Hotels' Strangest Forgotten Items
The internationally famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma has stayed in hundreds, perhaps even thousands of hotel rooms during his three-decade-long music career. So there was nothing immediately unusual about his visit to New York City’s Peninsula Hotel on October 16, 1999.
Nothing unusual, that is, until the taxi Ma had taken to the hotel after an appearance at Carnegie Hall pulled away—with his irreplaceable $2.5-million cello in the trunk.
“I made a stupid mistake and I just left without it,” Ma explained sheepishly the next day to tabloid reporters, who had jumped on the story in a New York minute. In the meantime, though, Peninsula Hotel staffers had put on their own virtuoso performance, contacting officials all over town in order to track down the missing instrument (which was safely returned to Ma without incident).
Not every left-behind item requires quite the level of panic that Ma’s forgotten cello created. But hotel staffers around the world have all had to figure out how to reunite mislaid possessions—sometimes truly strange ones—with their owners.
While many of us who travel have probably left behind our house keys, umbrella, or scarf at least once (and blamed jet lag—or just being “in vacation mode”), how many people do you know who have left an entire haul of neatly wrapped Christmas presents in their hotel room? Or, for that matter, a cheeky French maid’s costume? Or a briefcase full of cash?
No matter how bizarre their findings, however, hotel staffers are professionally trained to keep their judgments in check. Amy Finsilver, the general manager at Boston’s XV Beacon Hotel, says she demands that her employees adhere to a strict policy of discretion. “Nothing that ends up in our lost and found—short of a space alien—shocks us,” Finsilver says. “We’ve seen it all.”
From a sea of forgotten toothbrushes and cell phone chargers, we’ve collected the strangest found-item stories from hotels around the world. Here’s hoping yours don’t ever make the list.
French Maid OutfitWestinKierland Resort & Spa, Scottsdale, AZ
No irony was lost on Carlos Romero, the Westin Kierland’s director of housekeeping, when one of the hotel’s cleaning staff found this saucy costume left behind in October 2009. “It was hanging perfectly in the closet,” Romero recalled. “We’ve come to find out it was used for a costume party. It was funny because of the situation: a maid costume left behind [for a maid to find].” Definitely a cleaner story than some might imagine.
False TeethFourSeasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, Scottsdale, AZ
This famous golf resort has discovered all manner of—ahem—necessary, health-related items over the years (including crutches, canes, and a retainer). But a set of false teeth—discovered earlier this year by housekeeping while cleaning a guest-room bathroom—took the cake. Luckily, the hotel was able to overnight the dentures back to their embarrassed owner (who, we assume, could then take cake and eat it too).
Bag of MarijuanaOpus Hotel, Vancouver, BC
The hip, designy Opus is no stranger to guests with boho tendencies; perhaps that’s why General Manager Nicholas Gandossi reacted with such levity when his staff made this discovery in 2006. “We found a bag of pot stored in a cubbyhole in the back stairwell. Upon sparking one up—er, I mean flushing it down the toilet—we reflected on who might have stored it there…and whether a guest had stashed it for his next trip.”
Luggage—All of ItAdara Hotel, Whistler, BC
While this sceney ski-resort hotel attracts plenty of affluent travelers, there was only one family of jet-setters decadent enough to check out leaving all their luggage and expensive ski equipment behind. According to Adara’s manager at the time, Colin Hedderson, the family of four decided mid-stay that they were going to Las Vegas—and left the next morning, without any of the possessions they’d brought. When the Adara contacted the breezy guests, they simply told the hotel to donate everything to a local Whistler charity (as the hotel does with any item left for more than 90 days).
Gun and AmmoRed Pump Inn,Lancashire, England
While straightening up a newly departed guest’s room in November 2008, a housekeeper at this pastoral English inn found a rifle and boxes of shells. Inn owner Martina Myerscough said that though the housekeeper was flustered by the find, it actually wasn’t as sinister as it might seem; plenty of guests use the property as a hunting lodge. Myerscough was able to send the gear to the forgetful guest via Royal Mail (whose representatives, she said, “didn’t even raise an eyebrow when we explained the content!”).
Love LetterLeMeurice, Paris
This opulent Parisian property lived up to its romantic reputation when, according to one of the hotel’s managers, a housemaid discovered a forgotten love note and bottle of perfume in April 2009. The distraught object of affection called the hotel to reclaim the sentimental note, which was sent to her along with the fragrance (aptly, it was Cacharel’s Amor Amor).
Rabbi CostumeHyatt Regency NewportHotel & Spa, Goat Island, RI
The family-friendly hotel has had some oddball (and costumed?) guests. In the last year alone, here are some paraphernalia left at the property: a complete rabbi costume (including hat and beard), a fake badge that reads “Don’t Mess with Texas Secret Service,” and a Connecticut license plate. Surprisingly, none of the guests ever attempted to reclaim their priceless possessions.
Christmas PresentsXV Beacon, Boston
Amy Finsilver, the XV Beacon’s general manager, found herself playing Santa to a harried family over the Christmas holidays in 2001. “The parents had bought a bunch of presents while in Boston and hid the wrapped items under their bed,” Finsilver remembers. On Christmas Eve the family received a dire phone call and had to make an emergency departure—forgetting their hidden gifts. Since the hotel couldn’t ship the items to the family in time for the holiday, one staffer volunteered to drive the eight hours to the family’s home in Washington, D.C.—and arrived in time for breakfast on Christmas morning.
Marriage LicenseHyatt RegencyColumbus, OH
What a way to start a marriage! The important new document was found by the cleaning staff in the Hyatt Regency Columbus. The certificate was quickly returned to the newlyweds. No word as to whether the pair has since left their wedding rings behind.
$16,000 in CashHyatt RegencyChicago
In March 2009, upon pulling up to the hotel in a hired car, a guest left a briefcase filled with $16,000 in the back seat. Luckily, the trusty doorman, Joe Lemon, knew the driver and was able to return the briefcase (and all the money). Says General Manager Patrick Donelly, “The most unsuspecting items that may appear to be of minimal value sometimes end up being the most rewarding to return.”