Which is the best key safe for Airbnb self check in?

What is the most secure and convenient way for guests to self check-in to Airbnb? How can a key safe refine the process for both guest and host?

With the rise of staycations, renting a property through Airbnb can be a great way of earning some extra money. In Summer 2020, Airbnb hosts in the UK alone made over £225m million by renting out their properties and new data released by Airbnb in 2022 showed that their hosts can make two months’ additional salary.

Despite the earning potential of Airbnb, managing Airbnb self check-in can be a challenge for hosts who are not able to be at the property at the time of arrival to let in their guests.

There are several options available to Airbnb hosts at various price points that provide varying degrees of security. We will examine some of the most popular methods of sharing keys with your guests and assess which is the best option for Airbnb self check in.

1. A police preferred key safe - best for security

One of the most secure ways to manage Airbnb self check-in, is by using a Police Preferred Key Safe. Any key storage box that has achieved this certification is one of the most secure ways to hold keys to your property. As well as providing secure key storage, ark Tamo, Supra C500 Pro and Supra P500 Pro from The Key Safe Company are backed by excellent, UK-based customer service.

Not every Airbnb lock box offers the same level of security. Many do not offer significant protection against an attack. If security is your primary concern, make sure that you are getting a key safe that is certified by Secured by Design, the official UK Police initiative working to improve the security of buildings, and the Loss Prevention Certification Board, which creates security standards and awards certifications to products that pass rigorous attack tests designed to meet them. These independent security accreditations show that the device is highly resistant to attack. Also be aware of the difference between a key box with a wheel dial and a push button key safe; the latter often offers a greater degree of code security as push button key safe codes do not need scrambling once the box has been closed.

ark TamoSupra C500 Pro and P500 Pro mechanical wall-mounted key safes provide the highest level of attack protection currently awarded by LPCB. These key safes are ‘as secure as your front door’ when installed as directed. A good quality Airbnb lock box means you can have peace of mind that guests can securely access your property without you needing to be present.

Security: 5/5

Price: £67.99-£99.95

Airbnb lockbox or keys

 2. An electronic key safe box – best for convenience

One of the most convenient and versatile ways to manage Airbnb self check-in is an app-controlled electronic key safe box. eSafe is an innovative way to safely hold keys to your Airbnb property. Access can be granted to guests for a limited time allowing them access for the duration of their stay. This makes eSafe perfect for managing self check-ins, as there is no need to arrange for someone to let them in.

Regular visitors to the property, such as cleaners and family members, can be given a permanent access code. eSafe allows the generation of dynamic one-off codes in case of unforeseen circumstances, such as granting access to a plumber or electrician.

Featuring a sturdy, anti-corrosion zinc alloy body, eSafe Bluetooth key safe box has a stylish and modern aesthetic. Guests can be granted access to the property with a short-term PIN code or temporary access through the app. As eSafe is not connected to a network it is less vulnerable to hacking than an internet connected IoT (Internet of Things) device.

Security: 4/5

Price: £124.99

3. Airbnb smart lock

An Airbnb smart lock will come in a range of types and functionalities. Smart locks usually handle Airbnb self check-in via a PIN code or mobile phone, granting access to your holiday let property. Smart locks are increasingly popular for Airbnb and holiday properties, but are often less secure than key safes, particularly mechanical ones, which are renown for their reliability.

Many smart locks are internet-connected which leaves them vulnerable to hacking, something that many security experts consider to be a fatal flaw with the technology. Smart locks that rely on mains power could also become inoperable in the case of a power failure. Other security concerns include the mounting of the lock, as many smart locks mounted on a wooden door can be removed using a flat head screwdriver. Smart locks also usually come at a higher price point than wall-mounted key safes and do not universally fit all doors.

Security: 3/5

Price: £200-£300

electronic key safe for Airbnb

4. Airbnb management company

There is a growing number of Airbnb management companies offering to assist with Airbnb property access. An Airbnb management company can provide a range of services from being there to let in your guests to cleaning and laundry. For people who don’t have the time to manage their rental property, a management company may seem like an attractive option.

Management companies are secure as the keys are held off-site and there are other benefits if you need associated services. This is, however the most expensive option, fees will have to be paid on an ongoing basis and can go as high as 50% of your rental income.

Security: 5/5

Price: Varies but averages at about 25% of your letting fee

5. Airbnb key exchange

One alternative is to use an Airbnb key exchange service instead of on-site check-in. A key exchange service is when the keys to a property are held off-site and the guest first travels to that location to collect the keys. This does create a couple of inconveniences for the customer. Firstly, because they will have to go somewhere to collect the keys, and secondly because most collection points are not open 24/7, restricting access for guests who turn up very late.

Another potential stumbling block is that Airbnb Key Exchange services are not available country-wide; even the most prominent service does not have full coverage, with little availability in major holiday locations such as the Lake District, North Wales, Cornwall and East Anglia.

Security: 5/5

Price: Around £15-£20 per month

6. Key hider or leaving key outdoors

Some people may be content providing Airbnb self check-in with a key hiding rock or by leaving the keys in an arranged place, but this is highly risky. This may be the cheapest solution but it is also the least secure and therefore not recommended. While a key hider may seem discrete and difficult to spot, they are mass-produced and could be easily identified by anyone who knows what they are looking for.

Leaving the keys under a door mat is even riskier and either of these options will invalidate your property and content insurance in the event of a break-in. If a break in occurs during a guest stay, this could potentially be traumatic and will definitely create a very negative experience for your guest.

Security: 1/5

Price: approx. £20 for a key hiding rock

Is a key safe the most secure way to manage Airbnb self check-in?

These are the 6 main paid options available to a host looking to remotely manage self check-in for their holiday rental property. Some, like a management company, offer high security at a high price while others, such as the key hiding rock, provide little to no security at a low cost. Smart locks are growing in popularity, but the higher cost and lower security means it is also difficult to recommend these when they are compared to a mechanical key safe.

As an Airbnb owner, you will want to be sure that your guests have a fantastic experience as positive reviews will encourage more people to visit your property. A key safe means that guests do not have to wait for the keys to be handed over.

Nothing else on the list provides the same security to cost ratio as a Police Preferred key safe such as ark TamoSupra C500 Pro and Supra P500 Pro. However, for those who would benefit from the convenience of managing access through their phone, an electronic key safe box like eSafe provides a compelling option.