One of the great perks of my job is that I occasionally get to review hotels.
Although that sounds like a great freebie, it’s actually a dangerous dabble in the finer things in life – you come away craving five-star service, Egyptian cotton sheets and power showers (before checking your bank balance and grabbing a self-catering bargain somewhere decidedly less glamorous).
One part of the experience I can – and do, always – take home with me is the lovely selection of beauty products. But the best can be addictive, and the addiction can cost you.
More than once, I’ve used up my stash of holiday minis and then found myself scouring the internet for the original at a reasonable price. But these brands are five-star stuff, and it’s a habit I need to curb.
Three of the most addictive hotel goodies I’ve found:
1. Kiehl’s amino acid shampoo (The Carlyle, New York, 2013)
Am I the only person who would rather not have the word ‘acid’ in the name of my shampoo? Still, without meaning to sound like multi-brand ambassador Nicole Scherzinger, this was a revelation. It may have helped that I was using it in a marble shower with a view of Central Park. But The Carlyle was also one of the most generous hotels with its top ups, and I came home with a vanity bag bulging with this gentle, purifying, softening shampoo which proceeded to last forever (not literally, unfortunately).
Real-world price: £16 for 250ml
2. Homemade relaxation oil (Sri Panwa, Thailand, 2013)
This hotel in Phuket has an incredible spa, which came in handy when I stayed there through a three-day rainstorm in November (goodbye beach). The only thing more exhilarating than a four-handed massage with my choice of homemade oil blend was realising at the end of my stay that you could buy all of their delicious spa products to take home. I recently got down to the last bit of the oil (which includes black pepper, cinnamon and vitamin E) and have mixed it with plain moisturiser so I can keep wearing it for a bit longer. I’ll know I’ve made it financially when I start getting this imported from Phuket.
Real-world price: 600 THB (£11) for 100ml
3. Aesop rind concentrate body balm, Iconic Santorini, Greece, 2014
This incredible boutique ‘cave hotel’ came complete with full-sized Aesop products (produced in Greece, a nice touch) and I’m now totally obsessed with this soothing body moisturiser, which smells of orange and lemon zest. It also soothes sunburn – I couldn’t test this aspect as it was windy and freezing when I was on the island – and melts into your skin instantly with no greasiness. Plus it just smells of sunshine.
Real-world price: £25 for 120ml