What Your Hotel's Toiletries Are Telling You

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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:

Aveda

Check out immediately. But take heart: You’ll feel like you just stepped out of a salon.

Molton Brown

You’re in a “luxury” hotel, not a luxury hotel.

Molton Brown products at Palácio Do Governador in Lisbon, Portugal
Molton Brown products at Palácio Do Governador in Lisbon, Portugal - Photo by Hideaway Report editor

L’Occitane

You’ll be comfortable here, as long as you don’t expect a lot of creativity or flair.

L’Occitane products at the Park Hyatt in Hamburg, Germany
L’Occitane products at the Park Hyatt in Hamburg, Germany - Photo by Hideaway Report editor

Etro

Creativity and flair are abundant. Comfort, alas, may be an afterthought.

Etro products in a stylishly cramped bath at the Inn at the Roman Forum in Rome, Italy
Etro products in a stylishly cramped bath at the Inn at the Roman Forum in Rome, Italy - Photo by Hideaway Report editor

C.O. Bigelow

You’re staying in a charming Provençal farmhouse, whether you like it or not.

Antica Farmacista

Grapefruit = luxury, apparently.

Malin+Goetz

If you’re not self-consciously stylish, you’ll be self-conscious at this hotel.

Hotel-Branded Products

You’ve got yourself a unique boutique. But c’est chic or le freak?

Floris

Hopefully you like equestrian prints and etchings of schooners.

Floris products at Dukes London in London, England
Floris products at Dukes London in London, England - Photo by Hideaway Report editor

Bulgari

You probably overpaid, but comfort is assured.

A parade of Bulgari products at Villa Ursula in Dubrovnik, Croatia
A parade of Bulgari products at Villa Ursula in Dubrovnik, Croatia - Photo by Hideaway Report editor

Hermès

You probably overpaid, and everyone will know it. These products are fragrant with a capital “F.”

Aqua di Parma

You most certainly overpaid, but obviously money is no object. Live it up!

By Hideaway Report Staff
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