The thought of spending £10 on a tiny beer, fizzy drink or packet of nuts from the hotel minibar might fill you with horror — but you’re not alone.
Rich Hall, an American comedian, hit the nail on the head when he said: ‘A hotel minibar allows you to see what a can of Pepsi will cost in 20 years’ time.’
Some guests have taken matters into their own hands. Last year, hotels on the Costa Blanca banned minibars in rooms after one in three visitors to the Spanish coastline admitted refilling the dinky bottles with water and other liquids (including urine) to avoid paying for them. Apparently, strong tea is a dead ringer for whisky.
From Manchester to the Maldives, we’ve rustled up a guide to the very best hotel minibars
It was not always thus. The very first minibar was installed in the Hong Kong Hilton in 1974, boosting in-room drink sales by 500 per cent.
Loved by bored businessmen and drunk rock stars, over-priced crisps and miniature spirits have been tempting us ever since then. Not so long ago, Britons were spending a staggering £526 million on minibar contents each year.
Former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher did his bit to boost minibar sales — although on one occasion it nearly finished him off. The singer only discovered a life-threatening nut allergy after choking on a peanut-flavoured M&M in his room one night.
Gallagher said: ‘I’ve done some stuff over the years but never, never did I think a blue M&M would be the thing that could have killed me.’
These days most major hotel chains have called time on the humble minibar, fed up with guests’ dishonesty and restocking costs. Yet some of the world’s chicest hotels have taken a different approach, turning the minibar into a selling point to showcase local, lavish or quirky products you won’t find anywhere else.
From Manchester to the Maldives, here’s our guide. And not a Toblerone in sight…
The Gourmet One
All 54 bedrooms at Fauchon L’Hotel Paris boast a baby-pink armoire stuffed with complimentary delicacies worth £135
HOW TO AVOID A FINANCIAL HANGOVER
- Ask for the minibar to be emptied if you can’t trust yourself when the munchies strike.
- Check the seals on bottles. The guest before you may have been less honest (and you don’t know what may lurk inside).
- Read the price list carefully before you get carried away. Minibar contents may cost up to 300 per cent more than they would in the nearest shop.
- Avoid touching anything you don’t intend to eat or drink. Many minibars are now fitted with sensors to automatically charge the room if anything is moved, even if it’s put back.
- Don’t fill minibars with your own drinks in Las Vegas. Hotels including Mandalay Bay and the Bellagio levy a £38 fee if they spy your snacks inside.
The first hotel from iconic Parisian delicatessen Fauchon was bound to be a foodie fantasy. All 54 stylish bedrooms boast a baby-pink armoire stuffed with complimentary delicacies worth £135, including freshly-baked macarons, madeleines, foie gras, chocolate truffles and a bottle of champagne.
Mini delight: The hotel will pack anything you don’t eat so you can continue the feast at home.
Book it: Rooms from £379 (hotel-fauchon-paris.fr).
The Healthy One
Feel suitably smug if you raid the in-room goodies at New York’s trendy Equinox Hotel, run by the upmarket gym chain of the same name. The saintly minibar is designed to enhance guests’ wellness and includes gluten-free granola (£9), kelp jerky (£9), probiotics (£15), fermented tea (£6) and face masks (£20).
Mini delight: Even the gummy bears (£6) are vegan and organic.
Book it: Rooms from £531 (equinox-hotels.com).
The Stylish One
Fanta and Kit-Kats wouldn’t cut it at a resort with its own art gallery and studio. So, the in-room bars at Joali Maldives come with glass decanters designed by Turkish artist Feleksan Onar, rose gold water bottles, top-of-the-range blenders and bowls of fruit to create your own smoothie. Everything included in the room rate.
Mini delight: Coffee from the vintage-style espresso machine.
Book it: Beach villa with pool from £1,520 B&B (joalimaldives.com).
The Retro One
Brace yourself for a sugar rush if you book a room at Manchester’s Hotel Football, owned by former Man United players including Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville. The free mini-bar is packed with childhood favourites like Space Raiders, Club biscuits, Fizz Wizz and drumstick lollies. What a result!
Mini delight: Cans of Vimto replace the booze in this bar.
Book it: Doubles from £75 (hotelfootball.com)
The Local One
At the Andaz hotel in Tokyo, the minibars are stocked with free local treats including rice crackers, vegetable juice and matcha sweets
Take a tasty tour of Tokyo without leaving your room at the city’s Andaz hotel, where mini-bars are stocked with free local treats including rice crackers, vegetable juice and matcha sweets. You have to pay for plum wine (£10.50) and Japanese beer (£5.60).
Mini delight: Be sure to try the yokan, a traditional jellied dessert made from red-bean paste.
Book it: Rooms from £405 (andaztokyo.com).
The Business One
Need to impress on a business trip? Swerve the shops and hit the minibar at Chicago’s Kimpton Gray instead to select an elegant tie (£29), lapel pin (£7.60) and pocket squares (£29) from local brand The Tie Bar.
Mini delight: Treat yourself to the irresistible stash of comfort food, too — chocolate chip cookies (£4.60), gourmet crisps (£4.60) and gummy pandas (£6).
Book it: Doubles from £189 (grayhotelchicago.com).
The Music One
Every night’s a party in Nashville. Stay at fashionable boutique hotel Thompson and you can start the evening in style in your room with handmade cocktail mixes (£4.60) from local drinks firm WithCo, bespoke scented candles (£38) and seven-inch vinyl records (£4.60) from hip Nashville label Third Man Records, the perfect souvenir to take home.
Mini delight: Even the minibar snacks are made in Nashville. Try Music City Munchie Mix (£5.40) and Hot Chicken Crackers (£5.40).
Book it: Doubles from £249 (thompsonhotels.com).
The Beer Lovers One
Every room at The DogHouse in Ohio has a fridge packed with curated BrewDog beers
No prizes for guessing what might be in the minibar at the world’s first craft beer hotel. Every room at The DogHouse in Ohio has a fridge packed with curated BrewDog beers (£3 each) plus an in-room beer tap to pour your own perfect pint in your pyjamas.
Mini delight: Need even more beer? There’s a mini fridge in the shower too.
Book it: Doubles from £131 (brewdog.com/usa/locations/hotels/doghouse).
The Vegan One
Everything from the bathroom products to the furniture meets vegan approval at London’s first luxury vegan hotel suite at the Hilton Bankside. The free minibar is no exception, with all-vegan drinks and snacks including crisps, cake bars and fruit juice.
Mini delight: The energy balls are particularly moreish.
Book it: Vegan suite from £400 (londonbankside.hilton.com).