Luxury hotel minibars are the Sybaritic Single’s guilty pleasure. His favorite used to be at the Baccarat Hotel in New York when it first opened – it was all-Ladurée. The Ritz-Carlton Moscow was another special and all-Hédiard when the Russian billionaire Sergei Pugachev owned the iconic French gourmet brand.
When it comes to convenience, minibars are great, but high mark-ups have made them among the most neglected parts of hotel rooms. In response, some hotels are lowering their prices, others are getting rid of them altogether, while more generous properties don’t want guests feeling like they’re being nickel-and-dimed for every little thing and offer them at no cost at all.
At the super-luxe Park Hotel Vitznau on Lake Lucerne, the Swiss wine, organic tea and sparkling water are all included and so are the fabulous snacks (chips, chocolates, jelly, nuts, and more), which are prepared by the on-site Michelin-starred restaurant. Fauchon L’Hôtel Paris goes even further – the 20+ items inside its “maxi-bars” are customized to suit the taste of each guest – be it foie gras, gianduja or full-size Champagne bottles.
Sadly, there are also complimentary minibars that are quite austere and borderline pathetic. Aman Summer Palace in Beijing disappoints with four sodas, two small bottles of Voss, two sugary juices and two bottles of Tsingtao, while the tired old minibars of The Chedi Muscat contain 12 cans of fizzy drinks, six Evians, Amstel and Heineken as well as three refillable decanters of no-name vodka, gin and whiskey along with salty nuts and dried apricots – couldn’t be less healthy or inspiring.
Instead, the Sybaritic Single would have much more preferred a chargeable selection with a half-bottle of Ruinart blanc de blancs and a bag of caviar crisps (like at the Raffles Hotel Singapore) – tempting enough to pull on a hotel bathrobe, slide between those higher-thread-count-than-home sheets and stay in for the night.