Airbnb Pro Tips

Airbnb Lockboxes and Key Safes for Self Check-In

January 28, 2020 |

Updated on November 27, 2022

While the pandemic has come and gone, contactless check-ins are here to stay, and the simple, yet incredibly effective lockbox may just be the best tool out there for the job.

Lockboxes & Key Safes

Background on Airbnb Lockboxes & Key Safes

Lockboxes for Airbnbs have become a popular, convenient, and safe way to provide guests, cleaners, and staff with the keys to access your properties. It’s a fantastic self check-in solution for guests arriving at a time when you can’t be physically present to hand over the key, or if you are looking to provide a completely contactless check-in experience.

Type of Airbnb lockbox

What is a Lockbox?

At its core, a lockbox is nothing more than a safe, simple storage device – no bigger than your phone – that can be attached directly to the door handle or outside wall of your Airbnb. Your key can be safely locked inside the storage device which can be manually opened with the correct code.

Similar to bike locks, key lockboxes come in all shapes and sizes and differ in terms of strength, size, and dial format.

Where to Install Your Airbnb Lockbox

There are 2 main places to install your Airbnb key safe; on the wall, or looped around the handle.

On the Wall

Attaching the lockbox to a solid wall on your Airbnb makes for a more secure placement, but requires more time and equipment. With this method, you get more wiggle room to find a safe place to hide your key. Search for a place that is discrete and well-hidden, but also easy to find and conveniently accessible for your guests. 

Looping

Looping a lockbox around the front doorhandle is very easy to setup and install, and also places the lockbox in the very first place that guests will look when arriving at the Airbnb. The downside? It’s also the first place thieves will look too. The metal loops are usually weaker and easier to break.

It’s important to consider the location and security of your Airbnb, and take these factors into account when choosing the best place on your Airbnb to install your lockbox. Bare in mind, that guests for a late self-check in while tired or in the dark may struggle to find a well-hidden lockbox, which could lead to frustration and even a negative review. To prevent this, it’s important ot provide a set of clear, easy-to-follow instructions to help them locate a hidden lockbox (see later in this article for how to do so!).

If you are just getting started, Guesty for Hosts has everything you need to sit back and run your hosting on autopilot, so click the link below to find out more.

The Keys to Making Your Airbnb Lockbox Safer

Key lockboxes are already pretty secure on their own. On average, a sturdy lockbox can withstand about 45 minutes of continuous banging with a hammer. Still, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Here are some steps you can take to mitigate any potential risks:

  • Change the lock code regularly – ideally after each guest.
  • For apartments – keep your lockbox somewhere beyond the first gate or door, where possible so that it isn’t accessible or visible from the street.
  • Keep your lockbox out of sight from the main road. Some ideas include; the side of the house, backyard fence, somewhere in the garden, or even to the house or apartment of a trusted neighbor down the road or corridor. 
  • Use a stealth, hidden container such as a fake rock or plant.

Discretion is more critical for those with particularly rural or isolated properties. If your Airbnb is in an urban area with a lot of foot or car traffic, then the threat posed by thieves is significantlty lower.  A good lockbox requires ample noise and time to breach; it would be no more efficient nor subtle than simply breaking down the door.
Still, it’s always good to have a backup plan for unwanted scenarios, such as a break-in or property damage. Check out Guesty’s Damage Protection feature which provides comprehensive insurance plans to give you peace of mind knowing that – no matter what happens – your listing is covered.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

While implementing a lockbox system at your Airbnb is guaranteed to provide increased convenience and autonomy for you and your guests, it’s important to be conscious of some of the common issues that may arise, so that you can ensure that any hiccups do not impede on the incredible guest experience that you provide.

Adverse Weather Conditions

Harsh weather conditions like extreme cold, snow, or rain can jam or freeze a lockbox and prevent it from opening. For guests, this can quickly become a holiday-turned-nightmare situation if they find themselves locked outside in poor weather. To prevent a situation like this, purchase a flip-open cover for your lockbox that provides a barrier against the elements.

Accidental Locking

Most customer complaints about lockboxes revolve around guests accidentally locking themselves out of the box before inputting a passkey. This common blunder can be avoided by providing clear, specific instructions about using the box prior to their arrival. Also, consider leaving a backup key with a neighbor just in case the situation arises.

People Sharing Key Codes

Any lockbox or key safe that requires a form of number combination leaves themselves exposed to this glaring weakness. While you can ask people not share the codes, there may be numerous people – from guests to cleaners to maintenance staff – that pass through your property each week, so this can become difficult to track or enforce. Unfortunately, the only way to really solve this vulnerability is to change the code as often as you possibly can. Some provide the ability to change the code remotely.

Buying a Lockboxes or Key Safe

As a popular product for professional and personal use, finding and purchasing a lockbox for your Airbnb is fairly straightforward. Head over to your classics – Amazon, Home Depot, Target, Walmart – or your local hardware store to sample the range of options on the market.

Choosing the Best Lockbox or Key Safe Model for Your Airbnb

Finding the right model of lockbox for your keys is all about striking the right balance between strength and ease-of-use, as well as getting a lockbox big enough to fit your keys. There are 3 popular lockbox models which vary in terms of their unlocking mechanism, ease of use, and safety.

Push-button locks: these allow you to set a combination you can punch in any order. These models are simple and convenient to program, but their pass-codes can be predictable and easy to guess.

Wheel models: this model has four to six scrolling wheels with numbers or letters to form a combination. These can be used to encode a long, secure PIN number. However, experts can break into most wheel models simply by fiddling underneath the gears with a small piece of metal.

Dial models: similar to a classic high school locker padlock, they have one rotating dial for entering a combination. If you’re looking for ultra security, dials are the answer. Though less convenient to open, dials are the most robust, sturdy lockboxes that prove to be the hardest to breach.

Top Lockbox and Key Safe Models: Our Picks

Here are our top picks of well-reviewed, tried and tested lockbox options that are both sturdy, difficult to decode, and safe and convenient for your guests:

Defender Push Button Keysafe

With a heavy duty design and spacious box that fits six keys, this Defender lockbox is one of the sturdiest, user-friendly lockboxes out there. The code is straightforward to program and easy to use, ensuring that your guests won’t be left out in the rain or cold. An amazing choice, with the only downside being that it isn’t so pleasing on the eye.

Burton Keyguard Digital XL Key Safe

Designed to maximize safety and minimize guest inconvenience, this police approved lockbox puts the ‘safe’ into keysafe. It contains a high-vis, reflective keypad, making it the perfect self check-in lockbox for guests arriving to your Airbnb at night, and also caters well to the visually impaired community. In the same way that phones and laptops have two-factor authentication, this lockbox has two-step security in the form of a keypad and turn-lock combination, adding a whole new level of safety and deterrence for thieves. Of course, all these features come at a price, with this lockbox weighing in slightly more than others.

 WordLock Key Lockbox

This unorthodox lockbox overcomes the problem of guests forgetting their keycodes by setting the code as a four-letter word that can be plugged in using letters rather than numbers. With a reinforced hardened steel shackle built to withstand hammering and sawing, this rust and corrosion-resistant lock is safe, secure, solid, strong, and most of all, convenient for your guests.

A Lockbox Alternative – Introducing Smart Locks

If you’re a professional property manager looking to take your business to the next level, it may be time to stop hiding your keys in the backyard and consider turning a low-tech lockbox into a high-tech smart lock.

Smart lock devices replace the traditional lockbox (and even a standard key) with an electronic system that unlocks upon receiving a wireless signal from an authorized smartphone, or a code. At their core, the smart locks afford property managers all the benefits that come with lockboxes, such as self check-ins, customizable and hand-free property access, while also avoiding unnecessary complications like lost keys, forgotten passcodes, and vulnerabilities to mechanical breaching.

If you need a comprehensive guide of the very best smart locks on the market you can check out our follow-up piece here: Ultimate Smart Locks Guide.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to contactless, self check-in experiences for your Airbnb guests, there is no doubt that lockboxes are a great tool. Lockboxes aren’t perfect, but there are plenty of simple ways to make them safer and solve the most common issues that arise. All in all, they’ll prove a fantastic addition to your Airbnb and provide immense benefits for both you and your guests.


Beyond lockboxes, if you’re looking to take your self check-in game to the next level, consider automating the processes of collecting Check-In Forms, Rental Agreements, and more with Guesty’s suite of Pre-Stay Tools. These tools allow you to collect all the information and documents you need to protect your properties, comply with local regulations, and deliver an outstanding guest experience.

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