When booking a trip, many travelers like to research the perks and bonuses that come along with their hotel stay. Luxury accommodations come with the expectation of top-notch service, stunning lobbies, decadent spa treatments, and well-appointed suites, but some offer amenities that go beyond the chocolate on your pillow at night or even complimentary car service.
Typically, above par offerings are advertised as a way of luring guests for an overnight, but most people don’t know that some hotels offer “secret” amenities. These features are so furtive that even seasoned travelers wouldn’t know about them unless seen first hand. The bonuses range in type from one-of-a-kind experiences to amazing take-home goodies and often reflect the local culture in a unique way. Think things like beekeeping, hidden menu items, surprise gifts, or the opportunity to hold a rare item that only few in the world will ever be able to touch.
To find out about these special experiences or gifts, guests would have to rely solely on word of mouth, be considered a VIP, or just be surprised upon arrival. Many of the secrets are so exclusive that even the concierge would be confused if you called and asked about them.
Luckily, Travel + Leisure has been able to dig up a few of these amenities to give you an edge when booking your next trip or simply feel like you’re part of some exclusive club.
Jordi Lippe-McGraw is a Contributing Digital Reporter at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @WellTraveler.
VIP Shopping at Bulgari
Bulgari Hotel in London offers tons of lavish amenities for their guests, but they really kick it up a notch for VIPs. Important guests are chauffeured to one of London’s Bulgari stores, which will open early or close late ensuring a private shopping experience.
Hold the World Series Trophy
Guests in the new Fenway Park Suite at Hotel Commonwealth can have the World Series trophy delivered to the room and take selfies with it through the hotel’s partnership with Fenway Park. The suite starts at $1,000 per night and is full of priceless Red Sox memorabilia. You can also see into the stadium right outside on your private balcony.
Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria in Sorrento, Italy supplied a secret amenity of Italia futbol jerseys for a group of American kids with their surnames printed on the back, and regularly go above and beyond to personalize gifts for other patrons.
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Visitors who stay at Rosewood San Miguel de Allende’s Artesana Private Residences are welcomed with an easel in their room, complete with paints and all the tools needed to create a unique piece of artwork to take home. Better yet, the kit includes a special adult-sized easel as well as a kid-sized easel so all members of the family can participate.
When guests arrive at Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A RosewoodResort, they are whisked away to the spa’s tranquil solarium, where they enjoy a surprise 10-minute neck and foot massage that releases any stress and worry from their flights and prepares them for a relaxing and rejuvenating stay in paradise.
Personalized Sewing Kit
One&Only Palmilla in Los Cabos offers a thoughtful amenity that they don’t advertise. After housekeeping’s first visit to your room, they leave a personalized sewing kit, coordinated to the exact colors of your clothing, in your room after surveying your closet.
Private Cycling Guide
Guests of the Rosewood Royal Suite, the four-bedroom suite located in the Private Residence tower at Rosewood Hotel Georgia in Vancouver, can experience a wide range of special amenities such as a wardrobe consultant and private cycling tour with managing director Philip Meyer. In addition to these offerings, guests receive daily spa treatments from the hotel’s signature Sense, A Rosewood Spa and meals prepared by a personal in-suite chef.
Rooftop Guitar Lessons
The Westin Austin Downtown offers a VIP Austin Music Scene Experience that includes an in-room guitar, exclusive access to famous venues and historic blues clubs, and lessons from local bands on the rooftop.
Personalized Welcome Gift
The Roxy Hotel in New York offers VIP gifts that are very unique and tailored to the interest for each specific guest. For example, if a guest likes cats or dogs, the welcome amenity will be related to those animals.
Secret Wine Lockers
As part of recent renovations at AKA Sutton Place, luxury long-stay brand, AKA introduced an exclusive amenity, only known by word of mouth: luxe wine lockers. AKA caters to travelers who are wine enthusiasts by providing the space to appropriately store specialty wines purchased during a guests’ stay.
Free Museum Access
As part of Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts' Unlock Art program, guests can use their artist-designed key card to gain free access to local cultural centers like The Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts in San Francisco, Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis, the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans, and Tampa Museum of Art in Tampa.
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Enjoy a Soap Concierge
The Viceroy Riviera Maya offers a signature complimentary amenity called the Soap Concierge where guests arriving at the resort are warmly welcomed with a “Mayan Blessing” and are personally escorted to their villa. Then the Soap Concierge arrives to explain and provide a variety of soaps, each offering a different sensory experience. Once guests make their selections, they receive personalized bars.
Travelers who call the newly launched Aqua-Aston Hospitality central reservations directly have access to “secret” penthouse accommodations at select hotels in Waikiki—Aston Waikiki Beach Tower, Aston Waikiki Beachside Hotel, Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head, Aqua Bamboo Waikiki and Ewa Hotel Waikiki—that are not available online or through OTAs.
Social Media Sugar Cookies
The JW Marriott Grand Rapids secretly places a sugar cookie in the hotel rooms of those who post on social media upon arrival. The pastry team decorates the flavorful dessert with the logo of the social media (Facebook and Twitter) network that they have chosen.
Traditional Minsa Weaving Coaster
Hoshinoya Okinawa wants to give their guests a piece of tradition to take home with them, which is why they provide each guest with a Minsa weaving coaster. It was customary for a woman asked in marriage to give her answer to the man in the form of a textile that she would weave herself. The characteristics of minsa design are the 5 and 4 splash patterns that incorporate Chinese characters representing the word “forever” while the small horizontal stripes of the Mukade moyo—centipede pattern—mean “frequently”. Altogether, it can be read as “Forever, please come visit me frequently."
Secret Lobster Dish
There is an item at Mr. Chow at W South Beach that only regulars would know to order: the White Lobster. It’s lobster tail folded into a cloud of egg white. Bon Appetit!
Surprise Welcome Gift
The Otesaga Resort in Cooperstown, New York offers “surprise and delight” welcome amenities to Otesaga Select guests, like wine and a bottle opener for example, or an assortment of truffles awaiting the guests in the room.
Guests in the Towers of the Waldorf Astoria have exclusive access to the hotel’s rooftop garden and beehives with a luxury beekeeping experience. Priced at $1,800 per guest, the outing includes one hour exploring the hives with a culinary team member (trained as beekeepers) and a three-course lunch of honey-infused dishes.To cap off the hard work, guests can choose one the Guerlain Spa’s signature honey treatments, including the Abeille Royale Youth Facial or Urban Island Escape body treatment, which were both inspired by the honey and rooftop ingredients.
Great Wolf Lodge surprises each guest with a pair of wolf ears upon checking in.
Icon Chocolate Bar
The Icon Bar, a chocolate bar with an impression of the R.J. Reynolds building on it and dusted in a gold luster, will be presented to hotel guests at The Kimpton Cardinal Hotel as a surprise for special celebrations and other notable events when it opens this spring.
This piece was previously published on Travel + Leisure.