• Sun
  • Sep 21, 2014
  • Updated: 7:11pm
Wealth Blog
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 October, 2013, 10:46am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 October, 2013, 4:19pm

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.

Unhappy endings

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.

Watch: Image-conscious China chides its 'unruly' tourists

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.    

Anna.fenton@scmp.com

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13

This article is now closed to comments

mercedes2233
I confess to keeping the little bottles of shampoo and little plastic combs from the bathrooms.
johnyuan
There was an article in the NYTimes once in the 80s reporting that prevailing theft occurred in hotels in US. Guests just took things that belonged to the hotel when checkout. Items included as large as TV sets and even a sofa. These thieves justified their act by seeking justice against the exorbitant hotel bill they must pay for a day or few of staying. The story provides interesting insight which is beyond just law breaking.
Beaker
Hi Johny, can you actually locate the NYT article you "cited" from the pre-internet 1980's? I know Google has storage for scanned newspapers dating back to the 1800's. Maybe you can find the article there to share. OTW, I am pretty sure you just made that up out of thin air to also cast doubt at Americans. I guess your strategy is to say that stealing furniture from hotels is not just a Mainland problem, and is in fact a global trend even prevalent in the 80's. Good strategy. I hope you raise your kids the same way, or better, don't let you raise any because the world is already full of deceitful wanks like you.
It's true, you really have small penises.
Peterson
I think the media is out of control in exaggeration of the Chinese tourists. Chinese love to fight among themselves for others to take advantage of. So what if tourist from China behave not exactly the way you would expect them to do so. The important thing is they are changing, painfully and slowly but surely. Chinese from HK or Taiwan were not any better. In fact, they are very rude and look on others without any respect. They have very little cultural tastes.
Peterson
I think the media is out of control in exaggeration of the Chinese tourists. Chinese love to fight among themselves for others to take advantage of. So what if tourist from China behave not exactly the way you would expect them to do so. The important thing is they are changing, painfully and slowly but surely. Chinese from HK or Taiwan were not any better. In fact, they are very rude and look on others without any respect. They have very little cultural tastes.
Peterson
Give them some time and they will catch up. Chinese people from other parts of the world need not bashing Chinese from mainland just because you have been exposing to the outside world long enough to know better. People are greedy and Chinese are also greedy. NO need to bash them but do everything help them. People from HK and Taiwan are not any better many years ago.
Beaker
Hey Peterson, maybe bashing them to reduce the time we all must suffer. Asians like me also suffer from the image these Mainlanders create. When I get on a plane, the first thing I do is to speak, in perfect Western accented English, "Hi, how are you? I hope we will enjoy this wonderful flight." It is my subtle way to assure the horrid person that I will not pick my nose, nor will I drop my newspaper and all wrappings on the floor next to them, creating a heap of garbage for the rest of the trip for them to enjoy. If you fly economy, watch what it looks like as you pass thru the business class where the stolen money allows 20's people to fly there. Chinese language newspaper all over the floor and candy wrappers, even fruit peels on the floor. Westerners paint Asians with a big brush first. Then sort it out later. Americans might not even be able to sort us out. "Shanghai, is that like in Japan? I was in Japan when I was in the Navy."
Yeah, I like the bashing idea. I once confronted a Mainland xiao mei mei with a 60's guy next to her, who thought it was OK to rip each article of a newspaper as she read it and drop the articles onto the floor next to her. When I said, "That's not a good habit". The guy next to her said, "That's not a good habit?". I pointed to the mess on the floor and said, "Sure, everyone likes to sit in garbage you create next to them." The guy thought for a second and realized he will not come off looking smart. backed down.
linkasia375
...
molivan
I am a Philippine born Chinese and I dont understand why mainland Chinese would pilfered hotel items. First of all I had the impression that honesty is a Chinese culture, second, those items are dirt cheap specially in China. It is not even worth carrying it for its weight alone thats added into your luggages. What a shame. Confucius must be turning in his grave.
Peterson
Molivan: Please stop making China bashing comments. So what take advantage of the situation. The media love to exaggerate negatives happening in China and down play the success stories happening in China.

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