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About the towels, we forgive you. Absorbing Tales of Borrowed Towels

Everyone in the hotel and motel business has seen linen supply decline at one time or another. Towels and bathmats, etc., tend to mysteriously disappear, following guests home after visits. Estimates are that one in five Americans has pinched a hotel towel. In fact, Holiday Inn Hotels estimates a loss of 560,000 towels a year. Turning a negative into a positive, Holiday Inn declared a Towel Amnesty Day. Hotel patrons were invited to come clean and share personal stories about how Holiday Inn linens found ‘new homes.’

Stories were published in the book, “About the towels, we forgive you.” And for each story submitted to the book, a contribution was made to Give Kids The World, an organization for children with life-threatening illnesses. To date, $10,000 has been collected for the charity started by Henri Landwirth, a Holiday Inn franchisee.

The following stories and photographs are reprinted with permission from Holiday Inn Hotels and Resorts, © 2004 by InterContinental Hotels Group, all rights reserved.


Back when Kemmons Wilson first started Holiday Inn, my dad and mom made their first stay at the hotel in Memphis. My dad, Harry Isaacs, was so excited since it was their first stay in a hotel. After they returned, we went to see them, and he showed us the two towels they had monogrammed with his initials, “H I.” I said, “Dad, that stands for Holiday Inn.” He said, “No son, that stands for Harry Isaacs.” They hung their towels on their shower rack until his death.

H. Leonard –
Nashville, TN

When I was a GI, I got a Holiday Inn towel from a friend. We were in shop vans. We had our own schedule. One morning, our brigade commander came to our van at 0700 and found everybody sleeping. He was not pleased, and after he turned on the lights, he roared, “What the hell do you think this is? A Holiday Inn?” He then turned to the wall and saw my Holiday Inn towel hanging there. I never saw anyone turn so purple. He stormed out without saying another word and did not bother us anymore.

William –
Sparta, MI


We spent our wedding night at the Holiday Inn in Arlington, TX in 1974. The best man followed us to the hotel and took my husband’s tux to return it in the morning. He also took his suitcase as a joke. The next morning the only thing my husband had to wear home was a little pair of black bikini underwear. He wrapped himself in a towel and I pulled the car as close as I could and he made a run for it. I’ve kept that towel with our wedding mementoes.

Linda –
Torrance, CA

I have a 1979 towel from the hotel located nearest Disney in Florida, where we honeymooned. Hubby ordered room service breakfast while I was in the shower. I came out with just a towel wrapped around my wet hair. Our young waiter was more shocked than me. He dropped our hot bowl of grits, turned three shades of red, and couldn’t get out the door fast enough! To this day, we still crack up when Hubby brings me breakfast in bed while wearing that Holiday Inn towel wrapped around his head.

Joyce –
Baton Rouge, LA

I used to travel extensively for business. One day while I was checking into a Holiday Inn, I needed to retrieve my credit card from my suitcase, which was sitting on the counter in full view of the clerk. As I was
opening the suitcase, I realized the first thing she would see was my Holiday Inn towel, so I grabbed my wallet and slammed my suitcase closed with my tie half in the suitcase. The clerk said, “I see you won’t be needing extra towels today,” and smiled.

David –
Reno, NV

Sitting on a beautiful beach in the Elizabeth Islands, I admired a large yacht, from which a group of swimmers were enjoying themselves. Suddenly I noticed they were all using Holiday Inn towels. I announced loudly that the owner must be about the cheapest soul alive, to own a boat like that and use stolen towels. As the wind shifted, the boat swung on its anchor so I could read the name – NO VACANCY!

Richard –
Pompano Beach, LA

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Fire At Prison; No Injuries

CARLISLE, Ind. — Firefighters from several fire departments battled a laundry building fire for two-hours at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility before extinguishing the flames. No deaths or injuries were reported. The cause of the blaze is unknown.