The Weird, Contradictory Reasons Why Hotels Don't Provide In-Room Toothpaste

The Weird, Contradictory Reasons Why Hotels Don't Provide In-Room Toothpaste

Isn't it way more frequently used than a sewing kit, after all?

By Karen Gardiner

Hotels these days seem to be falling over themselves to offer guests the best in beauty amenities. While we are grateful for upgraded toiletries in our hotel bathrooms — and are not adverse to swiping a few to take home — we also appreciate the basics, which has us wondering: Why is toothpaste not a standard in-room amenity?

Many a hotel will proudly present you with the essentials — soap, shampoo, conditioner — as well as such lesser day-to-day necessities as sewing kits and shoe mittens. You might even find a little bottle of mouthwash by your sink. But one thing that is almost always missing is a tube of toothpaste — and that's surely a more critical dental staple than mouthwash.

It's a miss that is particularly annoying if you have flown to your destination with just carry-on with limited gels and liquids in order to meet your designated allowance. You will (at least in nicer hotels) often be able to source some toothpaste at the front desk. But here's the real question: Why not just put it in the room in the first place? 

If you've ever puzzled over this omission, you are not alone. A few years ago, Slate conducted an impressively in-depth investigation into this very question. "What about the toothpaste — that most indispensable tool of anyone’s toilette, a product used by virtually every hotel guest in America at least twice per day?" The writer pleaded. "Why should it be easier to sew a button to your cardigan or polish your loafers than it is to brush your teeth? Why have hotels forsaken oral hygiene? " 

Having asked 18 North American hotel chains, Slate found that the most common explanation was that, simply, guests don't ask for it. “If such requests did begin to trend,” explained a representative from the Wyndham Hotel Group, “we would evaluate our brand standards and offerings.” A more recent Forbes reporthowever, states that some products, "are too costly to provide in each room; toothpaste and toothbrushes are among them." Yet the article also quotes Starwood's global brand leading as saying: "Guests demand more, and they want higher-quality products." Contradiction? Maybe not.

The most plausible of the multiple theories floated by Slate is that toothpaste is not an aspirational product. In other words, unlike shampoo and body lotion, you don't really get any fancy toothpaste brands whose addition to a hotel bathroom would woo a guest.

So then, following these strands of logic, we might deduce that there's no toothpaste in your expensive hotel bathroom because it's not expensive enough... and that there's no toothpaste in your budget hotel bathroom because it's too expensive. And that about clears it up!

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