Lonely Planet Writer

Are hotels about to ditch complimentary miniature toiletry bottles?

Many hotel guests love to collect miniature toiletry bottles provided in their bathrooms, but this little perk of staying away from home could soon come to an end. Some chains have announced that they will be replacing the miniatures in favour of larger bottles or wall-mounted dispensers of shampoo and conditioner in certain rooms in the US, and have cited budget and environmental concerns for this decision.

Some hotels are swapping mini shampoo and conditioner bottles for larger bottles. Image: Andres/Getty Images

According to The Wall Street Journal, the InterContinental Hotel Group and Marriott Hotels will no longer be using the small bottles, and will be switching to larger bottles or wall-mounted dispensers over the coming months. Marriott is introducing larger bottles in wall-mounted racks in 450 hotels at five brands, and intends to expand this to 1500 US hotels by January 2019. InterContinental is installing wall-mounted bulk dispensers at four brands this year, and a fifth brand, Kimpton, is already using large bottles.

Guests always love miniature toiletries in hotel bathrooms. Image: Glowimages

There are pros and cons to the decision. The pros include that the move will reduce the amount of plastic waste generated by the miniature bottles, which will be good from an environmental perspective. And obviously, it’s more economically prudent for the hotels as it would cost less to provide toiletries in bulk. The cons include that the miniatures look classy on the bathroom shelves and they add to the customer experience. Some customers have already complained that installing wall-mounted racks cheapens the luxury of a hotel stay. And while we’re not sanctioning it, that very act of smuggling a few extra toiletries home is a big attraction for a surprising number of people.

Some hotels are moving away from using miniature toiletries. Image: Jeffrey Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images

It will be interesting to see if other hotel chains follow suit, and if the practice spreads outside the US. If so, the days of trying to nab a few extra miniatures from the chambermaid’s cart to bring home might be well and truly over.