What do you check out first at a hotel? The view from your room? The myriad of TV channels, the mini bar, or the bounce factor of the bed? Me, I’m straight into the bathroom to stake out the toiletries – and then, if they’re any good, they will be straight into my bag.
I hide them and then wait for the bathroom to be re-stocked either at turndown or when the room is cleaned the next morning, and then I repeat the process until I’ve gathered a hoard that I can only just squeeze into my burgeoning bag. I don’t think I’ve had to pay for shampoo for years and I’ve never needed to buy body lotion (really, who does? It’s a product that I’m sure people only bother with when it’s on offer for free in hotel rooms!).
The excitement of finding some really amazing products – C.O Bigelow at the Bowery hotel; Bamford products at Limewood; Pen and Ink at the Hoxton Holborn and Bramley at The Pig – is way more thrilling than a freestanding bath or a four-poster the size of a London studio flat.
My husband hates it: “isn’t our bathroom full of stolen hotel stuff already?” he’ll protest. “But we’ve paid for this in our room rate – it’s ours!” I insist. He’s right though, we have enough mini White Company bottles to open our own shop.
But why stop there. There’s almost always an individually wrapped Scottish shortbread biscuit taken from a hotel room languishing in the bottom of my handbag, I literally never buy pens and pencils. Slippers? Of course. Fruit, nail files, shower caps and even flannels have all made it into my luggage.
From Paris I took an especially nice corkscrew, in Morocco I came home with a full-length djellaba and a pair of leather slippers from the riad I was staying at, and a friend of mine smuggled a woollen Nina Campbell blanket from a country hotel in Devon that we stayed at because she loved it so much (and then later had to deny it when the hotel called to enquire of its whereabouts).
While towels and linen are the most commonly stolen items from hotel rooms, hotel managers complain that everything from kettles (suddenly just taking the Nespresso pods doesn’t seem so bad, after all) to batteries are considered fair game by light-fingered guests. One manager at a five-star luxury hotel once told me that they were considering replacing their swanky Bang and Olufsen TVs because so many remote controls, at £235 a pop, were being nicked.
Perhaps most ironically, the tenth most stolen hotel item is the bedside bible – I’d never stoop so low. But you’ve got to admire those sinners that are so brazen.
This article appeared in Metro on 2 March 2015