Which Door Lock is Right for Your Hotels?

The lobby, reception and guest rooms all set the tone for your guest experience. Surprisingly, so does the lock on the door. Does it add to the aesthetic of the hotel interior design, or does it stick out on the door? Does it work every time? Is it secure? Having to retrace steps back to the front desk to replace a nonworking keycard is guaranteed to affect your guest’s stay experience.

In this article, we take a look at the different door lock options available to your hotel brand so you can choose which is best for your portfolio – and your guests.

Lock Technology

Anything beyond the traditional metal key and lock mechanism will incorporate some kind of technology. It’s up to you to find the one that fits your hotels, your guests and your budgets. Each option comes with its advantages and shortcomings.

Magnetic Stripe Card (Magstripe)

Magstripe technology came onto the scene in the 1970s and represented a giant leap forward in lock technology. Similar to a credit card, the original plastic keycard contains a magnetic strip that is encoded to work with a specific guestroom lock. Batteries to power the magstripe reader in the lock typically last between 12-18 months. Demagnetization is a common problem. If a guest places a magnetic stripe keycard next to a battery (such as a smartphone or camera), the programming can be scrambled causing malfunction (and a trip to the front desk for a replacement). Operation can also be affected by dirt and dust in the card slot.

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)

Hotel door locks using RFID technology appeared in the early 2000’s. Instead of swiping to access a room, RFID cards only need to be held up within a few inches of the lock for the card reader antenna to pick up the electromagnetic radio signal from the door lock. The door lock contains an RFID module within the exterior fascia of the lock. RFID locks also use batteries with a lifespan of around 12 months. Plastic RFID keycards fail less often than magstripe keycards but typically cost about three times as much.

NFC (Near-Field Communication)

Similar to RFID systems, NFC door locks contain a reader within the exterior fascia of the lock and only require the user to place the keycard close to the door lock mechanism, usually within a distance of four centimeters. Battery life is similar to RFID locks. The connection is typically faster than RFID, giving guests an almost instant connection; however, concerns over ease of “sniffing” or intercepting the NFC signal broadcast by the lock have limited the use of NFC within the smartphone space to largely touchless credit card payment usage.

BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy)

Bluetooth is a technology common in most of today’s smartphones. Bluetooth locks began to appear in hotels around 2012, but the constant broadcast of signal caused batteries to require replacement after only 6 months. Bluetooth Low Energy was the solution, launched around 2014, BLE locks only broadcast when ‘woken up’ by contact, extending battery life to between 12-18 months. The first option to eliminate a physical keycard, guests use their smartphone to access an encrypted tokenized key that is read by the lock for room access. This is the technology behind mobile key apps, like OpenKey. BLE locks contain both a Bluetooth and RFID module allowing the lock to operate via proximity card as well as digital key.


Lock Types

Locking/unlocking technology aside, there are two standard hardware options that will affect both operation and appearance (and in some cases, price). As you’ll see in the examples and price ranges provided, each comes outfitted with the technology options listed above.

Full-Body | Unibody

As the name implies, this type of lock is a single piece, encompassing the reader and handle within one body structure. Batteries are typically stored on the back (guestroom) side of the lock.

  • Primary Benefits
    • Covers similar area to magstripe locks
    • Minimal modifications to door needed
    • Easy to install
  • Examples and Prices
    • ASSA ABLOY: VingCard Classic RFID
      • Market rate for RFID: Less than $200
      • BLE market rate: Less than $250
    • dormakaba: Saflok MT™ RFID
      • Market rate for RFID:Less than $200
      • BLE market rate: Less than $250
    • Entrava: NEXT
      • BLE market rate: Less than $250
    • MIWA: ALV2 Slim
      • Market rate for RFID: Less than $200
      • BLE market rate: Less than $200
    • SALTO: XS4 Original
      • Market rate for RFID: Less than $250
      • BLE market rate: Less than $300


Separating the reader and lock handle provides for more design-oriented uses as the appearance is very minimal compared to the unibody lock. The batteries are typically stored within the door itself.

  • Primary Benefits
    • Less visible hardware
    • Lock hardware typically housed inside the door
    • Contemporary look
    • Wide range of design options
  • Examples and Prices


Lock Companies

The final component of your hotel door lock purchase decision is the technology partner. Look for a provider and partner who can give you the features you want at the price you want. In most cases, installing a guest room lock system doesn’t end with the installation. There can be ongoing adjustments and improvements required, and you want a company who offers the best support options for your staff.


The global leader in hotel security technology for nearly 40 years, ASSA ABLOY Hospitality is a part of the ASSA ABLOY Group, a publicly listed company with 47,000 employees. With products installed in properties all over the world, securing millions of guestrooms globally, the company’s comprehensive range of security and technology solutions is comprised of VingCard electronic locks, Elsafe in-room safes, integrated software platforms and advanced mobile access solutions. In order to provide best-in-class customer service, ASSA ABLOY Hospitality offers support in more than 166 countries worldwide. For more information, please visit www.assaabloyhospitality.com.


dormakaba is one of the top three companies in the global market for access and security solutions. With strong brands such as Dorma and Kaba in their portfolio, they are a single source for products, solutions, and services related to doors and secure access to buildings and rooms. With around 16,000 employees and numerous cooperation partners, they are active in over 130 countries. dormakaba is headquartered in Rümlang (Zurich/Switzerland) and generates an annual turnover of over CHF 2 billion. Further information at www.dormakaba.us.


Focusing on utility ahead of hardware, Entrava and their mobile lock management app allow hotels to set up and manage locks from a mobile device. In addition, each Entrava lock is BLE mobile key-capable and comes preconfigured with the OpenKey solution. Entrava offers the first ‘touch’ hotel door lock allowing guests entry via digital key by simply touching the door lock. The company also offers a guestroom energy management solution. For more information, please visit www.entrava.com.


Miwa Lock Company is a Japanese lock manufacturer headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. Since 1945, Miwa has grown to become Japan’s foremost provider of high-performance locks and security systems used in approximately 50 countries around the world. Their emphasis on research and development ensures the most advanced technology and materials are incorporated into our RFID Locking Systems. Miwa Lock Company’s BLE technology enables your guests to use their smart phones for easy access. Please visit www.miwalock.com.


Since 2001, SALTO Systems has been delivering state-of-the-art and wire-free electronic access control solutions and has established a strong presence in the hospitality industry. Their innovative and reliable electronic locking solutions improve guest experience, hotel management, design and security for hotel rooms, suites, back-of-house, meeting space infrastructure and more. Their pioneering SALTO Virtual Network SVN data-on-card platform provides stand-alone, networked locking solutions that continue to set SALTO apart. Their complete premium electronic lock solutions – which include sleek designs that match any hotel décor – cover every corner of the access control spectrum with one easy-to-use system for hotels of all types and sizes. Please visit www.saltohospitality.com/en.

Your Hotel, Your Doors

Hotel guest door locks have come a long way from the now-old-fashioned mechanical lock and metal key. Today’s options for hotel door lock technologies and hardware can drastically improve your guests’ overall hotel experience – one door lock at a time.