Producer’s note: Someone on Quora asked: What can I take from a hotel room without being charged? Here is one of the best answers that’s been pulled from the thread. Thank you to the team at Quora for making this happen!
In practice, liquids and soaps unless otherwise posted are a given. I know road warriors who do not buy shampoo and conditioner. They just take from hotels and use the same products at home rather than upset their hair care ritual.
Anything past that, the key cards, and the local flavor magazine, and you are running the risk of being charged.
Having said that, very few hotels charge for missing items, unless they are specifically high-value items like iPod docks. Why?
1. The signs that inform guests that they will be charged make the hotel come across as tacky. I once saw one of these signs in a Four Diamond casino property and I’m not joking when I tell you that seeing it felt like it killed their vibe for me.
2. It is often too labor-intensive to properly account for what might be missing items. If towels turn up missing from the room, as in, the right amount that the housekeeper is supposed to place are not there, fine. Does the property have a pool and/or a workout room? Instant doubt as to whether or not you stole the towels.
3. We like charges that are easy to prove which guests won’t fight. Did a housekeeper come in to clean and find an animal which was not of the service variety? Pet cleaning fee! Did someone report a smoke smell to the Front Desk, and the clumsy guest left a butt somewhere in the room? Smoking cleaning fee, which in most hotels is about 99.9997% profit. Want to fight that charge? Prove to me that the butts and the smell were there before you arrived. Very few people will see a discarded cigarette butt in a hotel room and not call down to the Front Desk to inform us of such. Sometimes calls like these are a polite FYI, while at other times they are raging tirades that involve demanding things for free.
4. It’s bad business practice. We are in the business of service and hospitality, and just as it is not hospitable of you to steal my towels, it is not hospitable of me to charge you for same. As much as I might want to, I generally won’t. It’s just not nice, and part of the reason you chose to stay with me was the pleasant and helpful demeanor of the staff. Nickel-and-diming you in that way is not a good way to position my hotel as being run or staffed by pleasant and friendly people.