So the saying goes that travel in the only thing you buy that makes you richer. I feel that whoever wrote that quote clearly never tried to stay in a decent hotel in Manhattan near Christmastime. Nevertheless, travel enriches our lives with different experiences, cultures, culinary adventures, and shopping opportunities. The Refined Side of us travels whenever possible, to wherever possible (the other side of us travels from couch to kitchen and back to couch).
Lets be very frank with each other, ladies. Travel is expensive. Once you book an ideal hotel and the flight (business class plus or bust, am I right?), you are likely to need some new clothes or shoes, perhaps a few books to read, and you’ll book a massage at the last minute because on top of being expensive, travel is stressful. But fear not. The Refined Side girls are incredibly well traveled, from Hong Kong to Hartford, and can share their experiences.
One of the most pressing issues in travel today is liquids and bathroom amenities. Especially if you are sticking to a carry-on, finding decent products less than 100 mL is like finding Manolos on sale. Nearly impossible, and will probably cost more than you’d like. Check out our guide to the best hotel amenities:
Hilton hotels are slowly slipping into “bourgeois” territory. It may have been tarnished by Paris’ image, or perhaps their expansion into lower starred developments like Hilton Garden Inn. The hotels are generally well decorated and are perfect for overnight stays at the airport or visiting your in-laws in the middle of nowhere. Hilton uses Bath and Body Works bath amenities, which are gentle on hair and skin and leave you feeling smooth and moisturized all over. However, they are in gender-friendly scents (no Warm Vanilla Sugar or Sweat Pea. Boo!)
The Four Seasons is a wonderful chain of hotels (also, a really fabulous NYC restaurant). They shine with quiet elegance – never too showy or flashy, nary a Baroque print in sight, but always of the utmost quality and care. You can find a Four Seasons in almost every city and can expect to enjoy yourself immensely. Four Seasons provides high quality bath amenities, including L’Occitane or Bvlgari, depending on your location.
Ah, Hyatt, I biasedly love you. You always take good care of me. You always have a hotel nearby. Whether you’re at the homey-yet-unfrilly Hyatt Place or the most glamorous Grand Hyatt in the world, you’re bound to find good service and great beds. Hyatt places priority on locally sourcing their products, both food and amenities. When staying in the United States, you can find upgraded amenities from Kenet M.D., an American dermotoligist with an excellent skincare line. When staying abroad, look for local favorites, like Molton Brown in England.
Westin hotels always feel like a spa to me. Their decor is light, airy and natural and they always smell wonderful (thanks to a not-subtle scent diffuser, usually hidden in the corner). Their bathrooms are consistently spa-like, with large tubs or elaborate showers. Their bath amenities are also spa-like. Westin uses Crabtree and Evelyn products, usually something lemon-y or otherwise fresh scented. These are the best quality bath amenities I have come across, and I often stash an extra lotion in my purse for later.
The name Ritz-Carlton is synonymous with luxury travel. The founder of Ritz-Carlton was the etymology for the word “ritzy.” If that doesn’t say “refined,” nothing will. The Ritz strives for over-the-top lavish accommodations and amenities. These hotels are dotted around the globe in the most opulent and sometimes the most peculiar locations. No matter where you are, you can look forward to Asprey shower gels and shampoos in their bathrooms.
Fairmont, ah the heaven of hotels. Even the name seems luxurious – Fairmont. Sigh. Dreamy. Fairmont hotels, including The Plaza in New York or The Savoy in London, are the creme de la creme of corporately managed or owned hotels. These are usually five star havens, filled with the best of everything, including their soap. Seriously, The Plaza’s bath amenities are Hermes while The Savoy provides Le Labo. Can you imagine a better way to bathe?!
Some additional tips:
- If you get to your suite and you find the amenities are less-than-desirable, don’t be afraid to call down and ask for upgraded amenities. Sometimes they save those for the “members floors” but they aren’t unavailable to you.
- Many hotels now boast a “Women’s Floor.” These floors provide female-friendly amenities, such as better blow dryers, slippers, girly magazine (such as Vogue or Allure), and upgrade bath amenities.
- If all else fails, find the closest Ulta. They have the best travel sections!