The first two things I scope out in any new hotel room are the bathtub and the bath products. More so than having the opportunity to try new products, I'm always curious about this choice of product placement and how it plays into a hotel's overarching brand architecture and positioning. Is the property partnering with a young, colorful brand that's vibrant and embraces technology in their products (W Hotels and Bliss products), or more of a retro, vintage apothecary feel (The Bowery Hotel and C.O. Bigelow products)?
Despite having world-class spas, I find that a number of well-known European hotels still fall somewhat short in their product offerings. Many of them proudly display shampoo made by well-known fashion designers or fragrance companies. These products seem to be less ideal for sensitive skin, overly perfumed, and very strange colors. Bright blue shampoo and yellow bath gel, both of which are supposedly the same 'scent'? Errr.. no thanks. Rather than the hotel spending a premium to showcase a designer's name, I would generally rather that my shampoo be made by a well-known skincare line, and not a fine purveyor of Italian men's loafers. Extra points if the product is local.
Some of my favorites baths and body products from hotels are listed above, with descriptions below:
1. L'Occitane 'Verveine' line (Four Seasons Hotels worldwide)
Your likelihood of booking a room with a tub within the Four Seasons empire is fairly likely, as their sizable bathrooms with separate tub and shower come standard. As does their use of the L'Occitane line of products which have a natural, subtle lemon verbena scent. Their body lotion makes me feel like I'm still at the spa, even if I'm applying it while stuck in the last row of a 747 (a tall order even for L'Occitane's aromatic transformative powers!)
2. Sothys Hydra-Nourishing Body Lotion (Cap Estel, South of France)
This lotion has a subtle fig scent (one of my favorite scents) but unfortunately was one of the few in my room that was replenished with less regularity. I'll be looking online for this once I run out. Although...no shortage of excuses to try to visit this property in the future..
3. Davines 'Momo' shampoo and conditioner (Gramercy Park Hotel, NYC)
The hotel's extensive product selection more than made up for the 'cozy' bathroom scenario (and tiniest bathtub ever-- but hurrah, it was a bathtub, a total rarity in NYC). Davines is an Italian brand and not only do I love their simple packing, but their products smell heavenly. For some time, the full-size Davines 'NouNou' shampoo and 'Love' conditioner were my guilty pleasure so it was a total indulgence to use these products during my stay. For anyone who has walked into an Urban Outfitters recently, Mario Badescu products are the skincare line du jour and the GPH supplies a mini bottle of their face wash as well.
4. Island Company 'Tourist' Sunscreen (Necker Island, British Virgin Islands)
While not strictly a bath product, Necker supplies this sunscreen throughout the island. Again, I loved the playful packaging as well as the product itself. The label reads:
You just got off the plane and the sun is hot and scorching. But you don't want to wear heavy sunblock because going home pale isn't a good way to show off your trip to a faraway island. But let's be realistic, if you wear less than SPF 30 you'll be burned and hurting. Our TOURIST level lotion is the protection you require as you snap pictures and sip tropical drinks!
Their scent claims to be 'banana daiquiri' but it's fairly subtle-- not an overwhelming tropical punch. And it's not greasy. And it works! A+.
MY FAVORITE BATHS
This is one of my favorite spots in NYC and is ground zero for the growing neighborhood north of Union Square and Madison Sq. Park. I always make a point to request a room with a tub here, especially on winter visits. If you can, try to time your visit with truffle season (usually fall), when the restaurant downstairs offers fresh truffles to accompany most things on their menu. (Truffle risotto= beyond.) They will even fold in truffle shavings to your morning egg scramble if you ask nicely. (If you're looking for a lighter bite by the end of your stay, try Sweetgreens next door for a great selection of salads).
The bathtub in this hotel reminded me of the bathtub in Lost in Translation (one of my favorite movies). You could enjoy the views and not have to worry about drawing curtains for privacy from nearby buildings. There just weren't any nearby buildings. The St Regis towers over the fast-growing city and it is by far the city's tallest building (and apparently the world's 14 tallest building). It's peak often isn't even visible through the fog (smog?) when at street level, and being at smog-level definitely covered the city lights in a comforting haze when soaking in this tub.
When we booked this property for a retreat, we left this suite vacant for use as a meeting room, so unfortunately nobody from our group was able to use this incredible ancient stone bath. It is however the perfect vantage point from which to admire the ceiling fresco which was discovered during the building's renovation.
Another impressionable take away from Necker (there were so many), was the expansive Master Suite, which takes up almost an entire floor and juts out over the water, as if you're on a private boat looking out over the most gorgeous turquoise expanse. The indoor/outdoor space is integrated and in addition to a hot tub, the deck boasts a gorgeous egg-shaped tub, with the Virgin Limited Collection signature rubber duck.
MY DREAM BATHS
Queenstown is one of the most naturally beautiful places on the planet. This outdoor bath/hot tub offers an unparalleled vantage point from which to enjoy the aptly-named Remarkables Mountains. Unfortunately we didn't get to see this property in person but it's certainly on the list for a future visit.
This property (and destination) has been on my radar for some time. This small boutique hotel sits minutes from the super chic surfer town of Punta Del Este (known as the St Tropez of South America). Each room is decorated in full by a local artist. Their sister property, Playa Vik, has the most incredible cantilevered infinity pool, just FYI.
These bathrooms include granite tubs and limestone floors but their defining features are definitely the spectacular views they afford.
I've been familiar with the gorgeous stilted bungalows of the Maldives and Tahiti, but these Water Villas at the Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives offer something even more unique-- a submerged glass tub.