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The Definitive Guide to Stealing from Hotel Rooms

stealing from hotels
Plush terry cloth robes, Nespresso makers, flat-screen TVs, wireless charging pads…

High-end hotel rooms are brimming with luxury goodies. While some hotels encourage guests to take home vacation souvenirs, they invest considerable resources to ensure most of these items never leave the property. Here’s the low-down on what you can and cannot get away with stealing from your hotel room.


Not surprisingly, eyedropper-sized bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel are the lowest-hanging fruit for hotel room thieves. Hotel owners expect — and sometimes even encourage — guests to swipe these as a way to further their brand outside of their own properties. In Jacob Tomsky’s book Heads in Beds, the hotel industry veteran notes that housekeepers’ carts are a treasure trove of toiletries. Take what you want — or ask permission if you feel that guilty — because no one’s going to question you.

Light Bulbs

It may seem obvious that light bulbs are not provided as take-home gifts. But, according to a survey of 8,000 hotels by, they are the second most pilfered hotel room item. To be clear: hotels frown on this, so head to the hardware store if your house is suffering from a light shortage.

The Bible

Can we all agree that stealing bibles is bad? Well, it turns out the Gideons themselves are perfectly fine with guests swiping the good book, according to a write-up on Mental Floss. They even agree to replace them if/when they go missing. Evidently, “thou shalt not steal,” unless thou needeth a new Bible badly enough.


The hotel bathrobe has long been a staple of theft. But, are they OK to steal? The short answer is: Probably not. Mid-range hotels typically include them as part of their soft goods inventory, like bedding. They’re meant to be functional — washed and reused by the next guest. More upscale hotels often offer them for sale at a substantial markup. Only the most valued guests are provided complimentary robes. When in doubt, it’s best to call the concierge and ask. At the very least, make sure you’re a member of the brand’s loyalty club and, if you’re persuasive enough, they may allow you to take one home.

Towels and Other Linens

Every hotel brand agrees: soft goods are most definitely not free for guests to take home. Given the prevalence of pool towel cards, even at high-end hotels, it’s clear that many try. Some clever hotel brands now install tiny electronic RFID tracking devices in their sheets and towels to protect their assets.


Take ’em without shame! No one wants to put their feet where someone else’s have already been.

Beds, Pet Dogs, and … Everything Else

According to the survey, one hotelier noted a guest who swiped a minibar and flat-screen TV from their suite. A manager of Starwood Hotels reporting to the U.K.’s Telegraph revealed that, in one especially brazen case, thieves dressed in service overalls made off with a grand piano from the hotel lobby. The newspaper details a list of other bizarre thefts that includes sinks, marble fireplaces, and even a hotel owner’s dog!

It’s safe to assume that just about everything not on this list, including beds, televisions, and appliances is not ripe for the taking. It may sound like common sense but, when in doubt, just ask.

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Mike Richard
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