types of keys in hotels

types of keys and key management used in hotels

December 07, 2019


Keys are more than just tools to open or close locks; they are an integral part of the security framework in the hotel industry. In a sector where Guest safety and security are paramount, understanding the types of keys used and how to manage them is crucial. It is an extensively covered topic in hotel management courses, especially in renowned Hotel Management Colleges in Delhi


In this blog, we will delve into the various types of keys used in hotels and the importance of key management.

Types of Keys Used in the Hotel Industry

Guest Room Keys

Upon guest registration at the hotel, the hotel issues room keys to the guest. which are designed to open only the specific room intended for each guest. In case a room is double-locked, the guest room key does not work. 

To enhance security, many hotels choose not to display the hotel's name, address, or room number on these keys.


Master Keys

Master keys can open multiple doors especially, room doors that are not double-locked. These keys are usually carried by high-ranking staff members like the General Manager (GM) and Executive Housekeeper (EHK). 


Master keys are categorized into four levels of access, depending on the areas they can unlock.

Grand Master Key

The Grand Master Key is a level above the Master Key and can open all guest rooms and often all housekeeping storage rooms as well. This key also can double-lock a room, denying access to it.

Floor Master Key

Given to Guest Room Attendants (GRAs) and floor supervisors, the Floor Master Key can open all rooms on a specific floor. However, it cannot open rooms that are double-locked. This key is crucial for housekeeping operations and is usually kept with the floor supervisor.

Emergency Key

Also known as the 'E' Key, the Emergency Key can open all doors on the property, even those that are double-locked. This key overrides any additional locks put in place by the guest for privacy.

Card Key

Many modern hotels have transitioned to card key systems. These systems use special plastic cards, similar in appearance to credit cards, which act as keys to unlock doors. Each card has a unique code, different for each guest, enhancing the security of the room.


Importance of Key Management in Hotels 

Key management is the process of carefully monitoring and tracking the use of keys in a hotel operation. Effective key management is essential for:

Reducing Theft: Proper key management minimizes the risk of guest property theft.


Enhancing Security: Monitoring who has access to what areas can prevent unauthorized access and potential security incidents.


Operational Efficiency: Knowing which keys open what doors can streamline operations, especially in emergencies.


Key Management & Control in Modern Hotels

With advancements in technology, key control has become more sophisticated. Digital locks and key cards can be easily deactivated and reactivated, providing an additional layer of security.  Learn more about advanced key control in hotels


These systems often come with software that can track when a door was opened and by whom, providing valuable data in case of any security incidents.


How The Hotel School Gives Practical exposure to students in Key Management in Hotels 

Institutions like The Hotel School, one of the premium Hotel Management Colleges in Delhi, offer students practical exposure to key management through industrial visits, guest lectures from industry experts, and workshops. Such hands-on experiences are invaluable for students aiming for a career in hotel management.



Keys and key management are critical aspects of hotel operations, affecting both security and guest satisfaction. As future professionals in the hotel industry, understanding the types of keys used and the importance of key management is crucial. Hotel Management Colleges in Delhi, given their proximity to some of the country's finest hotels, have a unique opportunity to provide their students with the practical experience needed to excel in this field.


Frequently Asked Questions around Types of Keys & Key Management

What is the role of key management in hotels?

Key management is crucial for enhancing security and operational efficiency in hotels.


How do modern hotels manage keys?

Many modern hotels use digital locking systems and key cards, which can be easily monitored and controlled through software.


What is the importance of practical exposure in learning about key management?

Practical exposure helps students understand the real-world challenges and solutions related to key management, preparing them for their future careers.


Who usually has access to Master and Grand Master keys?

High-ranking staff like the General Manager and Executive Housekeeper usually carry Master keys, while Grand Master keys are even more restricted.


What is the 'E' Key?

The 'E' Key, or Emergency Key, can open all doors in the property, even those that are double-locked, and is usually reserved for emergencies.


By understanding the intricacies of keys and key management, hotel management students and professionals alike can contribute to creating a safer and more efficient environment for both guests and staff.


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