As someone who travels more than the average person – I’ve definitely lived off a hotel minibar or two – albeit to my boyfriend’s chagrin:
“Aren’t you going to check how much that bottle of water costs before you open it?” He quips two seconds after I twist open the lid.
“Omg, like, how much could it be?! I’m thirsty!” I take a big gulp just to spite him, “What – I can’t have water?”
“You’re ridiculous. Just spend, spend, spend,” he says, with a serious look of concern on his face as if I just ordered the Chateau Lafite to brush my teeth with.
What ensued was the argument to end all arguments about whether it’s right or wrong to raid the minibar. By now, you can guess where each of us stood on the issue. The more he tried to reason with me by saying that the minibar is just an overpriced tourist trap – wait, and don’t even get me started on room service. Room service! Ha! I’ve accepted that if I want room service when we travel, I’m paying for it. (And yes, he will gladly drink the coffee and green juices I order by the dozen). It’s definitely a reverse Pretty Woman situation in our hotel room.
While I’m going around throwing caviar and mama bear capers (you know, those big ones you get every so often) into his mouth as he reclines in a bathrobe, opening presents, I get the IRS after me the minute I decide to rehydrate with a little in-room VOSS water.
And I digress. The more he argued the minibar in excess, the more old memories of my childhood came flooding through. Whenever I traveled with my parents it was verboten to even touch the minibar items, you know, in case one of those sensors picked up that a can of 7up had gone MIA. I think my dad used to tell me something like if I removed a bag of peanuts from the minibar a sword would come down, chop off my fingers and feed them, one by one, to the monster under the bed… You know, the things you tell your children to stop them from doing something.
Yeah. That’s where my frustrations originated; not being allowed to touch the minibar as a child. The first time I actually paid for a hotel room myself and thought, hey, I can have a can of Coca-Cola if I want to, and I did, it was like so fucking liberating. Pulling back that pop can tab and hearing the noise of the gas escape into the room was like the angels coming down from heaven singing Gloria in Excelsis Deo, bitches!!!! Sure, it was painful to hand my credit card over at checkout to pay my $200 incidentals bill; as the Coke inevitably turned into 3 cans of cashews, 5 sparkling waters, breakfast in bed and a bottle of wine, but I never regretted it once.
Being able to indulge in the minibar actually made my travels all the more comfortable. I like to drink coffee before I shower and dress. On past vacations, I would force myself to get up and going, having breakfast and coffee at a cafe, never in-room. Nowadays, I just say, fuck it. I order a tall french press coffee to my room so I can get the caffeine moving through my veins as early as possible. And you know what? It’s not that much more expensive. Only a couple bucks more for the luxury of having coffee the way it was meant to be served: on a silver platter, in bed.
Beats me why my boyfriend just doesn’t understand the triviality of occasionally requiring a poke around the minibar for something good. It’s like the best thing about staying in a hotel room. When I was in Spain recently, no boyfriend, no problem. I drank 3 bottles of water in 3 hours because I was so dehydrated from flying and the water was delicious; it came in these short glass bottles fixed with a metal beer cap you had to flip open with a bottle opener – imagine that satisfaction! My room service bill was only 29 euros. I had water, I had coffee a couple times, I had two glasses of rosé Cava – and I charged it all to the room, I did. And you know what, it felt good. You know what? I suck my thumb at you all you minibar naysayers.
Illustration by Karen Koh of theillustrienne.com, she’s wearing Giambattista Valli.