A weekly ode to the joys of moaning about your holiday.
Not succumbing to the hotel mini-bar is one of the great acts of resisting temptation known to mankind. It sits semi-tucked away in your room but you always know it's there, teasing you with its over-caloried, over-priced promises of good times. We're not even talking about the booze, it's more the pull of the chippies and nuts and chocolate bars that I really have to battle. It's like the mini-bar is the devil on one shoulder and a quick visit to a supermarket for something healthy is the angel on the other. It's Supermarket Angel vs Mini-Bar Devil and even though Supermarket Angel is ably supported by Don't Be Silly With Money Angel, Mini-Bar Devil can be very persuasive.
I thought I'd found a semi-solution to this tussle of good against evil in an American hotel a couple of years ago where I was staying for three nights. "Semi-solution" because after giving in to Mini-Bar Devil one night, I had the ingenious idea to replace the items during the day with the exact same (but considerably cheaper) products from a supermarket close to the hotel. Brilliant!
Buying the required can of Coke, the Snickers bar and the small tube of Pringles the next day, I felt like a teenager who'd had a secret raucous party while the parents were away who then had to do a mad clean up to get everything spotless before Ma and Pa arrived back. Would I make it in time and create the illusion of an un-tampered with mini-bar? It was a race against the clock!
Initially I thought I'd failed. The cleaners had already been and gone in the short time I was at the supermarket, but while they'd made the bed and tidied the bathroom, they hadn't restocked the mini-bar. Despite forgetting to hang the "Do not disturb" sign, I'd gotten away with it. Carefully putting my replacement drink, chocolate bar and chippies into the mini-bar, I'd committed one almighty heist. This was going to save me about $12 all up! Hashtag winning.
The following morning was checkout time and I waited with clammy anticipation to see if my attempts at mini-bar deception to save a few bucks had been successful. They had to be, surely. Then I got the bill: a $5 Coke, $6 Snickers and $7 Pringles had been added.
"But I bought identical replacements from the supermarket!" I confessed, and pleaded my case — with good humour I might add — to a receptionist who clearly found me to be neither funny nor a good con man.
"It doesn't work that way, sir," came the response. No, I guess it doesn't. The cleaners had clearly ticked off the briefly missing items from the mini-bar, but come on, if the guest replaces like for like before they check out, there shouldn't be a charge! You wouldn't read about it. (Well, you just did — Trav Ed.)
Early hotel checkouts
I don't believe in 10am hotel checkouts. They shouldn't exist. 11am is good and midday is glorious, but 10am means your night in a hotel is just that: a night. I'm still surprised there are hotels with checkout times this early because not only does it leave a slightly sour taste with guests, it also invariably ends up as a missed target by a substantial percentage of those guests too.
Eleven am may only be an hour's difference, but the psychology is completely different. Eleven am means you can wake up, have a non-rushed breakfast in the hotel, go for a walk in whatever new city you're exploring and then come back, pack up and head down to reception without a hint of fluster. I hate a hint of fluster! Your hotel experience then becomes so much more and as memories start to blur, the feeling will be that you must've stayed two nights and not just the one.
Tim Roxborogh hosts Newstalk ZB's Weekend Collective and writes the music and travel blog RoxboroghReport.com.