Hotel Perks That Hit the Spot

Outside the pet-friendly Hotel Allegro Chicago. Photo: John Dziekan John Dziekan
By Laura Kiniry

Hotels from Paris to Portland are increasingly offering innovative perks to please travelers. Whether it's free snacks or the complimentary use of an iPad, these top hotels provide so much more than a place to sleep. Here are a dozen of our favorite freebies, amenities, and thoughtful touches that are available at hotels around the world.

Photo Caption: Outside the pet-friendly Hotel Allegro Chicago. Courtesy John Dziekan
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The Four Seasons Santa Barbara Resort offers complimentary beach cruiser bicycles for its guests. Photo: Courtesy Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara
With gas prices on the rise, more hotels are offering alternative ways to explore the neighborhood. The Ritz-Carlton Charlotte (www.ritzcarlton.com) provides Trek bicycles, along with a local bike map, a water bottle, a bike lock, and a helmet. In Santa Barbara, guests at the Four Seasons can borrow beach cruisers at no extra cost.

In Oregon, the waterfront RiverPlace Hotel in Portland also provides free bike rentals. And Fairmont Hotels & Resorts (www.fairmont.com) is offering complimentary use of BMW bikes at its 64 properties worldwide; locks and helmets are provided.

Photo Caption: The Four Seasons Resort in Santa Barbara, CA, offers complimentary beach cruiser bicycles for its guests. Courtesy Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara
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Rooms at the Hotel Beaux Arts Miami feature iPads for use by guests. Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Beaux Arts Miami Courtesy of Hotel Beaux Arts Miami
Travelers can now get everything they need at the push of a button. Luxury hotels -- such as Le Pavillon des Lettres (www.pavillondeslettres.com) in Paris, Hotel Beaux Arts (www.marriott.com) in Miami, and The Plaza (www.theplaza.com/) and Royalton (www.royaltonhotel.com) in Manhattan -- equip each room with custom-loaded iPads so guests can book restaurant tables, order room service, and browse the web.

Other properties, like Catalina Island's Pavilion Hotel (www.visitcatalinaisland.com), provide a limited number of iPads for guests to use in public areas. And ten InterContinental Hotels (www.ichotelsgroup.com) have adopted the iPad 2 for their concierge services, allowing guests with an iPhone 4, iPod Touch, or iPad 2 to contact hotel staff using Apple's FaceTime video feature.

Photo Caption: Rooms at the Hotel Beaux Arts Miami feature iPads for use by guests. Courtesy of Hotel Beaux Arts Miami
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Complimentary mini bar at the Andaz 5th Avenue. Photo: Courtesy Andaz 5th Avenue Courtesy Andaz 5th Avenue
Hit up the minibar in most guest rooms, and you can expect to owe an arm and a leg. But some hotels are including snacks and beverages with the room rate. At resorts like Hyatt's luxury Andaz Hotels, each guest receives complimentary access to a minibar stocked with healthy snacks, water, and organic juices.

London's Athenaeum Hotel (www.athenaeumhotel.com) offers a "partly free" minibar, meaning that alcohol costs extra but items like candy, nuts, sodas, and bottled water come with the room.

Photo Caption: Go ahead and raid the complimentary minibar at the Andaz 5th Avenue. Courtesy Andaz 5th Avenue
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Tanning Butler making the rounds at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach, Miami. Photo: Courtesy the Ritz-Carlton, South Beach. The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach
Forgot to pack your sunscreen? Not to worry -- many hotels provide complimentary poolside amenities, with some delivered directly to your lounge chair. Four Seasons properties are especially known for this perk. In the West Indies, the Four Seasons Resort Nevis offers complimentary access to minibars tucked within cabana-style beach houses that are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, while the Four Seasons Miami loans out fully-loaded Kindles for poolside reading.

Along with sunscreen, a pool attendant at Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay provides pool dwellers with chilled towels and ice water. And at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach, complimentary amenities around the property's elevated infinity pool include hourly smoothie tastings. On weekends, a butler strolls the deck and offers a spray of sunblock or a spritz of Evian water.

Photo Caption: A tanning butler makes the rounds at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach, Miami. Courtesy the Ritz-Carlton, South Beach
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Tea time at the Fairmont Royal Pavilion, Barbados. Photo: Courtesy Fairmont Royal Pavilion Fairmont Royal Pavilion
While wine hours seem prevalent at many boutique hotels, a growing number of upscale establishments are also treating guests to complimentary afternoon tea. The five-star Draycott Hotel in London serves their afternoon tea in the resort's drawing room with a variety of teas and biscuits.

At the Fairmont Royal Pavilion (www.fairmont.com/royalpavilion) in Barbados (the island is known as "England in the tropics"), expect a wide selection of caffeinated and herbal teas, along with scones and cream, jam and butter, and pastries like fruit cake and cookies. And at the Aria Hotel in Prague, guests can enjoy an array of finger foods served daily in the resort's rattan-furnished lobby.

Photo Caption: Tea time at the Fairmont Royal Pavilion, Barbados. Photo: Courtesy Fairmont Royal Pavilion
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Inside the W Hotel, Washington, D.C. Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/taedc/3956857102/" target="_blank">tedeytan/Flickr.com</a>. tedeytan
Resorts have gotten wise to the fact that most guests could use a good night's sleep. At W Hotels (www.starwoodhotels.com) worldwide, guests can choose between a body pillow, a neckroll, a firm foam, or a goose down feather pillow, which is then delivered directly to your door.

The pillow menus provided at Hilton's Conrad (http://conradhotels1.hilton.com) resorts differ by property and are aimed at alleviating symptoms, such as snoring or allergies.

Photo Caption: Inside the W Hotel, Washington, D.C. Photo by tedeytan/Flickr.com
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Bedroom suite at theWit, Chicago. Photo: Courtesy theWit Hotel Chicago. theWit Hotel Chicago
Gone are the days of the monotone hotel clerk phoning you to rise and shine. Hotels have since gotten highly original when it comes to wake-up calls. At Chicago's theWit Hotel (www.thewithotel.com), you can request pre-recordings of Second City cast members impersonating Chi-town personalities like President Barack Obama, gangster Al Capone, or even VIP celebrities who have stayed at the property.

And at the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando, wake-up calls come in the voices of real-life musicians such as Sugar Ray and Mötley Crüe's Vince Neal.

Photo Caption: Bedroom suite at theWit, Chicago. Courtesy theWit Hotel Chicago
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Naumi Hotel in Singapore features a female-only floor. Photo: Courtesy Naumi Hotel Courtesy Naumi Hotel
Catering to a growing number of women travelers, many hotels have begun offering female-only floors that stock everything from bath salts to flat irons. The Naumi Hotel (www.naumihotel.com) in Singapore has designated its entire sixth floor for women -- expect soft colors, women-centric magazines, Aesop beauty products, and female attendants.

Manhattan's Premier Hotel (www.millenniumhotels.com) provides guests who book a room on the women's floor -- accessible only by keycard -- with amenities like yoga mats and a vanity mirror. And opening May 2011, Copenhagen's Bella Sky Hotel (www.bellaskycomwell.dk) is believed to be Europe's first hotel with a women-only floor, aptly named the "Bella Donna."

Photo Caption: Naumi Hotel in Singapore features a female-only floor. Courtesy Naumi Hotel
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The delicious gluten-free mini bar offerings on the hypoallergenic floor at Hotel Monaco Portland. Photo: Eric Holland/Holland Studios Eric Holland/Holland Studios
Many hotels have begun creating hypoallergenic floors for guests with allergies and asthma, or anyone who simply craves cleaner air. While some hotels typically charge an additional $20-$25 per night for a hypoallergenic room, many properties -- including the following hotels -- do not charge extra for a room on one of these floors.

Kimpton's Hotel Monaco Portland recently converted 25 rooms into a hypoallergenic floor that's entirely pet- and smoke-free. Along with synthetic comforters and pillows, each room features wheat- and gluten-free minibar snacks, as well as hypoallergenic soaps, lotions, and shampoos upon request.

The 11th floor of the Lenox Hotel Boston boasts hypoallergenic rooms, where the air is continually circulated through a freestanding filtration device. And the Fairmont Vancouver Airport (www.fairmont.com/vancouverairport) hotel designated part of a floor as hypoallergenic with low-allergen amenities, including towels and bedding.

Photo Caption: A selection of gluten-free snacks is available on the hypoallergenic floor at Hotel Monaco Portland. Courtesy Eric Holland/Holland Studios
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The complimentary Get Fit Kit, from Omni Hotels. Photo: Courtesy Omni Hotels & Resorts Omni Hotels & Resorts
Stepping beyond the standard weight training and fitness rooms of most resorts, a growing number of hotels now provide guests with complimentary workout kits for in-room use. Omni Hotels (www.omnihotels.com) worldwide offer Get Fit Kits, which include dumbbells, a floor mat, an elastic exercise band, and an exercise booklet. Chilled bottled water and a hand towel are also complimentary.

Guests staying at any Hilton Garden Inn (http://hiltongardeninn1.hilton.com) can stop by the front desk to pick up a Stay Fit Kit, complete with weights, a yoga mat, and a resistance rope.

Photo Caption: The complimentary Get Fit Kit, from Omni Hotels. Courtesy Omni Hotels & Resorts
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S'mores, courtesy of The Larkspur Hotel in Mill Valley, CA. Photo: Patrik Argast Patrik Argast
In-room swag is great, but sometimes you just have to get out and explore. Luckily, several hotels offer complimentary on-the-go amenities. The Larkspur Hotel (www.larkspurhotelmillvalley.com) in Northern California's Mill Valley provides free s'mores kits as well as complimentary hiking kits filled with bottled water, a compass, a first-aid kit, and waterproof trail maps for discovering nearby Mt. Tamalpais State Park.

At the luxury Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows on Hawaii's Big Island, snorkeling equipment is available to all guests at no extra cost. And Lake Tahoe's Olympic Village Inn (www.olympicvillageinn.com) provides complimentary snowshoes for traversing area trails.

Photo Caption: S'mores, courtesy of The Larkspur Hotel in Mill Valley, CA. Courtesy Patrik Argast
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Charlie, the Director of Pet Relations at Kimpton's Hotel Monaco Alexandria, Virginia. Photo: David Phelps David Phelps
While pet-friendly lodgings have been around for years, a more recent slew of associated amenities are pleasing both guardians and their pooches. Kimpton Hotels (www.kimptonhotels.com) are top dog when it comes to pet-friendliness, with an array of complimentary perks that run the gamut from pet food to chew toys. In addition, any number -- and breed of -- pets stay at no extra cost.

Photo Caption: Charlie, the Director of Pet Relations at Kimpton's Hotel Monaco Alexandria, Virginia. Courtesy David Phelps
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