The vanishing hotel mini-bar

The vanishing hotel mini-bar

There is a certain excitement about opening the door and walking into your hotel room. The fun of new things to look at, new smells, and even the anticipation about what the stay will be like.

I love the childish rush and uncontrollable urge to bounce on the bed, open cupboards and drawers, push aside the blinds to check out the view and flick through every available channel on the TV. My frenzy of activity culminates on opening the mini-bar as I cross reference the exotic lager, imported bottled water and late night chocolate fixes with the hotel price list and wonder why anyone would pay the extortionate charges – all the while in the back of my head justifying to myself why I might need to consume them later instead of visiting the local convenience store.

I like to call it my hotel room check-in ritual.

But there are a growing number of budget hotels where the climax of the hotel room check-in ritual is missing. The mini-bar is empty!

The concierge at the 4 star Holiday Inn Darling Harbour Sydney says “There were quite a few instances in the past where guests would drink the alcohol and then fill the bottles back up with water. So we had to remove the mini-bar.”

Replacing stolen alcohol is expensive and for many budget hotels this is a cost they simply cannot afford. But is taking away the mini bar the best solution?

Take a look quick through Trip Advisor and you’ll find thousands of disgruntled guests moaning about their empty mini-bars. “National Disaster!” Is the negative feedback these budget hotels receive on social review sites really worth the cost of a couple of drinks?

Perhaps placing a card in the bar fridge explaining why the mini-bar is empty could go someway to help unsuspecting, ritualistic guests understand and be more positive about the change.

What has been your experience. How many hotels have you stayed in that have taken away the mini-bar or other facilities because of the actions of a few? Leave a comment and let us know.

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  1. James · November 23, 2012

    As a Food and Beverage Director of a 5-Star hotel, I can tell you that you would be shocked at how common it is for all of the above to happen. A day does not go by where my team does not find re-sealed items and water in liquor bottles. On the other side I find that mini-bar’s are great places to feature amazing products and you are truely starting to see unique local offerings (Food or retail) that tell a story about the region. As well as kitch-y items (ive seen pink duct tape, and other items) that tell a stroy about the hotel.

    • roomcritic · November 23, 2012

      Thanks for your insiders view on this issue. And yes we love it when a hotel chooses more interesting mini-bar items from the local area.

  2. Anita Mac · November 12, 2012

    While I have never even considered doing something like filling a bottle of alcohol with water, I was once the victim at the other side. Staying in a gorgeous hotel in Coffs Harbour for the night, I did as you do – check out the minibar. Sure enough, in the candy bars and chips – a bag of potato chips had been eaten and the bag carefully puffed up and put back, looking like it had not been eaten! I was shocked to find this! I reported it right away and luckily was not charged for it!
    I am cool with the empty mini bar – I am just worried that the empty fridges will soon go by the wayside too! I usually fill them with goodies like yogurt and food and have been known to request the hotel empty out the minibar so that I have space for my goodies. Seeing as most hotels have added snack machines or little canteens near the front desk, I know I can satisfy my need for late night munchies if I need to! Just – please, please, please – keep the fridge in the room! Sadly, I find they are vanishing too!

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