The honest guest’s guide to free hotel amenities

By | April 4th, 2010

Where’s the line?

When you’re staying at a hotel, is it OK to pocket the bottles of shampoo and lotion? How about the magazines? Bathrobes? Furniture?

It depends on the traveler. A recent Travelocity survey found 86 percent of hotel guests admitted to taking toiletries, like oatmeal soap and lavender body gel. About three percent said they swiped a bathrobe or slippers, and one percent said they stole dishes, silverware, electronics and — I’m not making this up — Bibles.

Not to get all theological, but for anyone who filched God’s Holy Word from their room (at least the ones that weren’t meant to be taken), I would advise you to return it at your earliest convenience. I don’t even want to think about the punishment that awaits you now — or in the hereafter.

The point is, we can all agree that there is a line. We can’t necessarily agree where the line is.

“There are gray areas,” admits Dominique Marty, the general manager of the Millennium Bostonian, a 201-room upscale property with its fair share of swipe-able amenities, including soaps, gels, lotions, bathrobes and … TVs.

“Yes,” he sighs. “It was a smaller, flat-screen TV. One day it was there, the next day it was gone.”

In case you were wondering what happens next, Marty’s staff contacted the guest who had occupied the room during the disappearance and asked about the whereabouts of the hotel’s TV. They were polite. They were persistent. “But you can only push so far,” he says. In the end, the hotel took the loss.

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I don’t know exactly where the line is, either, but I can tell you that taking TVs — and Bibles — crosses the line. I asked frequent hotel guests where they thought it was. Here are their thoughts:

If there’s a price tag on it, it’s off limits.
Seems pretty obvious, right? Hang on. The bathrobes in your room may have a price tag, but they’re also there to be used during your stay. Off goes the tag. And from there, it’s not much of a leap to your unpacked bag. Brenda Rivera, a finance systems specialist from Cedar Park, Texas, says she thinks twice before folding away a hotel bathrobe. “When you know you are going to get charged $125,” she says, “you leave it.” But she wonders about the amenities that don’t have price tags, like towels. It’s a gray area, since some hotels have given away towels as a promotion in the past.

If you can consume it, it’s yours.
“I take all toiletries every time I go to a hotel,” says Lori Brawner, an airline sales supervisor in Lutz, Fla. “This includes the shower caps and the shoe-shine cloths, too. There is no sign on them that indicates there is a fee or charge to me if I take them and something about the little basket in the bathroom brings out the hoarder in me.” My hotel sources tell me it’s fine to take something that can be used only once, like a shower cap, or that can’t be recycled once it’s opened, like a bottle of lotion. One manager even said it was OK to take the slippers. But there are a few notable exceptions. The bottled water in your room can be consumed, but unless you’re staying on the concierge floor, you’ll probably be charged for it. Ditto for anything in the minibar. So consume with caution.

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  • “hampton inn blue”

  • Cindi

    Gideon has been leaving Bibles in rooms for as long as I can remember with the hope the occupant will take it, read it and come to know Jesus as their personal savior. No sin involved!

  • KD

    I use the products during other travel as well as donate them.

  • KD

    There is a huge difference between toiletries and robes and slippers!

  • Myself

    False. I’ve worked at hotels for years. The only info that’s stored is the room number and date of checkout, at which point the “key” expires, and it’s nothing more than plastic. However, I have heard that resorts and casinos may store more info. I suspect though that it’s the same situation, that your key links to your room info so you may bill things to it. Without access to the system the key would be worthless. With access to the system, you wouldn’t even need the key to get a cc number…

  • sweetbreeze1984

    Gideon bibles as I was informed by those who supplied the bibles when they visited one Sunday are meant for taking. If a person has taken interest in reading and would like one that is what they are there for. A Gideon bible is not stolen but freely given and if it has been taken its because the individual felt they needed or wanted it. Hope that helps clarify.