We have all grabbed toiletries and stationary from our hotel rooms, but missing property extends to grand pianos and room numbers and differs by guest nationality and star rating

4 December, 2019

Stealing soaps or pens seems harmless for many hotel guests, however, some are so bold that they carry televisions, pianos, mattresses or even stuffed animals out of the hotel, a new insight from hotel portal Wellness Heaven has revealed.

The site, which reviews spa and luxury hotels in Europe and Asia asked over 1,150 hoteliers which items are most commonly stolen and while it is the smallest items that most frequently depart rooms at the end of a guests’ stay, some of items that go missing are surprising. In fact, the findings highlight a striking difference in the theft behaviour between guests in 4-star and 5-star hotels and by nationality.

The overwhelming majority of guests steal towels and bathrobes, hangers, pens and cutlery, with rates in 4-star hotels higher than in 5-star properties, but along similar levels.

A total of 634 hoteliers from 4-star hotels and 523 from 5-star hotels responded to the survey and helps determine the behaviour of guests. The probability of high-quality TV sets being stolen showing the biggest difference: in 5-star hotels, they are nine times higher to be taken in comparison to the 4-star segment.

Similarly, artworks are five times more likely to go missing at 5-star establishments (36.9% to 6.6% at 4-star), blankets are almost four times as likely to be removed (26.5 to 6.8% at 4-star), tablet computers more than eight times more likely to be taken (23.2% to 2.8% at 4-star), coffee makers five times more likely (12.4% to 2.3% at 4-star hotels).

In 4-star properties guests are three times more likely to steal batteries, with almost a third of 4-star properties (31.6%) reporting them being removed from their properties, versus 10.2% of 5-star hotels. It is not just batteries though, with remote controls almost five times more likely to disappear in 4-star establishments.

While most of the products stolen are relatively low value, hotels across both classifications also reported some more extreme losses both in terms of size and value. Almost one in ten 5-star hotels (8.1%) reported mattresses being removed ( just 1.1% of 4-star properties reported the same crime).

Wellness Heaven reports that highly skilled craftsmanship was required of those guests who managed to steal bathroom fixtures, the head of a rain shower, a hydromassage shower, a toilet seat, a drainpipe or even an entire sink, as reported by a Berlin hotel.

It also cites an Italian hotel where three unknown men in overalls brazenly walked out with a grand piano, while a hotel in England reported a guest had removed the numbers from his hotel room door. "We didn't notice until the next guest could not find his room", the hotel director explained.

The findings also identify some trends by nationality. German and British hotel guests follow a rather generic theft behaviour and alongside towels and bathrobes, it is cosmetics and toiletries that primarily depart the rooms with them.

Austrians appear to take higher value items such as dishes and coffee machines, for Americans it is pillows and batteries, Italians prefer wine glasses as a hotel souvenir, while the hair dryer ranks high up in the Swiss ranking. The French represent the nation that is attracted mainly to television sets and remote controls, while the Dutch apparently seek practical souvenirs such as light bulbs and toilet paper.