Hotel room stealing



David Whitley looks into why our magpie tendencies seem to increase the moment we check in.


It’s odd how those who would normally take a hardline stance on stealing from shops or other people can often have an entirely different approach when it comes to hotels. There seems to be a bizarre “well, it’s all part of the service” attitude that is used to justify wandering off with all manner of fixtures, fittings and furnishings. Talk to anyone who has worked at a large hotel for a while, and you’ll be astounded at what goes walkies. Bath robes, ornaments, the works...


But what is it OK to make off with? Well, it’s probably best to start with a confession. Towels are probably the most common item that people will nick from a hotel, and if I owned a hotel, this would drive me mental.  I’ve only properly stolen a towel once, and I’m pretty ashamed of it. I’d arrived in Adelaide at 9pm, realised that I’d forgotten to bring a towel with me, and looked around for a shop where I could buy one. The shops were, of course, long shut. Given the choice between travelling across the Australian outback for two weeks without a towel – I was leaving early the next morning – and pinching the hotel’s, there was only one winner. In retrospect, I should have asked if I could buy the towel off the hotel.


On the flipside, I will temporarily steal a hotel towel on a frequent basis. Hotels hate this, but it’ll do just as well as a beach towel, and if I bring it back mucky and covered in sand, well it was going to have to be washed at some point anyway. The only other thing I’ve stolen from a hotel is a phone charger. I’d left mine in the wall of a previous hotel, and asked reception if they had one that fitted my phone that I could borrow. Hotels often have a stash of phone chargers that have been left in sockets by previous guests, and I was lucky they had one for my phone. Very lucky, in fact, as I scoured New York the next day looking for one and got no joy. So I checked out with the hotel’s charger in my bag. That was kinda naughty, but I figured that the hotel hadn’t paid for it in the first place, and that my original charger could be regarded as a similar donation to the common good.


Of course, in this, I’m forgetting the toiletries. Everyone steals them, surely? Miniature shower gels and shampoos, the ideal size for taking on a plane as carry-on – it’s too tempting not to, isn’t it? And, let’s face it, they were put in the room for me to use, weren’t they? I also end up nabbing laundry bags as well. I somehow always forget to bring a spare bag to put dirty washing in, and those fabric bags that you’re supposed to put clothes in to be washed at £40 a sock by the hotel are ideal. Is that a bit off?


Confession time: What have you stolen from a hotel? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.