Ten things you should never do in a hotel room

What is it about hotel rooms? For most of us it's just a bed in a place we don't call home but for some the room key is a licence to liberate their inner werewolf. Sober, family-minded execs, lawyers, police, even public servants are all capable of breaking bad, as underlined by the Canberra bureaucrat who engaged in sexual gymnastics with a bar find in a Nowra motel when a glass light fitting fell on her, causing lacerations and psychological trauma for which she claimed workers' comp.

When it comes to hotel room delinquency, the shining stars of the entertainment world set the bar at a height few of us will ever reach. Keith Richards once tossed a TV set out a tenth storey window of the Hyatt West Hollywood in Los Angeles, Lindsay Lohan trashed her suite in New York's Union Square W Hotel to the value of $50,000 while Charlie Sheen threw furniture against walls and demolished a chandelier in a drunken, cocaine-fuelled bender while a porn star cowered in the bathroom of his room at The Plaza in New York.

See also: How to be a better hotel guest

Here are 10 things you should never do in a hotel room.

Cook. Hot water for those instant noodles, absolutely fine, but you cannot toast muffins on an iron, the kettle was not designed for poaching fish sous vide or frankfurters and the frozen pizza from the convenience store down the road will not morph into a delicious mass of salami and stringy mozzarella when blasted with the hair dryer on its hottest setting.

Open the window and lean out. "Hey come over here and look at all those people down below, they look just like ants…" Do you want to be remembered this way? Because these could be your last words. By accident more often than intent, people fall out of hotel windows. Ditto for leaning on the window itself, or sitting on a balcony railing nursing your third mojito with one hand while gesturing to friends with a cigarette in the other.

Steal the towels, the bed linen, the curtains, the television. The little bottles of shampoo and conditioner, the towelling slippers, go ahead, knock yourself out, but everything else stays. Items that have been famously lifted from hotel rooms include monsoon shower heads, toilet seats, a marble fireplace and hundreds of televisions. There are security cameras everywhere in hotels these days and the front desk has your credit card – at least if they're smart they do, and that's just one more reason why most hotels won't let you check in with a debit card. Retribution might be a slow train but it will come your way.

See: The rules to stealing toiletries from fancy hotels

Fake out the minibar. Availing yourself of the miniature whiskey bottles and refilling them with weak tea is not okay. Likewise puncturing the Coke can from the bottom and draining the contents, or slitting open the Toblerone and cunningly reassembling it to make it look like an intact, untampered item – until someone picks it up.


Smoke. If your room says "No Smoking" that's not health advice, it's a fact. Hotels take a dim view of smokers who break the rule. Although the smell might not seem obvious to a smoker, eau de cigarette lingers and it's not pleasant. You might get away with it if you have a few sly puffs in the bathroom with the extractor fan on but if you get caught the charge for housekeeping to de-pong the room can run to over $100.

Smuggle in an animal. People do this all the time. Especially in motels where you might park at a distance and never have to sneak your four-footed beast past reception. In the US, where the licensing of companion animals has become a racket, hotels are disinclined to refuse entry to patrons accompanied by their so-called emotional support animals since it's implied that a person deprived of such company might commit an unreasonable act. Such as pulling out an AK-47 and slaughtering the front-desk staff, or litigate. The list of companion animals that Americans have brought into their hotel rooms includes a boa constrictor, a miniature horse and a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig.

Engage in sex in front of an open fire. Open fires and glowing electrical heaters in general demand caution, and caution will be totally lost when you're stoking another kind of fire. A hotelier with several small, cosy old-fashioned guestrooms once told me he was puzzled when a woman was still in her room way past check-out time, with a lingering smell of burning, until she 'fessed up. She and her partner had been dancing the horizontal tango in front of their open fire when the doona burst into flames. He'd been driving around town all morning looking for a replacement.

Drape wet laundry items on the balcony. There's every possibility that you'll say sayonara to your smalls. The mother of a friend once did this in her Hong Kong hotel and left her underwear out to dry overnight. In the morning they'd disappeared but when she went down to breakfast she noticed several diners looking up in an amused way and there were her knickers, spread out on the glass roof of the dining room.

Read any list of things not to do in a hotel that tells you that your room's TV remote is a viral cesspool, never to drink from the glasses in your room because who knows what they were cleaned with or – heaven forbid – touch the light switch with your naked hand. Same goes for those who would have you turn back the sheets to look for bedbugs, or warn against sleeping on the quilt because you know what goes down there. Any germophobic dispensing such advice should be permanently locked into a bio-hazard suit.

Die. Not as uncommon as you might think. Hapless hotel staff will most likely be traumatised in ways beyond imagining.

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See also: The nationality most likely to steal from hotels