Top 10 Things Stolen From Hotels


Since customer service is becoming the defining characteristic between any business and its competitors, it makes sense that the freebies in hotels are expanding. And what is expanding right along with them is the rate of theft from hotels.According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, theft costs hotels approximately $100 million per year. That is the cost of items actually stolen above and beyond the things offered to guests for free.

Theft of hotel items is so serious that the Waldorf-Astoria offered amnesty in 2012 to people returning things their parents and grandparents had taken during stays at the historic hotel. Through the program, the company recovered several sterling silver service items.

It’s not just the silver that is being stolen from hotels, either, although that and towels are probably what most people think of when hotel thefts are mentioned. It is surprising to see what items are regularly stolen from hotels. Here are the top 10:

1. Toiletry Items

Those little soaps are almost too adorable to leave behind, and they are individually wrapped — perfect for traveling. That must be why hotel guests often take them home by the handfuls, along with the shampoo, conditioner, lotion and other products provided in the bathroom. Many hotels display extensive collections of toiletry items for the use of the guests. It is not their intension, however, for guests to take enough home with them to stock their guest bathroom.

Hotel guests will go so far as to hide the unopened bottles on the first day of their stay, so housekeeping will replace them. By the end of a one week hotel visit, they could have enough mini-toiletries to last a month — or at least until their next trip. Making the toiletries even more enticing, many hotels are featuring high-end branded products. That hotel shampoo that used to be a last resort if you forgot your own is now a luxurious treat.

2-BathTowels2. Bath Towels

Towels, of course, are the cliché stolen hotel room item. No matter how you count or attempt to monitor them, you have to provide towels, and they are completely portable. The high-end hotels with the best towels tend to inundate the bathroom with them, too. Those fluffy white expanses of cotton woven in exotic places are folded, rolled and stacked everywhere.

In case all those hotel towels in bulk aren’t temptation enough, hotels also throw in a bunch of hand towels and washcloths — the perfect size for tucking into an empty corner of a suitcase. The matching bathmats look like they have never been stepped on, and most hotel towels are white or cream to fit with anyone’s home decor. It is no wonder that towels — bath towels, hand towels, fingertip towels, washcloths and bathmats — are one of the most common items stolen from hotel rooms.

3. Pillows

Hotels also stash plenty of extra pillows around the room to cut down on special requests to housekeeping. Everyone has different needs for a good night’s sleep and to prop up while watching TV in bed. Hotels also use a variety of decorative pillows to make the bed look inviting and almost regal. Pillows are inexpensive decorating tools that add color and warmth. This added touch of décor seems almost necessary if you want to attract the better hotel clientele.

Like the towels, it might be an issue of excess that makes people steal the pillows from hotel rooms. Maybe they figure there are so many that the hotel won’t miss one or two. Or maybe they want to recreate the hotel room décor in their bedroom at home. No doubt, some are attracted to the pillow with the hotel’s monogram embroidered on it as a novelty or souvenir.

The irony is that many people consider a bed pillow to be such a personal item that they bring theirs from home when they travel. It would be interesting to know where those traveling pillows originated — at the store or at another hotel on a previous trip?


4. Linens

People don’t generally make the bed when they stay in a hotel, but some will remove the sheets and take them home. The frequency of stolen linens probably corresponds with the quality of those linens. When people stay in a high-end hotel and are pampered with high-thread-count linens possessing a luxurious, silky feel, they must be tempted to bring that experience home with them.

Linens are one of the top items stolen from hotel rooms. Hotels lose up to 20% of their linens every month. Wholesale hotel towels and linens are the only way hotels can keep ahead of this trend. Buying in smaller quantities would not allow these establishments to keep the beds made.

4-Pool-Towels5. Pool or Spa Towels

Hotels that feature a pool or on-premises spa have two different towel services going on. Room towels are handled by housekeeping while a different staff manages towels provided for recreational purposes around the hotel. The towels are usually designated for different purposes by color, and guests are restricted from using their room towels at the pool.

Unlike room towels, however, pool towels are seldom tracked. While each room is made up with a set number of towels, an individual hotel guest may obtain any number of towels at the pool or spa. In some hotels, the pool towels are provided on a self-service basis like wholesale towels with the pool staff simply restocking the shelf when it is empty.

6. Slippers and Bathrobes

Knowing it would be cumbersome to carry your own big fluffy robe from home while you’re traveling, hotels provide bathrobes and slippers for your use. However, many guests reward this gesture by stealing them. Apparently, guests who find the bathrobe nicer than the one they have at home also find a way to jam it into their suitcase for the return trip.

Slippers fit much easier into a suitcase, and the ones with the hotel logo embroidered on them must be especially tempting. Hotel guests are more likely to steal the slippers from their room than many other items available to them. Perhaps they feel something that personal, once worn, should not be worn by anyone else.

Some hotels attempt to address the bathrobe theft issue by offering them for sale. Giving guests an opportunity to legally obtain the robes may keep them from stealing, and perhaps making guests aware of the price could deter other would-be robe thieves.

7. Artwork

It’s hard to figure out how a piece of art ends up in a guest’s suitcase, but it happens. It is obvious that artwork is stolen regularly from hotels for two reasons: One, you see new pieces going up all the time, and two, pictures are often bolted to the wall.

In an attempt to make the space attractive and inviting, hotels are sprinkled with interesting art. Some of the art you see in hotels is unusual because they have large spaces to decorate, like lobbies and dining rooms.

Whether the uniqueness intrigues guests or they simply spot a piece of art that would look perfect in their own house, hotel guests do steal the artwork. Of all the things to steal from a hotel, the artwork seems a bit brazen because it is likely to be noticed. Your room may be piled high with an unknown number of identical towels, but it probably has only one marble sculpture, hand-woven area rug or painting of a sunflower. If you take the art, however, chances are there will be another piece in its place the next time you visit — just like the towels.


8. Electronics

Hotel rooms have gone from one 200-pound television bolted to the floor to multiple sets, some small enough to fit in your suitcase. The number of appliances and electronic items found in hotel rooms continues to increase and now include features like coffee makers, clock radios and cell phone charging stations. All of these items are smaller and lighter than the old-fashioned hotel room console television, and they are all likely to be stolen.

When remote controls became popular in hotel rooms, some were actually bolted to the dresser to prevent theft. Most of the electronics you find in a hotel room today can’t be tied down, which is probably why they often walk off with the guests. Even simple appliances like hairdryers are not safe from hotel guests who just want to bring their travel experiences home with them.

The convenience provided by the electronic equipment in a hotel room is supposed to be a luxury of your stay. People obviously feel they deserve the same conveniences at home and choose to take the electronic items with them.

9. Stationery

According to a recent report on CNN, citing a study by, stationery items are among the most often stolen from a hotel room. Most hotels keep a stock of pens and paper in the room for the use of each guest. Sometimes these items come in handy during a guest’s stay to jot down some information from a late-night infomercial or leave a note for housekeeping about how they like their bed turned down.

Pens, paper and notepads are usually branded with the hotel name, which might lead a guest to believe the hotel leaves the stationery as a freebie. After all, they turn out to be good advertising for the hotel when they turn up back at the office where other members of the traveling public can see them.

10. Room Service Items

Anything, from silverware to those tiny condiment bottles that arrive at a guest’s hotel room with room service is likely to be stolen. Similar to the toiletries, people seem to like small packages. Everything from the extra jars of jam that come with morning toast to the baby bottles of mayonnaise accompanying a turkey club seems to attract the attention of otherwise law-abiding hotel guests. In this case, size matters. The small bottles are easy to fit into any extra space in a bag, and they are a novelty — a little replica of the regular ketchup bottle someone has at home.

The small bottles found in the mini-bar represent a different sort of challenge to hotel room thieves. These are most often stolen for consumption rather than simply brought home. In many hotels the items in the mini-bar are not included in the price of the room, so their consumption needs to be tallied and billed separately. Some people go out of their way to consume the alcohol in those little bottles and then replace it with something else to avoid the charge.

Silverware and salt-and-pepper shakers are not exempt from hotel room thievery, either. In fact, they are routinely stolen from room service trays, along with creamer containers, teacups and butter dishes. People even steal those little bud vases used to decorate the room service tray.

Operating a hotel is not easy in this help-yourself environment where people feel justified in taking whatever they like. Hotels try to attract customers with high-quality pillows, linens and décor while they expose themselves to higher rates of theft at the same time. Any businessperson will tell you, the answer is not to lower your quality standards, however.

If anything, you want to find a way to maintain the quality of the furnishings at your hotel for a lower price. Buying wholesale hotel towels, for example, is a good way to keep up your supply of fresh towels despite the fact that a measurable percentage of them go home with your guests. You might even follow the example of the Waldorf-Astoria and allow guests to bring back their stolen items without fear of penalty.

The good part of all of this is that if the guests are stealing the linens and towels, you know they like them. It is proof you are providing the level of quality your guests appreciate.

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