Stealing from hotels: Things you can and can't take from your hotel room

Check into a posh hotel room and there are probably a few things that bring a little sparkle into your life. That swell desk lamp perhaps, or the shaving mirror on the concertina arm with built-in lighting. Look great at home wouldn't they, but whoa right there! 

There's stuff you can take and stuff you can't, and staff notice. That blank space on the wall where a Samsung 4K TV used to sit, those indentations in the carpet that suggest the Venetian style side table that once stood here? These are dead giveaways and their absence will not go unremarked. All hotel rooms are pretty much the same. When the housekeeper working on autopilot goes to refill the water reservoir in the Nespresso machine and it's no longer there, this will strike them as odd. 

Towelling slippers are not going to be used again, might as well throw them into your bag, and btw these are the ideal inflight footwear for long-haul economy-class flights. However that fluffy towelling bathrobe will be laundered, refreshed and readied for the next guest so hands off. Remember that the hotel has your credit card, or that of your employer or someone else close to you. The damage the hotel can do to your finances is far greater than the cost of buying that bathrobe. 

See also: The nationality most likely to steal from hotels

Towels are the most common item that gets filched from hotel rooms, and monogrammed towels are a prized item. Far from serving as a watermark, and thus confounding thieves, monogrammed towels are more expensive and more desirable, and thus more likely to see the inside of a guest's suitcase. Which is why none but the cream of five-star elite hotels have monogrammed towels these days.

Hotels acknowledge they're going to lose a certain number of towels every year and it's something they generally write off as a cost of doing business. They might not and there have been cases where hotels have relentlessly pursued towel-nicking guests. A woman in Nigeria was charged with stealing two towels from the Transcorp Hilton Abjua Hotel. The judge hit her with three months in jail or a $20 fine, which suggests the Nigerian judiciary is not overly fixated on the issue of towel theft. 

Linens are to be left on the bed but stationery, hotel-branded pens and plastic shoehorns are cheap to replace and some of this is free advertising for the hotel, so go ahead. 

Mini-size hair products are ideal for the apres-pool shower, no problem there. Same for emery boards, combs, disposable razors and toothbrushes. Want more? Cleaning staff will restock every day if you remove them from the bathroom. If the thought of inflicting yet more plastic waste on a world already clogged with the stuff doesn't trouble you, make hay. 

Some guests regard the housekeeper's trolley as a serve-yourself freebie on wheels stacked with tissues, soaps, hair products and possibly even bite-sized snacks. Taking stuff from the trolley is a power trip and it's unmannerly. You're putting one over on a housekeeper who will probably hesitate to confront you even if they do catch you in the act, and who might have to re-stock their trolley, or even account for the loss of nine packs of peanut butter cookies. 

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See also: How to be a better hotel guest

Same goes for light bulbs, the batteries from the remote and even the toilet paper rolls, this is low-hanging fruit. Swiping it suggests psychosis rather than need. 

Coat hangers are another item that speaks of desperation on the part of the swiper. It's all down to the hanger heisters that we have those pilfer-proof hangers that lock into ring clips mounted on the bar. No inconvenience to the user, but how desperate do you have to be?

It's a challenge to get your money's worth out of the hotel breakfast buffet so why not regard this as an opportunity for a takeaway? I never manage anything more than a quick shuffle out the door with a croissant and an apple wrapped in a paper napkin while the waiters aren't looking but if you're up for it, this is an all-you-can-carry doggy-bag proposition. I've seen elderly bus travellers with Tupperware boxes hoovering the buffet table like a conga line of Burmese pythons, and bad luck you if you happen to be at the end of it. No shame equals plenty of gain. 

Frankly, some hotels ask for trouble. The swanky Sujan Rajmahal Palace Hotel in India's Jaipur, built for the family of the maharaja, is stuffed with trinkets and memorabilia left lying around. With rooms starting at just a shade under $500 per night, perhaps it's assumed that their well-heeled clientele would not stoop to common thievery. 

During my visit a couple of years ago, when I stayed in the suite where Jackie Kennedy once slept, staff tended to lurk in a watchful way, creepily following me from room to room and loitering above my breakfast as if I was going to trouser the silverware. Must confess, I took to jingling the coins in my pocket just to keep them on their toes.

See also: Rules to stealing toiletries from fancy hotels

See also: The strangest things tourists steal

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