Manners & Misdemeanors

Who Hoards Those Toiletries From Five-Star Hotels?

Wherever you are in the world and whichever hotel you’re staying at, there’s one thing you have in common with your fellow guests: You’re a hotel-goodies hoarder.
ILLUSTRATOR SANDY ARANAS
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Hands up, who’s ever taken miniature toiletries from a hotel? Most of you, I’d guess. I have, too. I’m not talking about that standard bar of soap or two-in-one hair wash that poses as shampoo and conditioner, and sometimes, can triple as a shower gel too. No, I’m talking about the luxury branded products you find in five-star hotels made from lavandula, orange blossom, macadamia oil, and such. In short, powders and potions made for the gods.

What is it about complimentary bathroom goodies that turn the average respectable, well-behaved lady into a hotel hoarder? How have we managed to unanimously decide that, while it’s taboo to take certain items such as towels, hairdryers, and showerheads from a hotel room, it’s perfectly legitimate to take the toiletries? What possesses us to do it?

Some people reason the hotel wants them to take such items, as a memento of their five-star experience, and to subconsciously promote the hotel. That’s a fair argument if the hotel name is embroidered into the cotton, but when it comes to bathroom amenities, most hotels use luxurious, independent brands to enhance their image and reaffirm their quality service. So will we really remember whether it was Crown Towers or the Peninsula Manila that stocked that gorgeous Hermès Eau d’Orange Verte lotion, five miniature bottles down the line?

As any bathroom junkie looking for the next pampering product will agree, there are several reasons for why this addiction has escalated to a global scale, and why so many of us are prone to catching it. Firstly, we convince ourselves that the bathroom amenities are covered in the room rate. (They really are, I promise.) If you’ve splashed out on a premium suite, you expect the full works, which includes Oscar de la Renta from the Peninsula Manila, Bulgari from the Crown Towers, and L’Occitane from Shangri-La at the Fort. A little voice screams, “I deserve this,” and for once, listen to the voices in your head.

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Second, some of the products we come across are like gold dust and hard to find on the market. We wouldn’t normally see them on a day-to-day basis, and after all we have checked in to be united with luxury. So when we see the Penhaligon’s bottles lined up, we can’t resist unscrewing the caps, sniffing the lavender scents, slathering the body lotion on, and squeezing the soap dispenser over and over again. The novelty doesn’t wear off.

And before we know it, it’s time to check out. There’s an old saying: Waste not, want not. Any posh hotel should have the decency to replenish each room with new bottles, for health and hygiene reasons, so where does your unfinished bottle go? Logic calls us to take it home, and that’s exactly what we do. But instead of stashing it away at the bottom of our bathroom drawer next to the expired migraine pills and untouched body scrub, put it to good use. The convenient travel sizes of many amenities make them easy to carry around in our handbags, in our gym kits for a post workout cleanse, or simply to have on hand on our office desk.

The less selfish among us will go that one step further to donate our goodies as part of care packages to local charities or shelters. Specific organizations have addressed the problem of waste, such as the Global Soap Project and Clean the World. They recycle unused, discarded soaps and form them into new bars, to distribute to the less privileged. So there’s another reason to take the toiletries and minimize waste.

It’s true. Those tempting freebies may bring out the hoarders in us. But as long as we’re taking the miniature bottles and nothing more, that’s minimal damage to the hotel. And our dignity.

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