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Most hotels I have stayed at will provide shampoo, conditioner, soap and body wash (even body balms), yet I don't think I've ever seen hotels provide toothpaste. Is there a particular reason why not?

  • My experience is that hotels will usually give you toothpaste if you ask. But you're right, it's typically not automatically provided in the room. – Nate Eldredge Mar 1 '16 at 3:02
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    That's location-dependent. In Japan, all hotels but the very cheapest ones do. – fkraiem Mar 1 '16 at 3:53
  • The only time I have seen toothpaste lying around is actually in hostels... not that you'd want to pick up a stranger's toothpaste from a shared bathroom and use it, or would you? – Michael Lai Mar 1 '16 at 5:32
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What goes into your toiletry kit varies from region to region. No quality hotel in Asia would neglect your toothpaste, or toothbrush. But it is true that Hyatt is the only major North American chain to offer it as a standard.

Daniel Engber of Slate magazine wrote a lengthy report on this very question in 2013 entitled The Mystery of the Missing Hotel Toothpaste. He interviewed executives at 18 different North American hotel chains, and received the same excuses:

  1. Their consumer research indicates that guests don't want toothpaste.
  2. The industry norm is not to provide toothpaste; their competitors don't offer it, and independent hotel ratings firms don't grade it. For example, the AAA Diamond Ratings Guide criteria require escalating amounts of soaps, lotions, and so on, but not toothpaste.

Independently, there are other theories. One is that toothpaste, because it is considered a drug, is more expensive to manufacture, and gets excluded for cost. Another theory is that the toiletries are there for marketing, not practical purposes— there are luxury soaps and lotions to flatter the guest, but there is no such thing as aspirational toothpaste. Another is that people are likely to bring their own, since it is less likely than shampoo or lotion to leak. Yet another is that toothpaste is a more personal item, and so people are less likely to use it (as with hotel-provided deodorant or tampons). But these are all just speculation. He concludes

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.

That said, many business and resort hotels do have toothpaste available upon request.

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    "Excuses" doesn't quite seem like the right word to me, but the main reason for this comment is to add support for the marketing angle: the few times I have seen toothpaste (in the US) were in small, independent hotels and the toothpaste was a new product line of a small, regional manufacturer of natural toiletry products. – phoog Mar 1 '16 at 4:39
  • I can't remember whether I have seen it or not during my stay in Japan (since I usually bring my own toothbrush and toothpaste), but I can definitely say that I haven't seen it in Australian hotels. – Michael Lai Mar 1 '16 at 5:13

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