One third of Chinese travellers admit stealing hotel furniture
A hefty 35 per cent of global travellers admit to pocketing hotel property when they check out. Most popular pilfered items are towels; linen, books and magazines, but mainland Chinese guests take it a step further, often removing furniture, such as lamps, clocks and even the pictures off the walls, according to a survey by hotel booking site hotels.com.
So, own up. Do you remove things from hotel rooms? It seems not just slippers and toiletries are fair game – they can’t be given to the next guest once used anyway – but it seems almost anything not nailed down frequently walks out with guests, even furniture and art work.
What do you pay for?
So what, precisely, is included in the room price and what remains hotel property? Perception of this varies according to nationality. Last year, while involved with a Tsim Sha Tsui hotel catering chiefly to mainland visitors, I realised guest attitudes to hotel property is a moveable feast. We had some who literally stripped the room and removed everything that wasn’t nailed down. When challenged, they claimed that they had rented and “owned” the room for the night, so everything inside belonged to them. There was a similar problem with breakages – some took the view that if they cracked the TV screen, the hotel should pay to fix it, not them.
Invariably these arguments ended in the police being called and much unpleasantness. Most hotels deal with this by making guests sign a disclaimer regarding damage and payment for items removed from rooms when they check in. Read the small print, it’s usually there.
But hotels in China and some in Hong Kong now go one step further, and have a price list displayed on the back of the guestroom door. This itemises everything from a towel to a pillow case. That way there is no doubt: remove the hairdryer or bathrobe and your credit card will be charged.
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Nevertheless, the hotels.com survey found that Hong Kong, Taiwanese and Singaporeans were among the least light-fingered hotel guests. Hong Kong travellers top Asia Pacific as the most honest, sharing fourth place globally with Brazil and Quebec in Canada. Only 19 per cent of surveyed guests from these three countries admitted nicking stuff from hotels and in the case of Hong Kong guests, they fessed up to pinching linen and towels, as did the Canadians. Brazilians preferred books and magazines.
Taiwanese guests came ninth for global hotel honesty with 78 per cent saying they have never pilfered anything, and Singaporeans joint eleventh with Argentinians and the Irish, at 75 per cent. When they did nick hotel property, it was books and magazines.
Most honest were the Danes – with 88 per cent claiming never to have pocketed hotel property. Second place came the Dutch: 85 per cent, and third the Norwegians, 84 per cent. Worst of all, in 29th place, were the Colombians, with only 43 per cent claiming to check out empty handed, though they only seemed to remove books and magazines.
Chinese in class of their own
In fact most guests globally who admitted to removing things only took linen and towels or books and magazines, except the mainland Chinese. They are in a category of their own, with 34 per cent, a third, departing with furniture, such as chunky items like lamps, clocks and artwork. Americans shared 23rd place for global hotel honesty with the Chinese, but Americans opted to remove linen and towels, rather than the furniture.
Mexicans come second from bottom. In their case, 60 per cent claim to leave hotel rooms intact, which means 40 per cent are removing stuff – but they only go for magazines and books, not the furniture. Surprisingly, after Danes and Norwegians scored so highly, (88 and 84 per cent), only 65 per cent of Swedes said they never nick hotel stuff.
“While we all love that holiday feeling, it seems travellers in some countries are taking this a bit too far by removing a whole variety of items from their hotel room to take home with them as a memento of their stay,” said a hotel.com spokesman.
I’m surprised that anyone can check out of a hotel with a lamp or a clock in their bag. Staff always inspect and sign off on a room before guests check out. They are quick enough to notice mini-bar items, so it takes a pretty dozy housekeeper not to spot that pictures are missing from the walls.