Having spent the last 20-odd years as a travel writer and editor, and stayed in more hotels than I can count, I’m still a devoted fan. I even indulged a personal passion for them by launching this website, to showcase a selection which started life as something other than hotels. So, one way and another, I can answer a lot of questions about hotels. Ask me Which one where? When best to go? Which room to choose? View? Pool? Spa? I’m at your service.
And what’s the question I’m most often asked? This one: “Is it okay to take the toiletries?”
Funny, isn’t it, how little appeal even a really big bottle of shampoo or shower gel has at home, and how much appeal a teeny-weeny one has when it’s in a hotel bathroom? The same goes for bars of soap. At home, don’t we all use liquid handwash anyway? Yet how sweet in your en-suite to find, wrapped in delicately pleated tissue, a pretty little disc of… well, soap. Essentially unisex and inoffensive – for which read super-subtle scent, if any – it’s really nothing to get into a lather about. And neither is the issue of whether or not you’re ‘allowed’ to take the toiletries when you leave. Yes. You are. “Are they free, or will I be charged?” No, they’re not free; hotels have to buy them; but you’re paying for the room, so you’ve been charged already. Whether you take them or not.
There are some ground rules, though. It’s not the done thing to swipe every miniature in sight on the first night and stow them in your luggage, so they get replaced the next day and you get to take two home. Shame on you. Nicking the razor and shaving soap when you’ve brought, and used, your own is not on either.
If you’ve got a question for me now, I think I know what it is: Do I take the toiletries? Actually, no, not usually. Over the years I’ve realised that unfamiliar shampoo and conditioner can mean Bad Hair Days. And because I’m so often away from home, I find the familiar smell of my favourite shower gel rather comforting, so I carry it with me. But I’m no more immune to the lure of prettily presented and effectively performing products than the next woman, and one brand inevitably finds its way into my bag. Take a bow, Molton Brown!
PAT RICHARDSON Founder, HotelsThatWereNot.com