It's the little things, right? Free WiFi, great in-room coffee, or an on-time courtesy shuttle can be all it takes to start a holiday off on the right foot. But there are some hotel perks that truly wow; they're out of the ordinary bonuses that you'll never forget. And having traveled and trekked around quite a bit, we've come to find an esteemed group of hotels, both big and boutique, that deliver more than just a key and directions to the elevator bank at check-in. These are the little additions we'd write home about. (Or, you know, update our Facebook statuses about, since that WiFi's free.)
The clever minds at DoubleTree Hotels have worked out a simple extra that proves the way to a traveler's heart is through their stomach. In response to guests arriving tired and hungry, someone with a sweet tooth (and good taste in treats) formulated a signature chocolate chip cookie to perk up each guest at check-in. This was 1987. Twenty-five years later, over 10,000,000 cookies are handed over each year across the brand's 200 hotels worldwide. Bonus, the cookies are always served warm for that just-out-of-the-oven, gooey appeal.
Insider Tip: The cookies are so popular, there's an entire website devoted to them. By the way, if you search for the secret recipe online, we're pretty sure you'll be able to find it (but you didn't hear that from us).
When you visit the same hotels as Oprah, it's pretty much guaranteed that they'll have billionaire perks. Such is the case with Qualia, the exclusive adult hideaway she visited on Hamilton Island during her 2011 Australia tour. The plush perk (aside from a sparkling glass of Veuve Cliquot at check-in and included breakfast overlooking the Great Barrier Reef) is a private beach drop-off to one of six secluded beaches in the nearby Whitsunday Islands. Bathing suits are optional, just make sure you're wearing them when the pick-up arrives.
Insider Tip: Every room comes with a personal golf cart if that's how you like to roll.
Hot Chocolate Wake-Up Call
Alarm clocks are for amateurs. Cradled in a king bed under a luxury tent pitched on the plains of Kenya's Masai Mara, daybreak is announced by the Fairmont Mara Safari Club's wake-up concierge bearing the gift of hot chocolate (or coffee or tea, if you must) and a biscuit. Before you can even open your eyes and say thank you, the wake-up fairy is off to her next good deed. Bless her soul, waking up just got a lot easier.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and when a hotel can meet that need with a frothy cappuccino, freshly-chopped fruit salad, and a just-baked croissant or pain au chocolate (or both!) delivered daily from a nearby French bakery, they should win some sort of 'breakfast of champions' prize. Such a start can be found at a small boutique hotel, aptly named Le Petit Hotel, fronting Montreal's oldest street.
Insider Tip: Since we're talking extras, every room comes with a multi-jet shower and a salon hairdryer (upon request from the female owner).
A foot massage is heavenly any day, but when you've been banging your heels along the steamy streets of Bangkok, the included foot rub at the Lit Hotel is as refreshing as sitting under the shade of a banana palm dipping your toes into freshwater lagoon in the foothills of Phuket.
Insider Tip: The same hotel offers a daily allowance of included mini bar snacks, a full breakfast, an uber-modern infinity pool, WiFi, and coffee pod machine in the lobby. Just in case that foot rub wasn't enough of an extra for you.
With daily wine hours and a multitude of other extra touches, humans are treated well at Kimpton Hotels; so is man's best friend. No matter how many Fidos you have in tow, dogs are always free (some hotels charge up to $60 per night per dog), and what's more, each pup gets a treat upon arrival, a welcome message on a 'doggy board' in the lobby, a comfy dog bed, bowls, and a special 'do not disturb' canine sign to hang on the door.
All photos courtesy of Trish Friesen