How This Expensive Temptation Evolved

When it comes to resisting the hotel minibar, who hasn’t paid $10 for a $2 item in the supermarket at least once?

Personal peccadilloes aside, there’s probably no more thoughtful feature of hotel life than whether or not you need a minibar and that’s something worth taking. into account when booking, rather than taking it for granted.

Introduced in the mid-1970s in high-end hotels as a sign of true luxury before becoming ubiquitous, the minibar has been repeatedly declared dead over the past few decades by trend watchers, who point to changing tastes and travel habits.

If many hotels have indeed banned minibars, those that persist have also evolved in their offer.

Inclusions can be locally sourced gourmet treats, like at Melbourne’s Next, where the house’s aged spirits lure the thirsty.

Elsewhere, the in-room offer may have been removed in favor of a communal take-out arrangement in the lobby or even upscale vending machines, such as in the Cantina at The Isla, new to Batemans Bay.

Don’t assume there will be refrigeration in your hotel room. And if there is, is it set up with censors? Remove that bottle of Veuve to make way for milk and yogurt to snack on? You may be charged.

If refrigeration in a room is important to you, ask before booking. (Serviced apartments and rooms with kitchenettes, like those at the gorgeous R Hotel in Geelong, may be the best bet.)

Are you traveling with young children or have medication that needs to be kept cold?

Or are you a traveler who likes to cocoon, especially if the surroundings are particularly chic? Hang on to the spending, the minibar is here for you, especially at cutting-edge properties like QTs, which frequently receive rave reviews from guests for their imaginative and fun “experiential” items such as cocktail-making kits in room and local brand lollipops.

If you’re crazy about minibars, look for properties that offer “included” goodies and even free cocktail hours. “Included” doesn’t necessarily mean “free” – it’s built into your room rate, but it does mean you can stay there for a lifetime. Ovolo hotels exceed in the “included” stakes.

Typically, there’s no getting around the exorbitant markups that pay-per-item minibar contents come with and hotels list maintenance costs as expense factors.

Before you complain, consider how much you’re paying on top of the cost of ingredients to have someone serve you a cocktail in a nice glass you don’t have to wash — it’s kind of the same thing. And if you’re not left out, you can always anticipate your cravings and sneak in some BYO snacks and drinks.

If green credentials are important to you, the typically power-hungry nature of these small fridges, especially when multiplied by the sometimes hundreds per property, can create a pretty dirty footprint. Technology is improving — but you only need to be woken up by the hum and shudder of an old fridge motor to know how old the minibar is. Again, do your research before booking.

And if sobriety or avoiding food temptations is important to you, you can request that the minibar be locked or emptied before your arrival. Some hotels may charge for emptying — and if there’s an unquestionably unfair minibar charge — this is surely the one.

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