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Winnipeg/Mere Hotel

Those little bottles of shampoo and hand cream you’ve used at hotels have definitely grown up over the years. I can remember traveling when I was younger, staying at hotels with a bar of soap and dinky shampoo bottles on the counter (not that I can recall the names of those hotels, they’ve vanished from memory). Point being that if you’re headed to a hotel – especially one with boutique or luxury status – you’ll find some pretty fanciful lines out there.

Tofino/Wickaninnish Inn

As I’m on the road a lot, staying at a lot of properties of this level, I’ve occasionally noticed that the amenities a particular hotel’s using can also be purchased to take home. I’ve become a bit of an amenity fan myself, with a few favourite discoveries along the way.

If I were to rate some of the lines (L’Occitane, Moulton Brown, LATHER, etc.), I’m not sure everyone would agree with my decision. I think it boils down to hair and skin type. A soothing, moisture-rich cream I love may not have the desired effect on the next person. Same thing with shampoos, something that IMHO is the hardest thing to get right. Some formulas don’t wash out well, others leave my hair dry.

The James-11

You’ve obviously not checked into a hotel or resort based on the amenity line they carry, but hotels DO want you to take notice. A recent article on USA Today’s site points out that toiletries are no longer an afterthought, especially where a hotel’s brand and personality are carefully curated to draw VIPs to their properties.

And then there’s the eco-friendly aspect to the equation. I’ve used eco-friendly, locally-sourced products in hotels from Montreal to Scottsdale. According to Cindy Patton, Hilton Worldwide’s senior director of product development, Hilton’s staff normally try out between 15 and 20 different brands before making a final decision.

Photo by Ariane Colenbrander

Knocking a hotel luxury line out of the park will likely create new dedicated fans and naturally the amenity lines want to put their best products out there. I’ve seen bottle shapes get a makeover too. These L’Occitane bottles are designed to fit together to form a circle. It’s a smart design element as they also stack better in the housekeeping cart AND take up less space in smaller showers than a traditional round bottle.

Photo by Ariane Colenbrander

As you can see, our collection is starting to grow. This is but a small sampling of the variety we’ve used over the years and if I were to pick one standout hand cream, it would be San Francisco’s Agraria lemon verbena hand and body lotion (InterContinental).

Bellevue Hyatt-5

Favourite body wash? Molton Brown’s Gingerlily (Mere Hotel, Winnipeg). Shampoo is a tough one. For now, my current fave is Le Labo’s Rose 31 (Fairmont).

Photo by Ariane Colenbrander

What are some of your favourite amenity lines? Are you curious enough to peek inside the bathroom as soon as you check in, or have you booked a hotel knowing that one of your faves will be there when you arrive?

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