As it’s revealed guests are even making off with mattresses: Is it ever OK to steal from your hotel room?
- Hannah Betts and Libby Purves debate hotel room etiquette
- Recent survey revealed some guest steal mattresses, televisions and artwork
- Hannah argued it’s acceptable to take toiletries and non minibar comestibles
- Libby said you don’t pinch hotel slippers unless you’re a thief
Hannah Betts (pictured) argues it’s OK for guests to steal toiletries
By Hannah Betts
Not that I’m proposing making off with the Egyptian cotton bed linen, you understand — but I’m going to go with ‘yes’ on this one.
Of course, you can’t be one of those maniacs who sneak away with mattresses, coffee machines or artworks from their four-star.
But allow me to give you my blessing for all toiletries, non-minibar comestibles, sewing kits and shoe polish sponges.
These things have been presented to you by the hotel gods, and it would be wrong to turn your nose up at them. We are British, after all, and no Brit can leave a free teabag unswiped.
Yet a survey of hoteliers has revealed guests are stealing even mattresses from hotels, along with televisions, shower heads, artwork and coffee-makers.
The luxury beds are filled with so much technology that they have become a target for thieves.
The swankiest place I’ve ever stayed (a ravishing, butler-serviced suite at Claridge’s) laid on not only the world’s most fabulous bath oils and face masks, but books that had been specially picked for me, my favourite tipples and a choice of snacks to tempt me with.
Did I cram them all into my wheelie case? Yes, I did — no other guest would want a half-finished copy of Vile Bodies, dog-eared from eating violet creams in the bath.
They even provided a chic bag in which to carry away the extra swag.
And it was pouring with rain as I left, so I was also bestowed with a magnificent umbrella, if not one of the spanking new Burberry macs hanging in the hall.
In a more mundane situation, it is simply not within me to be able to abandon a once-used bar of soap in a hotel bathroom — nor should it be. They’d only have to throw it away. Ditto half-used bubble bath, or those monogrammed slippers that housekeeping is otherwise forced to chuck.
These things are yours, factored into the price of your visit.
Indeed, in too many of our more godforsaken establishments, they are the only thing that make the misery of your £130 overnighter seem worthwhile.
Naturally, there are grey areas. I find I hanker after those newspaper receptacles that appear on your door of a morning (so chic!), but most are very obviously considered part of the furniture.
Ditto fancy laundry and shoe bags. The odd tiny jam jar is par for the course.
However, my boyfriend’s attempts to fill his pockets with breakfast items to see him through the day are utterly mortifying.
And I was once forced to dump a wealthy ex who considered light bulbs, branded plates and a tooth mug fair game.
Not on, sunshine — not least as it was me footing the bill. The shame.
Libby Purves (pictured) argues only thieves steal hotel slippers
By Libby Purves
There’s comedy in the thought of hotel guests stealing the mattress: wrestling a giant bouncer into the lift at 2am so they can stick a ‘luxury pocket-sprung mohair alpaca super-king’ on eBay.
News from top hotels that this is happening set me wondering about the hairline division between perks and burglary. Are we bad people, too, when we scoop up the little bottles of lotion we didn’t open?
Is that mini toothpaste the thin end of the wedge: an entry-level drug that will lead on to balling up towels, kettles, pillows and coffee-makers, unscrewing the telly and finally shuffling out with the luxury bathrobe under our coat?
Is it all the same? No. Theft is theft. You don’t pinch the hotel slippers unless you’re a thief.
It is perfectly obvious what is fair game — free biscuits and water, a teeny shampoo or soap for your onward travels. Beyond that, taking anything with you is criminal larceny — and despicable.
The worst thing in the survey is that guests at five-star hotels are the most likely to nick stuff.
If I was a hotelier, I would be suspicious of anyone with a huge wheelie suitcase and train the staff to pick up such cases in reception to check whether they’re empty. Even if the owners are in designer clothes, for we all know that there’s nobody meaner than the rich. For every decent person who hesitates in a Travelodge over whether to take home a spare lemon teabag, there is a haughty lady-who-lunches at the Grand Imperial who thinks the fluffy towels are hers ‘because I’m worth it!’
They may bleat: ‘I paid enough!’ But what the muttonheads don’t consider is the company’s other costs: tax, maintenance, safety law, staff pay, deep cleaning and replacements. Stealing is stealing, from any business.
Sadly, many upmarket hotels don’t report thefts because they ‘don’t want to be involved with the police’.
Bah, humbug! Not good enough. I want Lady Muck and Mr Arrogant publicly shamed as towel thieves and bathrobe bandits.
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