WTF: 3 Kids Forced Their Way Into Our Hotel Room

I’ve had a lot of weird stuff happen in my travels, though this has to be among the strangest.

This afternoon we checked into the Sheraton Grand Park Lane London. We got our keys about three hours late since our suite wasn’t ready until then, and were so excited to finally be able to settle in and freshen up (before that, Ford was falling asleep on the couch in the club lounge).

With keys in hand we headed to our room. Ford and I both walked into the room, and suddenly three kids are in our room as well. I’d say they were somewhere between eight and ten years old. They came out of nowhere. To be clear, they didn’t knock or anything, but rather walked right in, and of course I didn’t want to physically push them out, or anything.

sheraton-grand-london

They started talking to us. “What are you doing? You’re in our mom’s room!”

I double checked the room number on our keys and the room number on our door, and sure enough they matched.

I responded with “hmmm, are you sure?”

“Yes, this is our room. You need to get out.”

I hadn’t turned on all the lights in the room yet, though best I could tell the room had been recently serviced. So I said “where is your stuff then?”

He pointed to the umbrella next to the door, and said “that’s my mom’s,” and then pointed to the (dark) bedroom and said “the stuff is over there.” Then they ran into the bedroom.

We had no reason to believe they were lying. Heck, I’ve been assigned rooms that were occupied before. So at this point we decided to err on the side of caution. We didn’t want to close the door with us and the kids in there (where the narrative could easily turn into “we told them it was our room and they still followed us in here!”), so Ford and I walked outside the room. For a second we stood there and tried to decide what to do. In the meantime I could hear the kids screaming and running around inside.

I walked down the long hallway back towards the elevators going to the lobby, and as I reached the end of it, the kids were running behind me, saying “we were kidding.” I responded with “that’s not cool,” and they said “can’t you take a joke?”

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit paranoid when it comes to hotel room security. I’ve had some weird stuff happen over the years, partly from malicious readers. I didn’t necessarily assume these kids had bad intentions. At the same time, I was trying to think back to being an eight year old and the pranks I’d pull, and forcing my way into someone’s hotel room wasn’t among those (at the same time, I ended up being a hall monitor a couple of years later, so perhaps I’m not the best person to ask about pranks). 😉

Sure, it’s very possible that they were just playing a prank, and that was the extent of it. But I also figured that if they were going to pull a prank that goes that far, I couldn’t rule out the possibility of the prank having gone a bit further.

I don’t know exactly what I had in mind, but I didn’t want to rule anything out (whether it’s putting dog crap in the bed, stealing an object from the room, taking drinks from the minibar, or who knows what).

The other question was how the kids got onto the floor to begin with, since key access is required for all floors. Not only that, but you can only access the floor that you’re staying on.

We headed back to the front desk and explained the situation to the associate at reception. She sent up security immediately, who took the situation seriously.

Back at reception the front office manager, Roman, talked to the security guy. We overheard him say “two minutes before I got this call, I was told there were three unattended kids who had walked in through the side entrance.”

Roman apologized and invited us to wait in the club lounge while he personally inspected the room, and then also had two more room attendants do inspections, just to be on the safe side. He was incredibly gracious, as he also insisted on covering our taxi to a restaurant (we were going to walk, but we were running late due to this situation), and he even called the restaurant to tell them we would be a little late. Furthermore, he promised to follow up with us regarding whether the kids were hotel guests or not.

So kudos to Roman for how well he handled the situation, especially since this really wasn’t the hotel’s fault. Kids playing pranks could happen at any hotel.

Bottom line

While I’ve had a lot of weird stuff happen to me in hotels, this was a first. While I know there are a lot of kids who play pranks, forcibly entering someone’s hotel room and lying to them seems like it’s crossing the line. It’s not that I necessarily assumed they did anything beyond that, but I also didn’t want the liability in case they stole something from the room, took alcoholic drinks from the minibar, etc.

How would you have handled this situation? What would you have done when the kids walked into the room, and would you have reported it?

Comments

  1. @Alan I’m assuming Ben and Ford had just opened the room door and the kids simply followed them in before it closed. Very strange in any event and I think this was exactly the right response.

  2. I’d probably freak out if this happened to me since I often travel solo. I still check the closets and under the bed before settling in.

    On the other hand, I’ve walked into someone else’s room. At Park Hyatt Sydney. And it was 100% the hotel’s fault. The front desk associate wrote the wrong room number on the keycard envelope. We couldn’t open the door, so a hotel employee who walked by let us in. No one was in the room at the time, but things could’ve gone very wrong – like us seeing things that can’t be unseen 😉

  3. Let us know if you hear back from the hotel over whether the kids were guests. Very intriguing story. My kids are that age and I can’t imagine them doing anything like that.
    Not because they aren’t naughty enough, but not balsy enough.

  4. You absolutely did the right thing. I understand kids pulling pranks, but this crosses a line. I would have done the same thing and reported it to the hotel.

  5. I’d have left the door open and called reception from the phone in the room…
    I 100% agree how did these kids get to where they got?
    What are the chances you will be annoyed by these same kids in F on the way home? (hope not for you fella!!!)
    Btw have you done any posts on disruptive kids in premium cabins… I am sure that would be a topic of interest for many readers!

  6. Another reminder that most hotels have zero security. Just make sure the door actually sllams shut behind you.

  7. What this makes me think of is instances–exclusively on European trains, in my experience–where you’re suddenly surrounded by kids climbing on you, running around you, poking you, etc., and running away just as suddenly. When they’ve run away you find your wallet or a piece of luggage missing. When I get swarmed like this I immediately clutch my wallet and phone in one hand and luggage with the other, and try to knee them out of the way.

    It sounds like they didn’t swarm you or Ford or your luggage in this instance, but it’s good to be aware that this can happen, and exactly this might have happened if you’d had something good easily available.

    I agree, it sounds like the hotel handled it well. I’m not sure they’re entirely blameless–it sounds like the kids got in unattended, after all. Still, the hotel’s response is the kind of service recovery that makes you more, rather than less, likely to stay there again in the future.

  8. The kids probably spotted 2 over-entitled snooty Americans & decided to take them down a leg or two…

    Kudos!

  9. While I’m sorry this happened to you, I’m interested in why you chose the Sheraton vs the JW. JW is less Starwood points. We are going to London in January for hubby’s 55th bday, so I want to make it special. Have reservations for the JW using points. I’d change to the Sheraton if it was worth the extra points. He is a platinum with Starwood, but I don’t think he will make 50 nights this year as he has for the past 5 or so years. So no SNAs for us. Thanks.

  10. Since I travel alone, my first instinct would be that they were there to rob me and I would grab my stuff and get out of there. I would not be in a good mood by the time I got back to the front desk.

  11. I would have sat down and called the front desk from inside the room to ask what happened. I don’t think I would have just walked out the room like that with the kids still in there. When I was a kid I probably would have pulled a prank like that, thinking it was funny.

  12. WTF?! How they got inside the room is mind-boggling!

    When I was a kid the worst I did was setting the alarm for 4am when I check out of a hotel

  13. I would have immediately called security from the room and called it an emergency and waited in the room until security arrived. I WOULD NOT have engaged in conversation with the kids. Next I would have called the front desk and lodged a complaint with the HOTEL MANAGER on duty, not the desk clerk. I would consider this a very serious breach of security and I would also notify Hotel Corporate about the incident.

  14. We stayed at the Crillon Hotel in Paris some years ago. At 1am in the morning there was noise at the door as if a person was trying to enter our room.As you are aware some French Hotels have an inner and outer door.On opening the door I found a middle aged male with a young lady.He did not speak English so I called security.
    He left so I assume he was the person who had occupied the room the previous night and booked out and kept his key and decided to come back for a free night.
    I spoke to the front desk the next morning and they looked at me as if I had dreamt it up.Lucky my wife was with me.

  15. While that hotel has card access in elevators I’m not sure what they did with the stairwells during the renovation. Do you need card access for the stairs?
    Hopefully they figure out where the kids were from and address situation with parents. I’ve dealt with their hotel management before and they are quite responsive.

  16. This happened to me once. I simply dismembered their bodies and hid their remains in the minibar. Not sure why this didn’t occur to yourself and Ford? They wouldn’t be playing many pranks after that I can tell you!

  17. Very creepy story. This could have ended very badly – can you imagine if the kids made up stories about being molested?

    I’m not sure I would have done what you did – but removing yourself from contact with the kids is the right thing to do.

    Sounds like the hotel has acted appropriately so far.

    It is serious, and should be treated as such. Its the kind of thing that would make me unsettled, and ask for a new room.

    Look forward to hearing how the hotel concludes the incident.

  18. I don’t blame you for being a bit paranoid, I’d be the same way. I have had the wrong room number given to me before……and the key opened the door……and there was someone inside. In the shower. Awful!

  19. My two cents is they have done this often in hotels, they follow people to their room and run in and try to steal what they can. Think of what you leave unattended after your room has been made up for the day, jewelry, ipad, watches, laptop. Since you don’t use large luggage bags they probably couldn’t tell you just checked in and didn’t have anything valuable in the room sitting out. Seems harsh to say this of 10 year olds but if you read world news it can be believed. Hopefully I’m wrong but this seems like it is far from the first time for them.

  20. Sorry to miss you! The Intercontinental down the road is sold out and has been busy with children this weekend!

  21. You might want to write a piece on this. Brazilian airline was supposed to take an unacompanied 6 yo from Rio to Vitoria (a 60+ minute flight to the north). He never showed up at the destination.

    After obtaining no help from the airline, he went to the Federal Police. The airline “misplaced him on a flight to Curitiba (1000 km away ti the south of the country)

    The company then said they would fly him to his destination through a flight with 1 or 2 connections (not sure). The family (understandably) dis not accept.

    To make a long story short, the father posted on his facebook page ” GOL: My son is not luggage and can not be mishandled or misplaced”.

    The link below is from a very reputable brazilian magazine.It is in portuguese, but nothing that google translate can mot handle.

    http://vejasp.abril.com.br/blogs/pop/2016/12/03/crianca-desaparecida-gol/

  22. Normally, I am a pussycat; however, an Incredible Hulk scenario would have been the result of my being confronted with such a brazen childish antic.

    All my natural self-defense mechanisms would have kicked-in. I am blessed with a 6’5″, 230lb. frame and I know how to use it to my advantage. I wouldn’t have even given the little bastards the time to utter their lie; I would simply have towered over the pricks and bellowed “Get the hell out!” in my best Russian accent (my actual “accent” is quite Californian, but thankfully I have many Russian uncles & cousins).

    Kudos, though, to the hotel for how well it dealt with this unpleasantness.

  23. Call security immediately and go on the offensive . Probably try to detain at least one until security arrives . This wasn’t a prank . Those were thieves or scouts for robbers .

  24. @John Curtin
    I am always nervous about European hotels! A lot of them don’t use card keys but physical keys. Most of them don’t even have dead bolts inside the door! So when I sleep I always lean a chair against the door. I know kind of crazy but since I travel by myself it is better safe then sorry.

  25. I would have called security from the room phone and kept the children in my sight, never have left them in that room. There were two of you and the managment needed to be notified immediately in any interpretation of this situation.

  26. I’d have done such a prank as a kid actually and it might really be just a prank…
    That said, telling the hotel was a good call, if only to not be responsible for any of the damages.

  27. Not only is that a HUGE security breach on some level, but could have escalating into a theft, kidnapping (of someone) or worse. The hotel should and must comp your stay!! Period.

    I was once assigned a key card to a room occupied, upon entering I could hear a couple having sex down the hallway. I was incredibly angry because the hotel put me in a position (no pun intended) to violate someone elses privacy…and what if it had happened to me when I was in the room. With that said, everyone should ALWAYS latch or secure their room from the inside…baffled by people who don’t, then again unlike many of us we sometimes forget that most folks travel only once or twice a year. The hotel comped my stay for the trauma 😉

    I find many do not take their security seriously when traveling.

  28. God, u Americans are paranoid to the extreme. All you lot think about is how much compensation can i get for this….it’s sad.

    Surely Lucky et al saw these kids in the corridor before they opened the door. So they just let them burst into the room with them?!

  29. Hi, so what is the outcome, were the kids found / traced. It is very weird & frightening at such a prestigious hotel. I would suggest asking to move to a different room.
    Were they foreign kids ? Maybe the mother is a hotel cleaner & they have her access key or card.

  30. This is definitely a weird situation, but I was at a 9 year old boy’s birthday party today. There were about ten of them there, and they were everywhere. But kids that age just aren’t very scary.

  31. 10 years ago, I would have scoffed at this, but these days you really can’t be paranoid enough. I can see how some people might think you’re hyper paranoid uptight Americans or whatever (I’m not an American), but these days.. you know.
    I personally think you did the right thing not putting yourselves in the room with the kids, even if the door was open. Think what would have happened if the kids had screamed “child molesters!” (Or something kids would say, I don’t know) or something.. even as some kind of sick joke..
    Just saying.

  32. Go, Joe! I have the hotels front desk phone number on my phone. Call right away. Sorry, but 1st thought, just bored neighbor guest wanting to hang with the cool gay couple. Enjoy

  33. I’m with Patrick.
    I wouldn’t call this “forcing their way in.”
    They walked in behind you before the door shut. It’s not like they battered the door in or held a gun to your head.

  34. Wow! I hope the hotel follows up with you about what the hell happened (and that you share with us, because we’re all noisy as hell on here ;))

  35. Haha. Ben got pranked by a couple of 8 year olds. Future travel blog writers???

    They had probably been watching the maid service all day and slipped into the room after she left and before the door closed. Maybe put something on the threshold to keep it from latching.

  36. My favorite hotel game was (and still is sometimes) turning the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign around to the ‘Make up my Room’ side outside peoples rooms….

  37. Seriously everyone needs to go to the hotels facebook page and voice their utter distaste regarding those vile gypsy kids.
    I would have hurled those vile rodents off the balcony.
    Totally unacceptable.
    Very very poor form.

  38. Creepy! I am glad you two are ok and I have to think about what could I do in similar situation! Seriously WTF!

  39. Yes, it is a security issue. No the hotel doesnt owe you any compensation. If anything, the cab they organised for you could be termed as fair compensation as you didnt pay for it if I read correctly.

  40. I hope the hotel securities were able to locate these underage unaccompanied minors. Such behavior can easily leads to a far more sinister situation, it’s a disaster waiting to happen. I hope these kids parents’ give them a good spanking, take away their iPhone/iPad, no PS4 & xBox One for 3 months, no allowance for 6 month and grounded until next year. During the mean time they can truly reflect on their behavior…

  41. How 2 experienced(?) travellers didn’t notice anyone around them in the hallway when they entered the room (or left the door open) is beyond me. Details about carelessness were omitted I think.

  42. @ Mom of 4 — In this case because the paid rate wasn’t bad (thanks to the strong USD/weak GBP), and I needed the nights to requalify for Starwood Ambassador status. Will have a review of the hotel soon, but overall am VERY impressed. This is by far the nicest Sheraton I’ve stayed at (and really should be branded as something else, in my opinion).

  43. @ snic — It was just a generic hotel umbrella. However, I wasn’t going to engage with them further.

  44. @ Suzanne — You don’t need a key to access the stairs, though the main staircase is sort of hidden. It’s built into the wall, and is difficult to open, as it doesn’t have a handle. If the kids actually came in off the street, I highly doubt they would have known how to access those stairs.

  45. @ Andy — I don’t want anything from the hotel. Even if they offered something I’d turn it down, as I don’t think they did anything wrong.

  46. @ dmodemd — It’s a hotel, there are always people in hallways. I don’t think twice when there are others in the hallways, because I’ve often had situations where someone is going to the room next to me. My assumption when I see kids running around a hallway isn’t that they’re going to enter the room behind me and claim it’s actually their’s.

  47. We have had the odd occasion where a desk clerk gives out the key to a room that is already occupied. Can be very embarrassing when you open the door to discover someone already in the room.
    Last time it happened the first guest was very angry at us – and not the desk clerk. He was eventually received a free night but still was ranting at us, not the clerk.
    I agree it is upsetting and that’s why I always double-lock the doors.

  48. Hopefully these kids were children of guests, as it is disturbing to think they could just come off the street, into the hotel, and onto the actual room floors.

    Maybe it’s because I often travel alone as a woman, but I always look to see if there are other people near me before entering my hotel room.

  49. These kids are often working for adults, and they either steal what they can or they set it up so that an adult can follow them in to a room. It’s a fairly common tactic in many countries, including the US.

  50. Leaving the room immediately was the right thing to do. Otherwise you get into legal territory, not where you want to be. BTW one time I tried to open a hotel room door but the card key wouldn’t work. I slipped the card through the slot repeatedly and rattled the door a bit (not aggressively), thinking it was just a glitch. I stopped when I heard the sounds of frightened people inside. Then I realized I’d picked right room but the wrong floor. i made a quick exit via the stairwell and got to my room without incident. I never did learn who they were or if I truly spooked them so bad they couldn’t sleep.

  51. We were shocked and saddened to hear about Mr Schlappig’s experience in the hotel and sincerely apologise for the upset caused. We have reported the incident to the local authorities and launched a full internal investigation to understand how this happened. We take the safety and security of our guests extremely seriously and are committed to maintaining the highest standards in our properties. The Hotel GM is keeping Mr. Schlappig updated on a regular basis.

  52. I would have called the front desk from the hall phone and made sure the kids stayed in “their” room for their “safety” till the adult “responsible” for them was located. Child services could have got involved.

  53. Stayed here prior to the renovations and it was one of our worst stays anywhere, Starwood or otherwise. Noisy/run-down rooms, uncaring staff. Sorry to hear this happened to you both, but not surprised at this property.

  54. Once someone was checked
    into a room, I was given the same and my key worked. I sorted it out with the front desk.
    Definitely inform management before the “children” are allowed access. 3 ten year old unattended kids lying their way into your hotel room = they’ll just continue unless caught. To me it’s troubling how ready one was to lie about the umbrella to further their entry. Sheraton posting here shows how concerned they are and should be.

  55. I had three strange incidents at the SAME Sheraton Grand London hotel during a 5 night stay.
    #1. I saw a very young boy with his “father” at the front desk of the hotel “claiming” after they checked out that they forgot their passports in the safe and must get back into the room. The front desk staff said several times “we have no record of you ever staying with us”. They had very thick eastern european accents.
    #2. A “fire alarm” was pulled as a “prank” on the 8th floor – scared the living daylights out of us.
    #3. My safe in the room was open after I returned from a few hours of site seeing during the day; I am 100% sure when I left the room is was locked. Shockingly my passport was not taken…..but I know it was closed when I left the room.

    It’s a great hotel….in an amazing location…..but it’s the epicenter of tourists with baubles and $. Beware!

  56. Simple answer with kids is to SCREAM AT THEM AT THE TOP OF YOUR VOICE airing anything that comes to mind, while at the same time corralling them to where you want them (out the door), before slamming the door in their faces. Kids are invariably little shits.
    Works a treat!

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