8 Most commonly stolen hotel room items

Richard Mellor 9 April 2018

Statistics suggest two in three of us steal from hotels but, when it comes to bedrooms, which items do we prefer to pilfer?


We’re talking both the poolside and the fluffy white bathroom kind, plus anything as dinky as face-cloths and flannels.

Many questions arise. Do these people not have towels at home? Are hotel ones so much better? And isn’t the fact that—however well (or not) they’ve been washed—hundreds of other people have used them before a deterrent? Evidently not.



Hands up if you’ve never appropriated some shower gel, shampoo, conditioner or lotion? Since most such mini-bottles are updated daily following minimal use, and thus seem destined for wastage, this practice always feels like fair game.

To combat it, hotels are increasingly using humongous, refillable containers, or ones bolted to bathroom fittings. In especially stingy cases, they’ll provide only a bar of soap in the first place. The spoilsports.


Clothes hangers

Next time you’re silently bemoaning the annoyance of two-part metal hangers— the ones where the top hoop is fixed onto the wardrobe’s pole—remember the logic behind them.

Wooden clothes hangers are, according to some hoteliers, the most commonly lifted treasure in hotel bedrooms. They fit easily into most bags, while such good, firm examples can be costly in hardware shops.



Mini-kettles and their plug bases are also prone to disappearing inside tea-leafs’ (sorry) luggage.

Do guests deliberately leave room in their holdalls, aiming in advance to score such home appliances? Or is the Bosch or Breville unit simply so impressive that they can’t live without it?


Batteries / bulbs

Now we come to the really crass, cheap end of the hotel-theft spectrum. Two of the most regularly plundered goods from rooms are half-used batteries—removed from remote controls—and half-used bulbs, unscrewed from lamps and lights.

In some cases, the entire remote control goes missing. This really seems excessive, although we suppose it’s just about possible that some crooks have a matching TV waiting at home.


Mini-bar booze

There are three kinds of mini-bar theft. The best known is the trick of having one extortionately-priced beer or Coca-Cola, then cleverly re-arranging the fridge to conceal its absence.

Then there’s the tack of drinking only on your last night, checking out before housekeepers arrive and hoping that front desk will trust your sincere declaration of no items consumed.

Most elaborate are scenarios in which guests drink the booze and then refill wine or tinted spirit bottles with tap water—or, in extreme cases, their own urine. Spare a moment for the future guest sampling that particular amber nectar.


Do Not Disturb signs

No hotel commodity is more collectible than a “Do Not Disturb” sign; they come in all shapes and sizes, and make for comic additions to shared homes.

And no one has a more impressive stash than Edoardo Flores: according to a Travel + Leisure article, the hoarder has amassed over 15,000 signs, many now sent to him by fans and viewable online.



Good God! Even those saintly, beetroot-coloured tomes found in the bedside drawers of traditional establishments aren’t exempt from our thievery.

Rather than prolific Amazon sellers, we like to think that the offenders are adulterers bent on mending their ways, or hard-nosed businessmen having a crisis of ethics.

Whoever these Gideon-grabbers are, they’ve clearly not read Exodus 20:15—“Thou shalt not steal”—very carefully.