A key like this can be copied in 5 minutes.

A key like this can be copied in 5 minutes.

I travel 365 days a year and mostly live out of hotel rooms. But I try to stay away from Airbnb and this is why.

Airbnb is burglars paradise.

If you are a professional burglar, there is nothing better than being able to rent a room for one night. Copy the key and then return a few days later when someone else is staying there. Doing this is a lot easier if the place has no receptionist. Nobody watching the door and no surveillance cameras.

The vast majority of Airbnb’s do not have anyone guarding the place at night. And the keys are almost always old fashioned keys and not magnetic ones, where you can change the code after each use.

This is not a big deal if you rent out on a monthly basis. But on a daily basis, you just have too many people with that easy to copy key in their hand.

If a person rents out a room in an apartment on a nightly basis, the key will probably be held by somewhere between 50 and 100 people in a year. So you want to have a key that can not easily be copied. Or at least someone who keeps watch on a place to make sure that someone does not return to a place with a copied key. A fe w days after they have checked out.

I worked many years as a hotel receptionist, back in the 1990’s. I worked in several countries. And at different types of hotels. In all places we would sometimes have people trying to steal from our hotels guests. these people would almost always work as night, because there was only one person on duty. The night receptionist.

Airbnb often looks like this.

Airbnb often looks like this.

Running a hostel out of an unguarded apartment is asking for theft.


More than 99% of the people who stay in hostels are really great people. They are good at helping fellow travelers. They do not just stay at hostels because they want to save money. But also because they like to meet other travelers. But you do get that bloody idiot from time to time who empty out a hostel for valuables. Or at least tries to do so. This is where it’s important that a hostel does also have this one person who looks after the place. Also at night. Hostels relies a lot on trust, because you share things. But there will be a rotten apple from time to time and this is where you need someone to look after the place. Not just someone who comes by and delivers the key when you check in.

I have been to a so called Hostel in Lisbon once, that was Airbnb style. Staff was never there. Except for the woman who gave me the key to my room upon arrival. I had a private room there. But the lock was a very old fashioned lock that could I could easily break with my bare hands, had I wanted to. So I did not leave any electronics or money behind in my room when I stayed there. Cause this is what thieves go for.

Do not think that I am some old worried fart, who is afford of everything. I have hitch hiked more than 50 000 kilometers in my younger years and I have just been cycling through Indonesia and rural Brazil this year. in the +25 years I have never had anything stolen from a hotel room. But I dedicate that to also being a little streetsmart. And making sure that there is no easy way for people to get in to my room when I am not there.

There are unfortunately some gangs that specialise in stealing from tourists. They do that because tourists are often more vulnerable than locals. And I can assure you that these people will increasingly stop having hotels as their target.  Cause it’s just so much easier to travel from place to place and empty out Airbnb apartments. 

This was just my 5 cents.

Feel free to agree or disagree. But I speak from having lived out of Hotels/hostels/guest houses for more than 20 years.

I’m actually sitting in a hotel room writing these lines 🙂

Cheers from my hotel balcony.

Cheers from my hotel balcony.



  1. I get what you’re saying, but I’ve heard of a lot more people being robbed in hostels. Nevertheless, I shall remember this next time we use airbnb as we recently got £10,000 of gear stolen at a trailhead. Thieves are everywhere it seems, even at home. :/

    • Agreed. This would be a stronger article if it presented evidence that this sort of robbery has actually happened before. As it stands, this is merely a hypothetical problem.

      • I was reading a few accounts about people having their stuff stolen while staying at Airbnb and was thinking about putting links to these stories.
        I might just do that.

  2. Entrepreneurs on Airbnb, food for thoughts
    Visitors concerned on their safety, be vigilant

  3. I actually love Airbnb (writing a post now on it haha) and I used it during TBEX. Some bloggers were in a hostel in Manila, and their lockers were broken into and their valuables stolen. Eek. Some were in hotels with rooms just half the size of my Airbnb at twice the price. 😀

    • There are many positive things about Airbnb, but I am just pointing out that there are some big pitfalls too and the problems I mention here will grow soon, when Airbnb becomes more mainstream. Thieves will break in where it’s easy and Airbnb is just very easy to break in to. But I know that I am touching something that is like a religion to some people, so I am prepared for critical comments here. It’s almost like telling a religious person that god does not exist 🙂

  4. Good point. Airbnb hosts should read this. For me, Airbnb is a lifesaver for longer stays (3+ months at a time). In some countries (for example, Colombia), it is a headache to rent a place if you are a foreigner. Airbnb conveniently fills this void. However, I never stay in Airbnb places short-term for the same reason you mentioned. Moreover, quite often small local hotels and hostels offer better prices and run more professionally.

  5. What I wonder about with AirBnB is how many people in the host’s life might also have a key? Could an ex have a key perhaps and try to break in while someone is staying there? I’ve been wondering for myself if staying at an Airbnb alone is safe because who knows who could potentially enter the home in the night?

  6. Pingback: Be ware of thsi when booking hotels rooms in Portugal, using online booking sites.

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