We adore minibars. Although the concept can seem a little dated with all those miniature bottles rattling round and carrying extortionate price tags, we know that having your own personal bottle of chilled sparkling water on arrival or moreish cookies to nibble with your fair trade morning coffee is something even #boholovers don’t grow tired of.
Whilst hotel owners work hard at getting the lighting just right and tirelessly ensure mood-enhancing scents float through the reception to the guest rooms, choosing items to fill up the minibar can often get forgotten about; it’s hidden away behind doors, under tables, inside rooms. But perhaps that’s part of its charm.
Pioneered by Hilton in the 1970s, minibars were seen as a luxurious addition to hotel rooms. Packed with (expensive) little treats for weary travellers, their contents could momentarily ease your mind and quench your thirst and hotels would cash in on this. It’s easy money when you have a 370% mark-up on a bottle of beer.
More recently, traditional minibars have fallen out of favour with hotels and guests. They’re seen as a time consuming hassle for hotel owners who constantly have to re-stock and monitor them and with the rise of the budget traveller, they’re often avoided because of the obvious overpricing.
Everything tastes better when it’s free
Turning the concept on its head, many boutique hotels are now choosing to give their guests something for nothing. It’s actually an inexpensive way of saying ‘thank you for choosing us’ and almost certainly lead to repeat business as our #boholovers can confirm; complimentary treats always help to make a great first impression last.
“I can’t explain why free Cracker Jacks thrilled me, but they did.” Kim-Marie, Luxury Travel Mom
Making minibars boutique
Checking into a boutique hotel should always a special experience. Whether that’s because it feels intriguingly unusual or comfortingly familiar, the experience should arouse our senses in every way possible. Choosing the right products is key so here’s how to avoid falling into the trap filled with stale peanuts and flat prosecco:
Is there anything tastier than freshly baked goodies? We think not! Leaving a couple of fresh cookies in the room rather than a packet of dull biscuits tells guests that the hotel has time for them – that they want to indulge them with thoughtful treats, not cheap snacks.
It’s worth noting that the contents of a minibar directly reflect the hotel so offering locally sourced produce is the perfect way to help guests settle in, further understand the hotel’s vision and provide a taste of what to expect during their stay. A boutique countryside retreat might want to offer cheese from the local farm and crackers from a nearby bakery. What about home-grown fruits, locally brewed beer, typical pre-dinner nibbles…
The luxury of slipping into bed with a fabulous red wine or outrageously creamy hot chocolate is something we associate with our favourite boutique hotels and guests will always be excited by gourmet treats in a minibar. Rather than a regular bar of chocolate, why not organic, artisan or exclusive? Choose limited edition flavours or flavour combinations that are ever so slightly opulent for a truly indulgent experience.
It doesn’t have to cost the earth but if it does, make sure it’s personal to your guests and they won’t mind paying for it. Sending out a short questionnaire to guests to understand their preferences prior to their arrival is a great touch and some hotels now boast incredible “minibar” concepts, not necessarily based around food and drink. From sleep sprays to seduction kits to beauty fridges, upscale hotels are putting tantalising treats at their guests’ disposal for a completely unique experience.
Go outside the box
Literally. Amazing minibars may not actually be tiny fridges – they could be beautiful wicker hampers or a secret stash of goodies waiting beside the bed. If the products are focussed on well-being, perhaps shelves of treats hidden behind a gleaming glass door in the bathroom would be an enticing way to welcome guests.
We’re about to dive into a bag of posh potato chips but we would love to hear your thoughts on minibars in boutique hotels – have you enjoyed any treats that added extra sparkle to your trip?