There’s nothing like the privacy of being in your own home. The idea of a hotel or Airbnb is that you still have the comfort and seclusion of home while away. However, things aren’t always as they seem. For example, a number of stories have come to light of people discovering hidden cameras in their hotel or Airbnb. One expert traveler is flight attendant Esther Sturrus who shares, the first she always does after checking in is to search for hidden cameras.
Sharing a Helpful Tip
Esther Sturrus is a 22-year-old flight attendant, originally from the Netherlands, who’s been traveling for work since 2019. She posted a TikTok video that quickly went viral, captioned: “What I first do when I come into my hotel room now: check for hidden cameras.” In the video, with more than 3 million views,
Popular on TikTok, she posted a video that has more than 3 million views. She discloses a “great tip” according to one comment, that she always looks for hidden cameras wherever she stays. In the video she then walks viewers through the steps she takes to ensure her safety and privacy. First, she checks the mirrors in the bathroom. She does so by pressing on the glass. Generally, a band or some other noticeable shape will appear behind the mirror. She then uses her phone’s light to “scan” the shower and fire alarm. Last, Sturrus takes a look in drawers, behind curtains, and around the TV.
Other places that she suggests people take a look at include clocks, lamps, thermostats, and smoke detectors.
Many people responded with praise and appreciation for the helpful tip. Meanwhile, others had their own handy tips to share. One person shared that they always travel with a handy “camera detector”. Another reminded people to always check for bed bugs. A third person took Esther’s advice one step further, encouraging people to also check the vents.
Finding an Airbnb Camera
It’s unfortunate that people have had issues with hidden cameras in their hotel rooms, but it seems a number of people have also discovered hidden cameras in their Airbnb’s as well. Unsurprisingly, hidden cameras in bedrooms and bathrooms are against most companies’ policies, including Airbnb. Airbnb also requires property owners and hosts to disclose if there are any cameras anywhere on the property, even if they’re disconnected.
However, that hasn’t stopped some people from trying to hide cameras anyway. In 2022, Ana Lucia Bezerra and Júlia Stoppa rented an Airbnb property in Rio de Janeiro. Apparently, Stoppa noticed a “gleam” in the dresser. “I took a photo with flash with my mobile phone and a bright glow appeared that really looked like a camera lens.” Stoppa explained.
Locating Airbnb Hidden Cameras
Esther Sturrus shared some helpful places to check out while staying in a hotel. On the other hand, renting an Airbnb usually means someone’s home or vacation property. Therefore, they’re rarely set up exactly like a hotel. As such, there are plenty of places to hide a camera that may not be found in a hotel. The most important thing to remember is to do a “slow and steady” inspection. Using a flashlight, or your phone’s light like Esther, will show if there is any reflective surface, such as camera lenses. Another hint for checking the mirror is to do so with a flashlight and the lights turned off. If you see nothing more than the flashlight’s reflection, it’s most likely a regular mirror and no cause for concern.
Furthermore, there are handy devices on the market to help make finding hidden cameras easier. To mention a few:
- Camera Detectors
- An RF Detector
- the Camera App on your phone
- An app like Fing, that will scan for devices that are connected to the Wi-Fi
You can also create a DIY camera detector using a flashlight and paper towel role, although in many cases simply a flashlight will suffice.
According to WikiHow, some general knowledge such as understanding that cameras are often located on ceiling corners because they tend to get the most coverage is important. It’s also helpful to know which part of the cameras to look for and where else to find them. Light switches, books or DVD cases, power strips, hanging pictures, computers or on their accessories such as the mouse, are among some of the most common places to find hidden cameras. It’s also suggested to take note of odd decorations, such as a mirror or stuffed animal that seems a bit out of place.
Handling an Invasive Situation
The first thing you should do if you come across a hidden camera that hasn’t been disclosed is to take a picture or video so there is evidence. Next, immediately contact customer service for Airbnb, the hotel where you’re staying or the booking platform that was used to book the stay. And, if inclined to do so, you do have the option to file a police report.
Although it’s not incredibly common to encounter hidden cameras, they’re far more common than most people might think. Often, while traveling, people are much too exhausted to notice the little things. Alternatively, noting small details can be advantageous, ensuring both safety and privacy.
Check out some other handy travel tips from Esther’s TikTok page:
- “Users Are Thanking Woman for Sharing Her Safety Tips That She Follows Once She Goes to a Hotel.” Bored Panda Austėja Bliujūtė and Monika Pašukonytė. May 22 2023.
- “I’m an air hostess and I check every hotel room for spy cameras – here are the six places they could be concealed.” Daily Mail. Milica Cosic. May 21 2023.
- “Horrified couple discovers hidden camera pointed at their Airbnb bed.” New York. Post Andrew Court. November 17 2022.
- “How to Find Hidden Cameras.” Wikihow. Luigi Oppido April 1 2023.
- “Does Your Airbnb Have Hidden Cameras? Here’s How to Check.” PC Mag. Chandra Steele. July 7 2023.