The Monday Rant: Mini-Bars, Maxi-Buzz Kill
I am afraid to even look at it, much less touch it or -- aghast! -- open it.
I am referring, of course, to the Evil Mini-Bar, the cruelest of hotel appliances (amenities is too generous and kind a word).
Back in the day, mini-bars were friendly repositories of refreshments. Sure, the items were overpriced, but that's what you got for convenience. (Who wants to leave the in-room fete to run around a strange town looking for coke and Johnnie Walker?) Nowadays, though, the bars have lost their party-hearty appeal and have become a thing to fear. Like a clown under the bed. The boogie man in the closet. The fridge that will double your hotel bill.
I blame the motion detectors, the Big Brothers placed inside the fridge to spy on us. (For a complete discussion, see the transcript from last Monday's Travel Web chat). It used be that you could open the fridge, peer inside, pull out a beer, read the label, look longingly at the frosty liquid, then place it back, sadly. Now, if you even nudge a mini-bar item, you could be slapped with a charge. Kid you not.
During a recent stay in Atlantic City, my hotel room featured a tray of gourmet treats set on the counter. Below it, a sign warned guests that if they picked up an item for more than 30 seconds, they would be assessed a fee. (The sign patronizingly ended with a "Cheers.") That's like asking a kid not to pet a puppy. I was so tempted to pick up one of the snacks for 29 seconds, but worried that my watch was not synchronized with the hotel's. Oops. Just kidding.
My biggest gripe, however, goes to the ogres who patrol the fridge interior, theatening to charge guests who keep personal items inside. To me, that is just mean and petty. Why not give a tiny shelf to guests who can't afford $4 sodas and $6 Pringles? You don't charge us shower space for bringing our own shampoo and conditioner, or a hook rental fee if we use our own bathrobe.
To outwit the hotel scrooges, I now jerry-rig a primitive Frigidaire. I fill up the ice bucket with loads of cubes, place my perishables in a plastic bag and bury them in the ice. I have been doing this for a while, but worry that hotels may start placing sensors in the ice bucket to catch guests who are filling it with more than ice.
I fear the day when I have to start fearing the ice bucket.
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