Confessions of a Hotel Shampoo Mini Bottle Collector

For the good of the planet, my soon-to-be-former hobby is being mandated out of existence

Hotel shampoo mini bottles will no longer be collectibles.

I’m going to miss bringing home hotel shampoo mini bottles. Collecting. Swiping. Hoarding. Whatever you want to call it. In recent years, I’ve counted as many as 200 of so-called “Little ’Poo” bottles housed in a collection under my bathroom sink.

The tail end of a hotel shampoo mini bottle collection.

Yes, I know its environmentally correct to eliminate tiny plastic toiletries from hotel rooms. Kudos to Marriott International. By the end of 2020, the world’s largest chain will pull small plastic bottles (of shampoo, conditioner and bath gel) from 7,000 hotels (representing 30 brands) in 131 countries.

Annually, this will keep 500 million single-use bottles (1.7 million pounds of plastic) out of landfills, according to Marriott. 

IHG (the corporate entity that owns InterContinental, Kimpton, Holiday Inn and other brands) is also following suit and will stop using mini bottles by the end of 2021.

Walt Disney is doing the same in its resorts and cruise ships. California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed a law banning mini bottles from all state hotels starting in 2023.

Hey, I’m onboard. Sacrifices for the good of the planet come in all shapes and sizes. I’ll find a greener hobby.

Me and Little ’Poos

The prized Hermes mini shampoo bottle from Dubai.

My backstory: In the mid-1990s I was news editor for travel trade publication Successful Meetings. Along with serious stories about the meetings industry, I once created a contest calling for hotels to send in their most creative and colorful hotel shampoo mini bottles.

We received more than 50 entries from around the world. The winner was a stunning collection of interconnected toiletries that artistically formed a cityscape skyline. Note: We donated all the entries to a New York City women’s shelter.

That contest, however, turned out to be the gateway event for what would become a lifelong addiction to Little ’Poos.

Over the next two decades, I traveled the world to write more stories for Successful Meetings, San Diego Magazine and other outlets, including my own blog, During that time, my home collection swelled.

One time, it became the source of domestic conflict.

A former girlfriend went into my stash before for a shower. She later claimed her long hair required two Little ‘Poos. Fine—except she’d casually drained my prized minis from the 5-star Merrion Hotel in Dublin.

My Irish eyes weren’t smiling. Would you crack open somebody’s coin collection to make change with a 1943 copper penny?

A wine collector might have a sentimental connection to a 2004 bottle of Chateau Latour. I relish the white bottle of Hermès Eau des Merveilles shampoo I picked up during a 2008 trip to Dubai, when I stayed a night in the iconic, sail-shaped Burj al Arab on Jumeirah Beach.

My Little ’Poos don’t have monetary value. Some are lavender-scented. A few contain citrus extract. One is infused with sweet fig and olive. Whatever the smell, or shape of the bottle, each does capture the fond, far-off whiff of travel reminiscence.

Goodbye, Hotel Shampoo Mini Bottles

Time for a new hobby.

The replacement for mini bottles has already been rolled out in at least 1,000 Marriott properties: pump dispensers that are 10 times as big and are mounted on the shower wall.

Marriott president and CEO Arne Sorenson says the chain spent a great deal of time working with suppliers on the changeover. And on researching and developing tamper-resistant bottles.

Nobody asked me about it, but Marriott research suggests that guests like being able to gob larger amounts of shampoo from the dispensers. And the company’s surveys say some people are consciously relieved to not leave behind half-empty bottles.

It appears that higher-end luxury hotel brands—within Marriott and other hotel companies—may adopt the bigger dispensers but not necessarily tether them to the shower wall. The thinking being that if you can afford a $500-a-night room, you’re likely not inclined to take the big shampoo bottle home.

Contrary to that notion, note the admission of Marriott’s own president and CEO: Sorenson says his mother has long maintained a collection of hotel soaps in a drawer at home.

Sorenson’s mom and I are not alone. Malcolm in the Middle actor Frankie Muniz recently bemoaned on Twitter: “My mini hotel soap and shampoo collection isn’t gonna grow anymore!”

I feel your pain, Frankie. Human nature is change-averse. There are bigger obstacles to overcome, however, in the pursuit of a sustainable planet and plastic-free oceans. Being relieved of our Little ’Poos…pause to look skyward…is the least we can do.  J&J

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