The mattress-stealing, luxury hotel culture that is German

Some hotel guests wake so rested at luxury properties that they purchase the same kind of mattress they slept on. Then there are those patrons who steal them.

At least 48 mattresses have disappeared from guest rooms in the more than 1,100 four- and five-star European hotels surveyed by German review site Wellness Heaven. Guests at five-star hotels were 8% more likely to take mattresses, perhaps because they were more comfy, according to the survey.

That’s far less than the nearly 900 towels or 753 bathrobes that hotels say went missing. Hangers, pens, cutlery, cosmetics and blankets were among the other most commonly lifted items. Personal electronics and small appliances, including tablet computers, hair dryers, coffee makers and TV sets were also reported missing from hotel rooms across the properties.

…He [Keilmann] estimates that roughly $60 million worth of mattresses are lifted from hotels worldwide each year.

Here is the full story, and it seems you can get away with such thefts because the hotels are reluctant to report them and get the police involved.  (By the way, might some of those mattresses be the famous German Schlafsacks?)

For the pointer I thank the excellent Michael Rosenwald.


A big tip and a pickup truck.

As far as I can tell, this data was collected by asking the hotels, not guests. How on Earth does a guest steal a mattress?

More likely an inside job.

I always take the shampoo, etc. because its built into the price anyway, but doesn't the hotel just charge your credit card for missing items that are resuable, like bath robes, etc.?

Yep. This is certainly employee theft.

Locally, I've noticed immigrants with what you might call an entrepreneurial benefit, may exploit some previously unnoticed or improbable-seeming opportunity for crime. Most obviously, the Chinese nationals who successfully operate daytime brothels in the middle of strip centers - why did people not do this before? They imagined people would cop to it and report them? But of course the social fabric that would create that expectation is long gone. Notice; know; a long way from caring one way or another. Inevitably, when such places makes the news, and people temporarily get spun up about "sexual trafficking" - it is not the neighbors who turned the madam in, it's an unusually initiative-taking cop watching reddit or yelp posts about the services offered at massage parlors; or - in one loony instance - the city water department, after condoms flushed down the drain backed up the whole center. Or: another instance, a "theft ring" that turned out to be a couple of enterprising Nigerian immigrants stole many thousands worth of appliances from new homes or nearly-completed homes that (obviously) had no security systems in place yet. There was a sense this was not quite kosher, as there are no doubt plenty of homegrown thieves who might have done this earlier, but apparently did not, though the appliances in high-end homes had been much fancier than "builder-grade" for a long time in this boomtown. The newcomers cleverly took advantage of a perhaps-lazy expectation that such a brazen, time-consuming theft could not possibly go unnoticed - a holdover from an earlier day. It's clear to me that the entire parade from "And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street" could go by in my neighborhood at noon and I would be the only one home to notice, or curious enough to investigate (though to be fair, the NextDoor site would be abuzz later that night with people posting grainy videos* which have never yet, to my knowledge, resulted in the collaring of a perp, but only a generally simmering resentment). That, and just being willing to work harder than the average thief, perhaps: so immigrant spirit at its most admirable.

*As they did, this week, of the outfit that went round in the pre-dawn hours and stole everybody's mail. Everybody was furious, but I was most astonished to learn that my neighbors do not collect their mail** the day that it arrives, instead leaving it in the box overnight. So this is a crime it would not have even occurred to me to commit. Now I know, and will remember, if I should ever break bad.

**I mean, admittedly the mail is not the delight it once was, by any means - but I've still never shaken the feeling of excitement when the postman passes - like, someone's left a surprise for me in that box! - like Boo Radley and Jem and Scout and the hole in the tree ...

> entrepreneurial bent, not benefit - though of course we all benefit

"I always take the shampoo, etc."

I usually take a pen, I rarely take the shampoo these days because I've got so many of them rattling around in my bathroom.

Ok, I'll bite: how many mattresses is $60 million dollars worth of mattresses?

Last week the CEO of Home Depot blamed the opioid crisis for the rising number of thefts.

Apparently theft costs American retailers some 51 billion a year.

As opposed to software piracy, which costs publishers the economic output of a type 2 Kardashev civilization.

No, people, all this garbage is in the price: Prepaid. Like Breakfast for $160, room is free. :-)

It seems we see the limits of Tyler's famous speed reading ability here. A German review site conducts a survey of European hotels. The European hotels say that sometimes mattresses are stolen. And in the article the manager of a British luxury hotel describes how a mattress went missing. A more accurate title would be "The mattress-stealing, luxury hotel culture that is European".

If it is lower level employees stealing these items, it probably isn't European either, but African, Turk, and Arab.

At least in my experience that is the profile of most lower level employees in European hotels.

I can't see how they can get the mattresses out, just moving one from one room to another is difficult, how the hell do you get one out of a hotel and onto a truck?

A Schlafsack is just the German word for a sleeping bag. They are used for camping and music festivals. You would never see them in a hotel.

Maybe Tyler meant Fusssack, which is what babies often hang out in. Admittedly, not very famous, and not really something expected in a five star hotel - but then, just a moment's thought would also lead one to the idea that five star hotels only have sleeping bags for the extremely rare guest who prefers sleeping on the floor.

I am sure Tyler meant to write Schlafsäcken as he does have a PhD.

We all saw the Hangover. The missing mattresses are on the roof.

We need a UK election post so we can properly haurange Tyler Cowen about being a LibDem supporter.

Some American hotel chains have their own line of linens and towels and robes. I suspect that when people stay at a nice hotel they derive comfort not experienced at home and associate that comfort with the linens, towels, robes, etc. Of course, guests have been stealing from hotels since there were hotels. My father owned a hotel, and I can confirm that many people who stay in hotels (meaning almost everyone) are nasty creatures. One wonders if their homes are as nasty as the condition they leave the hotel rooms. My father also owned restaurants, and I can confirm that most people who eat in restaurants (meaning almost everyone) are nasty creatures. My low country community has an annual chili contest for charity, and one year I was on a team. Watching people slurp chili, with the evidence all over their faces and clothes, was a reminder that most people are nasty creatures. It would not surprise me if some of the commenters at this blog are the same nasty creatures who stay at hotels, eat in restaurants, and slurp chili.

I feel your pain.

Nice to have you visit. I do appreciate your comments, written from a different perspective than mine, yours from inside out while mine are outside in. Don't stay away so long next time.

I cant get past the stupidity of this: "At least 48 mattresses have disappeared from guest rooms in the more than 1,100 four- and five-star European hotels"

So it is either 0.0436... mattresses stolen per hotel, or that 48 or fewer hotels (of more than 1100) had a mattress stolen.

Why not? Hotel mattresses are notoriously antiseptic and clean!

Much as I enjoyed the media's fun with the presumably-invented notion of 1%-er robber barons stealing mattresses, American tourists, for once, must be blameless. I can't see them stuffing a mattress into the overhead compartment on the return flight home.

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