Voodoo Love Dolls,Omni Hotels

From artful hand mirrors to
voodoo love dolls and “water libraries,” in-room treats are getting a novel upgrade.

“When I travel, I want my
creature comforts,” says Diane Ackerman, a private art dealer and collector who
spends much of the year hopscotching around the world to attend art fairs, see
clients, and make studio visits. “I like to treat myself, especially on short
trips.” And one of the first things Ackerman checks in any hotel is its

“I’m not impressed if they have
lots of crackers and junk,” says Ackerman. She even has her own mini-bar
fantasy: a small fridge stocked with water, great red wine, unsalted almonds,
and anything to combat jet lag–related eye bags. “I’d love to find a cucumber,
so I could cut slices and put them on my eyes before I go to sleep.”

Luckily for Ackerman—and many
travelers—hotels are maxing out on mini-bars to satisfy blue-chip guests...and,
of course, entice them to return. “What a hotel stocks in the room can really
show its personality,” says Juliet Kinsman, the editor in chief of
boutique-hotel bible Mr. & Mrs. Smith. And, she says, the thrill of a hotel
mini-bar can’t be underestimated—especially one that goes beyond conventional
snacks and drinks. So while cucumbers might not be available yet, unusual items
are increasingly showing up in mini-bars around the world.

For example, at the W Retreat
& Spa in the Maldives, mini-bars include designer Heidi Klein bikinis. The
Mondrian in Los Angeles curiously stocks an Alice in Wonderland hand mirror,
designed by Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz. And sometimes, the items are nothing short
of elemental: in China, at the Banyan Tree Ringha—which sits 10,000 feet-plus
above sea level—cans of oxygen are perhaps the hotel’s best high-altitude

“Consumers are well aware how
every second they’re charged for something in a hotel—premiums on a phone call,
for example—and the mini-bar is a chance to make you feel there are lots of
treats and surprises,” says Kinsman. “For the value of a couple of dollars, you
have much bigger value in word of mouth.”

But along with artisanal
clothes or colas, Kinsman has her own mini-bar must-have that she seeks out
whenever she checks in: Resolve, a vitamin cocktail. “I’m always a sucker for
hangover kits,” she laughs.