A woman reports in multiple places online that last Thursday she was staying one night in a major city at a chain hotel. She showered, put her towel on the rack, and was “standing in the middle of the room completely naked, [when] another guest opens the door suddenly.”
It seems that the hotel’s front desk had checked in this other man, and assigned him an already occupied room. That happens – it shouldn’t, it seems like one of the gravest hotel fails possible – but it’s one reason I always use all the locks on hotel doors.
What happened next is what’s really striking. The man didn’t leave. Instead, he started filming her,
This man spends about 30 seconds holding the door open with his foot, glaring at me and repeating “What the hell are you doing in my room?” in-between narrating what he is seeing while pointing his camera phone at me.
After about 10 seconds of shock, I literally say “Can you please close the door and leave— I am fully naked.” The man keeps narrating the scene with his camera phone aimed at me, and so I repeat my request once again, verbatim, this time as I back up and squat behind the bed to hide while keeping track of him visually. Shortly after this second request, the man closes the door.
She offers that she no longer felt comfortable in the room. She went to the hotel’s bar for about an hour. Then she returned but found her key no longer worked (presumably it was now programmed to this man instead.)
The hotel gave her a new key. She asked for a different room, and was told they would “try.” It was 7 p.m. and she left, trying to stay away as long as possible, “wandering from restaurant to restaurant, diner to diner and finally camped at a bar until closing.” She went back to the hotel at 3 a.m. and was offered a new room but the deadbolt “was non-functioning.” They assigned her another room, that one had a non-working deadbolt too but maintenance finally resolved it and she went to be after 5 a.m. but was unable to sleep.
The hotel offered her compensation including a free night. But her concern is the video of her naked – that this man has, and that could show up online. She regularly searches trying to find herself on the internet.
She asked the hotel’s General Manager “to secure written confirmation” from the other guest that the footage won’t be retained or distributed. The hotel says they requested this, but haven’t heard back.
I’m not going to pretend to know how it feels for a woman to have her personal space – and body – violated in this way. So I’m not going to second guess her reaction. But I think it’s worth talking about what a more effective reaction might be, in case this comes up for anyone else in the futurer.
First, for another guest walking into a room that is already occupied, whether the person inside is naked or not, the correct response is to:
In the moment, I’d suggest to this woman (1) grabbing a towel, (2) yelling GTFO, (3) calling for hotel security, and (4) calling the police.
At this point I would get a lawyer. The hotel apparently knows who the man is (they checked him into the room, after all) but isn’t an effective go-between. And if the hotel provided assurances that the man deleted the video, would you believe him? I’d have a third party – a lawyer – attempt to secure the guest information and contact him on her behalf.