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Is the Free Hotel Minibar on the Rise?

Regent Phu Quoc

When you check into your spacious suite or villa at the Regent Phu Quoc, a luxury beach resort on an under-the-radar Vietnamese island in the Gulf of Thailand, you’ll be given a standard room tour to get yourself acclimated with your home-away-home. But nothing about Regent Phu Quoc feels or looks standard: The private plunge pool looking to the sea is massive (and so is the outdoor space that surrounds it), the terry cloth robes you get to enjoy during your stay are covered in a whimsical tropical pattern, and everything in your minibar (or in this case fridge and personal pantry) is included in your stay. No pesky little price list to scan just in case that bottle of water is gonna cost you an arm and a leg. The beer, the chocolate bars, the bottles of soft drinks, and the locally sourced coffee and tea are yours for the taking. And Regent Phu Quoc is not the only one; more and more hotels and resorts are starting to gift guests with free minibars, and we couldn’t be more excited. It’d be nice to not have to pay $12 for a small bottle of Evian.

Regent Phu Quoc in Vietnam includes access to the minibar for every guest
Regent Phu Quoc in Vietnam includes access to the minibar for every guest
Regent Phu Quoc
The property also has a sleek infinity pool
The property also has a sleek infinity pool
Regent Phu Quoc

In fact, so important is this offering to Regent that it rebranded its minibar concept into what it’s calling a refreshment gallery. Regent Phu Quoc is entirely more generous, with every guest being afforded complimentary access; whereas at the newly opened flagship property in Hong Kong, only those staying in suite categories get the free stuff. At the iconic Carlton Cannes, a Regent Hotel, it’s a half-and-half situation. Everything listed on the right side of the gallery’s price list is complimentary to guests. This includes soft drinks, local beer, and a variety of snacks, such as mini chocolate bars.

The refreshment gallery, according to Tom Rowntree, vice president of luxury brands at IHG Hotels & Resorts, is part of the Regent’s “with compliments” initiative, “whereby luxury is defined by the extra touches.” And as such, the “with compliments” program could include other perks like free laundry services, which for many travelers might be even better than snacks. But Rowntree adds that the overall inspiration behind offering any of it is to “provide guests with things they need, without small surcharges. [And guests see it] as an antidote to nickel-and-diming.”

Thankfully, Regent isn’t the only global hospitality outfit that wants to do away with nickel-and-diming, at least as far as minibars are concerned. Hyatt’s upscale brand Andaz is doing just that across its portfolio of 29 hotels—and the focus is on highlighting local food and drink makers. Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, for instance, stocks Maui Style Chips, The Original Cook Kwee’s Maui Cookies, Maui Brew Co. Island Root Beer, and Aloha Maid Pass-O-Guava Nectar juice to give your afternoon snack break a sense of place. Andaz Singapore assembles a similarly local selection: exclusive beers from Trouble Brewing, coffee from No Harm Done, and Singaporean snacks from Boxgreen.

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But if you think that minibars are only good for overly indulgent treats that you’d only want to savor under the cloak of darkness, think again. Andaz London Liverpool Street’s room inventory includes a category specifically designed for fitness enthusiasts. In these fitness rooms, a Peloton bike, dumbbells, and yoga equipment are part of the setup. But their minibars are health-minded, too: freshly squeezed juices, protein and cereal bars, energy drinks, milkshakes, and different types of water are stocked. But in the spirit of balance, there are cookies and chips from local purveyors in there, too.

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And naturally, at the months-old Six Senses Rome, guests can enjoy healthier snacks and drinks. Three different cold pressed juices (made exclusively for the hotel by Baba Succo), organic tea and almonds from Sicily, and freshly made biscuits are just some of the more wellness-minded fare you can sample during your stay. Pro tip: Grab the juice and the biscuits and take it up to the rooftop for a genuinely charming mid-day break with some of the best views of the Eternal City. (But, of course, there is also beer and wine in the minibar, available at cost, if you’d rather commemorate this moment with a buzzier sip.)

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For a lot of hotels that offer their minibars gratis, it’s pretty common practice for them to exclude alcoholic beverages (though sometimes with beer, it can go either way). At Bulgari Resort Bali, your villa is fully stocked with wine and beer that you’d have to pay for, but the non-alcoholic selection comes with your stay. And what the resort puts together is still quite impressive: organic Kombucha, Red Bull, San Pellegrino sodas, sparkling water, pink Himalayan salt chips, and tasty protein bars (one is made with local organic chocolate). In New York’s beloved Greenwich Hotel, the mini fridge is stuffed with everything from at-cost mini bottles of Moët & Chandon champagne to free-to-you sparkling Perrier water and some pineapple juice. But what’s most exciting might just be the basket of snacks that guests get to raid. We’re talking tubes of Rolos, Tate’s cookies, Junior Mints, Twizzlers, and many more throwback treats. Stick them in your bag and go watch a movie at the Angelika.

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A sitting area at Aman New York
A sitting area at Aman New York
Robert Rieger/Aman New York
Aman New York includes a collection of pre-made cocktails bottled by the hotel’s bar team
Aman New York includes a collection of pre-made cocktails bottled by the hotel’s bar team
Arnaud Montagard/Arman New York

Aman New York, however, takes the opposite approach. If you’re fortunate enough to stay at this hard-to-book Midtown sanctuary, your free mini-bar comes with the expected selection of drinks plus snacks (like chocolate-covered almonds, gummy bears, and pretzel bites). What’s completely next-level, however, is the collection of pre-made cocktails bottled by the hotel’s bar team. The complimentary three-drink lineup includes the Brooklyn, a Vesper martini, and a sweet-smelling Negroni that will transport you Upstate thanks to the aromatic, tart apple gin from Hudson Valley that’s been mixed in there. With amenities like this, there really is no reason to leave the warm cocoon of your guest room.

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But it’s not just properties from big-name hotel chains that are seducing guests with delectable freebies. Smaller independent properties are getting in on the action, too.

On the island of Hvar, the incredibly chic Maslina Resort (one of the few Relais & Châteaux outposts in Croatia) is quite lavish with its “first-round-on-us” minibar initiative. It’s exactly as it says: You will not be charged for your first round of beer from Varionica, a craft brewery from Zagreb; Guuc, a selection of additive-free Croatian juices; and so many house-made snacks. And because the owners of the hotel are French, you’ll also get a round of vin to enjoy during your stay; there’s your red and white, of course, but also a mini bottle of Thienot Champagne—Maslina is the only hotel in the country that carries the brand. Taking this a step further is in Copenhagen’s very hip Hotel Sanders, where every mini bar round is on them. The selection of Savoursmiths chips, Hey Yum sunflower candies, MELLŌW sea-salt chocolate, A Ration snack bars, and the hotel’s in-house line of beers is replenished daily.

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Is there something squirrel-like about polishing off a pack of sunflower candies in the middle of the night while jet lagged? Maybe. But at least you’re not paying for it.

Originally Appeared on Condé Nast Traveler