The Reason Why Hotels Don't Provide Toothpaste

dulezidar / Getty Images
dulezidar / Getty Images

In recent years, hotels have stepped up their amenities by offering guests fancy soaps, shampoos, and even quaint sewing kits. But why don’t they have essentials like a mini tube of toothpaste (or a toothbrush, for that matter) in rooms? The answer is more complicated than it should be.

A little while back, Slate writer Daniel Engber did a deep dive into the lack of toothpaste and found out it’s a combination of guests not asking for it and hotels not wanting to spend money on the product. The article stated that toothpaste is “treated like a drug” in terms of regulations, and would therefore be more expensive.

“Toiletries cost less than an oral hygiene product … the cost-per-ounce is lower,” Tim Kersley, former senior vice president at Gilchrist & Soames, a luxury hotel toiletries brand, told Slate back in 2013. “[Non-toothpaste] toiletries have the maximum bang for the buck.”

According to some hoteliers, toothpaste isn’t “aspirational” enough, meaning upscale toothpaste brands don’t exist. “Following these strands of logic, we might deduce that there’s no toothpaste in your expensive hotel bathroom because it’s not expensive enough ... and that there’s no toothpaste in your budget hotel bathroom because it’s too expensive,” Karen Gardiner wrote for Bravo. (Apparently Hyatt hotels do offer tubes of Aquafresh toothpaste in certain rooms.)

Also, toothpaste isn’t a requirement for luxury hotels to get a lofty five-diamond rating from AAA. According to Slate, the rating guidelines state that a five-diamond hotel would be required “to provide two kinds of soap, shampoo, an additional bottled item such as suntan lotion, a hair dryer, a sewing kit, and a shower cap." Toothpaste is merely a "'suggested' amenity, not required."

Forbes reported that Marriott went through a meticulous process and tested 52 brands of shampoo, conditioner, body gel, lotion, and soap before deciding on the right products to offer their guests. Imagine if they had to test dozens of toothpastes, too? The article also noted that, “Some products are too costly to provide in each room; toothpaste and toothbrushes are among them."

“Hotels could give us toothpaste but they don’t,” Slate concluded. “No one knows why, and no one cares. It’s how things have always been, and how they’ll always be. 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.”

So maybe if more hotel guests demanded toothpaste in their rooms, more hotels would oblige that request. Ask and you shall receive?

We've All Been Riding Escalators Wrong, According to the Manufacturers

Rattankun Thongbun/iStock via Getty Images
Rattankun Thongbun/iStock via Getty Images

If you live in a city, you probably know that the "rules of the road" when it comes to riding escalators are similar to those on an actual road—and should be taken just as seriously. Stand in the right lane, walk in the left lane, and never, ever block traffic by stationing yourself between the two.

But what if we told you that the one clueless tourist with a hand on each rail and a foot in each lane was actually riding the escalator correctly? According to the CBC, escalator manufacturer Otis Elevator Company recommends that “users stand in the middle of the escalator with hands on both railings for maximum safety.”

Lifehacker pointed out that Otis’s official list [PDF] of safety advice online doesn’t expressly mention using both handrails, but does encourage people to “keep a steady grip on the handrail” and “stand in the center of the step and face forward.” However, even if the passenger in front of you is standing in the middle with just one hand on a rail, you still wouldn’t have an easy time continuing your uphill climb without asking them to move.

Speaking of your uphill climb (or downhill march), it’s less efficient than you think it is. While choosing to walk might shave a few seconds off your personal commute, studies have shown that if all people stood, using both escalator lanes instead of leaving one for walking, the machine could ferry about 31 extra passengers per minute.

It’s not the only argument against walking on escalators. The CBC cites studies in Japan and China that suggest walkers not only increase the likelihood of escalator accidents, but they also contribute to the degeneration of the machines themselves.

While speed-walking city slickers might balk at the idea of standing still, hopefully this information will at least help them view stationary rail-huggers as safety-conscious citizens rather than oblivious nuisances.

[h/t Lifehacker]

The Reason Why No Photography is Allowed in the Sistine Chapel

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

As the home of some of the greatest works of art produced by humanity, the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City is a popular tourist destination (to put it mildly). If you've been one of the 4 million visitors to the famous landmark each year, you've probably learned of one aspect of the room filled with Michelangelo's beautiful, biblical frescos that tends to come as a surprise to first-time guests.

There's no photography or video allowed in the Sistine Chapel.

Yes, despite the rules that encourage quiet contemplation of the fantastic, eye-popping art that adorns nearly every inch of the walls and ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, visitors to the chapel will find their experience peppered with terse shouts of “No photo! No video!” from security guards. The prohibition against photography has been in place for several decades, and while many assume that the no-photography rule is in place to prevent the flashing of cameras from affecting the art, the real reason dates back to the restoration of the chapel's art that began in 1980 and took nearly 20 years to complete.

Restoration of Daniel in the Sistine Chapel
Michelangelo, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain in the United States

When Vatican officials decided to undertake a comprehensive restoration of Michelangelo's art in the chapel, the price tag for such an endeavor prompted them to seek outside assistance to fund the project. In the end, the highest bidder was Nippon Television Network Corporation of Japan, whose $3 million offering (which eventually ballooned to $4.2 million) was unmatched by any entity in Italy or the U.S.

In return for funding the renovation, Nippon TV received the exclusive rights to photography and video of the restored art, as well as photos and recordings of the restoration process by photographer Takashi Okamura, who was commissioned by Nippon TV. While many initially scoffed at the deal, the high-resolution photos provided by Nippon offered a hyper-detailed peek behind all of the scaffolding that hid each stage of restoration, and eventually won over some critics of the arrangement.

As a result of the deal, Nippon produced multiple documentaries, art books, and other projects featuring their exclusive photos and footage of the Sistine Chapel restoration, including several celebrated collections of the photographic surveys that informed the project.

The ban on photography within the chapel remains in effect despite the waning of the terms of Nippon's deal. In 1990, The New York Times reported that Nippon's commercial exclusivity on photos expired three years after each stage of the restoration was completed. For example, photos of Michelangelo's epic depiction of Last Judgment were no longer subject to Nippon's copyright as of 1997, because that stage of the restoration was completed in 1994.

For the record, Nippon has stated that their photo ban did not apply to "ordinary tourists," but for simplicity's sake—lest some professional photog disguised himself in Bermuda shorts and socks and sandals—authorities made it an across-the-board policy.

Last Judgment in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel
Michelangelo, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain in the United States

The “No Photos! No Video!” rule remains in place for the Sistine Chapel (though as some recent visitors can attest, its enforcement isn't exactly strict). Given the damage that can be caused by thousands of cameras' flashes going off in the chapel each day, it's no surprise that Vatican officials decided not to end the ban when Nippon's contract expired.

After all, the chapel houses some of the greatest art in the world—and a gift shop stocked with souvenir photos, of course.

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