So, is the Addalock worth the 500% premium? That is ultimately your call. Compared to the average value of the personal items you are likely to keep in your hotel room when you travel, even the $22 is relatively minor. Personally, I do not regret the purchase.
So, to summarize:
Build Quality: *****
Security: ***** (Bear in mind this site focuses on “average person” security, so the five-star rating means I have not found or devised any bypasses for it, and it does what it claims to do. The Addalock should not be relied upon to keep an invading army out – as always, the goal for “average person” security is to present a hard enough target to discourage your aggressor.)
Portability: ***** (The pouch was a nice, if arguably unnecessary, inclusion.)
Conclusion: After having too many doorstops happily slide their way across the short-pile fabric common in hotels, and after seeing too many “privacy locks” dangling by half-tightened screws, I believe the Addalock would be a worthy addition to any domestic traveler’s luggage.
(Note: I purchased the Addalock myself, with no prior arrangement to review it. That said, all the Amazon links to it carry my referral ID, so Amazon will send me a few pennies if you decide to by one – that does not cost you anything, though.)