Hotel housekeeping feeds my addiction – they know it’s not possible to use three bottles of shampoo a day but continue to restock the bathroom without question or judgement. I’d like to think that my daily tip is a bit of “hush” money to ignore my addiction. The addition is so bad, that I need to check my luggage. While my bag certainly qualifies as carry-on only, the many ziploc bags of hotel toiletries in my luggage are over the 3-1-1 limit. Thankfully, my credit cards and/or business class ticket waive the checked baggage fees. Yes, I’m addicted to the hotel toiletries, preferring the luxury items! When I asked Jacob Tomsky, hotel expert and author of “Heads in Beds” (a must read! it had me laughing the entire flight from Seoul to Singapore), via Twitter if there was a hotel term for my addiction, he said there wasn’t a term, but if there were he’d call me a “hotel chipmunk”. This made me laugh – I am a (luxury) hotel chipmunk – sounds much cuter than toiletry thief or shampoo addict. It’s much easier admitting the cookie addiction as people understand chocolate chips moreso than shampoo.
It all started on that first Club World British Airways flight when the business class toiletry bag included Molton Brown (airline chipmunk). Molton Brown was the first luxury toiletry company that I had encountered and quickly became a fan. With one or two flights a year to London, I thought that was enough to satisfy me but I quickly became addicted (years before the U.S. stores opened) and began visiting the shop on Regent Street. I would shop for the full size versions and ignore the cost (you have to ignore the exchange rate otherwise you will agree with people who label you “crazy” for paying more than $50 for shampoo – actually you may now judge me insane for spending that, I’m starting to wonder myself now too!).
I was happy when Molton Brown opened their U.S. stores and I could feed my addiction locally for much, much less. When they closed (apparently not enough crazy people like me around) and I had to go online, I was sad. When they discontinued the shampoo, I aimlessly searched and sampled new candidates around the world including a perfumery in Nice (but drew the line at shipping shampoo from France) before I met Miller Harris….
It only took one shower to get me hooked. I had discovered the Firmdale Hotels in London – the Soho Hotel and Charlotte Street Hotel -each boutique hotels offered Miller Harris. The citrus smell of the Miller Harris shampoo and the soap started me on my three bottle/three soaps a day habit (ziplock bags are a must when traveling -so many uses). My London goodies should, in theory, last a while (or at least to the next visit) but then I ran out of shampoo……
With an upcoming trip to London, I thought “no problem, I’ll restock” and then the hotels were sold out! I had to stay at two new hotels, The Rosewood London and the Sofitel St. James (both amazing 5 star hotels so don’t feel bad). The Rosewood offers Czech & Speake (lavender) and Gilchrist & Soames (for those of us who don’t like lavender) while the Sofitel St. James offers Hermes (only way I’ll ever own Hermes is via the toiletry line!).
Miller Harris London – The $45 Shampoo
With nothing left at home, and nothing new to add, I went in search of the Miller Harris store on my second June trip to London with my niece, luckily finding it in Covent Garden. Entering the small store, I was immediately struck by how fancy (posh) it was. The air of exclusivity was evident in the gorgeous (expensive) packages in various colors around the small shop. I explained that I wanted the full size version of my mini (2 oz.) toiletries from the hotel only to find out that they were exclusive to the Firmdale hotel chain (I was crushed). The shampoo, Citron Citrus, was available as it is one of their more popular products. I quickly bought a bottle (8 ounces) in the pretty orange package which was wrapped and placed gingerly in the swanky bag. I ignored the £26 pricing as I had so many years ago at Molton Brown, and left happy. Then I got home and saw my Visa bill for my $45 shampoo (fx rate of 1.71). I had entered crazy-ville again! All for shampoo!
Over the years, the shampoo addiction has taken me back to great travel memories, reinforcing that the power of smell is pretty amazing!
Local Toiletries – Africa
Intercontinental Johannesburg – After traveling for two days, I was so happy to have a shower. The smell of Sycamore & Fig filled the shower/bathroom enveloping me and easily washing off the air travel. I was now ready for my African adventure.
Bliss Spa Toiletries
These are the standard W Hotel toiletries. I have met many a housekeeper in the hallway to ask for more. Memorable W Hotel stays in New Orleans, Santiago and Istanbul. In Istanbul, after having to deal with awful cruise ship toiletries the thought of using Bliss Spa toiletries was wonderful.
Molton Brown London
Perth, Australia – When my luggage didn’t make the connection, I had to buy temporary clothes and toiletries and low and behold, I found the discontinued Molton Brown shampoo that I loved! The worldwide stock was not totally depleted! I was a happy camper during that trip and even more when my luggage arrived three days later.
The Luxury Hotel Toiletries Addiction
At the end of the day, this is a silly addiction in the grand scheme of things which does cost a bit more than most but there are no calories (weight gain) involved as in my cookie/dessert addiction. My hair looks and smells great which is a plus and I get a few moments in the morning reliving fantastic travels memories before I go to work.
There is an upside to my addiction and all the ziploc bags full of toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, hand lotion, body lotion, shower gel, soaps, etc) that I bring home. At the end of the year when my travels are done, I gather up all the toiletry treasures (if my sister and nieces haven’t pilfered their favorites) and donate them to the local children’s home. This chipmunk shares her stuff!
Are you a Hotel Chipmunk or Airline Chipmunk? What are your favorite toiletries, amenities or other that you feel the need to stuff yourself like I do with Miller Harris? Do share as I’d love to discover new products around the world.