Hotels across the world are losing millions of pounds to guests who help themselves to items such as dressing gowns and slippers.
Research by travel insurance specialist Columbus Direct suggests that millions of British travellers mistakenly believe these items are included in the cost of the room – with just 38% of those polled believing that taking these items is theft.
Some 24m people have taken items from a hotel room, which they may have packed entirely by accident – risking potential fines and even prosecution through simple carelessness.
Some holidaymakers admit they know that they shouldn’t take certain items, but believe they are such low value they it can’t be considered theft.
An estimated 1.6m Brits take alcoholic drinks from the mini bar and refill them in the hope they are not detected. A further 4m have taken lower value items from the hotel such as batteries, light bulbs, glasses or cutlery as they believe this is built into the cost of the room.
Some less scrupulous travellers knowingly take items that are not factored into the cost of a staying in a hotel room. The research found that 2.5m have taken music players, while others have taken alarm clocks, telephones, hairdryers or even televisions.
Separate research among hotels found that in these instances the customers would be asked to return the items or be charged for them, or could even be reported to the police. In some instances, they would be banned from staying at the hotel again.
One leading motel chain’s Long Beach California location reported a guest taking a bolted down television from their room while a five-star riverside hotel in Washington DC reported a guest trying to take a roll away bed. A four-star boutique hotel in Madrid reported a guest who took not only the contents of the mini bar but the fridge itself.
Carolina Vicente, marketing director at Columbus Direct, said: “It can be confusing to know those amenities in hotel rooms there for each traveller to use and take with them, like toiletries, and those considered the hotel’s property.
“It is worth checking with the hotel if you are able to take things like dressing gowns or slippers or if you will be charged for these as no one wants an unexpected charge to their room after they return home.”