Here’s What Hotels Don’t Mind You Stealing— and What They Really, Really Do

Let’s admit it: half the charm of staying in a hotel room is getting some freebies. Never tried cucumber mint rosemary lemongrass shea butter avocado oil body wash? Now’s your chance! And while you’re at it, take one (or three) of those tiny bottles home. No harm done, right?

Shampoo, body wash, soap, and similar items just invite guests to take them home. But then there are those of us who go for the big leagues, and set their eyes on towels, sheets, robes, and more. So what exactly can you take from a hotel, and what’s off limits? According to Travel and Leisure magazine, hotels don’t mind if you take certain items, but putting your sticky fingers on others is considered theft.

Let’s start with those toiletries. Hotels are actually happy for you to take things like the little bottles of shampoo and the miniature soaps. Many chains even leave a note encouraging you to take some home. The way hotels look at it, those items are like free advertising: if you actually like them, take them home, and remember the hotel, you’ll be more likely to stay there again.

We’ll go out on a limb and assume that hotels also don’t mind if you take things like notepads and pens. After all, they’re mean to be used, so can they really mind if you swipe them? So go ahead, feel no shame about adding an Embassy Suites ballpoint to your growing collection of Hilton line stationary.

What’s off limits? Though it’s kind of a cliche to pack a few towels or a robe into your luggage before checkout, most hotels hate when guests do this. Theft costs hotels $100 million or more each year. All those missing linens add up! In fact, some hotels have started adding tiny chips into their linens so that they can track which ones go missing.

Other popular items to swipe include remotes (don’t bother; they won’t work on televisions at home), sheets, and pillows. And while you might have your heart set on a bigger ticket, like a hair dryer, coffee maker, television, or mini fridge, it should go without saying that those are off limits. Same goes for a grand piano, a chandelier, a marble fireplace, and more–all things people have actually tried to steal from hotels.

Not only is it going to be hard to stuff a 18×24 framed painting or a flat screen into your suitcase, hotels will surely notice when the larger items disappear. Maybe you could get out of the hotel without saying anything. Maybe you wouldn’t be arrested for stealing. But at the very least, you might wind up with an extra charge on your credit card. Surely a stolen mini fridge would fall under those “incidental charges” hotels store your card number for!

Even if you aren’t jailed for stealing towels, there are consequences for stealing off-limits items. Watch the video below to find out what can happen if you get caught. It’s a bigger deal than you might think!

Do you take anything when you visit hotels? Have you ever been caught or charged for it? Do you have any favorite items from the “ok” list?