Liability of hotels

Over 70 Million tourists choose France as their holiday destination every year. Many choose a hotel as an accommodation which offers a comfortable and worry-free stay.

Nevertheless, it may happen that your belongings are stolen or damaged. Few, however, know that according to French law, hotels are liable in cases of theft or damage to guest property and are therefore obliged to cover the damages. Many hotels have insurance for this legal obligation. In France, it is common that these cases of liability are handled directly by the insurance companies.

Limited liability

The Liability of hotels is limited. Whether, and to what amount, liability occurs depends on the injured party, the damaged object, and the place of damage or theft.

The injured party

The injured party must be a guest of the hotel and must reside there no longer than 3 months. Additionally, the hotel must be outside his usual place of residents.

The hotel

The term includes “Auberges” (guesthouses) and “Chambres d’hotes” (guest rooms). Camp grounds are exempt from this liability.

The damaged property

The law refers to all movable objects that belong to the hotel guest, including the car. Not included are pets.

The theft or damage must have occurred in the sphere of influence of the hotel. This is the case if the act of damage or theft occurred in monitored areas of the hotel. In such a case, the hotel is liable without the guest needing to prove the hotel’s specific responsibility.

Monitored areas include the hotel building and vehicles belonging to the hotel (e.g. shuttle busses). The hotel parking area is included, if the area is monitored and exclusively accessed by hotel guests. In this case, the car and the belongings located inside the car are protected.

Exclusion of liability

The hotel may not, for instance, invoke that the damage or theft was committed by a third person in order to exclude liability. An exclusion of liability is only given in cases of extraordinary circumstances (force majeure) or of gross negligence on the part of the guest. Both situations must be proven by the hotel. However, in a legal dispute the court may award part of the responsibility to the guest. To avoid this, it is advisable to adhere to the common safety rules (e.g. to not leave money or other valuables lying out in the open, use hotel safes etc.).

Maximum liability amount

In case of theft or damage of property located in the car (in the hotel parking lot) of the injured party, the limit on liability is 50 times the daily price of the hotel room.

For damage or theft of the car itself and for damage or theft of property located in the hotel building, the limit of liability is 100 times the daily price of the hotel room.

Unlimited liability

The liability sum is unlimited in the case of belongings that are entrusted to the hotel-typically, when the objects are kept in the hotel safe. Usually, you will receive a receipt for belongings which you leave in the hotel safe. Make sure to receive this receipt and ask for it in case it is not handed to you. In case of theft, you then have proof of the objects which were located in the safe.

Furthermore, the liability sum is unlimited if the guest can prove that the hotel is responsible for the damage or theft.

Mandatory liability

Mandatory liability

The hotel may not exclude liability by contract. Nevertheless, there are some hotels that post that liability is excluded or limited belongings that are kept in the hotel safe. These exclusions and limitations are invalid. The hotel may not obligate their guests to have their belongings kept in the hotel safe.

In case you have objects that you wish the hotel to keep safe, the hotel may not refuse without a compelling reason. A compelling reason may be that the object presents a danger for other objects or that it is too bulky to store. The value of the object, however, may not be taken into account.

What you have to prove

The injured party must prove that the damage or stolen object was located in the sphere of influence of the hotel and that the damage or loss was caused by a third person. The proof may be made by all available means (e.g. by a witness). The injured party further needs to prove the value of the stolen or damaged object. Receipts or bills may therefore be of help.


The liability of hotels is quite extensive. Problems usually occur because the injured party is not able to present sufficient proof.

A few tips:

  • Take care not leave your personal belongings unattended.
  • Leave your valuables in the hotel safe and ask for a receipt.
  • Inform the hotel immediately in case of any damage or theft.
  • Report the theft or damage to the police as soon as possible.
  • Try to reach an agreement directly with the hotel.