You’ve come to expect a few basic free amenities from your hotel: shampoo and conditioner, Wi-Fi (if you’re lucky) and maybe a chocolate or two gingerly placed on your pillow during the turndown service. But you could be missing out on some very cool freebies—just because you don’t know to ask. These are the often-overlooked amenities and services that hotels sometimes offer to guests at no additional charge.
The best way to explore a new city? On two wheels! But before you rent a bike from a bikeshare program or local shop, check with your hotel to see if they’ll loan you one. The W South Beach in Miami Beach, Florida, for example, has bikes perfect for riding along the boardwalk, which runs parallel to the beach. Or, take the hotel’s signature turquoise bikes for a spin to explore the famed Art Deco district. In Charleston, South Carolina, hotels like The Spectator, French Quarter Inn and HarbourView Inn will loan you bikes to explore the charming and historic city that’s paved with cobblestone, dotted with palm trees and lined with window boxes of flowers.
2. Shuttle Services
Hold tight before you call for that Uber to take you from the airport to your hotel. There is a good chance your hotel has a shuttle service that does airport runs. Plus, hotel shuttles will oftentimes take you to popular tourist districts or destinations.
3. Animal Encounters
Part of the fun of traveling to a new region is getting to know the area’s native animals—and some hotels will help you do that for free. At Terranea Resort, a Destination Hotel in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, for example, guests can take part in a falconry demonstration and even take a selfie with an owl named Owlbert. Another example: Giraffes at the quaint Giraffe Manor near Nairobi, Kenya, wander near the property and might pop their long necks up to your window. That’s your cue to feed them a snack.
4. Yoga Mats
After a long day of traveling and being cramped in a middle seat on the airplane, yoga is just what you need to go from zero to zen. Sure, you could default to using a bath towel to strike a yoga pose. But, many hotels, like the Kimpton chain, are increasingly focused on wellness and will roll out the yoga mat for you.
5. Toothbrush And Toothpaste
Don’t make that run to the convenience store just yet. If you forgot your toothbrush or toothpaste, there’s a good chance your hotel has a dental kit (complete with floss) even though it doesn’t come standard in rooms like the shampoo and conditioner usually do.
6. Complimentary Drinks
Lots of hotels have free happy hours. The Inn of the Governors in Santa Fe, New Mexico, holds a complimentary “tea and sherry hour” for guests, serving a sherry that’s finished with distilled apple brandy made with locally grown apples. When you check into Hotel Les Mars in Healdsburg, California, you’ll be greeted with a glass of champagne (an apropos way to get your wine country vacation started.) And many hotels have wine and cheese hours. The Library Hotel in New York City offers complimentary wine and cheese for three whole hours.Getty Images | Andrew Chin
7. Firework Shows
Technically not a hotel amenity, but definitely a perk! Stay at hotels near Disneyland, Disneyworld or other amusement parks and catch the free nightly fireworks shows.
Forgot to bring some vacation reading material? No problem. See if your hotel has a mini-library or books to loan. Country Inn & Suites, for example, has a “Read It & Return Lending Library” that allows you to check out books. If you don’t finish the book during your stay, just return it the next time you visit one of their hotels in the United States or Canada.
Apples and oranges are frequent freebies you can find at the check-in desks or in the hotel gyms.
10. Shaving Kit
Whether you forgot your razor or couldn’t get your shaving cream past TSA, call down to your hotel’s front desk for a shave kit.
11. Curling Irons And Flat Irons
If you’re traveling with just a carry-on, your curling iron and flat iron can take up some valuable real estate. You’re not doomed to bad hair days, though. Kimpton Hotels and the “Hyatt Has It” program will loan you those hair tools in addition to the hair dryers that come standard in rooms.
Insider secret: Most hotels have a stash of chargers. (Just think of all the people who leave them behind). If you forgot your phone or laptop charger at home, check with the front desk to see if they have an extra to loan you.
13. Pet Treats And Supplies
Traveling with Fido? Hotels will often throw him a bone—literally. And some hotels go above and beyond to pamper guests’ pets. For example, Le Meurice in Paris took in stray greyhounds during its renovation in the early 1900s, and the greyhound is still the mascot for the hotel’s emblem. So it’s safe to say the hotel has a soft spot for pets. The French hotel will give a complimentary pet basket to cats and dogs and staff will even walk your dog through the gardens while you’re out touring the city.
Don’t let travel interrupt your binge-watching session. You can sign into your Netflix and Hulu accounts at Marriott hotels.
15. Running Concierge
You don’t have to be confined to the hotel gym. Westin Hotels, for example, have running concierges who lead group runs. Or, you can grab a RunWestin map and head out on your own run.
16. Travel Magazines