Hotels with Real Room Keys

Hotels with key cards–and their attendant security risks–are everywhere nowadays. But there are holdouts, and even some newcomers handing out real, solid (and gorgeous!) room keys.

You’ll notice many of the vintage hotel keys on this list are too bulky to slip in a pocket. Beyond the aesthetic appeal of having a unique room key, there’s a reason for this. Back when keys were the norm, hotels wanted to encourage guests to leave their key at the front desk, rather than risk losing it. Nowadays, high end hotels often feel that a stop to drop off the key allows them to interact more with guests and offer assistance when needed.

1Le Sirenuse, Positano

Le Sirenuse hotel in Positano hands out these beautiful (and slightly scary) keys to guests. While rooms don’t come cheap here, the setting and hotel design is absolutely stunning, and you’ll see the siren motif reflected sparingly throughout the hotel.

2Hotel Joaquin, Laguna Beach

Hotel Joaquin’s laid-back SoCal aesthetic doesn’t stop at the cool decor (which includes French flea market finds!). Their beaded sea glass key rings offer a refreshingly modern, beachy take that “gives guests a sensory experience that emphasizes real materials while speaking to luxury and craftsmanship at the seaside location.”

3 Hotel Union Øye, Norway

photo via yolandaedwards

Hotel Union Oye’s mismatched tassel keys and hand written hanging board are impossibly pretty. And it doesn’t stop there. Set in the Norweigan Alps, overlooking a rural valley, the historic hotel is pure storybook fodder.

4Hotel Eisenhut, Rothenburg

photo via chagetrip

The art deco design of Hotel Eisenhut’s heavy brass room key reflects just one point in the long history of this unique hotel. Composed of four mansions that date back to the 15th and 16th centuries, the hotel has been in operation since the early 1900s.

5Grand Pigalle Paris

The sophisticated red and black tassel room keys at the Grand Pigalle Paris mirror the chic, modern design of the hotel as a whole. We’re dying to book one of the rooms up in the eaves of the hotel for the super cozy feel and incredible views.

6Garden Ryokan Yachiyo, Kyoto

photo via lolita_mio

European hotels don’t have a monopoly on elegant room keys! The highly Instagrammable keys at the Garden Ryokan Yachiyo in Kyoto are the perfect excuse to book a stay (but take a gander at their rooms with huge wooden soaking tubs if you need more convincing).

7Domaine Jacques Selosse’s Les Avises, France

photo via shingocrema

Domaine Jacques Selosse is a winery in Avize, France, with an attached hotel, Les Avises. Befitting a vineyard hotel, the beautiful keys feature miniature bottles of the champagne for which Selosse is known.

8The Bowery Hotel, NYC

The Bowery Hotel in New York’s East Village is a relative newcomer, but with an old-world sense of style. The cubby display for their iconic tassel room keys is similarly vintage-inspired, and worthy of a Wes Anderson film.

9Belmond Monasterio, Cusco

photo via mellnz

Belmond Hotel Monasterio’s perfectly weathered room keys pay homage to the history of this landmark structure. Completed in the late 1500s, the building served as a seminary through the 1950s, and still bears the Spanish coat of arms on the entrance stones. The hotel is just a incredible as you’d expect from a former Spanish monastery, and well worth a look.

10Grand Hotel Kronenhof, Pontresina

The Grand Hotel Kronenhof is worthy of it’s name, with a facade in the style that inspired Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest, and luxe room keys to match. A beautifully preserved historic hotel dating back to the 1840s, there’s so much more than room keys to admire here.


Come across a really cool hotel key? Instagram your key with #cthotelkey and we’ll re-gram our favorites!


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