What’s this thing with loofahs in hotel bathrooms? It seems to have become a standard thing, now, to provide one along with the cotton wool pads and buds and complimentary shower cap. And sometimes there’s a loofah even when all other basic commodities are conspicuously absent – no q-tips, no toothbrush, just a flat, rectangular packet with a body-scuffing loofah inside.
Even the most basic of hotels seem to now present a free loofah in the room as though it’s the most pedestrian of things. Like it’s a normal, everyday item, such a pen. Except that everyone needs a pen, everyone knows how to work a pen, everyone could happily pocket a pen happy in the knowledge that they will, at some point, use it. A loofah is somewhat obscure, don’t you think?
Because who uses a loofah on a regular basis? Am I excluded from some sort of national loofah-ing obsession? Has this craze passed me by? Is half of the world’s population preoccupied with sloughing off dead skin cells with a little oval of webbed fabric, so enamoured with the experience that they require a travel loofah for when they pop away on business for the night? Would it ruin their trip if they ran to the hotel bathroom to find that a loofah had not been provided? Have hotel chains merely responded to tens of thousands of guest feedback forms all requesting the provision of a disposable loofah pad?
I need stats and I need them now.
The loofah pad. There it sits, propped up next to the tub like a bizarre reminder of something that’s completely irrelevant to you. Every hotel. Every bathroom. It’s like a man standing outside your house each week, holding a stack of magazines that you would never choose to read: anglers weekly, for example. Why is he here? You’d think. Who has sent him? I never fish! Well neither do you loofah, but the hotels seem to think you should. Perhaps they are concerned for our skin health, maybe they think it’ll give us something to do so that we don’t start making toasties in the trouser press or re-wiring the wall lights. Maybe it stops people from using so many towels, because they have less skin to dry, or maybe they think they need less heating because everyone will have frictioned themselves to a desiccated crisp.
The strangest thing is that the loofah is offered when virtually nothing else is. I recently stayed somewhere that had nothing proferred but a loofah, a bible and a bar of soap. My imagination sprints away from me with that combo; does it present some sort of opportunity for a form of self-flagellation? Does the loofah replace the knotted rope? The soap cleanses the mouth of the deceiver? Do salesman across the land sit there lit only by the flickering blueness of the television screen, loofing themselves to oblivion whilst jawing on a bar of Cussons and reading choice passages from the Old Testament?
Who bloody uses a loofah?
Also, I can think of better things to provide than a loofah. Effective ear plugs. An eye mask. Why are they never on offer – surely there’s more of a need for those, in a place where you’re more than likely to feel disturbed by other people’s noise or unfamiliar lighting.
When have you ever been grateful for a loofah? It’s the essential things you forget that you want to find there, lined up next to the bathroom sink. A tooth brush. A tampon. Mouth wash. Eye makeup remover. Not a loofah or a shoe-shine sponge. When the hell did you ever get to a hotel and lament the loss of your shoe shine sponge?
“Oh bollocks Maureen! My brogues! They’re covered in an almost imperceptible layer of London dirt! Did you remember to pack the shoe polish? No? For crying out loud Maureen! What about the shoe-shine sponge? I don’t believe this! My brogue leather is dull as a January morning, Maureen, I can’t go to see Cats with my brogues in this state!”
Who, at three am, when the next door room has been turned into a gin palace for eighteen American frat boys, asks for a loofah? A sewing kit? A shower cap? A shoe-shine sponge? Why is there never a set of ear plus when it is possibly the one scenario that is most likely to occur in a hotel with many and varied guests? Who ever says “oh well, I’ve forgotten my toothbrush and my breath smells like an elephant’s undercarriage but at least I can polish my ballet pumps.”
On what planet and in which era did a couple check into a hotel room and – oblivious to the sound of the TV blaring through the wall from the neighbouring room – search for a loofah over a pair of ear plugs?
“Janet. Did you remember the loofah? The loofah Janet! I need to pep up my circulation and slough off the day’s dead skin! For Pete’s sake Janet, I don’t care if you remembered the ear defenders so that we can get a decent night’s sleep – I’ll be tossing and turning all night if I have to repose knowing that I’ve not shed the spent proportion of my epidermis.”
What’s wrong with a flannel for a bit of rough-scuffing? At least it’s washable. Re-usable. A disposable loofah can’t be the most ecologically sound way of giving your body a quick buff. Do these hotels get a job lot of loofahs for a reasonable price and decide that it’ll make them look more high-brow? Is it the same with the sewing kit? Who decides which amenities a hotel should provide?
How many times – honestly – have you required a sewing kit whilst in a hotel room? Don’t get me wrong, I love a little hotel sewing kit. I don’t own an actual, bona fide sewing kit, just thirty million tiny Borrowers sewing sets with five diferent colours of thread spooled neatly around a piece of card, the needles and three buttons tucked in behind and a safety pin (one of the most useful things on earth!) attached to the top in a little flourish of practicality. I take these kits and I stow them at home in my first aid drawer and once every five years, when a button in a particularly annoying position pops off (usually over the widest point of my stomach, after dinner), I congratulate myself for having had the sense to take the hotel sewing kit. Because if I hadn’t taken it then I wouldn’t have owned a needle or a thread, never mind a pre-threaded needle in a choice of five different cotton colours.
But do I need a sewing kit in my hotel room, in place of an infinitely more useful toothbrush (rarely found) or teeny bottle of mouthwash (only ever found in Soho House hotels and a scattering of others)? How many people do you think genuinely ever need one?
“Oooh, Geoffrey look! A sewing kit! My breath could stun a drunk gorilla at thirty paces and I’ve had to wash my face using the corner of the eiderdown instead of a flannel, but at least I can darn that hole in my coat that I’ve been meaning to darn…never.”
Who are these travellers that loof, that sew, that shine their shoes, that press their trousers? I need a show of hands please. Tell me; which hotel provisions do you find properly useful, which do you consider random? What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever found in the free amenities basket/tray?
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