Au naturel is best – please don’t wrap hotel soap

Pleated paper-wrapped soap

Pleated paper-wrapped soap

Ok, I’ll be upfront, this post is a rant about a first world problem, so if you don’t care if hotel soap comes wrapped, sometimes multiple times, then you might want to switch off now.

I just don’t see why the small soaps that appear in hotel bathrooms have to be wrapped at all. I understand in a lot of cases they carry the hotel brand or manufacturer’s logo, but sometimes they don’t, like this pleated wrap that just says ‘soap.’

And I especially can’t understand why they need to have more than one wrapping. Really?

Paper and cellophane-wrapped soap

Paper and cellophane-wrapped soap

This double wrapped soap says the packaging is recyclable, which is good to know, except in a hotel bathroom all rubbish goes into the one receptacle, and I’m pretty sure busy housekeepers don’t fossick through bathroom bins to separate rubbish from recyclables, which kind of defeats the point.

So why am I ranting on about wrapped soap? Because apart from creating unnecessary rubbish, they can be infuriatingly difficult and time consuming to unwrap, especially when you’re in a desperate hurry, and worse, when your hands are already wet.

As a travel writer I often arrive at a hotel and have 10-15 minutes to ‘refresh’ in my room before my next meeting or outing. Before I disturb anything, including the bathroom towels, I need to take photos; of the room, the balcony, the view, first with my SLR camera for publication quality images, then again with my phone for quick upload to social media.

After all this there is often only a few minutes left for a bathroom visit. So I’m usually rushing out of the toilet and thrusting my hands under the tap before noticing the soap is wrapped. And if soap is hard to unwrap with dry hands, it’s near impossible with wet hands.

You can’t get your fingernail under the stickers that cinch paper wrappings and cellophane ones slip through your fingers. Like airline nut packets, you can’t find the exact spot to tear the crimped edge variety or after much violent wrenching the soap catapults out and disappears into the tissue box.

Recently at one up-market hotel in Thailand I had to break into the opaque plastic packaging using my teeth, only to find the beautiful two-toned soap inside was shrink-wrapped as well! Cue unprintable words.

Unwrapped soap at Peppers

Unwrapped soap at Peppers Airlie Beach

The thing is, all the other miniature bottled toiletries carry the hotel logo or cosmetic brand name, so there really is no need to put in on soap wrappers as well.

So you can imagine my unbridled joy when I rushed to the bathroom of my apartment at Peppers Airlie Beach, already running late for dinner, to find two lovely big bars of unwrapped soap.

So congratulations to Peppers on taking the initiative (and any other hotel chains out there also offering unwrapped soap). I appreciate the gesture, but more importantly, so does the environment.


Disclaimer: I stayed at Peppers Airlie Beach as a guest of Tourism Whitsundays.



About Briar's Travel Beat

Briar Jensen is a Sydney-based freelance travel writer. In her blog, Briar's Travel Beat, she shares her travel experiences to inform, entertain and inspire.
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4 Responses to Au naturel is best – please don’t wrap hotel soap

  1. Seana Smith says:

    Yes, well it is a first world problem but I see your point Briar. I can’t bear having to use my teeth. I hate the thought that the soap once used for a day or two will get thrown away, so I tend to try to leave it to dry and bring it home with me. Well, I can’t stand waste. How do you feel about the soaps that just have a small bit of cardboard round them, they can be OK. I brought one home from Wolgan Valley and was smelling it every evening as it’s absolutely divine, lemon myrtle. This morning I found my husband had USED it – arraghh… I wanted to keep it just to sniff to remind me of the sheer luxury. I should have written DO NOT USE on the cardboard waistband thinggy it had.

    And that’s enough about soap!


    • The less packaging the better Seana, and at least a simple ‘waistband’ of cardboard doesn’t make the it hard to access the soap. I’m with you on the waste factor. I think some hotels participate in soap recycling, where the used soaps are reprocessed and distributed to impoverished areas where increased sanitation can save lives. Some soaps do smell beautiful don’t they? Like you I have brought home hotel soaps whose fragrance is uplifting. (But I hide them from my husband.)


  2. I love beautiful soaps, and have started looking for them in markets instead of buying the supermarket kind. The market stuff is nearly always unwrapped and smells so much better than the commercial stuff. Hotel soaps…I agree about the wrappers!


    • You’re right Lee, most soaps you find in markets or specialist shops are unwrapped, so don’t see why more hotels can’t do it. My daughter also buys her soap at the market. There certainly are some beautifully smelling ones out there.


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