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Will Hotels Mail You Items That You Forget or Leave Behind?

A woman shocked when opening her luggage.

How many times have I forgotten something at a hotel? Considering I have traveled to most states in the US now as an adult on road trips, quite a few. The first thing I remember leaving behind at a condo resort in Panama City Beach, Florida was my favorite comb that I got at Six Flags Over Georgia.

The comb was quite cute with a curve and a printed handle, and I was in fourth grade. Combs have been replaced by lost cords and cables as I’ve stopped combing my hair and started writing full time. You know how it goes. All the same, here is what I have discovered about dealing with the lost and found at hotels–yes, that’s a thing!

Rules for Hotel Liability and Traveler Protections

A woman holding a hotel key.

The first thing you want to do when you arrive at a new hotel or motel is read the information they provide for you on the billing contract and in the booklet in the room. Here you will learn about all of the details of the hotel establishment.

For example, the manual or booklet will feature contact information and the address, as well as what to do if you forget an item. While you are in the room, it is the right time to read this information.

Prepare yourself for that very emergency while you have the time. If you are outside of your hotel room on your way to the airport and then you realize you forgot something, you won’t know what to do. This will ensure you have the information necessary to counteract the crisis that could develop if you do not know who to call or where to turn if you forget items at the hotel.

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Hotels Have a Lost and Found Department

A baby in a large baggage on a hotel room.

Typically, a hotel will state they have an official lost and found department that manages items left behind by hotel guests. This is similar to the elementary school where my son attended–there were always tons of gloves and hats left after school each day, and the lost and found filled up quite frequently! I imagine that it is not the case at hotels, but it could be–who’s to say?

Confirming the lost and found department at hotels, the Washington Post reports that, “at a large hotel or a chain property, valuables that are left behind are normally logged into a lost-and-found database.” More specifically, according to Marriott International spokesman John Wolf, “if an item is found by hotel employees or other guests and is of a certain value,” it is “placed in a secure location or a safe.

Guests are asked to identify and describe the lost property. When an item is claimed, the guest’s information is added to the log for our records.” This is even better news, considering it is those high-value items that are the ones we want to call and have mailed back to us when lost.

I suspect phone chargers and items stored in the refrigerator and in-room safe, as well as socks and pillows, and the odd comb and toiletries are the things that get forgotten in hotel rooms the most often. I personally have left combs, full bottles of expensive shampoo and conditioner, an iPhone charger, and possibly more in hotel rooms over the decades. It happens!

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Should You Ask Hotels for Forgotten Items?

Even if you have left behind a laptop or game player that is expensive, you could still hope to get it returned to you. Here is where you need to have clear details about the item to ensure you get it back. It would be a travesty to contact a hotel only to not have an item returned simply because you didn’t know the name of the laptop or the color of the phone case.

So pay attention to all of the items you travel with when staying in a hotel. It wouldn’t hurt to stop while packing your luggage and taking an inventory along with a photo.

The point here I want to make is that there is no value to the items that hotels will keep when forgotten by guests. If you forgot some clothing or your child’s stuffed animal, please call the hotel as soon as you can. Even those items you think might be replaceable can easily be returned, saving you both time and money, while also getting your items out of the lost and found department at the hotel.

Make an Inventory of Your Luggage

A large baggage with camera and sunglasses.

A written or typed out list of your items will help you pack more efficiently both at home and at the hotel. Take this list with you so you can confirm what items you have in the hotel once you are ready to pack and return home.

This information is especially critical if you are a business professional traveling for work. You can also use a voice dictated list on your phone in the notes app, which will work just as well, especially if you are high-tech rather than a traditional pencil and paper note taker.

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If, for example, you are a traveling nurse with medical samples, you have already conducted an inventory of your products to maintain compliance. However, most bloggers or camera videographers that do YouTube, for example, who travel with thousands of dollars in gear and equipment might not think about doing a professional inventory.

After all, nurses must do their inventory for work purposes, and a freelancer is all on their own in this department.

Again, checklist, checklist, checklist! Then, in the case that you do lose an item, you can whip out your inventory and show it to the clerk at the hotel. This will confirm your case and help assure them about your story, as well as provide them with further documentation about the item that is missing.

What You Should Do If You Forget Items?

A couple on a hotel reception area.

Be fast if you suspect you have left your computer laptop cord or a pair of eyeglasses behind at a hotel. The best way to handle this situation is to contact the front desk as soon as you discover you’ve forgotten something. Call them. Don’t email and hope corporate will deal with it. If you did not see the item when you left the hotel room, chances are the housekeeper might not either.

They may not–but the next guest will, which means they might just hang on to it and not tell anyone. However, if you call the hotel just as soon as you realize that you may have forgotten your wallet, sunglasses, or luggage, for example, you stand the best chance of getting it back.

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Is Hotel Liability an Issue for Lost Belongings

A person calling with his luggage on stairs.

If you are concerned that an item you have was stolen by the housekeeper or another guest in the hotel while you are staying, now that’s a whole different ball game. Here you are talking about legal and liability issues about whether the hotel is responsible for the missing items.

If so, you would have to prove the hotel was negligent and make a legal claim against the hotel. This is not something you are going to do in a few hours, of course, but you should know it’s an option.

Legal Match provides more information about the innkeeper’s rule; common hotel liability issues; and how to successfully win a lawsuit against a hotel when they are liable for your missing or damaged property. By the way, some of the common hotel liability issues are accidental fires and natural disasters, which are not avoidable or predictable.

If you have to leave your luggage in the hands of an attendant, such as with hotels that require guests to be shuttled to the front entrance, they might end up damaging your luggage. This would also be an example of a liability issue where you would have to sue the hotel for negligence.