From room service by robots to a loaner Porsche, hotels are upping the ante
Loaner Porsches, robot room service, butler-drawn baths, elf tuck-ins (elf tuck-ins?). It may sound like the life of the 1 percent, but all of these could be yours for the night if you splurge on the right hotel room.
We searched hotels across the country for over-the-top, extravagant and just plain eyebrow-raising amenities. Goldfish on demand, anyone? Here's what we found:
Toying with technology
Room service is delivered with a side of bleeps and bloops by “Champ, the Relay Robot” at Rising Star Sports Ranch Resort in Mesquite, Nev. The autonomous robot darts down halls and even operates elevators at the sports-themed family resort, delivering fresh, hot chicken wings and stromboli.
Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas recently unveiled its newest “employee”: Rose, a chatbot that guests can text in order to learn more about the resort's offerings. Like a modern-day choose-your-own adventure, she can recommend cocktails at different bars, describe the vibe at various restaurants, act as an art tour docent and more. She's even bawdy in her responses. I asked about light bites to eat, and she replied, “Don't worry, I promise to bite lightly,” followed by a kissy winky face.
In Chicago, Acme Hotel Co. visitors can chat with their in-room Amazon Alexa (the voice service behind Echo that lets users audibly interact with devices) and ask for restaurant and entertainment recommendations, order room service, play music, request maintenance and more.
Putting you in the driver's seat
Plenty of luxury hotels have house cars that will cart you around. But a Porsche you can drive yourself? Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, just north of San Diego is partnering with Porsche of San Diego to offer a Porsche test-drive program. A 2016 Panamera and a 2016 Boxster are available on a first-come, first-served basis for guests to borrow at no charge for up to four hours a day.
Mercedes-Benz fans also have options. At Hotel Jerome in Aspen, Colo., visitors can hop in a GLS450 sport-utility vehicle — and borrow it for up to four hours. Or in Santa Fe, N.M., they can take the top down on two convertibles at Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado: an SL550 or an SLC300 (both Mercedes-Benzes) are available for the whole day.
Denver tourists staying at Halcyon, a hotel at Cherry Creek, can zip around town on a Vespa (or a longboard or an ebike, if they prefer).
Getting hygge with it
Hygge (pronounced hoo-guh) — a Danish concept that embraces taking pleasure in the little things in life, such as snuggly socks, warm candlelight and an intimate dinner with friends by the fire — has taken the U.S. by storm. So much so that three Kimpton hotels in New York City (Hotel Eventi, the Muse Hotel and Ink48) now have a “hygge concierge” who will deliver all things cozy and comfortable to guests' rooms, such as aromatherapy oils, tea, special pillows (chosen via a pillow menu), plush socks and blankets, fresh flowers and more.
Taking bathtime to a new level
The words “butler-drawn bath” are spoken with reverence at high-end hotels nationwide. At Carneros Resort & Spa in Napa, Calif., guests who reserve a cottage or suite with an outdoor soaking tub can call upon a fireside butler to light the outdoor fireplace, draw an aromatherapy bath and deliver a bottle of bubbly. Patrons at the Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour in Miami can choose from 10 bath salts before sinking into a butler-drawn bath and gazing out at the ocean through the bathroom's floor-to-ceiling windows. At the ever-posh Langham in Chicago, butler-drawn baths are complimentary to club-level patrons, and include rose petals, a selection of bath salts and bubble bath from the in-house Chuan Spa and a glass of Champagne.
Customizing your snacks and spirits
Summon the martini man to your room at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago and he can shake (or stir) a cosmopolitan to get your night going; or call on the ice cream man, and he'll arrive with an old-fashioned soda fountain cart and craft sundaes to order. Down south, the Lodge at Sea Island in St. Simons Island, Ga., has a “S'morrier” on staff, who will prepare gourmet s'mores for guests around a bonfire. At Soho House hotels in Chicago, New York and Miami, a bartender meanders the halls pushing a cocktail cart nightly between 6 and 9 p.m. offering to craft cocktails for guests as they get ready for dinner.
Making special deliveries
A cheeseburger brought to your room feels rather passé these days (even with those adorable mini ketchup bottles). Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos (all locations) have a guitar menu with 20 Fenders in different colors and styles, available for room delivery.
Kimpton's Hotel Monaco in Chicago, Portland, Baltimore and Philadelphia lend goldfish for the night through the Guppy Love program (hotel staff feed and take care of the fish, so no pressure).
Restless travelers meet their match at the Benjamin in New York City, where a sleep consultant helped design a “Rest and Relax” program that includes a pillow menu (with options for back sleepers, side sleepers, stomach sleepers and children), on-demand meditations, a bedtime tea and snack menu, and other snooze aids.
And during the holidays, elves descend on the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village in California to read kids a bedtime story and then tuck them in, during the “elf tuck-in.”
Kate Silver is a Washington Post contributing writer.