Food & Wine

Sybaritic Single sounds off on luxury hotels’ minibars

Help yourself at Chateau Marmont

Help yourself at Chateau Marmont

As the Sybaritic Single continued his life-long round-the-world voyage, he made a curious observation at two of the famous luxury hotels in California.

Recently, he checked-in to Chateau Marmont where he discovered a full-size retro General Electric refrigerator in the kitchen of his suite. His grandmother used to have a similar one in the 1980s. While this fridge in Los Angeles appeared to be in heavy need of defrosting and struggled to produce decent ice cubes, the selection inside it caught the Sybaritic Single’s attention.

Normally, some good Champagne and mineral water is what the luxury jet-setter is looking for in his room. Here, he had a full selection of food and beverage enough to keep him locked inside the suite for a week without any external supplies. Apart from Champagne, it had a generous selection of his favourite Alain Milliat juices, which eventually replaced breakfast, plus his favourite brand of mineral water, some cheese and a wonderful assortment of various gourmet snacks. A few teabags were also there, surprisingly at $3 each, but who pays for a teabag when there is Champagne?

A couple of days later, the Sybaritic Single arrived at Belmond El Encanto in Santa Barbara, the destination he always desired to visit, again due to his grandmother watching the never-ending soap opera when he was a child. What he discovered in his cozy bungalow was another extreme: it was totally empty. The card inside it invited you to make a selection from a menu and the minibar would be stocked accordingly. It was definitely a first for the Sybaritic Single.

What does make a perfect minibar in a luxury hotel today? For the Sybaritic Single, the great examples are The Ritz-Carlton Moscow (mostly Hédiard products) and the Baccarat Hotel New York (mostly Ladurée, though Fauchon used to be better). With these products, the minibars tempt to be emptied at once. Four Seasons George V and Hôtel Plaza Athénée in Paris are other great examples of well executed minibars which actually work, with a very precise selection of high-quality items.

It is so disappointing to find an uninspiring chocolate bar or a dehydrated potato snack in a luxury hotel room. Automatic sensor minibars are out of question, of course.

One sideline: Hotel Jen Singapore’s ‘minibar’ is an eye-catching Smeg (see above).