You can get lots of free stuff from hotels, from the absolute basics all the way up to luxurious perks that make you feel extra fancy. Some are obvious, like free tea bags and those little bottles of shampoo and lotion, but others you may have never thought to ask for.
How to ask for — and get — free stuff at hotels
When asking hotel staff for freebies, the only real secret is to be nice. Whether you’re checking in or calling the front desk from your room, keep it pleasant and friendly, but respect their time. Don’t make a huge deal out of explaining why you need the thing you’re asking for: A simple “Hi, do you have [item or service] available for guests?” works great. You won’t get a “yes” every time, but you’ll be surprised at how often you do.
Hotels might give you stuff you forgot for free
Packing for a trip can be chaotic, which makes it easy for little things to slip through the cracks. Thankfully, most hotels have the basics covered. Here are just a few things you can get from the front desk:
- Sewing kits: If a button pops off your nicest shirt, no sweat — just call the front desk and ask for a sewing kit.
- Laundry bags: Why throw your dirty clothes all over the floor (or drape them on a chair) when you could put them in a free laundry bag?
- Phone, laptop, and tablet chargers: You won’t be able to keep these, but there’s a good chance you can borrow one during your stay.
- Voltage adapters: A forgotten adaptor can ruin your trip, so don’t be afraid to ask the hotel staff if they have one you can borrow.
- Pretty much any toiletry: Hotels usually have extra razors, shaving cream, mouthwash, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and even makeup wipes available for emergencies. They may not be your go-to brand, but who cares?
- Condoms: In the least shocking twist of all time, most hotels have a stash of rubbers available on request. If you find yourself without, you know what to do.
You might also get the big stuff you left at home
Bulky items are rarely worth the luggage space, especially if you travel light. Will you actually use your hairdryer, or will it sit in your suitcase untouched, taking up space that could be used for other things?
You probably already know the answer based on your own habits and the kind of trip you’re taking, but should you guess wrong, your hotel may be able to help out. I’m not talking about dinky in-room hair dryers, either: Upscale hotels often have upgraded hairstyling tools, including higher-end dryers and straightening or curling irons. On a different but related note, many establishments keep umbrellas for guests to use too, so you needn’t be caught without one.
Hotels will give you free stuff for the kids
Travelling with kids would be a whole lot easier if they didn’t manage to collect so much stuff. Thankfully, some hotels are starting to offer kid- and parent-friendly perks, which is great news for travelling families.
If you managed to leave your kid’s Entertainment Bag at home, ask the front desk if they can help. Many keep toys, games, and kid-friendly DVDs around for exactly this situation. You may also be able to borrow a bouncy seat, car seat, or stroller during your stay so you don’t have to lug all three through the airport. Certain resorts even provide childcare, although that’s one you should check on before you book your stay.
Another underrated perk for hotel guests: Transportation. This doesn’t have to mean private cars or shuttles, although those are common. If you’re staying in a bike-friendly city, your hotel may offer free bike rentals; if you’re in an area with lots of lakes and rivers, there may be kayaks and/or canoes available for guest use. These perks are more location-dependent than car service, but are gradually becoming more popular. You won’t know if you don’t ask.
Bougie upgrades for the discerning traveller
Half the fun of staying in a nice hotel is enjoying upgraded versions of everyday things, like nicer sheets, a mountain of pillows, or a neck-deep Jacuzzi tub. At least some of these perks aren’t limited to people who book the penthouse suite — you can probably get some, too, if you ask.
Start by asking if there are any room upgrades available at check-in. This is the oldest trick in the book, but it’s shockingly effective, and lots of people never even think to ask. If it works out, you’ll get a bigger, more luxurious room for the low, low price of “asking nicely,” so it’s at least worth a shot.
Even if your upgrade request is denied, there are still some nice things you can do to make your stay little fancier. Some hotels offer heated towel service, which is exactly as luxe as it sounds. Others will swap your pillows for ones that you like better if you ask; there may even be a pillow menu for you to check out. Finally, if the hotel has an onsite restaurant, you may be able to eat and/or drink there for free — just ask the receptionist or concierge. A complimentary cocktail during happy hour is the most common deal.
Restaurant and bar recommendations
Service industry workers know all the good spots in town, which make them the ultimate insider for visitors. While you’re enjoying a drink at the hotel bar — and being a nice, respectful patron — you should probably ask the bartender where they recommend getting dinner or drinks.
This can be a risky move, but as with everything else, the secret to getting good recommendations is to know how to ask. To start, you’ll obviously want to be pleasant, polite, respectful, and a generous tipper; in other words, a good guest. (Good guests get good recommendations — bad, entitled ones get directions to overpriced tourist traps.) It also helps to be specific. Don’t expect them to read your mind: If you’re looking for a quiet dive with cheap drinks or a fancy steakhouse with a serious wine list, just say so.
When staying in a hotel, remember: It can’t hurt to ask. (This is especially true for luxury hotels.) As long as you’re polite and can graciously accept a “no,” it’s easy to upgrade your stay without spending a dime.