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Sheraton is more than a hotel. It’s a lifestyle brand. I stayed at one for a fencing tournament recently, and I liked their toiletries enough to see if it they would sell them to me on the Internet. Turned out, man, what WOULDN’T they sell me on the internet? Sheraton’s online store sells their linens, their towels, even their box springs. That’s great, because I tried to sneak out with the box spring but couldn’t figure out how to get it in my fencing bag. The only part of the Sheraton Sleep Experience (their caps, not mine) that’s not for sale is the staff, so you’re gonna have to find your own human trafficker or learn to make your own bed, bucko.

Anyway, they sell the soap. That’s the important part.

The personal care line is called Le Grand Bain. The products they’ll give you at the hotel are bar soaps, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and body lotion. There’s also a mouthwash, but it’s spearmint and it doesn’t count; and a room spray, which is online exclusive and not provided for you. The scent is citron and vetiver. The citron leans more sweet than tart, and the vetiver is more soil-like than grassy. Altogether, Le Grand Bain smells like lightly smoked candied lemon peels. During my stay, I took a shower in the morning after a sleepless night. It was the right fragrance to wake up to. It’s a little like if Jean Nate took anger management courses. Instead of punching you awake with a fistful of lemon juice, it prods you gently. And if I took my shower as a ‘last thing I do before bed after long travel’ shower instead, Le Grand Bain would have been just as appropriate. It’s like an olfactory adaptogen, relaxing when you need to wind down and stimulating when you need to wake up.

Even though it’s the same scent for the whole set, some items turned out better than others. The base products affect the final scent. The body lotion is just okay. It’s not a rich or luxurious lotion, and it has more of its own scent that interferes with the perfume. The soap, shampoo, and body wash were all good, all about the same. Don’t inhale the soap too closely, it’s got that weird smell that most bar soaps have (what is that? Is it the lye? My homemade lye soap also has that smell). The lather smells fine once you’ve fluffed it out with a bath pouf.

The standout is the conditioner. The conditioner is the reason I looked Le Grand Bain up online. It’s similar to L’Occitane’s citrus verbena conditioner, except without having to endure L’Occitane’s fuckawful customer service. It’s a light-bodied conditioner that works well as a co-wash for my hair, which does not require extremely intense daily moisture. The fragrance broadcasts better in hot water than any of the other products, even the body wash. It fills the shower while you rinse. Unfortunately, it fades as soon as the shower’s over. No tenacity at all. It’s a shame, too, because it would be an especially nice fragrance to linger in hair.

As long as I’ve mentioned the temporality of conditioner, I’ll talk about the temporality of hotels. Sheraton has worked hard to sell as complete a reproduction of their sensory landscape to retail customers as possible. There’s even a little fragrance diffuser so you can get their ‘turndown fresh’ smell (which is different from the citron vetiver thing). That’s pretty cool, but I don’t want to feel like I live in a hotel room. I love the hotel room! But I want to be at the hotel when I’m at the hotel, and at home when I’m at home. The physical space of the hotel is intertwined with the emotional space I’m in when I stay there. Since I travel for fencing, that’s a high key mental state. The last thing I need is for the texture of my duvet to stimulate tournament jitters. Using a little bit of hotel soap lets me relive exactly the right amount of travel headspace at home, just when I want to.

Final note: I haven’t bought any of the conditioner yet. I’m just glad it’s there if I want it.

- 5/29/20