You let yourself into your hotel room. Not too far from the beautifully made bed and the big screen TV you find a very comfortable looking pair of brand new slippers all laid out seemingly just begging you to slip them on. Which you do, of course, and then proceed to wear them when in your room for the rest of your stay. But what about when it’s time to check out, can the slippers come with you?
Can you take hotel slippers? Usually the answer is yes. In fact most hotels want you to take them home, otherwise they are headed for the trash, along with that half used bar of complimentary soap and the slightly squeezed complimentary toothpaste.
There are, however, a few exceptions to that rule, something we’ll touch on a bit later. And other questions to be answered too. Like,, why would a hotel give out free slippers in the first place? Where do they get all these slippers from? And do hotels ever reuse slippers if guests do leave them behind?
Why do hotels give out free slippers?
People expect certain things to be given out on a complimentary basis at any hotel, motel or B & B (and maybe even AirBnB these days) Soap, shampoo, toothpaste, all in those neat little travel sizes for sure. A drinking glass, maybe even a toothbrush. Since these are all rather inexpensive items – and they can make a guest’s stay so much better (especially if they forgot their toothpaste and all the drug stores are closed) so it makes sense that any hotelier would offer these items for free. But why slippers? As they must be a higher priced item isn’t that a little too generous?
Not every hotel or motel provides slippers for their guests of course. You usually most often find them waiting for you at the big chain hotels and even fancier versions at the five-star hotels. And while you might find the idea to be just a rather nice gesture on the part of the management there are actually some reasons why hotels give out free slippers that go beyond simply being good hosts.
Business branding is a big deal in the world of advertising and marketing right now. In a world that is flooded with all kinds of it across lots of different platforms – TV, radio, social media, video sites like YouTube, Google searches, etc. – in order to stand out in consumers’ minds, any company has to build a powerful and memorable brand.
There are lots of ways to do this of course, but one of the oldest, and yet still most successful, is word of mouth marketing, or, in this case, word of the foot.
Almost every pair of complimentary slippers you’ll find at hotels feature, at the least, the hotel’s logo, and often it’s named as well. This is not, as some people think, to mark the slippers so that you won’t steal them, but to make sure that the hotel remains top of mind when you take the slippers home.
If they are a decent pair, the chances are you’ll keep wearing them, and every time you do, you’ll be reminded of your stay. If other people see them, the hotel will then be on their mind too (if only for a few minutes) If you happen to like the slippers so much it may even prompt you to head to Yelp! or TripAdvisor to leave a positive review where in the past you may not have bothered. You may even snap a picture and post it on Instagram as a part of the holiday photo Story that almost all of us tends to create these days.
All of this was, of course, planned by the hotel. The slippers are a great example of branding and often a very successful one. And given the fact that if your slippers result in even just one extra booking it’s worth at least $100 or so to the hotel, which is a huge return on their investment in those $2 slippers.
Wearing outdoor shoes on nice carpets can, as most people know, ruin them pretty quickly, even if they are vacuumed on a regular basis. This is especially true in a hotel when a different set of people are stomping their way through a hotel room every few days. And as most hotels do try to have the nicest carpeting possible it makes sense that they want to protect it, and what better way than providing their guests with an invitation to remove their shoes – in the form of some nice comfortable slippers – as soon as they arrive? The carpets stay cleaner, the guests are comfortable and the hotel saves money on carpet cleaning and replacement. Again, a potentially big return on those $2 slippers.
Where do hotels buy slippers?
In a tiny percentage of cases a very small hotel may actually buy the slippers they intend to give out to guests at a real store. But, for the most part, the hotels buy up the slippers in bulk from a specialist supplier, usually the same one that also provides them with their towels and linens. In most cases, these turn out to be rather reasonably priced although that does, of course, depend very much on the style chosen and the quantity ordered.
Do hotels reuse slippers?
Most hotels, as we mentioned earlier, do not reuse slippers, and as such really would prefer that you take them home. And the environment would prefer that you did as well. If you do leave with the slippers the chances are good that they will be useful to you for at least a little while longer. Even if they don’t become your every day, go to choice then they will at least be useful for slipping on quickly when you run to fetch the mail or start the car in the morning. And that will keep them out of a landfill for a little while longer which can only be a good thing.
The biggest reason, however, that most hotels do not reuse slippers is a matter of hygiene. Slippers can get nastier faster than most people actually realize, especially when worn without socks. And that can be more than just a bit (a lot) gross, dirty slippers can actually be bad for your health.
Several studies have found that there can be a direct link between dirty slippers and fungal infections of the feet and toenails, and the last thing any hotel can afford is a guest heading to Yelp! to complain that they picked up a nasty infection from hotel slippers. As most hotel slippers are rather flimsy things they really cannot be laundered or sanitized and so for health and safety’s sake if you don’t take those free hotel slippers home they are going in the trash as soon as you leave.
Occasionally there are exceptions to this rule, and indeed to the ‘rule’ that you are free to take the slippers home in the first place. In some very high-end establishments, the slippers provided for guests to wear during their stay are of such high quality that they can be laundered and rendered safe for reuse. You may also have to pay if you want to take them home. This is something, however, that is usually clearly stated at check-in.
Can you take hotel towels home?
Most hotels provide their guests with some rather nice towels for use during their day. Big, fluffy bath towels and usually quite a few of them, not to mention hand towels and washcloths as well. Maybe even nicer than the ones you currently have at home. So, it’s quite understandable that it is very tempting to tuck one or two in your suitcase when you leave. But are hotels really OK with that?
For the most part, no they are not. All of these things can be laundered and safely reused on a regular basis, so most hotels would prefer they stay in the bathroom when you leave. Some may even get rather upset and try to charge you if the theft is discovered after you leave. That’s rare, as most hoteliers know that stolen towels are just one of the downsides of running a hotel, but it has been known to happen.
Can I buy more hotel slippers?
Occasionally, a hotel provides slippers that are so comfy that they do become a former guest’s everyday choice at home and when they wear out their owner wishes that they could buy some more that are just the same. But can you, as an everyday consumer, actually buy hotel slippers?
Actually yes, you can. Amazon and eBay, as well as many other smaller e-commerce sites, offer a wide range of hotel and spa slippers. They may not have the hotel’s branding, but if the style is what you liked about them in the first place then the chances are good that you will indeed find them there.