Those little bottles and packaged snacks in the room can be so tempting — but most travelers recognize the hotel minibar as a trap designed to separate them from unreasonable wads of cash. And therefore, many travelers skeptical of the markup make it a practice to avoid the minibar altogether. Indeed, according to Priceonomics, the average markup in a hotel minibar goes from about 77 percent all the way up to 300 percent.
Still, some indulge — and those who do say there's no shame in the minibar game. Writer Maureen Petrosky spends about seven nights a month in hotels and often takes advantage of the minibar as a solo traveler. She reasons, "Sure it's a crazy markup, but so is a bottle of wine in a restaurant. Hotels are also part of the service industry so those markups cover the man power to stock them and to clean up after. For me, just like in a restaurant, I'm paying for the convenience. And after a long day of travel or crazy day at work, it's worth every penny."
Some hotels say their minibar amenities are actually not even priced for sticker shock. Shawn Roach, general manager of HGU New York, says that hotel's items are priced "so our guests are not deterred but rather enticed to seek out the items." There, roasted cashews and salted peanuts cost $6 per bag.
Beyond that, cocktail blogger Emily Arden Wells of Gastronomista believes there's additional value in a minibar, especially if there are local, carefully selected spirits and curated artisanal snacks as a way to help hotel guests truly experience the destination. When she's traveling, she always peeks into the minibar — just in case.
"You never know what you're going to find," she tells Jet Set. "One of my favorite mini-bar experiences was at the Hotel Emma in San Antonio, Texas, where they stock every room with a margarita kit complete with a mini shaker, fresh limes, a juicer, tequila, and triple sec."
Likewise, Italy's Casa Angelina thinks of the minibar as more than a fridge — but a chance for luxury: Its options include artisanal biscuits from the best patissier on the Amalfi Coast, and fine Italian Amedei chocolate.
All told, some jet-setters who swear by the minibar say it can be a great way to discover local goods, a reasonable tradeoff for convenience, and — in some cases — not even really a budget buster after all.
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