Raising the minibar

When it comes to hotel guestroom design, I aim to create spaces that make guests feel at home. And in this respect, the minibar design presents a unique opportunity and challenge for creativity, but sadly it is also a feature in the room that is largely ignored. Like many guests, I enjoy a well-designed minibar but often feel uncomfortable making purchases — not because of the price so much as the minibar’s tedious forms and potential delays to my hectic checkouts.

The concept of the complimentary minibar therefore liberates me as a traveler. It means I can reach out and take a snack as I would in my home. Business travelers often have strict company policies for minibar consumption, and free minibar selections are especially refreshing for this key demographic. My recent visits to The PuLi in Shanghai and Andaz in New York City were both sweetened by free minibars.

I believe the presence of a minibar should always be celebrated. The W Hotel’s “munchies box” has done a superb job with this. Although selections aren’t free, they are often fun and surprising.

In fact, several hotel leaders are also making their minibars unique by including local artisanal delights, which reflects a sense of place. Moving beyond the prosaic in the minibar doesn’t necessitate stocking high-end items either. It can be as simple as the Kempinski Istanbul’s fresh Turkish delights or the Andaz Shanghai’s local Chinese White Rabbit candies.

The right minibar experience can make guests feel immediately at home as well as demonstrate a hotel’s unique character. It’s refreshing to provide guests with a mini-thrill when they reach the minibar.

How do you feel about the complimentary minibar?