Why Hotels Stick to Bar Soap


In the cleaning industry, so much has changed in the past two years, from the rise of electrostatic sprayers to the wearing of masks beyond just healthcare facilities. But a constant for many hotels has been the presence of bar soap, especially in hotels. As stated in an article by Conde Nast Travelermany hotels retain bar soap as bathroom fixtures despite other changes, including full-scale shampoo and conditioner dispensers instead of small plastic bottles for environmental reasons.

Speaking with hotel operations personnel from different parts of the United States, Conde Nast Traveler outlined several key reasons why classic bar soap has remained a cornerstone, and why facility cleaners and front-line staff at these facilities might not expect a change any time soon.

A sense of luxury

A general manager who oversees the Gansevoort Hotel in New York notes that they still use bars of soap because it gives a sense of separation from the regular homes of guests. Part of the tradition of having a bar of soap ready in the bathroom helps convey to guests that they are staying at a luxury hotel and are having a unique experience from what they are used to. .

A feeling of familiarity

Interestingly, an operations staff member at Maison de la Luz in New Orleans is a bar soap supporter for the exact opposite reason. Rather, their goal is to make the customer feel more “at home”, and they think the optics of a large dispenser right next to the bathroom sink looks less residential. They’ve adopted the vending machines like many other hotels, but instead they’re placed near the tub as a more convenient location.

Complementary branding

The same Maison de la Luz staff member adds that bar soap offers more branding opportunities. Their bars of soap, for example, are branded with the House logo and molded in the shape of an oyster shell – a staple of the New Orleans experience. Similarly, the general manager of Marram in Montauk, NY says they give their bar soaps a woodsy aroma to represent the outdoor scent of their area.

Changes may be coming

However, not all hotels stick to bar soap. Conrad Hotels & Resorts recently switched from bar soap to bulk soap dispensers, highlighting the same environmental concerns of plastic mini-bottles for restrooms. Their global brand manager noted that the pandemic has reinvigorated the need for single-use hygiene products, but as normality returns, the priority for eco-friendly options will also return.

On a related topic, check out this article comparing the benefits of bar soap versus liquid soap.

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