Hotel Delights: The debate over bringing a piece of your stay home

  (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

The Torah passages and Israel's holidays are full of important messages that are relevant and empower our day-today lives. Rabbi Shai Tahan, head of the Sha'arei Ezra community and head of the Arzi HaLebanon teaching house, opens the gates for us to understand these messages, from their source, in a clear way. This week: Hotel Delights - The Debate over Bringing a Piece of Your Stay Home.

After the three weeks are over many individuals use the opportunity to embark on vacations with their families. It serves as a time for reflection, but also a chance to rejuvenate and spend quality time with loved ones.

As part of their vacation plans, some people opt to stay at hotels to enjoy a comfortable and relaxing experience. Hotels often provide various amenities for their guests' convenience, such as soap, shampoos, and sometimes even complimentary tea and coffee supplies in the rooms.

However, a common question that arises among guests is whether it is permitted to take these amenities with them upon checkout, as there might be a concern that these items belong to the hotel and should remain on the premises. In this article, we aim to clarify which amenities guests are generally allowed to take when departing the hotel and which ones should be left behind.

To address this question we would like to dwell into some of the Halachot mentioned in the earlier poskim and see if we can learn from them to our case.

Taking things that the owner doesn’t mind.

The Shulchan Aruch (חו״מ סימן שנט ס״א) writes that one may take items that the owner of those items doesn't mind being taken. This principle extends to various situations. For example, it is permissible to take a straw from a haystack or a fence to clean one's teeth, as these are generally considered insignificant or readily replaceable items, and the owner likely wouldn't object to their use for such purposes.

The Aruch Hashulchan permits taking a match from someone else's matchbox or a cup of hot water for tea without explicit permission, assuming that people generally don't mind such actions.

Needless to say, if the owner expresses a clear desire against people taking items, or if one senses that the owner may not permit it, it is not allowed to take without explicit permission.

With that, we can also infer from our discussion that in a hotel setting, the assumption is generally that the hotel owner doesn't mind guests taking minor amenities, as these items are provided for guests' use during their stay.

Doubtful items.

Items that are doubtful, such as socks or slippers, where it is uncertain whether they were intended to be taken or left behind, should not be taken. In cases of doubtful gezel (theft), one should refrain from taking such items, as it is forbidden to take something that may belong to someone else without explicit permission. 

Food for the way.

The breakfast room offers a selection of cereals and fruits for guests to enjoy. Are guests allowed to take them from the breakfast room when they leave the hotel, or do they need to consume their breakfast exclusively within the hotel premises without taking any food items when departing? 

As the food provided in the hotel's breakfast room is included as part of the guest's stay and has been paid for, it is considered to belong to the guest. Therefore, the guest is free to decide what to do with the breakfast items. Similar to a situation in a restaurant where a person asks to have their leftover food wrapped to take home, the hotel guest may also pack the cereals and fruits from the breakfast room to take with them for their journey. The hotel respects the guest's choice and ensures that they have a pleasant and convenient breakfast experience during their stay.

Taking for others.

But what about taking those things for others? For example, may one take the amenities to give a souvenir to his friend, or since it was given only for his own use, he can only use it himself?

Indeed, we can draw some insights from the words of the Rema(אה״ע סימן כח ס״ז) , who noted that a guest is allowed to take his portion of food and give it to a woman as a token to be married. This ruling suggests that under certain circumstances, items intended for personal use can be transferred to others as gifts or tokens of affection.

Similarly, in the context of hotel amenities, if the hotel's policies allow guests to take these items for personal use or even for the purpose of sharing them as souvenirs, then it would be comparable to the situation mentioned by the Rema. In such cases, it would be permissible to take the amenities with the intention of giving them to others as tokens or mementos.

The Maharit (ח״א סימן קנ) explains that one must be mindful that only those items he received for his own stay are included in the permission to give to others. However, he may not request additional amenities from the front desk or the cleaning staff with the intention of giving them to other people.

Being responsible for the room and its contents.

When one enters his hotel room, he must recognize that he assumes the role of a watcher over the room and its belongings, becoming fully responsible for everything within it. This includes being mindful of any children accompanying him, ensuring they do not cause any damage to the room or its contents. If any items are broken or damaged due to the actions of his children, he must take responsibility and be prepared to cover the costs for repair or replacement. (פתחי חושן הלכות פקדון ושאלה פ״ב הערה מט)

Responsibility is emphasized by the hotel management when guests rent a room, and it is commonly demonstrated by the hotel's practice of authorizing a certain amount of money on the guest's credit card. This action signifies that the hotel holds the guest accountable for the room and its contents during their stay. By doing so, the hotel ensures that guests are aware of their obligation to take care of the room and any potential damages that might occur. It fosters a sense of mutual trust and responsibility between the hotel and its guests, promoting a harmonious and respectful stay.


The general rule of thumb is that guests may take those amenities that the hotel doesn't mind being taken. However, items that the hotel clearly intends for guests to leave behind should not be taken. 

Items like soap and shampoos are generally considered as part of the guest's personal use during their stay, so it is generally acceptable to take them when departing the hotel. However, certain items, such as towels, pillowcases, robes, and other reusable items, are provided for the guests' use during their stay but are not intended for taking home. These items belong to the hotel and are meant to be used by future guests.

Upon entering a hotel room, guests take on the responsibility of safeguarding the room and its belongings, including being mindful of any accompanying children to prevent damages. If any items are broken or damaged due to the children's actions, the guest must take responsibility and cover the associated costs.

This article was written in cooperation with Shuva Israel