How Much Do Hotel Toiletries Cost, and Should You Take Them?

Forbes carries an illuminating piece on hotel toileteries. (HT: Alan H.)

Hotels want you to take the amenities: (Although they don’t want you to take a handful off the housekeeping cart…)

When guests take their toiletries home with them it’s a signal to the hotel team that they’ve done a good job picking the right products. They’re also hoping you’ll think of your hotel stay when you end up using that bottle of lotion later on.

“If you take it, then you must have liked it,” says Scott Mitchell, director of design and development for Marriott International

Hyatt even produced a video telling you to take the toileteries. But IHG’s towel amnesty notwithstanding, hotels don’t want you to take the towels.

Packaging considerations:

After the brands and scents are selected, mock-ups are then made for packaging. Things to consider: holes and caps on the bottles must dispense easily, fonts must be readable for older guests, flip caps are better than screw caps because they’re easier to open with one hand. Mitchell notes that a flip cap adds about a penny to the cost of the bottle. That may not seem like much but it adds up when you’re buying 100 million bottles each year.

Marriott spends over $25 million annually on bath amenities — about $20 million on Thann for the Americas and Asia Pacific, and a third of that for their smaller footprint in Europe and Africa.

TSA liquid rules have increased the importance and consumption of toileteries — it used to be that only a third of guests even used them, now most do.

It shouldn’t matter as much as it does, and I should know better, but toiletries contribute to the irrational emotional connection with hotels.

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. $25M seems almost too low. According to wikipedia, there are currently around 700K Marriott rooms. At 70% occupancy, that is 178M room nights with guests. If you use that at the metric, and assume one new set of toiletries per day when occupied, that is only about 14-cents/set. Which is a pretty good deal if you compare it to what CVS wants in their travel section. 🙂

  2. very interesting…almost always take them myself and have not bought such toiletries in a decade. Never took the previous generation hyatt range though, hated the scent

  3. My favorites are from Raffles Beijing and the Park Hyatt in Milan. Tried to buy both for home and got nowhere. Couldn’t that be a profit center?

  4. I hate the flip caps. I’m always worried they will pop open in my bag so I usually don’t take them. I know it’s harder to open a screw cap but they are more secure in your bags.

  5. When you find no less than luxurious BULGARI Shampoo, Conditioner, Skin Lotion and soaps at Luxury Collection (Starwood) properties (Grosvenor House -Dubai anyway), sure I take them….all.
    My wife liked the scents and quality so much I ended up having to buy more on ebay – and they weren’t cheap. Next time I might raid the maids trolley to bring more home from a biz trip!
    Oh and I also like to “steal” shampoos, body wash and soaps from Westin’s to use at lesser hotels – I looooove the white tea scent! Am I alone on this one???

  6. we take the toiletries and donate them to the veterans charities once or twice a year…homeless shelters will take them too.

  7. I stopped taking that junk years ago.

    Marriot uses/used Aveda shampoo. I make an exception for that. A quart/liter runs $40 these days.

  8. I want to know what the CLEANING STAFF does with the toiletry bottles, once you vacate your room. In college I had a roommate who cleaned hotel rooms, and they had different levels of cleaning depending on the day of the week. Certain days got a “quick clean” (just dusting), other days as “average clean”, and once-per-wk a “deep clean” (bathtub cleanser & bedspread laundering). It was actually disgusting — the rooms were only sanitized once per week! I’ve never used a hotel bath since then. But at that time, it never occurred to me to ask about all the leftover shampoos, etc.

  9. I also take the toiletries – it’s something I paid for, so why not. I use those mini-bottles of shower gel / shampoo to make bath foam for a moment of relaxation inthe bathtub at home.

  10. Le Labo Rose 31 (Fairmont) is about the only one that comes home with me these days.

    I like that they offer the hand soap in a box, so I can put the bar I have used once or twice back in the box to take with me.

    These things are an environmental nightmare, I am sure…

  11. I love how Best Western and Hilton have moved towards Bath & Body Works.

    My wash bag is always full when I check out 🙂

  12. Only toiletries I ever take are Bliss at W Hotels. Oh and Molton Brown at Westin in Madrid 😉

  13. It’s a rare thing these days to see shower gel, face wash, and in many mainstream properties – mouthwash. Love the Hyatt Aquafresh.

  14. Remede at St Regis is my favorite. Also the Trump brand at Trump hotels is really good and they come in big size bottles.

  15. I rarely take my leftover toiletries, but I was so happy with the Park Hyatt Tokyo last year that I took the spares they left us during a 5 day stay as well. They were these amazing Aesop products that smelled great.

    Unfortunately for the marketing side of things, I’m too cheap to buy these retail since they run $600/500ml bottle.

  16. Thank you for this article. It is one we’ve often wondered about. Now we feel good about taking the toiletries that we like.

    I also like the soap that comes in boxes so that I can put the “likely used” soaps back in the box as a memory.

  17. It’s a relief to have that teeny weeny niggling guilt over cleaning out the bathroom removed. But why won’t they ever include toothpaste? I always have to call and ask for some to be brought to my room.

    I like to pop the shower gels and lotions in my various purses and hand bags. I also include a set in my 1 quart baggie to take on the plane.

  18. Of course hotels are happy to have you take the leftover amenities from your room, as housekeeping just throws them out anyway. And I agree that hotel amenities are important. I used to hate staying at Hilton properties because their Crabtree & Evelyn products were so horribly over-perfumed I couldn’t stand using them or how. I stunk afterwards. The new Peter Thomas Roth ones are so much nicer.

  19. The article also talks about bedding, linens, and mattress comfort. Hotels made a huge push about ten years ago towards much better mattresses, with more support and also softer (such as pillow-top firm mattresses). But since then, many properties have fallen back on lower-quality mattresses that aren’t replaced as often as they should. It’s become common around the world for hotel beds to sag, tilt, and have other problems.

  20. I’m staying now at a hotel in Hong Kong, on my 5th day. I empty out the box and get all those toiletries, and everyday, they put in a new set so I take them too… is that cool? I’m staying for a week so I will have 7 sets of toiletries, unused, and I brought my own set…

  21. I agree completely with some of previous comments its amazing the thought and consideration that goes into this. But in the end it must really be a small cost in proportion to what they sell the rooms for, but it can make a great difference to your stay if they make you feel a bit pampered. I had a quick look on Google and there are some great products from what seems like respectable companies I honestly didnt know there existed so many different amenities, I especially like the designs of the toiletries that I found on and the beddings I found on Its a shame really that all hotel chains are not managed the same way, in some places you end up paying 200 bucks for the room and end up using some nondescript liquid from a plastic dispenser …

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