You’ve wondered it, but never wanted to ask, knowing the question itself could be an admission of guilt. The shampoo was nice. That conditioner in your room, I mean, come on it was KenetMD (thanks Laura for educating me about this brand). The question is simple: When you stay at a hotel, what’s for the taking, and what just becomes straight up stealing?

Are you hoarding travel sized toiletries? (Photo Credit: Jojos.org)

Are you hoarding travel sized toiletries? (Photo Credit: Jojos.org)

This all got into my mind after a visit to a lounge. It was a long international flight and the first thing I wanted to do was hop into a shower. When I got into the shower room, I was wowed by the toiletries. Finishing up, I did what many of us have done: I pocketed the left over shampoo and conditioner because I liked it so much. The moment I left the shower room, the employee who unlocked it asked “Good shower?” and Catholic guilt went into overdrive as I blurted out that I loved it so much I even took the shampoo and conditioner. The woman laughed as she let me in on a secret: “Those are items we can’t reuse. And when you take them rather than leave them in the shower, it tells us you like the product and we should keep supplying it.”

Is it consumable?

They won’t be utilizing that bottle of shampoo again, so if you like it, take it.  That stationary? “Advertise for us, please!” a friend who works for a hotel responded when I asked him his take on the idea. What about food and drinks in airport lounges or the concierge floor? My thought: That stuff is there for the taking. I’m often flying economy but working my way into business class lounges thank to my American Express Platinum or elite status with American. And so who knows the next time I’ll see free food. That little bag of pretzels and bottle of water- it’s coming with me as I leave the lounge!

Thou Shall Not Steal…

Gideons International actually doesn’t mind if you “steal” the Bible they put in your hotel room. (Photo: Sarah-Rose / Creative Commons)

Unless, it’s a Bible. You know that Bible given by the Gideon’s that’s always in your hotel night stand? Turns out, the group has no problem with you “stealing” the Bible, if you need it that badly. Who knew?

Bathrobes, towels, and slippers

Even if the robe is meant to be free, please don’t rock it in public. (Photo: Elle Gianforte/ Creative Commons)

This is where things can get complicated. In an upscale resort, some believe it’s just part of the experience to take the robe home at the end of it all. To this I say, why have I never stayed somewhere so nice where I looked at a bathrobe the way I look at a travel sized bottle of shampoo? In a boutique hotel, taking the robe might really have a big impact on their bottom line. Other times, you might take that robe, be giddy about the $125 robe (the pricetag told you it’s worth that much) you scored “for free” only to discover that the $125 tag actually wasn’t left on by accident or overlooked by housekeeping. No, that’s the price you will soon see charged to your credit card because the hotel left the price tag there to entice you to take it, and pay for it. The best thing to do with a bathrobe, slippers, or a towel? Ask the front desk because while you may get lucky and they say go for it, chances are those items, like the furniture, the TV remote, and the window shades are there to stay. And if the bathrobe isn’t free, don’t worry, we know of a pretty comfortable one you can buy, and it’s less than $20!

The rule of thumb is simple

If it CAN NOT be reused, then it’s yours. Enjoy that instant coffee at a later date! Simple enough, right? I thought so until a friend posed an interesting question to me when I talked to him about the idea for this blog: “Am I wrong because I raid the hotel cart, grab as much shampoo and soap as I can and then donate it to one of my favorite local charities that works with the homeless?” I pondered it for a moment. “So do you fancy yourself a Robin Hood of hotel carts, stealing from the Hilton’s and Marriott’s of the world to aid the poor?” That’s exactly how he felt about it, and I must confess,  I’m actually a bit torn. As good intentioned as this is, is the right thing to do? Is it stealing? What do you think?

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