Navigation Menu

When staying at hotels there’s a fine line between complimentary in-room perks and sticky fingers!  Soaps, shampoos and conditioners?  Free of charge! Little chocolates on the pillow? Help yourself! Taking the pillow home WITH the chocolate?  Well that may be crossing a line!

A recent survey discovered that more than a third of travelers around the world take their hotel experience that one step further by stealing at least one hotel amenity!  However what that hotel amenity may be varies greatly!

I’m going to come clean and admit that I take joy in stealing toiletries – but everyone does that!  A habit which was passed down from my father when he would travel on corporate trips and bring home bags of miniature shampoos and conditioners, I have never paid for shampoo or conditioner in my life, and have a healthy stack of replenishment’s in my bathroom cupboards!  Dad would also always bring home the hotel electronic room keys for my sister who collected them!


I will also admit that I once stole a pillow while traveling through France! I was about to embark on a two week camping trip in Switzerland and had forgotten to pack one!  But apparently I’m not the only one who pads their luggage with hotel pillows!  1% of the respondents (8,600 respondents were surveyed from over 28 countries) admitted to also pilfering the pillows!

Magazines and books are apparently the most appealing item for hotel thieves, however these items are followed closely by linens and towels!!Around 3% of people owned up to stealing bath robes, and the Chinese respondents in particular admitted to a taste for lamps and artwork…which takes hotel thievery to a completely different level!

But don’t be surprised!  I worked in hotel reception for 5 years, and we once called the police to stop hotel guests who were trying to make their way down the corridor with a couch!

Hotels aren’t responding lightly to these thefts.  Hotels throughout the US have begun turning to companies like Linen Tracker – a company providing technology which uses radio-frequency identification chips to keep track of robes, towels and pillows. The chips have been reported to be effective with numerous guests who have been apprehended and asked to return the stolen goods!

So where do we draw the line?  Truly intrigued by this topic, I put the question to fellow travelers:

“What do you “souvenir” from hotels?!”

Jenna and Micah from “Wander the Map


“I once accidentally took a hair dryer bag, and have been using it ever since – after washing it of course! I don’t make it a common practice of making hair dryer bags into souvenirs, but it has been great for keeping my hair dryer, brush and comb all stored together!”

Find Jenna and Micah on Facebook and Twitter.

Kathleen and Brock from “Our Favorite Adventure


“I take all of the sugar and milk provided for coffee. I’m kind of a maniac about it!  We travel with our own coffee mug, filter and coffee and while black coffee is better than nothing, it is such a wonderful treat to have sugar AND milk (not powdered crap) so whenever we go into a hotel I stuff all of the little packets of sugar into a pocket in my day bag and then days later, when I haven’t used all of them still, Brock finds them and gives me an ”Are you serious??” look!”

Find Kathleen and Brock on Facebook and Twitter 

Nicole and Michael from “Suitcase Stories


“In the old days before our new nomadic life, I used to love taking the toiletries and Do Not Disturb door signs! Now, however, everything I own in this world I carry in a small carry-on size case so now I take nothing from the hotels we stay in because it just wouldn’t fit!”

Find Nicole and Michael on Facebook and Twitter

Bex from “Leaving Cairo


“Toilet paper! It’s rare I stay in hotels, so it’s been useful when moving on to a country that doesn’t use paper!!”

Find Beccy on Facebook and Twitter

Kimmy and Drew from “AfterGlobe


“For as long as I can remember, I’ve always taken the mini bottles of food that they bring you when you order room service and some hotels even put them in your room. They are just so freaken cute that I can’t resist them! I currently have mini bottle of honey, jam, Tabasco sauce, 2 of ketchup and a box of cereal in my bag as I fly across the States.”

Find Kimmy and Drew on Facebook and Twitter

Sofie from “Wonderful Wanderings


“On my last trip to London, there was complimentary Twinings tea provided. You could choose from at least 6 different tastes, but of course I didn’t choose, I just took them all (as well as the delicious chocolate chuck cookies that were on the same tray – yes, I checked the expiration date!)”

Find Sofie on Facebook and Twitter

Vanessa from “TurnipSeed Travel


“Hmmmm….will I get in trouble for this?! Occasionally face cloths will make their way into my carry-on luggage. They work so much better than just plain old wet wipes when it comes to feeling really clean! The plastic bags used to line the ice bucket have been known to be re-purposed to hold left over pizza or – even worse! – clean up after Chester when we go for walks in the park. (Chester is the black lab, not the husband!)”

Find Vanessa on Facebook and Twitter

Sarah from “The Travel Spotlight (by Sarah P)


“I have a soft spot for Hotel Room pens (you know, the ones they keep in the bedside dressers?) – they work marvelously well and I have no idea why they’re so much more delightful to use than regular pens! Maybe it’s the wisp of travel lingering on them! Whatever the reason, I have unintentionally amassed a collection of Hotel room pens from around the world!”

Find Sarah on Facebook and Twitter

And lastly…

Justin from True Nomads


“I started off collecting business cards from my hostels, so that when I became too drunk to crawl home I could just give it to a taxi and they could get me home. After a while i had hundreds from all over the world.  Once I accidentally gave my Estonian taxi an old card from Amsterdam, and he said it was going to cost a loooooot of Euro!”

Find Justin on Facebook and Twitter

Disclaimer:  I do not condone stealing or hotel thievery in any way.  It is morally wrong to steal and against the law in pretty much all countries. HOWEVER…I have a pair of new Hilton Slippers to giveaway on Facebook for the best story about hotel thievery! Make sure you “Like” us and comment on the Facebook post to win!  Competition ends Sunday 19 May 2013 at 12pm EST.


  1. As a traveler I make it a point not to take things from hotel rooms as I know how it feels to have to replace things. We own a cottage resort in Southern Ontario and you would be amazed at the things that go missing. The most annoying are comforters and people who leave their disgusting pillows while taking ours with them – Or when they leave cheap frying pans and take our good ones. The most amusing are the missing toilet plungers and brooms. Seriously? You need a plunger that badly???

    • I cant believe people actually replace expensive things with dodgy versions!!! Agree with you – who seriously needs a plunger that badly! WOW! … you think you’ve heard everything but definitely not! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I’ve never stolen any pillows or anything like that (although I have been tempted on taking a bath robe or two!) but I’ve always loaded up with the hotel shampoo & conditioner. As a backpacker every cent counts and I’ve always considered it as a part of my hotel expense…hey it’s going to get used one way or another! :-P

    • Who hasn’t been tempted to take a bathrobe or two lol :D! I genuinely think I have enough shampoo and conditioner to last me the next few years lol as you said – every cent counts! And the little bottles are just so convenient when you’re backpacking – space is an issue!!

  3. Haha great post! I once had to talk my Mum out of stealing a kimono on a family holiday to Japan.

    • Lol I think I did bring home a Kimono from a school trip to Japan – one of the hotel inclusions of course :D!

  4. Unless I’m mistaken, don’t hotels retain your credit card information after you leave for just this purpose. I’ve always assumed if they have my credit card info they can charge for anything that’s missing – and that somewhere in the TOS or what you sign when you check-in enables that (reasonable, legitimate) charge.

    • The vast majority do – I don’t think they generally worry about amenities like shampoo and pens; though I do know some hotels charge you if you lose or take the room key card with you (tough love for those who have room card collections!

      …And I’m sure if you take off with the TV you’ll note a charge on your credit card pretty quickly!!

      We’ve recently been traveling through South America and made a habit of making off with the toilet paper in each hotel; there’s just no toilet paper anywhere throughout South America!!

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *