Transcending Wi-Fi, pillow menus and full minibars, these hotel amenities truly give you something to brag about back home
Music fans may be interested in a Fender guitar at Hard Rock, Chicago, or a recording studio at Sunset Marquis Hotel, California
Kimpton Hotels provide stand-in pet goldfish while Provenance hotels have a pet psychologist on call
Private pools, flat-screen TVs, mega liquor bottles. Been there, seen it, drunk that.
Hotel amenities these days are as much a ploy to get you to gush about them to your friends back home as they are to make your stay comfortable.
This list of over-the-top hotel amenities is worth bringing up because each is a rare one-off, not available in all sizes.
1. Choice of 20 Fender guitars
Who needs an in-room iPod, when one of 20 Fender guitars is available for free at Chicago’s Hard Rock Hotel?
Although guests do have to put down a credit card (in case they start to channel Pete Townshend’s guitar-smashing antics), they can keep their chosen ax bedside until such time as they either take their band on the road or check out.
Choices range from a $1,600 Stratocaster to classic Telecasters and bass guitars.
Also available are floor amps and Nixon headphones that will prevent renditions of “Freebird” from rocking out other guests. Those that don’t know a “G” chord from a “C,” can tune into a streamed 70-minute lesson from guitar instructor Rico Monaco.
The hotel now offers a similar program for DJ mixers in addition to guitars.
Hard Rock Hotel, 230 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill., 60601, United States; +1 312 345 1000
2. Royal chariot
Taking inspiration from the historic British concession where it’s located, The Ritz-Carlton, Tianjin is built to resemble an ancient British palace.
And what European palace is complete without a horse-drawn carriage and uniformed horseman?
Branding itself as a wedding hotel, the Ritz offers an extravagant “royal wedding package” that includes a Rolls Royce grand entrance, free-flowing Champagne tower, royal-themed cake and a ride on the carriage.
Non wedding guests can enjoy a 30-minute ride on the carriage around the former British concession too - for the princely sum of RMB50,000 ($8100).
The Ritz-Carlton, Tianjin, 167 Dagubei Road, Heping District, Tianjin, China; +86 22 5857 8888
3. Pet psychologist
They’re said to be mankind’s best friend – and don’t we treat them like it.
Hotel deLuxe offers guests’ dogs acupuncture and even Reiki treatments, and has an in-house pet psychologist for guests to connect with their pets better.
Dog expert Stanley Coren can answer questions about canine emotions and intelligence.
The service is available at these Provenance hotels: Hotel Max (Seattle), Hotel deLuxe (Portland, Oregon), Hotel Murano (Tacoma, Washington), Hotel Lucia (Portland) and Hotel Preston (Nashville, Tennessee).
4. Wake-up calls from celebrities
At Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, a monster hotel with 2,882 rooms, waterfalls, indoor rivers, daily light shows and more tropical vegetation than Biosphere 3, guests can opt for a rousing “Rise and Shine” wake-up call from a Who’s Who of country music stars, including Vince Gill, Trace Adkins, Kellie Pickler and Wynonna Judd.
Guests might even bump into them in the flesh at the adjoining Grand Ole Opry stage, a Nashville institution since 1925.
Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, 2800 Opryland Drive, Nashville, Tennessee; +1 615 889 1000
5. Sleep concierge
After paying all this money for essentially a place to sleep, why not get some guidance on how to do it right?
The Benjamin has been a pioneer in the trend with an in-house sleep consultant, Rebecca Robbins.
The sleep team and Robbins, co-author of the book “Sleep for Success!,” provide advice to adults and children. Kid-size bathrobes and pillows, storybooks and dolls are available. Kids are then rewarded with a certificate for sleeping well.
The hotel can also prepare the room for optimum napping, on request.
The Benjamin, 125 East 50th St., New York City; +1 212 715 2500
6. Recording studio
In the basement of the Sunset Marquis Hotel in California is a professional recording studio that attracts some of the biggest names in showbiz, including Katy Perry, Tom Hanks, Christina Aguilera, Aerosmith and Clint Eastwood
The Nightbird studio handles tracking, editing and mixing with state-of-the-art technology and a staff of engineers.
Sunset Marquis Hotel, 1200 Alta Loma Road, West Hollywood, California; +1 310 657 1333
7. Kidnapping followed by a picnic
Every couple that checks into Namale Resort and Spa on Fiji’s Vanua Levu island is “kidnapped” at some point during their stay and taken to a surprise four-course picnic somewhere on the lush resort’s 212 hectares.
Sometimes it’s next to a waterfall, sometimes in a cave, sometimes on a private deck overlooking a blowhole in the Koro Sea. Guests never know when they will be summoned.
Namale Resort and Spa, Hibiscus Hawaii, Savusavu, Fiji, +1 858 381 5177
8. Pet goldfish
Forced to leave Rover behind? No worries. At Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, guests can request a stand-in pet.
The Kimpton’s in-room goldfish can’t sit or fetch, but they can, if scientific studies are to be believed, calm nerves, reduce anxiety and lower blood pressure. And if that doesn’t work, Kimpton also offers in-room yoga lessons.
Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, at various locations in the United States; +1 800 546 7866
9. Chocolate parlor
Move over, Willy Wonka. Soneva Kiri’s over-the-top chocolate parlor serves non-stop free chocolate from mousses and fondues to candies, lattes and brioche.
Who even knew there was such a thing as vinegar chocolate or citrus and thyme chocolate? A team of sweet-toothed chefs oversees the handcrafted, Fair Trade chocolate that makes its way to this resort on the Thai island of Kood.
Soneva Kiri, 110 Moo 4, Koh Kood Sub district, Trat 23000, Thailand; +66 3961 9800
10. Ring-delivering owls
At Ireland’s Ashford Castle, a 141-hectare property on the shores of Lough Corrib and River Cong, a resident owl named Dingle is always available to swoop in with an engagement ring around his neck.
Dingle has also been known to deliver notes and messages.
This medieval castle, built in 1228, also played a starring role in the John Wayne-Maureen O’Hara movie, “The Quiet Man.”
The castle is undergoing renovation until March 2015.
Ashford Castle, Cong, County Mayo, Ireland, +353 94 954 6003
11. Sunshine butler
If you spot a well-dressed person by the poolside, expressing eagerness to rub sun lotion on your back, don’t be alarmed.
The Club Hotel & Spa in the Channel Islands has recently introduced their “Sunshine Butlers” to guests at the terrace pool.
The butlers offer poolside services like polishing your sunglasses, applying sun creams and providing cooling face and foot misters, iced towels and watermelon.
The Club Hotel & Spa, Green Street, St. Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands; +1 1534 876 500
12. Manta ray phone
Four Seasons Resort Landaa Giraavaru at Baa Atoll, Maldives – a UNESCO World Biosphere – provides guests with a direct line to any manta rays in the area.
Guests signed up for the “Manta-on-call” service during the manta ray peak season – June to November – will receive the latest sightings of manta rays in the area and be taken away on a speeding boat to the location.
Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, Baa Atoll; +960 66 00 888
13. Porsche rides and others
Not a fan of being chauffeured around? At Rancho Valencia, all hotel guests have access to a fleet of Porsches.
Guests at all 25hours Hotels can hire Mini Coopers during their stay. And for eco-conscious guests, the Hyatt Regency Jeju hotel on Jeju Island – the “Hawaii of Korea” – offers free electric cars.
Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, 5921 Valencia Circle, Rancho Santa Fe, California; +1 858 756 1123
25Hours Hotels at various locations
Hyatt Regency Jeju, 114 Jungmungwangwang-ro 72 beon-gil, Seogwipo-si, Jeju Province, South Korea; +82 64 733 1234
14. Fragrance butler
Take this, airport security enforcers.
At Vancouver’s tiny Hotel Georgia and some other Rosewood’s city hotels, there’s no need to monitor perfume bottles to make sure they’re less than 100 milliliters because there’s no need to even pack them.
A white-gloved fragrance butler bearing 10 fragrances (five for him and five for her) on a silver salver will knock on your door within minutes of you notifying the concierge your wrists need spritzing.
Some selections can only be found in a specific hotel, for example Hermes Eau des Mervailles at The Carlyle in New York or Guerlain L’Instant de Guerlain at Rosewood Sand Hill in California.
Participating hotels include The Carlyle (New York City), Rosewood Crescent Hotel (Dallas, Texas), Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek (Dallas, Texas), Rosewood Sand Hill (Menlo Park, California), Rosewood Hotel Georgia (Vancouver), Al Faisaliah Hotel (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) and Rosewood Corniche (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)