Hotel Etiquette: What You Can Take Home

Bathrobes and slippers sitting on the bed at a hotel

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Most hotels want you to feel at home in your room. From complimentary pens to soaps and shampoos, they will fill it with nice things to make your stay all the more comfortable.

You might be tempted to take some of these things home with you. Certain items, like the complimentary shampoo, are given to you and are perfectly fine to pack in your carry-on. Other items belong to the hotel; if you get caught stealing these, you may have to pay a fine.

So before you start stuffing your suitcase with goodies, take a minute to learn what you can and what you cannot grab from your hotel room.

What You Can Take From a Hotel Room

Anything that's complimentary is free for you to snag. This includes the mini bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, coffee, packets of creamer and sugar, and other bathroom amenities. The slippers will get thrown away after you leave, so it's fine if you want to pack them away for later use. Stationery, pens, notepaper, postcards, and envelopes are also a gift to you—and because they carry their logo, hotels consider these free advertisement.

What You Cannot Take From a Hotel Room

Guests often take towels, irons, hairdryers, pillows, and blankets, according to the housekeeping department at Hilton Kingston. Cable boxes, clock radios, paintings, ashtrays, light bulbs, TV remote controls—even the Bible—are commonly stolen as well. However, all of these items belong to the hotel and are meant to stay in the room.

Bathrobes, for the most part, should be left behind as well. Many hotels do launder them for the next guest—but in some higher-end hotels, a guest may be given a monogrammed robe as a gift.

When in doubt whether something is complimentary (and therefore okay to pack), you can call the front desk to double check.

What can you take from a hotel room?

Other Items Commonly Stolen From Hotels

At the Hilton Curacao, guests will often take the mugs that come with breakfast up to their rooms so they can "finish their coffee." In reality, these mugs are so popular that they disappear daily, despite being available in the gift shop.

A housekeeping manager at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers also confirmed that their signature "S" crest white pillows and robes often disappear, along with the new coffee makers. Since both the pillows and robes are hotel property, they are not meant to be taken, either.

Consequences of Taking Hotel Property

If you take something from your hotel room, you can expect an extra charge on your bill. Robes and towels are so commonly stolen that many hotels now list the charge right on the hanger; they will automatically bill the credit card they have on file for the extra cost of replacing these items.

Robert Thrailkill, the General Manager of the Conrad Miami, once said:

"A guest room should feel like a home away from home. If the guest enjoys something enough to want to take it home with them, they are welcome to do so, but at a charge. We give guests the option to purchase the items that they are fond of, with everything from the 700 thread count linens and mattresses to the Conrad Miami signature terrycloth and waffle robes."

In some countries, including Nigeria, hotel guests have faced jail time for stealing items such as towels. Again, it's best to be cautious and ask reception if you are unsure whether something is complimentary—especially when you are traveling in a foreign country and are unfamiliar with the laws.

How to Turn Your Room Into a Hotel Suite

If you are itching to take something home with you, many hotels have online stores, ideal for anyone who's dreamed of transforming their bedroom oasis into a hotel suite. On these sites, you can purchase all your favorite items from the hotel, from their plush towels and 700-thread-count sheets to their lamps, shower heads, and beds. Whether you're a fan of Hilton's Serenity bed or the Mariott's canvas art and scent diffusers, you don't have to leave the life of luxury behind when you come back home.

The best part of all? Everything is brand new and you don't have to worry about fitting it all in your suitcase.