Strange stays: The things we left behind

By Lee Currie Time of article published Dec 24, 2014

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Durban - Warning: Look behind you when you leave. People in the hotel industry are often privy to their guests’ little “foibles”, which can range from hilarious to downright scary.

So weird and wonderful are some of the stories that every year the Protea Hotel Group asks its general managers to submit a list of the most memorable. It makes fascinating and often mind-boggling reading.

“We know people are intrigued by some of the stories that come out of hotel rooms and we thought: why not share some of the best every year? While we do protect our guests’ privacy, some of the stories are so good you have to share them. You just can’t make them up,” says group marketing manager Nicholas Barenblatt.

From Protea’s 2013 list of weird and wonderful items left by guests in hotel rooms:

l Top of the list, says Barenblatt, was not something left behind, but someone.

“A stag party that spent the weekend at a hotel in KZN left the groom in the hotel room. He was passed out, stark naked, tied to a chair and painted Smurf blue from head to toe.”

l Then there were the vampire fangs.

“The fangs weren’t the cheap ones you find in fancy dress or novelty stores; these were dentist-fitted. The owner did come to collect them, but we didn’t ask any questions,” says Barenblatt.

l “A strange item was a beautiful Victorian dress left in a hotel room cupboard. When we contacted the guest, he swore there was no dress in the room when he stayed there.”

Other items included the back half of a pantomime horse, a hookah, a Batman suit and an assortment of false teeth.

Further afield, hotel groups in several countries were also happy to share their “weird” lists.

Forgotten items in bedrooms include:

l An inflatable lamb left behind at Travelodge (no, not New Zealand) Edinburgh, Scotland.

l Prosthetic limbs: an inexplicably high number of prosthetic limbs are left in hotel rooms. Even more baffling was a “leg” left at a New York Marriott that was never claimed.

l Breast implants were left at a hotel in Newcastle, the UK.

l A tribal wooden doll with a pop-up appendage was found in a room at the Quay Hotel in Wales – surely a challenge for the staff’s imagination.

l A live shark was found swimming in the bathtub of a hotel room in the Algarve, Portugal. A guest had apparently gone fishing and left the poor shark behind in the bath. Fortunately, the shark was returned to the sea in time to head for the deep.

l Other forgotten live creatures include dogs, birds, rabbits, kittens, a turtle (the turtle was rescued in time and became the hotel’s mascot) a pet python and a pet tarantula.

One can only admire the staff member who was given the task of removing the last two “pets”.


Items commonly left behind:

Books: More than 20 000 books were left behind at the UK group Travel Lodge, over a third of which were Fifty Shades of Grey.


Forgotten teddy bears warrant a special mention. Travelodge UK reported that an amazing 76 500 teddy bears were reunited with their distraught owners in just one year – one can only imagine a long, homeward journey with a child pining for Teddy.


While there’s no shame in reclaiming lacy underwear, single male guests may not be in a hurry to have it returned. Risqué items include blow up dolls, various adult “toys”, handcuffs, nurse’s uniforms, intimate “potions” and such like. One hotelier who chose to remain anonymous said that judging by some of the items left in hotel rooms, partners and spouses of travellers have good reason to be worried.


Wayne Coetzer, general manager at the Oyster Box Hotel said:

“One family left their senile mother and father with us while they went on holiday, when they eventually picked them up they had packed the entire room contents in their bag, including a toilet brush!”


The next time you stay in a guest house or hotel it might be a good idea to make sure you haven’t left anything behind or you may end up on the weird list.

Sunday Tribune

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