It was a gorgeous Kimono style dress that tempted me.
I had settled into my swanky hotel suite and was busy ripping open every drawer and cupboard for the in-room treats that usually come with most luxury accommodations, when I first saw him. : an indigo-colored linen dress that was both pretty and, no doubt, expensive.
I wanted it, but I didn’t want to pay it. Before I could help myself, I thought about how I could pocket it and, more importantly, if I could actually get away with it.
We have all been there. Whether it’s a plush robe, a pair of slippers, a towel, or a handful of shampoo miniatures, most of us will have quietly slipped something into our luggage. when staying at the hotel for the return trip.
The two opposing voices in our heads – an angel and a devil on opposite shoulders – each present their cases like lawyers in a courtroom drama. Both make very good points.
On the one hand, there are the benefits that a hotel dressing gown or nap-inducing pillow could offer in your real life at home, while on the other, there are the moral implications of taking something that does not belong to you, in addition to the potential consequences.
To steal or not to steal? That is the question.
If you’re torn between wanting to be an upright member of society, while also wanting to grab a little souvenir from your getaway, then read on.
We consulted the experts to find out definitively what is built into the cost of a recording and what is definitely not.
Here’s the breakdown of what you can and can’t steal from a hotel room.
It’s pretty much unanimous that travel size shampoos, soaps and conditioners are all on the go.
“Hotels typically provide amenities for guests’ use during their stay, which are built into the cost of the room,” says Four Seasons Resorts Bali general manager Randy Shimabuku. “The variety, quality and quantity of amenities provided vary from hotel to hotel.”
While it’s okay to take miniatures, given the pressing global problem of plastic waste, you might want to reconsider stealing too a lot so that you are not part of the problem.
“While it’s okay to take home, from a sustainability perspective, we recommend customers only take home products they’ve opened and haven’t fully used,” continues Randy. “We have a soap recycling program at Four Seasons Bali, but not all hotels have it, so most just throw away soaps and mints that have been opened and are barely used.”
Accor Northern Europe’s Senior Vice President of Managed Hotels, Aiden McAuley, agrees that the durability of these toiletries is becoming a global consideration.
“Miniature toiletries are actually a thing of the past,” he says. “At Accor, we are committed to joining the UN Global Tourism Plastics Initiative and will remove all single-use plastic items from the guest experience.
‘Instead, our guests will be able to enjoy reusable alternatives replacing disposable miniatures in our hotels. This means there will be no more miniature toiletries in 2023.’
Perhaps the easiest fruit for hotel room thieves, hotel management expects – and sometimes even encourages – guests to use branded stationery as an easy marketing tool.
Moreover, these pens and notepads are usually cheap and easy to replace.
“A lot of times guests want to take home a little memento of their stay and we get that,” says Aiden. “If you choose to take stationery items home, such as a pen, letterhead or postcard, chances are you won’t be charged.”
The most stolen item from hotel rooms, towels fall into a “grey” zone in terms of what guests consider acceptable and unacceptable theft.
While you’re not likely to be arrested for stealing a towel, you could be charged for them upon departure, especially if the ones you snatched have a sneaky electronic tracking device installed. Yes, many hotels now have tiny chips added to their towels so they can tell which ones are missing.
“Because towels and linens can be washed and reused by other guests, taking them would be considered theft and the cost will likely be added to your bill,” confirms Aiden. ‘So we politely ask, please don’t!
“Instead, why not store slippers that won’t be used by other customers?”
Another hotel room favorite is the bed linens. Although firmly on the ‘do not steal’ list, if you end up ‘ooh-ing’ and ‘ahh-ing’ on your comfy cotton count, then many hotels will actually sell you a set – or even, in some case, the real bed.
“Nothing beats a hotel bed,” says Aiden. “Many of our customers love the sleep they get in hotels that they want to recreate at home.
“Many of our brands have online stores selling beds and bedding. For example, the Sofitel MyBed bed linen collections are a wonderful (and guilt-free) way to bring the iconic crisp white look of the hotel in your room.
Bathrobes and slippers
The hotel bathrobe has long been high on the list of potential thieves. But are they okay to fly? The short answer is: probably not.
“As hotels increasingly up their game with guest amenities and extras, it’s time to set the record straight,” says Aiden. “The general rule is that anything that can be enjoyed by the next guest should not be taken, and yes, unfortunately, that includes bathrobes!” Slippers, however, are another matter.
Most hotels will charge you if your robe wanders around, and many high-end properties actually advertise them for sale. “Our bathrobes are available for guests to purchase at the resort’s boutique,” says Randy.
Hotel rooms provide guests with their own kettle to make tea or coffee and travelers will usually find free tea bags and coffee pods, which can indeed be taken away.
“There are a lot of things that go into the price of a room,” says Aiden. “This can vary from hotel to hotel, for a number of reasons including location, hotel size, etc. Usually, single-serve foods and drinks are replenished daily and included, unless they’re part of a minibar.
Don’t take the kettle or the mug, though.
And the rest…
Other bedroom items found in the “most notched” camp include shoe horns, sewing kits, and magazines – all of which are perfectly portable. Bizarrely, Bibles are also a staple on “most stolen” lists – it’s clear that these thieves choose to ignore the “thou shalt not steal” commandment.
But for some cheeky thieves, if it’s not nailed down, then it’s fair game. Irons, hairdryers, Nespresso machines, chargers, curtains and even plasma TVs have all been swept away by unscrupulous guests.
“If in doubt that something is free – and therefore good to pack – you can call reception to check,” says Aiden.
Remember that your credit card details are logged, you can be arrested, and morally, constant theft can have a serious impact on a business, especially an independent hotel. So keep that in mind the next time you find yourself swayed by that old devil on your shoulder…
Do you have a story to share?
Contact us by emailing [email protected]