When most holidaymakers stay at a hotel their only concerns are the nightly rate, view from their room or noise that could disrupt their sleep.

But, with a growing terror threat in countries normally considered "safe", a leading security expert says an emergency plan should be a priority for hotel guests.

Rob Walker, head of information and analysis, travel security, at London-based International SOS and Control Risks, has revealed to MailOnline Travel the hotel rooms that offer the most safety in the event of an attack, fire or disaster, plus a number of tips to stay safe.

Walker, a former infantry officer in the British Army, said travellers should book a room higher than the first floor (or second floor in North America) but lower than the sixth floor (seventh floor in North America).


A room on those floors would be high enough to be safe from opportunist burglars but low enough to jump to safety from a balcony or window and within reach of most fire department ladders.

Walker added: "We also recommend travellers request rooms on the side of the building further away from the lobby, which is likely to be the main entry point for any attacker.

"It is preferable to also choose the side away from other public areas, such as hotel restaurants, as those areas can be a target area, and rooms that are not easily accessed from the street, so as not to be an easy target for criminals.

"Yet, ideally it is good to be near the emergency exit stairs."

Walker said it's best to avoid rooms with interlocking doors, but if unavoidable make sure they are locked and consider using a door wedge as an extra precaution.

He encourages holidaymakers to have a plan in case of an emergency at their hotel and consider the safety features of their accommodation.

Before travelling they should find out whether the hotel is in or near neighbourhoods to avoid (choose hotels away from high-crime areas or routes or venues where protests are traditionally held) and whether there's a recent history of hotel-related security incidents at the destination.

When checking in, guests should make sure their room has the appropriate security fittings, including deadbolts, a spy hole and evacuation procedures, and they should take note of the nearest emergency exits and fire retardant kit, said Walker.

He recommends packing a doorstop, which can be wedged under the door to prevent people from entering.

He said: "They are an added level of security when you are in the hotel room."

Guests should do a sweep of the room when they arrive, in case it is occupied by an intruder.

Walker said: "One well-known airline advises their staff to prop open the room door with their luggage while they check the room for other people - hiding under the bed, in closets or behind the shower curtain."

He added: "In areas with heightened security threats, look for hotels set back from the main thoroughfares, with access controls, like surveillance systems, card-access required for elevators, metal detectors, and visible guards."

Another thing to consider is a hotel's communication capabilities, as smaller, independent hotels may not have the infrastructure or capacity of international chain hotels.

Walker said: "This can be an important consideration, especially if staying in an area prone to natural disasters or where terrorism threats are a heightened concern."

If there's one object tourists should have with them at all times it's a fully charged mobile phone with access to the local telephone network and data.

That way, said Walker, people can call out and request help or inform people if something goes wrong.

He would also keep a small "grab bag" containing important items such as a passport or other travel documents, bottle of water, mobile phone and chargers that can be picked up quickly in an emergency.

International SOS provides medical and travel security assistance to corporations, large universities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) around the world.

Recently, it has provided advice to hundreds of clients following recent terror attacks, including some members who called from their hotel rooms while they were caught in terror attacks at hotels in Bamako, Mali, and West Africa.

Walker said some of his advice is applicable to all destinations, while certain tips are specific to more volatile countries.

He added: "It's important to stress that this is all location-dependent to a great extent, and, especially in locations affected by a range of threats - street crime, protests, terrorism, earthquakes - there is a degree of trade-off or compromise in accommodation selection."

While the advice cannot guarantee survival, it can improve one's odds of escaping without serious injury.

- Daily Mail