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’