15 Most Popular Items People Steal From Hotels

Get a sneak peek into the shadowy realm of sticky-fingered guests.

couple at reception desk in hotel
Updated May 28, 2024
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Hotels stock their rooms with items that help you feel comfortable. Some of these things you might take home after checking out. Other items are supposed to remain behind in the room. 

However, it doesn’t always end up that way. A few items mysteriously and regularly find their way into suitcases.

Here are some popular hotel "souvenirs" many travelers cannot resist stealing. If you plan to find ways to travel more, avoid the questionable behavior of taking these items home.

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zinkevych/Adobe senior couple in white robes jumping on bed and looking happy

The allure of wrapping yourself in a plush hotel bathrobe — and bringing that experience home — is too tempting for some.

Understandably, these robes can make you feel like a VIP. But unless expressly stated otherwise, they're not intended to serve as complimentary gifts.

Instead, hotel bathrobes are supposed to be left behind and washed thoroughly for the next guest. That can prove difficult for the hotel if one is hanging in your bathroom at home.

So, don’t steal a bathrobe in a misguided attempt to save money. There are better and more ethical ways to keep more cash in your wallet.


Alliance/Adobe different types of batteries in hand of housewife

Surprisingly, batteries often make their way onto the list of "borrowed" hotel items.

Whether guests forget to pack their own batteries or see them as convenient little extras, taking batteries is a travel faux pas. They should be left in the remote or other appliance in the room.

If you need batteries, many hotels have vending machines or small stores and will gladly sell them to you.

Coffee makers

Suzi Media/Adobe pouring a mug of hot filtered coffee

Guests impressed by the quality of hotel room coffee makers might be tempted to extend their relationship with such appliances.

However, these machines are part of the room's inventory and are not intended for permanent residence in your kitchen.

If you make off with that Nespresso, you can and will be charged, so resist the temptation.

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Decor and art

Maxim/Adobe suspected of drug smuggling

Hotels, especially the fancy ones, often have art and decor that adds to the overall ambiance. There is nothing wrong with appreciating the aesthetics of these items, but taking home a piece of the decor is prohibited.

Remember that these items contribute to the hotel's character and are meant to stay put, be it a small sculpture, a painting you admire, or a quirky vintage lampshade.

Dishes and silverware

Shirley/Adobe table setting

Hotels invest in quality tableware at their buffet stations and restaurants, but it's not an invitation to take a piece of the dining room experience home with you. This rule also extends to items that come with room service.

Remember to also leave the silverware behind. While the desire to take home flatware with good weight and shine is understandable, resist the temptation to pocket utensils.

‘Do not disturb’ signs

Kenishirotie/Adobe closed white door of hotel room with please do not disturb sign

One of the more amusing entries on this list is the humble "Do not disturb" sign. It has a way of disappearing into guests' bags.

While it may seem like a harmless memento, these signs serve a practical purpose.

Instead, simply ask if you can purchase a sign from the front desk if you want to have yours as a keepsake. Chances are, it's not going to be expensive anyway.


.shock/Adobe buffet food

The hotel buffet invites you to partake in a variety of foods. So, enjoy all the bagels, eggs, cereal, fruit, and yogurt you want in a sitting.

However, taking an extra bagel (or five) to nosh on later is questionable behavior, to say the least.

Hair dryers

mad_production/Adobe pretty woman blow drying hair

Most hotel rooms stock hair dryers for your convenience. They're typically tucked away under the bathroom sink or on a shelf in the closet.

However, in some cases, you might notice they're secured in some way to the wall. You can thank the sticky-fingered guests who came before you for that tether.


iamtui7/Adobe wooden clothes hanger

Hotel rooms usually provide hangers in the closet to keep your dresses and suits crisp and free of wrinkles.

But hangers often disappear from hotel rooms. This is especially puzzling, given how cheap they are. Perhaps the lure of the hotel logo is strong in this case.

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Atlas/Adobe iron and shirt on ironing board

Fewer people iron their clothes today, thanks to wrinkle-resistant fabrics and products that straighten with a simple spray. In other cases, it’s easy to toss wrinkled clothing in the dryer for a quick cycle.

Irons still walk away from hotel rooms, however. Clearly, some folks are pressing shirts and pants to perfection, and some want to do so without having to pay for the tool that gets it done.

Light bulbs

Andrey Popov/Adobe lightbulb change in light

Light bulbs — yes, light bulbs — also disappear from hotel rooms more often than you might think.

Perhaps some guests fall in love with the lighting that made their grooming regimen easier. Or, maybe these folks are just excessively thrifty.

If you find yourself in need of a light bulb, it's best to request one from the hotel staff rather than attempting some in-room redecorating. Or do the old-fashioned thing and buy your own at a store.


New Africa/Adobe chihuahua dog on bed

Luxurious hotel linens — especially at higher-end establishments — often contribute to the dreamy quality of a good night's sleep. The temptation to recreate this experience at home by pocketing sheets with a high thread count or taking a posh duvet can be strong.

Don't give in: Theft is enough of a problem that some hotels now embed microchip trackers in linens. That means they will know precisely where that linen resides at any given moment.

Minibar items

OlegDoroshin/Adobe mini bar in the hotel room

Everyone knows that prices are high at the hotel minibar in your room. Still, plenty of folks cave in and splurge. Then, they try to get out of the charge by refilling a gin bottle with water.

Many minibars are monitored, some with sensor technology that can detect when you're attempting such a heist. So, buy your own alcohol and leave the minibar alone.


Drobot Dean/Adobe Woman relaxing in bed

The quest for a good night's sleep tempts guests to take home hotel pillows. But these items are intended to stay on the bed where you found them.

One would think guests would be deterred by the sheer number of other heads that have rested on that pillow. Why not simply take note of the brand and buy a fresh new pillow?


New Africa/Adobe white towels placed on marble top next to candles in bathroom

Towels have a curious tendency to find their way into guests' luggage. Whether it's the plush feel or the convenience of an extra towel, some travelers cannot help themselves.

As with bed linens, some hotels have microchip trackers sewn into towels to keep tabs on their location — including in your suitcase.

Being frugal is wise, but there are better ways to save money shopping for bath accessories than swiping towels from your hotel room.

Bottom line

oatawa/Adobe beautiful woman wearing sun hat checking into hotel room with luggage

Some travelers aren't resistant to taking items from hotel rooms, even when they know they shouldn't. Maybe it gives them a thrill, or they feel they deserve these things after paying to stay in the room.

But taking such items isn’t ethical. If you like an item in your hotel room, simply offer to pay for it.

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Cat Lafuente

Cat Lafuente is a Florida-based writer and editor with extensive experience in digital and print content spaces. Her own personal finance journey — particularly consolidating debt and paying it off, in turn boosting her credit score and becoming a homeowner — inspired her to join the FinanceBuzz team; she hopes she can help others do the same.