The ho­tel guests from Hell


When you leave a ho­tel room, how much of the ho­tel-pro­vided items, if any, do you take with you? Are you, like most peo­ple, un­sure ex­actly what the ho­tel is happy for you to slip into your suit­case or when they might charge your credit card af­ter you have gone?

Even though ev­ery year ho­tels around the world lose mil­lions of pounds to theft, de­part­ing guests are rarely chal­lenged. An in­ter­na­tional chain might re­gard los­ing items as a price worth pay­ing if it en­cour­ages you to re­turn. A small, fam­ily-run ho­tel might feel they do not have the clout to search you.

A sur­vey by Colum­bus Di­rect found that 24 mil­lion Brits risk ad­di­tional charges whether they know they are steal­ing or not. Around 1.6 mil­lion take al­co­holic drinks from the mini bar and re­fill them to avoid pay­ing. Other peo­ple strip ho­tel rooms of pil­lows, bed linen, hairdry­ers and bat­ter­ies.

The only way to be ab­so­lutely cer­tain that the ho­tel will wel­come you back is to check with re­cep­tion what the pol­icy is. Within rea­son, they will prob­a­bly al­low you the cov­eted item rather than make you feel em­bar­rassed for ask­ing.

You are quite safe tak­ing the on­ceused bar of soap or opened bot­tle of sham­poo that would other­wise be thrown away and end up in land­fill. Mil­lions are dis­carded ev­ery day world­wide and the ap­palling waste has prompted a cou­ple of char­i­ties to col­lect them from ho­tels to

re­cy­cle and send to coun­tries where lack of hy­giene costs lives.

But it is naughty to put an un­opened sham­poo in your case so the cleaner will put out more the next morn­ing, and worse is to raid the house­keeper’s cart while they are not look­ing. Even if you in­tend pass­ing these sam­ples on to a home­less char­ity, it is still steal­ing.

Ho­tels are happy for you to take the headed writ­ing pa­per but not ex­tra cap­sules of in­stant cof­fee and, even though a sur­pris­ing num­ber of guests do, cer­tainly not the cups and cof­fee maker.

You can be sure they do not want you to take home items that can be reused such as bathrobes and tow­els, though ac­cord­ing to the Colum­bus sur­vey only 38 per cent of Brits be­lieved tak­ing dress­ing gowns and slip­pers was theft. The po­si­tion with slip­pers is less clear and de­pends on whether used ones are laun­dered or ditched by the ho­tel.

Some ho­tels put price la­bels on charge­able items so you know you should pay if you re­ally want to own them. You can also buy them from the ho­tels’ web­sites with­out even stay­ing there – but they are ex­pen­sive.

Some years ago, big chains wove their lo­gos on to their tow­els to de­ter thieves as it would be ob­vi­ous where they had come from. But the tac­tic back­fired and the tow­els be­came even more at­trac­tive to sou­venir hunters. These days you will see only plain white tow­els.

So what about tak­ing the Gideon Bi­ble? That is en­tirely down to you and your con­science.

And, if you think it is fair to sneak out of break­fast with the mak­ings of a packed lunch, the fact that you do it sur­rep­ti­tiously should make you think twice.

‘He’s play­ing lack of doc­tors and nurses’

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