Does it really matter if a hotel’s hand cream is L’Occitane or Labo? One could be forgiven for thinking that it’s distinction without a difference, but one would be wrong. Bottles of toiletries are like little tattletales, spilling the beans about corner-cutting, perhaps, or a corporate cookie-cutter mindset. Bath products serve as a sort of code, telling you what sort of experience you can expect at a hotel.
I always start out rooting for a hotel that I anonymously evaluate. Although the delights of assembling a “Favorite Cocktail Bars in XX City” list cannot be denied, nothing gives me greater pleasure than when I find a hideaway I can wholeheartedly recommend. And so when I arrive in a room, one of the first things I do is head to the bath. The sight of certain brands of toiletries always brings a sigh of relief, whereas others inspire an anxious shortness of breath.
Bath products serve as a sort of code, telling you what sort of experience you can expect at a hotel.
After years of incognito hotel investigations, I’ve learned a thing or two about what an accommodation’s bath products are saying. Here is a handy translation guide for 12 commonly encountered brands:
Check out immediately. But take heart: You’ll feel like you just stepped out of a salon.
You’re in a “luxury” hotel, not a luxury hotel.
You’ll be comfortable here, as long as you don’t expect a lot of creativity or flair.
Creativity and flair are abundant. Comfort, alas, may be an afterthought.
You’re staying in a charming Provençal farmhouse, whether you like it or not.
Grapefruit = luxury, apparently.
If you’re not self-consciously stylish, you’ll be self-conscious at this hotel.
You’ve got yourself a unique boutique. But c’est chic or le freak?
Hopefully you like equestrian prints and etchings of schooners.
You probably overpaid, but comfort is assured.
You probably overpaid, and everyone will know it. These products are fragrant with a capital “F.”
You most certainly overpaid, but obviously money is no object. Live it up!