Steal These Items From Your Next Hotel
House of Sims, flickr
POCKET: PENS AND PENCILS
Stationery? That's all yours -- especially if it is branded with the hotel's name, website, and phone number. It's basically free publicity for the hotel every time you whip out their pen. They also really want you to send those postcards. The Alexis Hotel in Seattle even lets you paint your own as extra incentive to let those at home know that you wish they were there.
OUT OF POCKET: TOWELS AND LINENS
Towels are the number one item to make their way into travelers' luggage. Holiday Inn alone estimated that they lost 560,000 towels in one year -- and that's just one chain. Duvets, pillows, sheets, and pillowcases also disappear at an alarming rate. But seriously, how big must your suitcase be to fit an entire bed's worth of linens?
POCKET: THOSE CUTE LITTLE LOTIONS
Perfectly sized to meet the 3-ounce rule, these are yours for the taking whether you've opened them or not. Some hotels even go an extra step to make it easy to bring those toiletries home. Rundles Morris House in Stratford, Ontario, provides decorative plastic covers for packing their full-size bars of Roger & Gallet soap.
OUT OF POCKET: LAUNDRY BAGS
Who hasn't snagged the plastic laundry bag out of the closet to pack still-wet bathing suits or cushion a duty-free bottle of rum? That's fine, but if the hotel uses cloth or canvas bags, beware the charge. Some hotels now attach tags to them to warn travelers the price in case they go missing. Basically if the hotel can reuse it, they don't want you to take it.
POCKET: STRESS BALLS AND SNACKS
Forget pillow mints. Chicago's Wit Hotel leaves mini Rubik's cubes, light bulb-shaped stress balls, or old school paddle ball games at turndown, and you should feel no guilt taking them to play with on the plane ride home. And a welcome basket of treats is usually fair game if it comes with a note from the staff. Still scared that in-room gift will lead to a surprise on the final bill? When in doubt, call the front desk and check before popping the cork.
OUT OF POCKET: DOCKS AND CLOCKS
It's safe to assume that the room's iHome sounds system should not be checking out with you. "The most outrageous thing to disappear from one of our rooms was a stereo," says Michael Green of Palm Spring's Triangle Inn. "And because it was in a closed cabinet we did not realize it immediately." Linda Chin, G.M. of Boston's Onyx Hotel, takes a Zen approach. "You can take anything you want from the room," she says, "but we'll charge your credit card for replacement."
POCKET: ROBES AND UMBRELLAS
It can be confusing, but while most hotels automatically bill you if the robe goes missing, some of the most luxurious hotels won't charge for the robe, slippers, or even that laundry bag if you decide to slip them in your suitcase (they prefer keeping your business rather than trifling over a hundred dollars). New York's Hotel Gansevoort even includes items such as monogrammed robes, branded eco-totes, books, and bottles of premium liquor as part of packages. But you better really want that robe, since those "complimentary" extras come at a price: Package rates are often twice as much as regular room rates.
OUT OF POCKET: BATTERIES AND LIGHT BULBS
So you're headed out for a day of sightseeing and realize that the AAs in your camera are dying. Which is just the kind in the back of the remote.... Stop right there and find the closest drugstore instead. Sure, they're "disposables," but they're supposed to run out at the hotel, not in your Wii controls. Light bulbs have also become a tempting snag as hotels start to upgrade to energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs that cost a little more upfront.
POCKET: GIDEON BIBLES
Bibles have long been an expected amenity in hotel bedside tables. Even though they are slowly being edged out, Gideon International still places more than ten million copies of the good book in hotel rooms annually to replace those that have disappeared or are worn out. Needless to say the society is thrilled when you break the eighth commandment and take one home with you.
OUT OF POCKET: ART
As awesome as the story would be if you could boast about staging a Bond-esque operation to relieve a hotel of some art, not everyone will be as charmed. But sometimes the story has a happy ending for all involved. The inebriated guest who helped himself to a boar's head at Hotel Du Vin in Birmingham, England, didn't have to pay for the pig, his friends did. After the sheepish former guest returned the item, friends went back and bought the boar as a wedding present.