A character steals the complementary items from their hotel room, such as towels, robes, ash trays and unused toiletries. This is usually played for comedy, showing that the character is petty, rude, cheap or without class. It often results when a character is staying at a much nicer room than they can usually afford.
This is often taken to the extreme, where the character takes—or tries to take—everything in sight from the establishment.
This can be related to Poke the Poodle
and Evil Is Petty
, though it's often not an indication of villainy. Related to Stealing from the Till
- Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop loves his hotel's bathrobes.
- In The Cocoanuts, The Marx Brothers' first released film, Chico and Harpo check in with an empty suitcase. "That's all right, we fill it before we leave."
- In Kill List, the hitmen peruse the toiletries in all their hotel rooms to take back home, showing that their lives are pretty unglamorous.
- This is a Running Gag in the film If Its Tuesday This Must Be Belgium where one character starts the tour with an empty suitcase that he proceeds to fill with items he pilfers from hotels (and other places).
- Upstream Color: Jeff is allowed to dine in the kitchen of a hotel due to business connections, but he and Kris also help themselves to some toiletries while giggling.
- Casino: Mr. Ishikawa, a Japanese billionaire who gets free hotel suite stays anyway, nevertheless fills up his suitcases with the hotel's towels and soap when he checks out.
- A joke: a man back from a trip is talking about his hotel: "Oh, it was incredible! The towels were so soft and fluffy, they barely fit into the suitcase!".
- This is one of Kit Carson's primary complaints about tourists in Time Scout. That and paperwork.
- Inverted in John Varley’s Red Thunder, the narrators family runs a run-down motel: “I (gave) Jubal (...) a set of our best big towels, not the little scratchy ones nobody bothered to steal.”
- Abbie Hoffman in Steal This Book gives a practical how-to guide for the aspiring yippie on how to steal as much as possible from a hotel room, including the TV.
- Ross always tries to get his money's worth out of hotels by staying in the room to the very last minute before checkout, taking the batteries from the remotes, and taking the Bibles (despite being Jewish). It was a Running Gag for his character.
- There was an episode where Ross and Chandler were together on a hotel and they decided to do this.
- Friends conversation (courtesy of here):
Ross: No, Chandler, you have to find the line between stealing and taking what the hotel owes you. For example: hair drier, no, no, no, but shampoo and conditioners, yes, yes, yes. (pause) Now, the salt shaker is off-limits, but the salt (he opens the salt shaker and pours the salt into his hand) I wish I'd thought this through.
Chandler: I think I know what you mean though...the lamp is the hotel's, but the bulbs (goes to take the bulb)...oh, you already got that.
Ross: Not my first time in a hotel, my friend.
Chandler: Ok, how about this (picks up the remote control)?
Ross: No, no, no, you can't take the remote control!
Chandler: Yes, but the batteries...
(Ross claps his hands)
- The Golden Girls
- In one episode, Sophia does this. There's even one thing she tries to take, but it's secured to its table, so it doesn't work. It's some kind of container that looks like a closed clamshell.
- In another episode, she also starts taking first-aid supplies from a hospital room when they visit Rose there, telling Dorothy: "They expect us to take it; it's like hotel soap!"
- In the Rizzoli & Isles episode "Gone Daddy Gone", Angela returns from a trip to Atlantic City with a hotel robe, the contents of the minibar and a hairdryer.
- Red Dwarf: In the episode "Justice", Lister reveals that he used to steal the furniture from hotel rooms.
- In an episode of Wizards of Waverly Place Teresa and Jerry go away for their anniversary weekend. When they check on the kids at home they see that they're causing havoc and Teresa tells Jerry to "grab the towels, I'll get the bath soap" as they're hurrying out of the hotel.
- Gilmore Girls: Lorelai works as a hotel manager. Michel, also an employee at the Independence Inn, spends one episode worrying that a pair of people who had stolen from them once returned. He insists that Lorelai let him check their suitcases.
- In the fourth season of Arrested Development, Marky Bark takes Lindsay out to a restaurant that only accepts trade. He offers a handful of hotel soap bars, but he's told by the waitress that those are no longer accepted.
- This moment from Family Fortunes (starting at 0:52):
Les Dennis: Name something people take from hotels as a souvenir. (buzz in) Ann!
Ann: The lamps!
Les Dennis: (incredulously) The lamps. (laughter) This is experience talking, is it, Ann?
Ann: (through embarrassed laughter) Yes!
- In an early Monkees episode, the band is running about in a hotel and Peter stops all of a sudden to steal a towel with the picture suddenly freezing with the written text, "Everyone does it!"
- On an episode of The Jack Benny Program, Rochester and a friend are cleaning in Jack's house when the friend asks Rochester what Benny's name was before he changed it. Rochester says he's forgotten. The friend looks down at the towel he's holding and says, "It wasn't Conrad Hilton, was it?"
- Dave Barry tells this story:
I was staying at a luxury Hyatt hotel. There was a little plastic sign in the bathroom that said: "Our towels are 100 percent cotton. Should you wish to purchase a set, they are available in the gift store. Should you prefer the set in your bathroom, a $75 charge will automatically be added to your bill." This was Hyatt's polite way of saying, "If you steal our towels, we'll charge you 75 bucks." So I stole the sign. Really. I kept it in my guest bathroom for a couple of years, to amuse guests.
- Dylan Moran mentions this trope in one of his acts. He says "hotel rooms are the most corrupting places in the world. Where else do you start stealing everything that's not fixed down within minutes of arriving?"
- British comedian Peter Kaye used to dread being out on the road with his comic partner, Paddy McGuinness. Put in a hotel room together, Kaye relates that Paddy suffered from hotel room fever - he stole everything, regardless of whether he needed it or not. He would even gain access to empty adjoining rooms to steal things from them, too. Paddy would arrive with one suitcase and leave with four, which had Peter cringing with embarrassment. Both men have since become TV stars, Peter as a comic actor and Paddy as a dating show presenter.
- Your character can do this in The Elder Scrolls games. Prior to Skyrim, no repercussions result; in Skyrim, the innkeeper can send a few hired goons after you if you do so.
- While it seems harmless, the cost to hotels from this has actually become significant enough that in some cases RFID tags have been put into towels to prevent theft. The issue there is that they can't simply charge the customers that take them as there wasn't generally an accounting for how many towels are given out (until the tags were added).