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Ah, the hotel mini bar: source of $5 candy bars and regret. We predicted last year that this amenity was on its last legs and bid it a hearty good riddance, but now The Loews Regency Hotel has just introduced a twist on the normally overpriced service that we can get on board with.
For an additional $30 per night, guests of Loews Regency Hotel will have free reign over the entire contents of the in-room mini bar, including sweet treats like Dylan's gummy bears and M&Ms; salty snacks, beverages including fruit juice, soda, and Red Bull, beers that include Brooklyn Lager; even Champagne and hard liquor (vodka, tequila, rum and Scotch).
There is a catch, though
There is a catch, though-- and it's a big one -- the mini-bar is not replenished during your stay, and the offer requires a two-night minimum. Still, with 25 items on offer, that adds up to just a little over $1 each. A fair deal for someone hungry, accompanied, and planning an evening in.
The Milk the Mini Bar offer ends August 31st. Early April rates start at $449.
[Photo: Facebook/Loews Regency Hotel]
Nope, it's not a Snickers bar or a can of Coke. It's actually hand sanitizer.
The Hotel Sorella, a 255-room luxury hotel in Houston, discovered that the 25-count box of single-use, b4 antibacterial hand sanitizer disposable gel outsells nearly every other item in the minibar. The only two things people take more are, funnily enough, vodka and water.
The $6 product is obviously a good thing to grab for when guests leave the hotel room and hit the city streets (Just so you know, there is soap in the bathrooms too. Lol.) But the hotel says it's actually the bigger purpose of the b4 sanitizer that gets people to buy. b4 donates half the profits from the sales to children-focused charities of The Midway Foundation. And that's one minibar purchase we can't feel guilty about.
Rates at Hotel Sorella start at $169 next weekend for a traditional king room.
[Photo: Hotel Sorella]
It's time for yet another rousing rendition of GUESS THE HOTEL! Here's how it works--we put up a picture of a hotel we recently visited along with a few hints below. You drop your guesses in the comments section and we'll reveal the hotel later in the week.
For this edition of Guess the Hotel, we head across the pond where we found BACON JAM in the minibar. Quite unusual. Here are some other funky things we noticed and loved about the hotel:
· There is a portrait of a woman wearing toilet paper on her head in the room.
· The toiletries were very masculine-smelling which was actually quite nice.
· The WiFi was totally free.
· The restaurant downstairs might just be THE place to eat these days. If you can't snag a reservation, no worries there are three other places to hang out and have a drink.
Think you might know what hotel we're hinting at? Well, we'll give you one last hint. We may have mentioned the hotel in the copy above. Just sayin'. Drop your guesses in comments below!
This is a first aid kit with two bandages, two Tylenol, two decongestants, 2 antacid relief tablets and one antiseptic towelette from In-Room Plus, a company that provides hotels with minibar products.
We've seen kits with Tylenol or Advil before but we like the additions of the decongestants and the antacid tablets. Because that's totally happened before when we've come down with a sinus headache or an upset stomach late at night. So this kit saves us from making the trip (or paying someone else to make it for us.)
This thoughtful touch all goes back to our argument of making the minibar accessible and affordable, rather than just eliminating it entirely. We could do without the full-sized bottles of alcohol and the overpriced nuts but a little first aid kit like this can really come in handy.
For the first time since its introduction decades ago, we saw the consumer push back against the minibar in 2013. Chalk it up to nostalgia, but a small part of us was surprised to see such a staple of the hotel industry begin to crumble. But nostalgia is all the minibar could hold onto, because the logical part of our brain was not surprised at all.
When the news first broke, we told you how we thought the hotel industry had gone about minibars all wrong with its decision making, jacking up the prices, installing electronic sensors that botched up billing (over a $2 can of soda, no less), and charging a fee to convert it to fridge space when guests decided they’d rather bring their own snacks as an alternative.
That said, explained, and accepted, it is hard to feel bad for hotels. What did they think was going to happen? Did they really think guests would flock to the fridge for $5 candy bars? An all-out focus on profit margins turned what could have been a useful, convenient amenity into a useless, don’t-even-look-at-that-thing waste of space.
In a move that is most certainly a reason to jump on the next hotel bed you come across, properties around the world have begun to pull the plug on the overpriced, in-room vending machines we call mini-bars. Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt are all onboard with the change, and while not all brands will follow along, we expect to see a major decline in numbers over the next couple years.
Now, the concept of the mini-bar is really great in theory. It's nice to have a beer or quick snack at your disposal in the room, but hotels really took the wrong turn with their approach, jacking up the prices, billing guests if they merely removed an item to inspect it, and charging for the "privilege" to have the mini-bar emptied for fridge space. They also ran into problems of billing, relying on a site inspection by staff to add the charges to the room. Guest honesty also came into play in a variety of ways. You could get out of a mini-bar bill pretty easily by refilling a vodka bottle with water or simply insisting you didn't have anything upon check out. Most hotels, if you push it enough, are not going to lose your business over a bag of M & Ms.
With that, we offer a hearty good riddance to the mini bar, and we applaud the big brands for beginning to make this much-needed change. According to reports, the decision came at the hand of guest complaints of high prices and, we're assuming, the resulting loss of income the hotel suffered.
Our standards for hotel minibars may have permanently shifted following a recent visit to London’s Café Royal. Not a feature we usually pay a lot of attention to, the luxurious, leather-encased cabinet housing a selection of premium liquors and fine glassware inside its Empire Suite was a stand out in an already pretty impressive 2,000+ square foot space.
When we last spoke about Café Royal (our pick for Best Hotel Renovation in 2012), the historic Grill Room and Domino Room – haunts of Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, and George Bernard Shaw – had been restored to their original splendor. Now, just over half a year later, six Historic Suites (of which the Empire Suite is the largest) are being added to the range of hyper-modern rooms the hotel already offers.
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We've started a series of what’s trending in hotels these days: What’s Out, What’s In. Do we like what we see? Think it's a dud? You be the judge!
What’s Out: Cheetos and johnnie Walker
What’s In: Locally-made or healthy alternatives
Sometimes it’s late in the day, dinner was hours ago and you’ve got the munchies bad, or it’s early and you just want to grab something before you rush out the door to your meeting. Your eyes drift over to the minibar, but that ubiquitous, teensy can of Pringles isn’t going to keep you fuelled, never mind toned. What’s a road warrior to do?
Fifteen Beacon goes beyond the standard M&M's and sodas to include local faves like Boston Baked Beans and Cape Cod all-natural potato chips, plus healthy alternatives including coconut water, protein bars and Emergen-C. To top it off, they even offer pampering products like cucumber eye-cream and Sprayology -- a holistic product for your travel-stressed immune system.
Local products abound at the Fairmont Pittsburgh including Betsy Ann Chocolates, Torn Ranch snacks, Naturally Yours trail mixes and local beers (Penn Pilsner and Yuengling). And here’s the best part: in keeping with the idea of “be good to your body, be good to the earth” they also offer complimentary, refillable glass bottles for you to fill with filtered water from dispensers located on each floor.
For you appreciative craft beer lovers, the minibar at Enchantment Resort in Sedona has swapped out mass-produced beer brands for locally-made Grand Canyon Pilsner. They also keep full bottles of local Arizona wines, chocolates, snacks and full-size bath products atop cabinets and vanities to really tempt you to indulge yourself.
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An India-based company that specializes in designing bars for high-end hotels throughout New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore (including ITC Maurya, where Obama stayed during a visit in 2010) has come up with a new concept that's sure to catch people's attention: a fully-equipped personal bar for hotel suites.
The nifty "BarTrender Pro" basically whittles down all the elements of a high-end hotel bar—cocktail mixing station, built-in refrigeration, dual zone wine preservation, separate storage for glasses and bottles—into one compact, fully integrated unit.
Just looking at it, we get the sense that even ignoramuses like us who have never bartended a day in our lives (save for once, during college, which was a failure on all accounts) would be able to slap together a half-decent beverage. With the bar's attractive smooth surfaces and backlit shelves, at the very least, we'd look good doing it!
The bar has been on display at multiple showrooms in Jasola and Mumbai, and plenty of folks have expressed interest in buying a unit for themselves, but the company's chief designer said that production is still being limited to two hundred per year. He went on:
"These are prized possessions, and we plan sell limited numbers each year per region. Luxury hotel chains have considered the bar for their suites."
What do you think? Is this something you would use if it showed up in your hotel room? Or would you rather just head downstairs and order a drink the good old-fashioned way? Let us know your thoughts below!
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Marriott swooped in last year and made plenty of Marriott Rewards members happy by adding the Carlton Hotel to its Autograph Collection. And while perhaps the place isn't quite as historic as its Autograph Collection sister hotel, The Algonquin, the Carlton still has a few tricks up its sleeves...
So for those of you planning on staying here, here's a little secret: up in room 1105, you'll find the exact bookcase you see pictured above. Looks like a normal bookcase, right? Wrong. The bookcase is in fact a door that opens onto a hidden wood-paneled room, accessible only to guests staying in room 1105, which is also known as The Speakeasy Suite.
For more photos, click through!
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We know how hard it can be getting out of bed sometimes. We normally use our iPhone alarm to jolt us awake (followed by a big cup of strong black tea), but we're aware there are other more soothing ways to get the job done. Like...a wake-up call from Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson when you stay at The Strand in New York City.
Sound crazy? Here's a little background: 50 Cent, along with entrepreneur Chris Clarke, founded a line of all-natural energy drinks known as SK Energy Shots back in 2011 (actually, the product name was originally Street King, but in 2012 it got abbreviated to the less confrontational "SK".) Better yet, the SK Energy brand has a philanthropic mission, with every energy shot sold providing a meal to a hungry child through the United Nations World Food Programme.
Now, the Strand has partnered with SK to offer the energy shots in all 176 guest rooms. But to really help raise awareness, the hotel is offering the option of a (pre-recorded, duh) wake-up call from Mr. P-I-M-P himself. No further details have been released, though we're wondering, if it happens to be your birthday, do you get your name called out in a special rendition of In Da Club?
It would be accurate to report that every time Britney Spears checks out of a hotel, the minibar has been cleaned out. But it would be more accurate to report that the minibar is actually emptied before she even gets there in the first place.
Us Weekly is reporting that, as a preventative measure, Britney's team requires all hotels to remove the contents of the minibar before the star arrives. That way, she won't be tempted back into her maniacal old head-shaving ways. She's got a proper job these days, crushing the dreams of aspiring pop stars. She ain't got time to be boozing it up in hotel suites!