Some people like to take many things from hotels and some people forget things they brought with them. They’ve taken everything from a grand piano, various antique watches, a stone pig, a heavy marble fireplace, even a live lobster. They have left a dead goat, a scared hamster. a cinerary urn, various dentures, wigs of different colours, a parrot, parakeets, prosthetic legs, a glass eye, pyjamas, men and women’s underwear. Once, a bondage kit, including a whip, was left in a hotel in London by a guest who loved English discipline.
With the items and the abandoned hardware left in these hotels, they could create various museums of the bizarre.
The balance leans towards the side of the people who take an unimportant souvenir home with them while passing through the hotel. Most choose as many of the amenities as they can that the hotel offers.
Who has not ever thrown into their suitcase: bottle of shampoo, sewing kit, comb, toothbrush, matchbox, pencil, a pen or one of those indescribable showering hats that they will never use? Or that same beautiful ashtray that you already have at home? You don’t feel guilty though, your kleptomania is moderate. The hotels leave those amenities there for the guests to freely take. No, the hair dryer is not an amenity. Nor is the bathrobe.
The electronic gadgets and the batteries of the remotes are real hits. In some hotels, dishes and fairly complete cutlery sets, with monograms shining for the world to see, are considered ‘collectables’. I know a specialist surgeon who, in addition to being hands-on in the operating room, is an artist at juggling cups and tankards. His already vast collection is filled from hotels, bars and restaurants on 5 continents.
The rogue’s adventures also includes refilling bottles from the minibar with water or tea. Changing old and faded duvet covers from home with the new ones of the hotel, (just changing the cover and stating that they haven’t touched it) There are people with screwdrivers who take the door knobs, towel rails, hair dryers, toilet roll holders, lamps, bulbs, stereos and TVs. Nightstands that fly away along with their Gideon’s bibles; and bibles even say on the pages inside of them “Thou shalt not steal”.
The common spaces are not spared either. According to British newspaper, “The Daily Telegraph”, a London hotel spent a fortune on floral decorations and motifs. Many were ‘borrowed’ and made into makeshift birthday or anniversary gifts by forgetful husbands.
Where does taking a souvenir end and the body of a crime begin? The towel, that obscure object of desire (although they are almost always white), marks the border between what the hotel considers normal and the guest considers a memento from the visit. Hundreds of thousands of items disappear every year from hotels across the world, which is a huge cost for the big hotel chains, especially as it helped to raise the price of cotton for manufacture of the linen..
The measures to prevent it are varied. From electronic minibars that register the items being taken out and automatically add it to the bill, to small microchips in all the towels, sheets and bathrobes.
In a hotel in Tokyo, they have this notice to all the guests, “Guests, please do not steal these towels. If that’s not the case, please don’t read this note.” Other places are more subtle and announce in the bathroom: “If you are interested in our bathrobes, you can purchase a new one at reception for 50 euros. If you prefer to take one that has been used, we will charge it to your account.” The more imaginative hotels go as far as stamping their towels and putting labels on ashtrays like this:
“Stolen courtesy of (hotel name)”.
And you, what do you take from hotels?