The less you can pack, the better, so knowing ahead of time that a hotel offers free amenities means less pre-trip planning (and more room in your suitcase). We talked to experts about the most common items hotels will provide at no extra charge (and what items you should always remember to bring).
1. Food and Beverages
Aside from complimentary breakfast, a lot of hotels offer complimentary hors d’oeuvres, snacks and beverages. For example, all Kimpton Hotels and Resorts offer complimentary wine hours from 5 to 6 p.m. daily, and many offer family-friendly games and activities during the receptions. At all Embassy Suites by Hilton properties, guests can enjoy complimentary drinks (including alcoholic beverages) and snacks at evening receptions. At Homewood Suites hotels, there are complimentary evening socials with free beverages and small-plate offerings that are often so filling, they could be considered a full meal!
2. Baby Gear
Kimpton hotels offers complimentary baby gear to use in your destination, including strollers, bouncy seats, and even car seats. The Martinhal properties in Portugal and Beaches Resorts in the Caribbean also offer a plethora of free baby gear to use.
Did you know many hotels provide free shuttle service to and from the local airport and nearby attractions? For example, many hotels (not just Disney World Resort Hotels) in Orlando provide complimentary transportation to the parks, and the newly opened Origin Red Rocks in Golden, Colorado, even provides complimentary shuttle service to and from Red Rocks Amphitheater (via the VIP Concert Package) and downtown Golden. Going on a cruise? Some hotels near cruise ports offer free or cheap transportation to your cruise ship, too. Other properties (often luxury hotels) provide house car service to locations within a few miles of a hotel.
4. Kids’ Entertainment
If you get to the hotel and realize you left the backpack containing all the kids’ entertainment items at home, call the front desk. Many hotels will let guests borrow board games, DVDs and even books. They may have these items in the common area or lounge or at the front desk. For example, the Crawford Hotel in Denver offers kids a choice of free toys upon check-in, and at the Chanler in Newport, Rhode Island, kids get a free S’mores kit to use at the open fire pits around the property. Kimpton, Ritz-Carlton, and Four Seasons hotels and resorts have fun, free amenities and toys for kids, too.
Kids’ clubs are offered complimentary (or included in the rate) at some all-inclusive (or even non all-inclusive) resorts, such as the Fairmont Mayakoba, listed among the 14 Best Resorts With Free Kids’ Clubs. “Any family with young kids knows how hard and expensive it can be to find help,” says Jennifer McDermott, who has spent 10 years in the travel industry and is now the Consumer Advocate for travel comparison website, finder.com. “When staying at a hotel, provided you pick one with childcare facilities, you will have the opportunity to enjoy your vacation without the little ones for a little while as part of the room cost.” Check with the hotel prior to booking it to see if childcare services are offered.
6. Tech Devices and Chargers
So many guests travel with electronic devices such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets that it would be hard for a hotel not to offer chargers. Many hotels provide universal charging devices, and more and more hotels have docking stations and charging pods in the guestrooms (as long as you have the correct charging cord, you’re in luck). Traveling to another country? Many hotels also offer power adapters.
Hotels usually offer most bathroom essentials, plus a few surprising extras.
- Both lotion
- Cotton Balls and Q-Tips
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Shaving cream and razors
- Sewing kits
- Hair ties
- Shower caps
8. Workout Equipment
Many yogis want to keep fit while they travel and don’t want to lug their own yoga mats. Hotels such as Hyatt, Affinia in New York City and Washington, D.C., and the W Hotels offer mats in the room for complimentary use. EVEN Hotels has cork flooring and equipment in-room to make workouts easy and effortless. They also have fitness videos in rooms to help guide you through a routine. Westin Hotels have a whole Gear Lending service, including the use of New Balance shoes and clothing for you to borrow during your stay for only $5 or the local currency equivalent. They even give you a new pair of socks to keep!
8 Things You Should Always Bring to a Hotel
- Reading Material: Hotels sometimes keep a library of books for guests to use in the lobby, but if you’re in the middle of your favorite page turner, don’t leave it at home on your nightstand.
- Steam Iron: Hotels always have an iron on hand but if you prefer to get those wrinkles out with a steamer, you will want to pack a steam iron. This travel version fits in the palm of your hand so it’s not too bulky and easy to pack.
- Wrinkle Release Spray: Rolling clothes is the best way to save space when packing, but can easily wrinkle some fabrics. If you don’t want to pack the steam iron, make sure to bring a small bottle of wrinkle release to help smooth out clothing creases so you can save the space, but still look your best.
- Laundry Bag: People often overlook this massively useful thing. Depending on the trip, you may not have a chance to do laundry. A laundry bag helps keep your dirty clothes separate from your clean clothes, which you will truly appreciate on day 9 of a long trip in a humid location.
- Over-the-Counter Medications: Travelers may be surprised to find that drugs like ibuprofen or cortisone cream that are normally available over the counter in the U.S. are not in other countries. Make sure to bring any drugs you might need in case minor health problems arise.
- Local Cash: Always arrive with at least some local cash. You never know what the ATM, bank, exchange or credit card situation might be when you land, and you never know when you may have first access to some local currency.
- Sleep Mask and Earplugs: They’re good on the plane or if you really need to catch some Zzzs on a bus or train. A sleep mask and ear plugs are also good if you’re staying in noisier areas like huge cities. You won’t think about it until that one time you really need them, and then you’ll be glad you packed them.
- Duct Tape: Duct tape is useful for anything and everything when traveling—child-proofing your room, taping the curtains to the wall if they’re letting too much light in at night, removing lint from clothes, and more!
The rule of thumb when deciding what to pack and what to leave at home is, if you rely on it heavily in your daily life, bring your own. Or better yet, call the hotel ahead of time and get their list of freebies, so you can plan accordingly.