Do Hotels Charge For Missing Towels? Everything You Need To Know

Going on vacation and staying in a hotel can be a fun and relaxing experience. However, at checkout you may find additional charges on your bill that come as an unpleasant surprise. One of the most common extra fees is for missing or damaged towels.

If you’re wondering whether hotels really charge for unreturned towels, this comprehensive guide has the answers you need.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Most hotels do charge a fee if towels go missing from your room during your stay. These fees typically range from $2-$20 per towel. However, the exact policy and charges vary greatly between hotels.

Why Do Hotels Charge for Missing Towels?

Hotels charge for missing towels for several reasons. Let’s explore some of the main reasons below:

Towels Are Expensive to Replace

Towels may seem like simple items, but they can be quite expensive for hotels to replace. Hotels often invest in high-quality towels that are designed to withstand frequent use and regular washing. These towels are made from durable materials and are designed to maintain their softness and absorbency over time.

Replacing towels can be a significant expense for hotels, especially if they have a large number of rooms and a high turnover rate of guests. Therefore, hotels charge for missing towels to recoup some of the costs associated with replacing them.

Prevent Guests from Stealing Towels

One of the main reasons hotels charge for missing towels is to deter guests from stealing them. Unfortunately, towel theft is a common problem in the hospitality industry. Some guests may be tempted to take towels as souvenirs or simply because they think they won’t be missed.

By charging for missing towels, hotels send a clear message to guests that taking towels without permission is not acceptable. This helps to discourage theft and ensures that towels are available for all guests to use during their stay.

Offset Other Linen Replacement Costs

Hotels not only provide towels to their guests but also other linens such as bed sheets, pillowcases, and bathrobes. All of these items can wear out over time and need to be replaced regularly to maintain the high standards of cleanliness and comfort expected by guests.

Charging for missing towels helps hotels offset the costs of replacing not only towels but also other linens. This allows hotels to continue providing guests with fresh and clean linens without significantly increasing their operational expenses.

What is the Typical Fee for a Missing Towel?

When it comes to missing towels in hotels, fees can vary depending on the hotel brand and location. While some hotels might not charge anything, others may have specific policies in place to handle such situations.

It’s important to note that hotels charge for missing towels as a way to offset the cost of replacing them and maintain the quality of their amenities for all guests.

Fees Vary by Hotel Brand and Location

Each hotel brand and location may have different policies and fees regarding missing towels. It’s always a good idea to check with the specific hotel you’re staying at to understand their policy. Some hotels might have a flat fee for any missing towel, while others might charge per towel.

Furthermore, certain hotels might have different fees depending on the towel size or type. For example, luxury hotels may have higher fees for missing bath towels compared to hand towels.

$2-$5 Per Towel is Typical

On average, the typical fee for a missing towel in hotels ranges from $2 to $5 per towel. However, it’s important to remember that this is just an average estimate and fees can vary. Some hotels might charge a flat fee of $2 or $3 for any missing towel, while others may charge $5 or more.

These fees are put in place to cover the cost of purchasing new towels and to discourage guests from taking hotel property.

Higher End Hotels Charge More

Higher-end hotels tend to charge higher fees for missing towels compared to budget or mid-range hotels. This is because higher-end hotels often provide more luxurious and higher-quality towels, which are more expensive to replace.

These hotels also strive to maintain a certain standard of service and amenities for their guests, which includes ensuring that all towels are accounted for. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for higher-end hotels to charge $5 or more for each missing towel.

It’s always a good idea to be mindful of hotel policies and respect the property provided during your stay. Missing towels can result in unexpected charges on your hotel bill, so it’s best to take care of the towels and return them before checking out.

Remember, it’s not just about the cost of the towel, but also about maintaining a positive relationship with the hotel and future guests.

Ways Hotels Try to Prevent Missing Towels

Inform Guests of Fees Upfront

Hotels understand that accidents happen, and towels may occasionally go missing. To curb this issue, many hotels now inform their guests about the potential charges for missing towels upfront. By including this information in the check-in process or on their websites, hotels set clear expectations and encourage guests to be mindful of their belongings.

Conduct Linen Inventories During Stay

Some hotels have implemented a proactive approach to prevent missing towels by conducting linen inventories during a guest’s stay. Housekeeping staff may count and record the number of towels in each room regularly, ensuring that all items are accounted for.

This practice not only helps prevent theft but also allows hotels to maintain an accurate inventory for restocking purposes.

Add Security Tags to High-Theft Items

In an effort to deter guests from taking towels, hotels have started using security tags on high-theft items. These tags are discreetly attached to the towels and are designed to set off an alarm if they are not properly removed or deactivated at the front desk.

This measure acts as a deterrent and helps prevent towels from being removed without authorization.

According to a study conducted by the American Hotel & Lodging Association, implementing these preventive measures has led to a decrease in the number of missing towels in hotels by 30% on average. This not only saves hotels money but also ensures that there are enough towels available for all guests.

While most hotels charge for missing towels, it’s important to note that policies can vary. Some hotels may choose to waive fees for minor instances, while others may charge a flat fee per towel. To avoid any surprises, guests are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the hotel’s specific policies regarding missing towels before their stay.

By taking these preventative measures and informing guests of potential fees, hotels strive to provide a positive experience for their guests while also protecting their inventory and minimizing losses.

Policies on Replacement Towel Charges by Hotel Chain

Marriott’s Policy on Missing Towels

Marriott is known for its exceptional customer service and attention to detail. When it comes to missing towels, Marriott understands that accidents happen. If a guest accidentally takes a towel, Marriott usually doesn’t charge for it.

However, if towels are consistently missing from a room, Marriott reserves the right to charge a replacement fee. This policy is in place to deter guests from intentionally taking hotel property.

Hilton’s Policy on Unreturned Towels

Hilton Hotels and Resorts also have a policy regarding unreturned towels. If a guest accidentally takes a towel, Hilton usually doesn’t charge for it. However, if a guest intentionally takes a towel or repeatedly fails to return towels, Hilton reserves the right to charge a replacement fee.

Hilton aims to provide a comfortable and enjoyable stay for all guests, and this policy helps ensure that the necessary amenities are available to everyone.

Hyatt’s Rules About Towel Theft or Loss

Hyatt Hotels has a clear policy when it comes to towel theft or loss. If a guest accidentally takes a towel, Hyatt typically doesn’t charge for it. However, if a guest intentionally takes a towel or repeatedly fails to return towels, Hyatt may charge a replacement fee.

Hyatt values its guests and wants to provide a positive experience for everyone. By enforcing this policy, they can ensure that all guests have access to the amenities they need during their stay.

It’s important to note that these policies may vary from hotel to hotel within each hotel chain. It’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the specific policies of the hotel you are staying at to avoid any surprises or misunderstandings.

How to Avoid Charges for Missing Towels

Double Check Your Room Before Checkout

One of the best ways to avoid any charges for missing towels is to double check your room before you check out. Take a few moments to thoroughly inspect your room and make sure you haven’t left anything behind, including towels.

Check the bathroom, the closet, and any other storage areas where towels may have been used or stored. By taking the time to do this, you can ensure that you haven’t accidentally left a towel behind and avoid any unnecessary charges.

Notify Staff Promptly About Any Missing Items

If you do happen to notice that a towel is missing from your room, it’s important to notify the hotel staff promptly. Don’t wait until you’re checking out to bring it to their attention. Instead, call the front desk or speak with a hotel staff member as soon as you realize the towel is missing.

By doing so, you can let them know about the issue and give them a chance to locate the missing towel before assuming it has been taken.

Be Upfront if You Accidentally Damaged a Towel

Accidents happen, and if you accidentally damage a towel during your stay, it’s best to be upfront about it. If you try to hide the damage or pretend it wasn’t your fault, you may end up being charged for the missing towel.

Instead, let the hotel staff know what happened and offer to pay for the damaged towel if necessary. Most hotels appreciate honesty and are more likely to work with you to find a solution that is fair for both parties.


Getting slapped with surprise fees can put a damper on an otherwise enjoyable hotel experience. By understanding policies around charging for missing towels, you can avoid unnecessary charges on your final bill.

Most hotels do impose fees ranging from $2-$20 or more per missing towel. By double checking your room before checkout, informing staff of any issues, and taking care with linens, you can typically dodge these annoying extra costs.

Knowing hotel policies on replacement charges ahead of time also helps avoid unpleasant surprises. With this knowledge, you can relax and enjoy your hotel stay with peace of mind.

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