There are many reasons why staying in a top hotel can be such a treat. Great beds (and someone to make them for you), fluffy towels, and room service are just a few. While some travelers never use anything but their own shampoos, lotions and soaps, many of us love to try the new brands a hotel offers — often brands we might never splurge on at home.

Usually, that includes bringing some of the little bottles and little bars of our favorites back home. (Although, to be fair, many travelers, including most of our office, bring such items back to donate to women’s shelters.)

Of course, the downside to these little bottles, besides the cost to the hotel, is the waste. This is why some cruise lines and hotels are beginning to switch over to refillable dispensers. Celebrity Cruises, for example, has been using dispensers in standard cabins for some years now, instead of individual bottles.

In London, for example, the Radisson Mayfair, a recently refurbished five-star hotel is doing the same thing. The hotel’s shampoo, conditioner, soap and lotion are all made by Gilchrist and Soames, and are ONLY available through in dispensers within easy reach of the shower, tub and sinks. This is good for the environment, but not so good if you want to try any of their products at home. (Although all of the products can be purchased online.)

Personally, I have mixed feelings about this development. In trying to be environmentally conscious, I’ve gotten used to hanging up towels, turning off lights, and using the necessary signs for them not to change bed linens every night. And if a hotel has separate garbage cans for recycling, I’ll try to use those too.

But the little bottles and soaps are somehow different. I don’t use that many hotel products, though I sometimes bring items home for the shelter and have taken home an extra bottle of a particularly wonderful shampoo or lotion for myself on occasion. (After a splurge at the Four Seasons London once, I enjoyed the remnants of a larger than normal container of Floris shampoo a few times over some months. It was a great reminder of the trip.)

It will be interesting to see how this trend spreads, or doesn’t spread, throughout the industry. No doubt as with many things, it will depend on customer feedback. My sense is that at moderate to budget properties, most people won’t care, as the products provided are pretty basic. (Although Holiday Inn Express, for example, just signed a new deal this year with Bath and Body Works.)

At the higher end of the hotel spectrum, however, where products from big names like Bliss, Aveda, and Occitane, are standard, travelers may feel differently. No doubt in a year or two we will know whether the dispensers are the wave of the future, or another in a long line of travel industry experiments that end up down the drain.

How about you? If a hotel chain asked your opinion, which would you prefer — little bottles or dispensers?

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