Free In-Room Hotel Coffee: A Right Or Privilege?

Filed Under: Hotels

I’m rarely in one timezone for more than a few days, so I’m often asked how I deal with jetlag. The answer is coffee. Lots and lots and lots of coffee. All day. Every day.

That’s why I write quite a bit about hotel coffee. When you’re jetlagged and constantly in different timezones, you notice the oddities of how different hotels approach coffee.

Some hotels offer crap in-room coffee.


Some offer good in-room coffee.


And some offer coffee in the lobby.


But here’s a first for me. I stayed at the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport last night, which is one of my favorite airport hotels. They have an awesome club lounge, and the picture of the coffee setup above is actually from the Sheraton, so I really appreciate that they have complimentary coffee and croissants in the lobby starting in the wee hours of the morning.

This morning I wasn’t even awake enough to go to the lobby to get coffee, so fumbled around with the coffee machine, though struggled to find the pods.


Then I looked in the minibar, where they were located, right next to the condoms.


And they cost 2.50EUR each!


Which got me thinking… is free in-room coffee a right or a privilege? And does it make any difference that the hotel offers free coffee and croissants in the lobby? Have you ever seen another hotel that charges for in-room coffee?

Personally, while it caught me off guard, I’m appreciative of the hotel offering coffee and croissants in the lobby, so don’t mind this too much. Though I’d probably be miffed if there were no option for free coffee anywhere. Ain’t no such thing as hospitality without caffeine!

  1. Then there’s a whole separate category which is (and this is sort of hard to really whine too much about) the fancier places including some versions of the Ritz Carlton and the St Regis where you don’t get in room coffee at all because they expect you’re going to be so fancy as to only want room service.

  2. It all depends if/how they advertize it. Do you think the bottle of water in each room should be free or should there be a charge?

    I think airlines get away with murder since they can charge for food, luggage, seats, TV and no one blinks an eye but a hotel wants to charge for coffee or internet and people lose their mind… I have never understood that.

  3. I have never understood the obsession with coffee..
    I do drink it but very occasionally and enjoy good quality coffee but it gives me such a caffeine kick that I am unable to sleep well.
    Have you tried obstaining for a few weeks and see if ŷour jet lag gets any better…..

  4. Hotels have always offered free coffee in rooms, so it’s an expectation they set. I’d be annoyed if I had to put myself together early in the morning to go into a public area such as a lobby in order to get a cup of coffee, which I would normally be able to get in my room as I’m getting ready.

  5. You are kidding, no?

    A right like free speech? No

    A minimum standard like a bed? No

    Something that most travelers care about? No (worldwide, tea is a bigger desire)

    Do I care about free lobby coffee? No, I need a cup of coffe to get to the lobby.

    In room espresso machine worth $3 a pod? Hell yeah

  6. The take away from this post is, who decided to put the condoms next to the coffee? How long was THAT meeting?

  7. Air con will have a fee in the future. If the airlines can get away with a fee for everything, hotels will too.

  8. @Front office: I never understood why the media (bloggers included) always parrotred the airliners PR on fees. All polls show that customers hate them, yet bloggers and media keep defending them as if customer (and their opinion) didn’t exist.

  9. Croissants are disgusting and therefore irrelevant

    Fruit > muffins > donuts > croissants for breakfast lobby items imo

  10. We found out after the fact at the BKK Millenium Hilton that the pod coffee wasn’t free. There was an scratched and obscure sign on the machine. There was instant coffee too and we politely told management they should display it more prominently.

  11. I don’t drink coffee so I am happy that I don’t have to subsidize your free coffee at this hotel. The cost is rather low though, so maybe it’s still subsidized a bit.

  12. In room coffee is a must for me. A lot of hotels seem to be doing away with it. Now I always check trip advisor to make sure the hotel has coffee. I recently stayed at the Melia in Dusseldorf where the only coffee available was from the restaurant. I witnessed some aircrew leaving in the morning freaking out because they couldn’t get a cup of coffee

  13. You visit the most amazing places but you keep drinking lousy coffee. Why don’t you try a specialty coffee bar in the cities you visit?

  14. I stayed at a Candlewood Suites this week. Extended stay foxused, so they don’t do daily housekeeping. The room was provisioned at check-in with one 4-cup filter pack (and one decaf), and additional ones were for sale in the shop for 50 cents each.

  15. My question is: Would you rather pay a few Euro/Dollars/whatever for in-room coffee you knew was going to be good? Or have free coffee that you knew was going to be crap, but was still coffee and gave you the immediate burst of caffeine you need?

    I think most hotels realize that in-room coffee is something that guests will use in a pinch, but more than likely they are just going to get it elsewhere if they desire anything above the basics.

  16. I remember the Waldorf in Shanghai gave 4 espresso pods per day for free, and then if you wanted more, there was about a $2 charge for each.

  17. I was just in Las Vegas. Although most hotels there don’t offer in-room coffee, the Treasure Island does, at $3.50/cup (pod).

  18. I think as a minimum and free is sachets of instant cofee/te plus a kettle and that charging for fancy coffee is acceptable.

  19. The thing about having caffeine headaches is that you learn to stop treating coffee as a caffeine delivery system and appreciate good coffee more. If the choice is between bad coffee in-room or no coffee at all, I’d rather not have coffee.

  20. Yes- and I too was surprised and upset – cost 2.00 euro a pod also a Starwoods Hotel — it was the “Blue Palace” on Creta Greece — May sound crazy — I will not go back -FYI–rooms cost $500 a night

  21. This piece reminded me an ABCNews report where their investigators swabbed in-room coffee makers and cups for bacterial count. The agar swabbed plates showed massive amounts of bacteria, mostly E.Coli. People touch the water reservoirs of the machines where housekeeping does not clean regularly. Also, it only takes a dozen norovirus to get infected with a nasty GI disease.

    Finally, I wouldn’t classify coffee as good or bad. Water minerals content, temperature, type of beans, country of origin and altitude grown affect flavor. Enjoy your cuppa!

  22. Don’t you remember when the former W | Suites Newark, CA, rebranded then as W Silicon Valley was forced to remove the coffee makers from the room due to W brand standards? 🙂

    The property responded then by making the coffee makers available on request, and to this day they continue to offer decent coffee for free in the lobby. (Back then it was actually Illy coffee, which was great). Now it’s been rebranded as an Aloft so it’s no longer an issue, but they still offer good free coffee in the lobby in the morning.

    Is that still a W brand standard (no coffee makers in the rooms)?


  23. What I hate about fancy hotels that expect you to use room service is that it’s 45 minutes between me calling and the coffee showing up. And for 2 double espressos I’ve never had it be less than US$12 and they’re lukewarm by the time you get them. in-room n’espresso FTW!

  24. I found there is no coffee machine in any of those Chinese hotels. Despite they are costing me around $250-300/night

  25. I got charged $1 per Nespresso pod at the MGallery Grand Hotel (Accor) in Melbourne and didn’t mind too much as I would have had 12 over a week between two of us and the pods do cost $0.80 each. I think the issue is more that when coffee is free people take the Nespresso pods

  26. Lol I love that this gets a whole post to itself 🙂 I can safely say I couldn’t give two hoots what a hotel does or doesn’t offer in the coffee stakes. I do however get quite annoyed when there’s no free water in the room (esp as an elite), or even worse only sparkling 🙁

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *