In recent years, hotels have stepped up their amenities by offering guests fancy soaps, shampoos, and even quaint sewing kits. But why don’t they have essentials like a mini tube of toothpaste (or a toothbrush, for that matter) in rooms? The answer is more complicated than it should be.
A little while back, Slate writer Daniel Engber did a deep dive into the lack of toothpaste and found out it’s a combination of guests not asking for it and hotels not wanting to spend money on the product. The article stated that toothpaste is “treated like a drug” in terms of regulations, and would therefore be more expensive.
“Toiletries cost less than an oral hygiene product … the cost-per-ounce is lower,” Tim Kersley, former senior vice president at Gilchrist & Soames, a luxury hotel toiletries brand, told Slate back in 2013. “[Non-toothpaste] toiletries have the maximum bang for the buck.”
According to some hoteliers, toothpaste isn’t “aspirational” enough, meaning upscale toothpaste brands don’t exist. “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,” Karen Gardiner wrote for Bravo. (Apparently Hyatt hotels do offer tubes of Aquafresh toothpaste in certain rooms.)
Also, toothpaste isn’t a requirement for luxury hotels to get a lofty five-diamond rating from AAA. According to Slate, the rating guidelines state that a five-diamond hotel would be required “to provide two kinds of soap, shampoo, an additional bottled item such as suntan lotion, a hair dryer, a sewing kit, and a shower cap." Toothpaste is merely a "'suggested' amenity, not required."
Forbes reported that Marriott went through a meticulous process and tested 52 brands of shampoo, conditioner, body gel, lotion, and soap before deciding on the right products to offer their guests. Imagine if they had to test dozens of toothpastes, too? The article also noted that, “Some products are too costly to provide in each room; toothpaste and toothbrushes are among them."
“Hotels could give us toothpaste but they don’t,” Slate concluded. “No one knows why, and no one cares. It’s how things have always been, and how they’ll always be. We don’t get toothpaste in our rooms, because we don’t ask for toothpaste in our rooms; we don’t ask for toothpaste in our rooms, because we never knew we could.”
So maybe if more hotel guests demanded toothpaste in their rooms, more hotels would oblige that request. Ask and you shall receive?