Guide to Hotel Amenities
When checking into a hotel, the amount and type of amenities will differ on an individual basis. Some chains are known for having a stock list of amenities, others may be a glorified case of roughing it, and some strive to provide as comfortable and deluxe an experience as possible. There’s also a categorical difference with amenities, as they can either be part of the hotel room or billed as extra.
A free continental breakfast is almost always found at hotels, but for guests who fancy more than just a bagel and cup of coffee may find themselves paying for it. Dining choices and quality vastly differ, from an extensive room-service menu and an on premise restaurant to instructions to the closest supermarket or a gift shop stocked with quick-eat snacks. Another alternative is all-inclusive hotels where all meal costs are worked into the total cost.
At larger hotels—mainly because there’s the space—guests can find fitness centers that are accessible with their room key card. Depending on the size of the fitness center, various equipment is supplied, such as stationary bikes, treadmills, stair climbers, ellipticals, hang bars, weights, floor mats, exercise balls and anaerobic training machines. Sometimes there are TVs for the exercisers, but that’s not always the case. At larger or higher-level hotels, additional exercise options like a golf course, squash court, tennis court or racquetball court may also be available.
In-Room Safe and Mini Fridge
Having a place to store food and valuables is usually found in middle- to upper-level hotels, and most often without extra cost. Accessing the mini bar, though, does come with a cost, and a very marked-up one, too.
Laundry and Dry Cleaning
Just like valet parking, some hotels may offer “valet laundry” in which, for a fee, a hotel employee will launder and fold your clothes, and either deliver them to your door or have them available for pickup in a central location. Other hotels may dispense with the “valet” part and simply offer laundry machines where guests can do their own laundry for a lower price.
Almost all hotels, even ones located in downtown cores of metropolitan cities, have parking spots available to guests, either underground, at street level, or in a designated outdoor lot. High-end hotels tend to offer valet parking—at a fee and tip—while some hotels with more affordable rates may charge for parking to cover their costs. Before parking, check with the concierge to see if “ins and outs” are allowed.
Items such as a coffee maker, bathrobes, shampoo/conditioner/hand soap, towels, clock radios, hair dryers, irons and ironing boards, mouthwash, and shower caps are more likely than not found in hotel rooms as standard amenities. To combat theft of personal items like towels, some hotels outfit them with Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, while others, like hair dryers, coffee makers and ironing boards, are secured by locks. Miscellaneous toiletries, however, are expected to be used up within a certain range.
While not all hotels accept animals on their premises, those who do may also offer pet-minding services for a nominal fee. This allows guests to travel with their quadruped companions and leave them in safe hands while they explore the city. Some animal-mind services may also offer extra services, like walks, baths, meals, and play-time with other pets.
Pools and Saunas
Many hotels offer either indoor or outdoor—and sometimes both, depending on the climate—pools and saunas to their members. Typically, this amenity is free at just about any hotel, and all that’s needed to access the pools and saunas is the hotel room key card. Extra charges may be incurred for guests, rented towels and lockers, but many hotels see this as standard with accessing the pool or sauna.
Salons and Barbershops
These amenities tend to be restricted to higher-end hotels, although it’s not entirely uncommon to find them in mid-range hotels. They can be independent salons or barbershops, or owned by the hotel. And while it’s not usually de rigueur for a barber or hair stylist to make in-room visits, money speaks and just about anything can happen for the right price.
For guests who are stressed and in need of a soothing, calm atmosphere, an in-hotel spa is a must-have amenity. Spas tend to be in a central location and have a variety of priced services, but some may offer in-room services, like massages.
TVs are a pretty standard hotel amenity now, but extra channels and pay-per-view movies still cost extra to access. The price and type of TV (e.g. flat screen, hi-def, LCD/plasma, etc.) differ from hotel to hotel, but the optional portion of the standard amenity is present in just about every location.
Tours and Excursions
Having a hotel take care of daily activities can be a huge load taken off for guests, as all they have to do is wait outside until the tour bus pulls up. Where the tours go, how long they last, and what they cost vary widely, but most hotels have affiliations or ties with tour companies.
Vending Machines and Ice Dispensers
It’s pretty unlikely that any hotel, even the most “economical” ones, do without vending machines or ice dispensers. At its sparsest, there may not be a vending machine and ice dispenser on every floor or there may be a fee for the ice dispenser, but these are pretty standard amenities.
It’s incredibly rare to find a hotel that doesn’t have a public WiFi network, as it’s about as commonplace as public transit. What’s not quite as common is a free WiFi network: roughly a bit more than half of hotels don’t charge for WiFi access, but others see it as a necessary cost. If there’s no WiFi, though, there’s usually either hard-wired internet in each room available via Ethernet, or a public computer(s) in the lobby, with the latter usually attached with a price.