Free or Stealing? 6 Items You Can (and Can't) Legitimately Swipe From a Hotel Room

Shampoo, yes. Marble fireplaces, grand pianos, and pet dogs, no.

Whether it comes from a desire to take home a souvenir from a trip or a compulsion to get that money's worth, hotel guests are notorious for slipping a little something into their suitcases at the end of a stay. A survey by Laterooms.com revealed that nine out of 10 people admitted to pilfering from a hotel within the last year. You might think that bagging a half-empty bottle of shampoo is fair game — you're just salvaging something that might otherwise be thrown away, after all — but you enter a gray area when it comes to some of the other goodies. So where is the line, to quote Friends' wise Ross Geller, "between stealing and taking what the hotel owes you?"

1.  Toiletries

No hotelier is going to blink if you scoop up those seductive little bottles from your hotel bathroom — and you won't be alone. The Laterooms.com survey found that toiletries were the most commonly thieved item (lightbulbs were in second place) and a separate Hilton survey revealed that 73 percent of American hotel guests took their toiletries home. However, Jacob Tomsky, author of Heads in Beds, a memoir of his 10 years in the hotel industry, suggests going to even greater lengths to stock up your home bathroom. "Consider the unmanned housekeeper’s trolley a smash and grab situation," he said. "Take three of everything and get the hell out of the hallway."

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2.  Slippers

Ever looked longingly at a pair of fluffy, monogrammed slippers wondering if the hotel would miss them if you stuffed them into your suitcase? Well, go ahead. Bjorn Hanson, Clinical Professor with the New York University Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism, told us that while slippers fall into a slightly different category as guaranteed freebies such as toiletries and stationery, "There are some items for which it is expected some will be taken by a small percentage of guests, and acceptable, such as slippers, shoes horns, and coffee packs, unless there is a stated charge or policy."

3.  Gideon Bibles

Anyone tempted to steal a bible might want to check their moral compass. However, according to Mental Floss, the Gideons themselves are quite unfussed. "They don’t get bent out of shape when people ignore the “thou shalt not steal” rule when it comes to the Bibles," says Mental Floss. "They’d rather you just take the book if you need it that badly."

4.  Bathrobes

Bathrobes occupy a gray area, Michael Forrest Jones, a former hotel general manager told Quora, "depending on what sort of hotel you're staying at. Modestly priced hotels provide them as part of the bedding, and want to launder them and hang them for another guest when you check out. However in a more upscale property, some people actually assume that they're gifts — with the hotel's blessing." This kind of gift, he says, is likely to be reserved for only the "most important" customers. If in doubt, call the front desk... which may indeed quote you a price.

5.  Towels and linens

Pilfering linens is a definite no, and, with some hotels going as far as having electronic tracking devices sewn in, it's not even worth the risk. Hotel companies keen to avoid any unpleasantries have been smart enough to open online stores from which guests con buy their coveted linens. W Hotels and Westin are just two with fully stocked shops.

6.  Beds

Hotel beds are comfy but nobody would really try to steal one, would they? Well, the Premier Inn in the U.K. is so concerned that they hired a private investigator to test the feasibility of removing a bed from one of its hotels. Turns out it's doable... but definitely not allowed. If you love your hotel bed that much, you'd be better advised to purchase it, legally.

Beds, it turns out, aren't the oddest items to be stolen. A few years ago the Telegraph compiled a list of ususual items stolen from hotels. The bizarre list includes Monsoon showerheads, hydromassage shower units, taps, toilet seats, and sinks from one Berlin hotel; a marble fireplace from the Four Seasons Beverly Hills, a grand piano... and even one hotelier's pet dog.

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