Should Hotels Put Wall Mounted Toiletries in the Shower?

Hotels these days are all about the environment, which means their fiscal environment, reducing costs and increasing profit margins. So if they can convince you not to have your sheets changed and to reuse your towels that saves on housekeeping expense and on laundry. Hyatt even took away promised turn down service from top elites.

I don’t mind one bit when Starwood offers points in exchange for ‘making a green choice’ to reduce hotel housekeeping expenses by letting them skip over your room for the night. At least there the hotel is compensating you a portion of the savings, and we can all happily go forward with this fiction that we’re doing something meaningfully good for the world.

Lower-end hotels have often provided shampoo and soap in the shower from a dispenser. That saves on toiletries cost. Now more upscale properties are taking the hint and moving in that direction — with the narrative that what’s being saved is packaging so they’re doing it for the environment. This I do not like one bit.

  1. I’m a germaphobe. I do not believe housekeeping is thoroughly cleaning the dispensers between guests.

  2. The dispensers also don’t always get refilled.

I’m staying at a Marriott Courtyard and they’ve done something worse than provide shampoo, conditioner, and bath gel from wall-mounted dispensers in the shower. They’ve made those dispensers opaque.

I got in the shower only to find that the bath gel was empty. Since I couldn’t see the contents of the bottle inside I didn’t know that until my shower was underway.

So I had to get out of the shower, go over to the bathroom sink where there was one small bar I had been using to wash my hands, and though I did my best to take care I got the floor somewhat wet in the process.

I didn’t say anything to the hotel. I wanted to see what they’d do throughout the stay, to figure out whether the issue was a one off or more systematic. They didn’t refill the bath gel.

Hotels by the way need to provide two bars of soap, one for the sink and one for the shower, and not force me to remember to put the bar in the shower in advance — and then remove it and place it back by the sink when I’m done.

How do you feel about wall mounted dispensers in the shower for toiletries?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The maids will not fill them, so don’t put them in the shower. I feel every single hotel staff member should be held accountable and if they don’t do their job, give them one notice, then one more, then fire them the third time. There are many unemployed people who need money and a job. Maids don’t clean the TV remote control, do not replace the shampoo tube on the sink, no not clean the toilet flushing handle, the shower door pull, the room door handle, the lock latch, the phone, nothing. Their mission is to get in and get out as soon as possible. They don’t even vacuum. I have to complain almost every stay. And they still don’t do it. I have to complain again.
    And I stay every single week in a hotel. All across the country. The maid is the weakest link. And they don’t even speak or understand English. Same in the hotel restaurants. Same in the Admiral’s Club. None of those workers speak or understand English. Hotels and Admiral’s Clubs, airlines, are pathetic

  2. I don’t like it. I don’t think the dispensers are cleaned thoroughly either.

    I don’t use them because I bring my own. Commercial-grade shampoo makes more of my hair fall out than normal.

    I collect all of the toiletries from my stays and donate them to a shelter or some other charity.

  3. That’s so sheisty. if I went to the Park Hyatt and the LeLabo stuff was mounted on the shower, I would immediately switch hotels.

  4. I like it. Especially if they use higher end products which I sometimes find to be the case. I find it much more common that the maid doesn’t replace the mini bottles than not refilling dispensers, and I can get a bit more soap than when I’m trying to make it last 2 days in case they don’t.

    As for germs…uh, once you have soap on your hands, isn’t that the purpose of the next step, which is cleaning yourself???

  5. @ Sara – If you think hotel toiletries are such low quality they make your hair fall out, why would you want to donate them? Because poor folks are okay with being bald?

  6. I think its a great idea, especially for the low and mid tier hotels. Unless they are giving me some really high end experience that might “require” me to take it home! Plus, do we really need all those little plastic containers?

    Come on, you use public soap dispensers all the time. Its soap!

  7. Lighten up, Francis. Society is not obligated to accommodate your germophobic quirks. BYOSoap. 😀

  8. The thing I worry about most is a previous devious guest putting something else in those shared containers…

  9. What makes anyone think the mini bottles are cleaner than the dispensers in the shower? As @ Larry says, it should make no difference either way since you are showering. Am I missing the point?

    My peeve is that the mini bottles have such small writing that I often can’t tell the difference between the shampoo, bath gel and conditioner without reading glasses. Usually the writing on the shower dispensers is large enough to read.

  10. I’m with Matt. I don’t trust that the last guest in that room didn’t put some weird substance in the bottle.

  11. Agree with what Matt said above!

    No way!

    First of all, isn’t paying more for a higher tier hotel, that isn’t run and priced like a Motel 6 (for example), and that DOES provide individual, travel sized toilteries, one (of several) reasons why one is PAYING MORE to stay at a pricier hotel?

    Who are these dumb-dumbs anyway that expect guests to PAY MORE than low end/low rent hotels, but then seek to borrow a page from our despicably greedy, oligopolist airlines and expect their guests to find a “budget experience” of disgusting communal toiletries dispensed from a germy, and perhaps even tampered with by some sicko who gets off on “punking” others, wall mounted shower dispenser?

    If I could upload a pic of the communal soap dispensers now found on every airplane I would just to drive home the point of how this resembles what we experience when travel…but alas, I can’t!

    Anyhow, NO THANKS!

    FWIW, we already bring an emergency bar of soap with us when we travel to combat (just like our crappy airline seats!) the ever shrinking, teeny-tiny paper thin bars of soap increasingly found when traveling, as well as other travel sized toiletries…just in case there’s barely enough stocked in the room when we’re too tired, and it’s too late to be bothered asking for a full complement to be provided.

    Isn’t it amazing how travel/guest services businesses LOVE taking our money, but HATE doing anything else when we expect something of value in return?

    Such a shame so many people seem to have bought into the notion that it’s perfectly OK for an airline or hotel to TAKE OUR MONEY and then turn their backs on us when we expect to actually be treated as a valued guest!

  12. I encountered this at a charming, but relatively inexpensive boutique hotel in Rome, and thought it was yucky. That said, I always bring my own soap, shampoo, conditioner, and other products, and rarely use the hotel “amenities” except for soap to wash my hands when I arrive.

  13. I don’t think exposure to “non-excessive” levels of germs is a bad thing.

    For some reason this blog tends to attract a lot of people just venting.

  14. Chancer, I was referring to the shampoo in the wall mounted containers. The little bottles are sometimes better than that. Most Starwood, Marriott, and Hilton hotels i have stayed at had name brand toiletries. Choice hotels usually have no name toiletries.

    Also, I didn’t mean hair falling out to the point of going bald. For example, 4 hairs might fall out with my shampoo, but 6 hairs might fall out with a wall mounted shampoo.

    I have dandruff and an oily scalp. Wall mounted shampoos don’t do anything for me.

  15. Thse have nothing to do wth the environment. It’s all about penny-pinching. This is my biggest pet peeve in hotels. I hate it. Stop penny-pinching and just give us regular toiletries instead of one size fits all. Drives me absolutely bloody mad!

  16. Gary wrote: “I’m a germaphobe”

    Okay… you clean the remote, phone, bathroom sink (and accompanying area), toilet, chair handles, and all of the light switches, doorknobs, and handles (like for the refrigerator), and buttons (like for the microwave) with Isopropyl alcohol and a half roll of toilet paper? With the most of the remainder of the bottle, do you pour it over the base of the bathtub so that you do not get Athletes Foot? I bet you don’t.

    When you use the spoons and cups, do you sanitize them with the Isopropyl alcohol? I bet you don’t.

    More #FakeNews from Gary Leff.

  17. I hate those wall mounted dispensers. Cruise ships had a them, a long time ago. Totally agree with @Matt. Some crazy out there might put something toxic in those dispensers. As far as the excessive plastic waste, I don’t care, my safety is more important! If expensive hotels went to these dispensers I would bring my own products. Marriott Courtyards using these dispensers doesn’t surprise me.

  18. My biggest complaint with wall-mounted dispensers is that they position them assuming you will take a shower. However, if they offer a lovely tub, they are pretty inconvenient all the way up there when you want to take a bath.

    I suppose it doesn’t matter if they have shower stalls where an actual bath is impossible. But then again, when I stay at a nice hotel, I typically feel like one of the amenities I am paying for is a nice TUB that I can take a sit-down bath in. I tend to avoid hotels where they admit to having showers only, and I tend to feel cheated in hotels that failed to disclose that I would not be getting a sit-down bath.

  19. Is everyone on Boardingarea a germaphobe? First Lucky, now yourself. Of course, Luckys germs are better than everyone else, hence he can fly while sick with the flu. Aside from that, how do you manage your germaphobia while flying? Do you ensure that the entire seat is rubbed down and antiseptically cleaned? If not, it appears to be slightly situational germaphobia

  20. This research report regarding just how unsanitary communal (aka Wall Mounted in hotel rooms, among other places) soap dispensers are is from the United States National Institute of Health (NIH).

    The risks posed by communal soap dispensers has been scientifically proven and documented for quite some time now:

    Apart from the risks posed by any possible prior demented guests, or even hotel employees with their own emotional/mental issues, the facts remain that communal soap dispensers are incubators for germs that pose risks to our health and wellness.

    If one is paying a higher price than a hostel or a flop house, then one should at last be provided with a sufficient supply of individually wrapped, tamper resistant protected, toiletries to use as a GUEST at the hotel they’re PAYING to stay at.


  21. @747always

    I wipe everything with an antiseptic wipe. All the buttons, levers, remotes, and tray table, are wiped. I saw a woman put here baby’s dirty diapers on the tray table. I nearly puked right there. People are gross. Best example is what you may find in the seat pocket. I try to not use them at all. I seem to catch a cold after flying, all the time. Even in summer. My last flight in Business on Cathay, I caught the Noro virus. It most likely had come from the using the rest room. I use a towel in there to open the door. So if wasn’t the restroom then it came from the crew. Luckily it was the end of my vacation.

  22. It’s a courtesy. Anyone who cares about their hair will bring their own anyway! (Especially anyone with long hair)

  23. I pay more to have a nicer hotel room experience not to fell like I am in the gym locker room shower. No wall mounted dispensers please.

  24. You will find that in Europe there is one mounted squeeze bottle at the sink and one in the shower. They both use the same formula for hair, face and body. I like it very much as one does not really need so many products. However, the European products are highly scented and, even if you don’t routinely have scent-related allergy, you will have a good chance to react poorly to these. So, one product is fine for me–just make certain that the scent minimal and unisex.

  25. It screams cheap. If the rate doesn’t match this… then I would think twice before booking there again. Be sure to let the hotel know that it is cheap and nasty to do that and that doing so jeopardizes future stays. .

  26. Courtyard Marriott may be taking a page from the Starwood properties’ playbook. The Four-Points and Aloft franchises both use wall mounted dispensers. The Element hotels do not. These properties are higher priced with a strong emphasis on environmentally friendly practices. It’s my sense that guests here are more germ “aware”. Regardless, most individuals’ perceptions of the dispensers are colored by prior experiences in locker room settings, so the science behind the practice unfortunately doesn’t have much influence either way.
    What is personally WAY more offensive is placement of bath towels over the toilet or on the toilet or directly adjacent to the toilet bowl.

  27. Nothing screams ‘çheap’ more than the lack of individual packaged bathroom toiletries. I have always travelled with my own travel-sized preferred toiletries irrespective of where I stay. Most middle-east airline affiliated hotels have some luxury name brands of bathroom products which I am happy to use. You will not find these in litre dispenser bottles hanging on the wall however. Hotels which do this should lose a star in their rating automatically!

  28. I am fine with having these dispenser, especially at the lower end hotels and lower-mid end hotels, but for mid-high end hotels, this will not be acceptable.
    As for having empty bottles, this is certainly not acceptable, however on the other hand, I’ve noticed that in a lot of hotels in North America, due to the work pressure or whatever reason, housekeeping will just the minimal when cleaning or turning over a room. Recently due to a project, i was checking in and out of a hotel for the last 2 months and it was close to every time a sort of musical room game, checking in to a room to find that the room with something not working properly. In my opinion, the main eyes and ears of the room conditions are the housekeeping team, but if they don’t report these, it is up to the guest to find out. This is a reason also why these days I don’t bother to leave any tip for housekeeping anymore since if this is the minimum they are going to do, they don’t deserve to get the tip.


  29. You mean that we aren’t actually saving the planet from global warming and saving polar bears when we hang our towels up. Next you’ll tell us there is no Santa Claus. I always wondered if this worked because the maid would take thr hanging towels and replace them anyways.
    I hate the soap dispensers in general. The issues stated all make sense but mostly because I just like to wash with a bar of soap. Cruise ships went with wall dispensers a few years ago but are now starting to also have bar soap. I tend to avoid hotel chains that have dispensers when possible.

  30. The ibis chain have multi use detergent wall dispensers over the washbasin and in the shower you wouldn’t use to wash your dog, least of all yourself.

  31. I am all for wall dispensers. Two reasons: 1) the tiny bottles don’t hold enough conditioner for my (admittedly thick and long) hair. 2) those tiny bottles are all plastic and end up in land fill and the ocean. It’s one of the major scourges of our time, and I don’t want to contribute to it.

  32. Dispensers scream cheap and tacky! And I have the same concern…another guest putting something untoward into the dispenser. I came across them recently in a somewhat decent hotel…Courtyard I believe, and it made me so angry that I emptied every single one of them! Individual bottles are sealed. Everyone is scrimping…sometimes no body lotion, bottles are smaller, and I hate Marriott for its providing only one bar of Thann (I don’t like the way it smells either) soap…you are supposed to use the bath gel in the shower. I like to use soap at the sink and in the shower. Plus, it appears housekeeping is being directed not to replenish depleted items. Even when tipping the housekeeper, the amenities are not replenished the following day! But the housekeeper starts banging on the door to get you to check out prior to the official check out time EVEN when you have a “do not disturb” on the door, and EVEN when you have a late checkout and advise the front desk to tell housekeeping not to harass you!

  33. Institutions use wall mounted soap dispensers because their clientele can’t be trusted with anything else. Prisons, public toilets, locker rooms. Can’t say that I would pay to stay in an institution so I don’t want my hotel to insult me with toiletry dispensers. The quality of the product is not the point. I bring my own soap, shampoo, etc. anyway.

  34. I am all for it. The amount of waste that those mini bottles create is astounding.

    One of my biggest pet peeve is when I use 1oz of a 3oz bottle of shampoo – and then housekeeping replaces it. What a waste. These dispensers solve that problem entirely.

    And – lol – you are worried about your soap dispensers being dirty. If only there were some soap nearby…

  35. I’m actually quite surprised at this discussion.

    A fancy, newer, Hilton hotel in the area used wall dispensers.

    The Courtyard by Marriott also in the area did not.

    Every single cheaper hotel I’ve been in, from the obscure and sometimes questionable to the mid-level has had, at minimum, a sealed bar of soap and, at maximum, an individual soap, lotion, shampoo, and conditioner.

    The Marriott actually offered individual toiletries in Paul Mitchell brand, and the Hilton had a wall dispenser with Neutrogena.

  36. It’s cheap. Bottom line. Profit margins are more important than customer comfort. Will the savings be passed on? Will some other “luxury” make up for it. Unfortunately, no. Bulk dispensers have previously been used in middle to lower end hotel chains. Why pay luxury rates for middle to lower end amenities?

  37. I don’t buy unsealed toiletries from the store and I don’t want to find them in my hotel room either.

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