Stealing from a hotel: How much is too much?

3 min read
August 20, 2019
stealing toiletries from hotel

At some point or another, we’ve all tried to ‘take away’ stuff from our hotel rooms. Recently, an Indian family was caught stealing from a Bali hotel. The video went viral like a forest fire- and sent us on a guilt trip we never bought the tickets for!

For the uninitiated, the family in question was vacationing in Bali and blatantly ‘took’ things from the room that weren’t supposed to be taken. They packed almost the entire room with them including cloth-hangers, hairdryer, towels, toiletries and even interior decoration items. They were caught by the staff, and the whole incident was recorded on camera. After a series of embarrassing apologies, they were let go.

The hotel did not press any charges against them but social media was unforgiving.

But, before choosing sides, it’s important for us to understand what you can (and can’t) take from a hotel room.

Which free items can you take from a hotel room?

Consumable items which are meant solely for the staying guest are some things which can be taken from a hotel. Complimentary services can also be availed free of cost.

  1. Water bottles– At least 2 packaged water bottles are offered by the hotel as a complimentary service for the guest. Unless you take it from the mini-bar, which is chargeable, water bottles provided in your room are free of cost which you can carry.
  2. Tea/Coffee Kits – Most hotels offer a water kettle along with tea/coffee making ingredients like tea bags, coffee sachets, milk powder and sugar. Unless mentioned otherwise, you can take them.
  3. Sewing kits – Needle, thread, buttons and everything else the hotel offers as a complimentary service.
  4. Oral hygiene kits – You can take toothbrush and toothpaste available in mini-packs.
  5. Stationery – Monogrammed notepads, envelopes, pencils, pens, magazines are often placed by the hotel in your room as a subtle marketing gimmick.
  6. Toiletries – Mini kits including things like earbuds, cotton pads, shaving products, soap, shampoo, body lotion, conditioner, shower caps, bathroom slippers, can be taken from a hotel room.

What can you not take from hotel rooms?

Not everything is up for grabs. Here’s where you draw the line:

  1. Bath and body products- Towels, bathrobes, soap dispenser/ holder, mirrors are off-limits.
  2. Electrical appliances- Cable box, alarm clock, TV remote control, alarm clock, iron, tea kettle, hairdryer, etc are some items which belong to the hotel, not to the guest.
  3. Upholstery- Blankets, pillows, pillow covers, curtains, bed sheets, comforters, mattresses should never be taken from a hotel room.
  4. Taking things like paintings, ashtrays, mugs, hangers, Ironing board, incense burners, mosquito repellents, lamps, cutlery and even the Bible, amounts to theft.

What will happen if you steal from your hotel room?

At best, you’ll be charged for the items you’ve stolen. Some even put price tags on items which one cannot take. In this way, if they’re found missing from your room, you’ll be asked to pay for it.

In the worst-case scenario, you’ll be blacklisted from the hotel. The hotel authorities also have the right to take legal action against you. Things can turn pretty serious, pretty quick!

Final take- to steal or not to steal?

There is no sure shot way to distinguish between what you can and can’t take from a hotel room. This is a grey area which hasn’t been much addressed. No one asks the hotel before taking anything- and the hotel, being fully aware of what’s missing, never really bothers to create a fuss over little items.

However, we must understand that not everything is up for grabs. Believe it or not, but there is also a reported increase in the theft of flat-screen TVs. As travellers, most of us have picked some trinkets that we liked from the hotel we stayed in. Now we know where to draw the line- and that the Indian family in Bali went viral for all the wrong reasons.

Keep these pointers in mind next time you travel, so you can take what’s rightfully (well, technically) yours!

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With inputs from Nishtha Sethi

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