What you can (and can’t) get out of hotel rooms

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Anyone who has ever stayed in a hotel has had time to consider whether or not it would make sense to use some of the amenities in their room. These luxurious blanket-like bath towels make those coming home look like tattered rags. This beautiful landscape painting could also look great in your master bath. A guest in Los Angeles even stole a marble fireplace from his premium room, chiseling it out of the wall.

So that’s a bit much. But according to Reader’s Digest, these mini morality games aren’t that hard to navigate, and many hotels actually approve of bringing certain things home as a memento of your stay. As a general rule, anything bearing the hotel name or logo can be freely stolen: items like pens, stationery, or soap and shampoo. You can probably also use dry cleaning bags and coffee bags. Most of them can be replaced at a modest cost and can serve as free advertising for their business.

However, once you get into soft consumer goods, you are playing with fire. Hotels discourage guests from taking towels, bathrobes and sheets as they come at a high price. Will a missing towel put the Hilton out of business? No, but with enough theft, hotels can bleed a significant portion of their inventory, which can also be lost through mismanagement with third-party laundry services. Overall, theft can cost the hospitality industry $100 million a year.

What a hotel will actually do about this is up to management. Some chains have started purchasing linens with RFID tracking technology, which allows them to monitor when a towel or sheet leaves the building; others keep a manual inventory. In any case, a guest may be charged for missing items after their stay.

But would they actually sue someone for blowing off a bathing suit? Unlikely. Hotels want a reputation for good customer service, no rush charges, and proving a guest stole something is extremely difficult when multiple people are entering and leaving rooms.

But if you grab enough hangers and duvets, you might end up on someone’s naughty list. Hotels keep a list of “no-stay” names known for their five-finger discounts. In recent years, hotel chains have shared this information with each other, which means that stealing towels from a Holiday Inn could, in theory, lock you out of a Best Western. If you need thrills, keep sliding the pens.

[h/t Reader’s Digest]

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