There’s not much left in travel that comes for free. Meals on planes, checking bags, and internet access at hotels all carry (pretty steep) charges. So, you can hardly blame people for filling their pockets with the few comps that pop up from time to time. Bad etiquette or not, I’ve snagged extra pieces of fruit and plenty of bagels from the complimentary breakfast buffets at hotels so that I have something to snack on later. My desk drawer is full of pens emblazoned with hotel names and logos. Things get a little blurrier, however, when it comes to the shampoos, conditioners, and other products that hotels supply. Are those simply for in-room use, or is it OK to stock up on the tiny bottles to take home? Is it poor form to have housekeeping replenish those supplies every single morning of your stay so that you can bring home enough to last you weeks at home? That’s exactly what one traveler asked “The Ethicist” at The New York Times Magazine.
As a point of disclosure, I’ll mention that the “S.B.” who authored this letter happens to be a dear friend of mine. I have long been aware of her philosophy on hotel shampoos (which, perhaps, makes me complicit in her “crime spree”). However, I don’t really see it being even a faux pas. Whether you use that shampoo at the hotel or at home, it’s your to use. The Ethicist seems to disagree. Now, I do think that having the housekeeping staff replenish the supplies daily so that you can bring home a six pack of toiletries might be a bit excessive (and, at that point, dishonest), but I fail to see anything wrong with bringing home the initial bottle that was provided in your room.
The Ethicist has weighed in, and I’ve shared my two cents. What about you? Is it OK to take home the hotel shampoo? How much is too much when it comes to stuffing your bags with complimentary supplies? Does any of this count as stealing? Share your thoughts in the comments.