Hotel Welcome Amenities: When & What To Expect?

Hotel Welcome Amenities: When & What To Expect?

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A reader posed an interesting question about hotel welcome amenities, which I wanted to address more broadly, since it’s not something I’ve ever written about. What are hotel welcome amenities, at what hotels and under what circumstances should you expect them, and what do I make of them?

What are hotel welcome amenities?

In a nutshell, a hotel welcome amenity is a gift that’s typically placed in your room on the first day of your stay. Sometimes you’ll find a welcome amenity in your room when you arrive, while in other cases it may be delivered on your first afternoon or evening, after checking in (which is why it could be worth not putting up your “do not disturb” sign). At more limited service properties, you may be given a gift bag upon check-in, or something along those lines.

In some cases a welcome amenity is advertised as a perk of a stay, while more often than not it’s a “surprise and delight” thing, where it’s not something that’s published, but it is common.

You’ll find that luxury hotels consistently provide these to guests. The quality can vary significantly, though. At some hotels (like the Mandarin Oriental Boston) it could be a few pieces of fruit.

Mandarin Oriental Boston welcome amenity

At other hotels (like Cheval Blanc Paris), it could be a bottle of champagne, and some amazing homemade sweets.

Cheval Blanc Paris welcome amenity

What’s offered as a welcome amenity can vary significantly, though more often than not it’s some sort of a food & beverage offering. It’s most commonly a cheese plate, sweets, and/or wine.

Note that in this post I’m not talking about hotel welcome amenities offered by hotel loyalty programs, where you may receive some bonus points as a “welcome amenity.” I’m talking about tangible in-room gifts provided proactively by hotels.

Gritti Palace Venice welcome amenity

What impacts whether you get a hotel welcome amenity?

I find that most “true” luxury hotels offer some sort of a welcome amenity to guests. Even beyond that, though, you may find that many upscale hotels also offer welcome amenities under some circumstances.

What impacts if you get a welcome amenity, and for that matter, the quality of the welcome amenity? Potential factors include:

  • The type of hotel you’re staying at
  • Your elite status, if you’re staying at a hotel with a loyalty program
  • Whether you’re a repeat guest at that specific hotel
  • If you’re celebrating anything special, like an anniversary or birthday
  • If you booked through a travel agent program that offers a welcome amenity as a published perk, including Hyatt Privé, Mandarin Oriental Fan Club, Marriott STARS, etc.

Don’t be offended if you stay at a hotel that doesn’t offer you a welcome amenity. Similarly, you may find that you stay at the same hotel twice, and are offered a welcome amenity once, but not the other time. Whether or not you’re offered one on a particular stay can come down to a variety of factors, including how busy the hotel is that day, what staffing is like, etc.

Dubai EDITION welcome amenity

My take on hotel welcome amenities

I figured I’d share a few personal thoughts on hotel welcome amenities, of course acknowledging that this is hardly the most important aspect of a hotel stay. Then I also want to pose a question to OMAAT readers.

The way I see it:

  • Personally I’m a bit surprised when I don’t receive some sort of a welcome amenity at a luxury hotel, while otherwise I don’t expect one, and am pleasantly surprised when I receive one
  • I admit that hotels are in a tough spot when it comes to welcome amenities, especially with alcohol; it’s nice when a bottle of wine is offered, but if it’s a $6 bottle of sparkling wine, it may leave a bad taste in some peoples’ mouth (figuratively, and maybe even literally), especially if they’re paying a lot for a stay
  • While it’s always nice to receive a welcome amenity, as a frequent traveler it can be hard to “maximize” these — I hate wasting, but when I’m given a plate with about 4,000 calories of chocolate…
St. Regis Dubai Polo Club welcome amenity

Now here’s a question for readers — if you’re proactively offered a welcome amenity but you don’t like what’s being offered, do you let the hotel know? Here’s my personal take:

  • Unless it’s a published benefit of what I booked (like for booking through a certain program with a travel agent, or at certain luxury hotels that market a welcome amenity as a feature), I would feel weird requesting a different gift; I think the exception would be if I didn’t drink alcohol, and the amenity consisted of alcohol, or if allergies came into play
  • At the same time, if you are offered a nice bottle of wine, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to request a swap to a different similarly priced bottle (for example, if you like white wine, but are offered red wine)

I know some people will even email hotels and request a specific kind of welcome amenity even if a welcome amenity isn’t an official perk. Personally I would feel sheepish and never do that, but to each their own…

Four Seasons Maui at Wailea welcome amenity

Bottom line

It’s always a treat to get a welcome amenity at a hotel. The quality can vary significantly, and it could be anything from a couple of bottles of water to a nice bottle of champagne and a cheese plate. It’s most common to find welcome amenities at luxury hotels, at hotel groups you have status with, or at hotels that you frequent.

What’s your take on hotel welcome amenities? When do you expect them, and what do you expect?

Conversations (29)
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  1. iamhere Guest

    Actually you're not quite accurate. It is often published, sometimes in detail and sometimes not. There is listed on Marriott's website, for example, a welcome gift in addition to the points that they provide. In some cases I have been given a card with a choice of benefits. In some cases this was instead of the 1,000 bonus points. In others it was in addition, but instead of the fruit plate. Usually I will check...

    Actually you're not quite accurate. It is often published, sometimes in detail and sometimes not. There is listed on Marriott's website, for example, a welcome gift in addition to the points that they provide. In some cases I have been given a card with a choice of benefits. In some cases this was instead of the 1,000 bonus points. In others it was in addition, but instead of the fruit plate. Usually I will check about the relative value vs the cost to me. I don't think that anyone would chose their hotel based on this gift. There are many more important factors when choosing a place to stay.

  2. Stuart Guest

    So, this is rather timely. I will share this, just arrived the MO in Milan and as an Elite was presented with a pair of shoes. Yes, a pair of shoes. Soft leather car shoes that I will actually use as house shoes. When they brought them I thought it was a mistake. I mean, I don't ever get shoes as an amenity. The person who delivered them even said after I looked at him...

    So, this is rather timely. I will share this, just arrived the MO in Milan and as an Elite was presented with a pair of shoes. Yes, a pair of shoes. Soft leather car shoes that I will actually use as house shoes. When they brought them I thought it was a mistake. I mean, I don't ever get shoes as an amenity. The person who delivered them even said after I looked at him befuddled, "I know, it's strange, but these shoes are for you." Attached was a nice note from the manager. The oddest thing? They were perfectly sized.

  3. Fed UP Guest

    Complete waste of space of an article.... 0 point 000001 people are in this super elite category of hotel programs... you are lucky if you get one bottle of water for free at a hotel. Most times, it a struggle to check in early, etc etc etc.

    Another article of clucking (bragging) about how you are a super elite in some hotel program, get real.

    1. Kelley Guest

      Pretty much only super frequent traveler's read these kinds of columns anyway, so actually this IS relevant to his readers. Poo on you. :-)

  4. Paul Guest

    I keep it real with status or without. If it is published in the rates or not. I just do not expect them. Mostly you get the free ones you do not like. So I simply ignored it. If I receive sth. I like, I let them now and complimented them.
    If I want an amenity specifically in my room when I arrive than I will make an effort and request it to be...

    I keep it real with status or without. If it is published in the rates or not. I just do not expect them. Mostly you get the free ones you do not like. So I simply ignored it. If I receive sth. I like, I let them now and complimented them.
    If I want an amenity specifically in my room when I arrive than I will make an effort and request it to be there.
    A good hotel and a good hotel chain know your favourite amenities for your stay and you do not need to inform them or ask for them at check in. That is my main criteria in staying loyal to a hotel and certainly not any status with free breskfast or free club access etc.
    If the hotel cheerish you as a loyal returning guest they will make efforts in pleasing you and keeping you.
    There is only a handful hotels which I receive this treasure of hospitality and I let them know how grateful I am by simply staying loyal to them - for years now.

  5. Phillip Gold

    As someone who doesn’t drink alcohol, I find that 80% of my welcome amenities not only include alcohol, but the vast majority is red wine. I have never asked for a replacement. If I don’t think a friend or family member would make use of it, I leave a note asking the staff to help themselves if they wish.

    Not exactly welcome amenity, but during a recent hotel stay, I walked into the bathroom to...

    As someone who doesn’t drink alcohol, I find that 80% of my welcome amenities not only include alcohol, but the vast majority is red wine. I have never asked for a replacement. If I don’t think a friend or family member would make use of it, I leave a note asking the staff to help themselves if they wish.

    Not exactly welcome amenity, but during a recent hotel stay, I walked into the bathroom to find a big clump of long hair stuck on the bathroom wall. I didn’t want to make a fuss so I took a picture and as I was leaving the hotel for the evening I dropped by reception and showed them. They were apologetic and asked what wine I liked. I told them not to worry, and I just wanted to let them know as feedback. They insisted, so I said I don’t drink alcohol and once again told them not to worry about. I came back to a large jug of freshly squeezed orange juice and an apology letter… but the clump of hair was still on the bathroom wall!

  6. Carrie Member

    A bottle of Bollinger surrounded by arabic sweets found in not only our room but another in the room for our children at La Mamounia was almost eclipsed by the gorgeous Christmas stocking amenity offered at Le Bristol; but whilst amenities are appreciated and generally bring delight, please never let it be at the cost of exemplary service, bottled (preferably avec gaz) water and a scrupulously clean room.

  7. Robert Guest

    I typically will bring the snacks or sweets home with me and they invariably end up in the trash uneaten several days later lol

  8. skimegheath Gold

    I’ve had some amusing welcome ammenities at a hyatt in India. I was doing 3 weeks on and 1 week off. One time i received one tampon an an envelope. Seriously. I should point out that I have received amazing welcome gifts in India too.
    I think it also depends on when you arrive. I paid for a suite at a well known chain the other week. I got nothing but when I checked in my room was not ready (it was after 5) so they juggled rooms to get me another room.

  9. Andy Guest

    Welcome amenities are a nice surprise but I'm disappointed how many times it includes alcohol. I don't drink and would rather have sparkling water or extra bottles of water. That said, I've always graciously accepted the gift and appreciate the effort by the hotel.

  10. They Guest

    Happy if I get a soda and snack. Most chain amenities are useless

  11. SSS Guest

    @Ben your comment re cheap wine is bang on the mark. A hotel I frequently stay at provides a bottle of $6 wine. While it is a lovely gesture, this is not a wine I’d typically drink (tried it once… never again). This is not to be too entitled, but more that it’s just going to waste. Eventually spoke to the hotel and they were able to swap it out for a couple of beers (ironically worth more and something that I do drink!).
    Interested on other people’s experience?

  12. dander Guest

    I see this more in Europe than in the States. The Intercontinental in Amsterdam takes the prize. It is my all time favorite hotel. The Tokyo Hilton is a close second.

  13. DEE Guest

    In the old days way back when I booked thru Amex Plat we got a bottle of sparkling wine or a plate of fruits and chocolates but NO More.!!

    1. T L Guest

      Just got a fruit bowl, cookies, and a large bottle of sparkling water at an FHR property. A lot of others have instead offered drink vouchers, which I don't like quite as much.

  14. Nate Guest

    I find the in-room amenities of this sort vary widely--from the stale cookie and spoiled fruit (just don't bother...hotel would do better just giving us some extra bottled water)----to the truly spectacular...like champagne and dipped strawberries (one more example: amazing Carmenere wine with a keepsake opener/accessories in a beautiful wood box in Santiago, Chile...still get compliments on the set). Anything that doubles as a keepsake/reminder of the destination or hotel is the most thoughtful.
    ...

    I find the in-room amenities of this sort vary widely--from the stale cookie and spoiled fruit (just don't bother...hotel would do better just giving us some extra bottled water)----to the truly spectacular...like champagne and dipped strawberries (one more example: amazing Carmenere wine with a keepsake opener/accessories in a beautiful wood box in Santiago, Chile...still get compliments on the set). Anything that doubles as a keepsake/reminder of the destination or hotel is the most thoughtful.
    We find a small desert or treat is mostly the usual and something we mostly appreciate. Concur with your feelings on pushback--it's a nice gesture so we've never said anything other than, "thank you--we appreciate it" to hotel staff.
    When we have been 'wowed' by the gift, always make a point to let the manager on duty know how much we liked it and personally thank them---a few times, we found another plate of goodies on our return! (it was too much to eat a second time, but a cultural norm...unexpected but again, wow!)

    Lucky--as usual, an interesting post...keep up your great work!

  15. Sonofdad New Member

    Another big factor seems to be if you’re a travel agent or work for a travel agency. They kiss up to them as they can send business their way.

  16. Ethan Guest

    A ton of kudos to many Hiltons for allowing guests to choose their desirable welcome gifts at checking in. An example is selecting 1 or 3 (Gold or Diamond respectively) from 2 beers, 2 Perrier, 1 red wine, 2 coke, 2 milk, fruit plate, 2 mixed nuts or 2 snickers.
    Can’t beat this at non-Luxury properties.

    1. Levi Gold

      The bottle(s) of water and snack in lieu of 100 to 1000 Hilton points at their "everyone gets free breakfast" brands (Embassy, Homewood, Hampton, Tru, Home2) is an underrated elite perk.

  17. Tennen Gold

    What I timely post. I recently stayed at a (run-down) Holiday Inn in Europe. As an IHG Platinum, I had to proactively request an upgrade when I saw multiple categories of better rooms available.

    To my complete surprise, someone came to the room 15 minutes later with a welcome amenity of a large bottle of water and a generous plate of whole fruits. FWIW, I had already chosen the drink vouchers instead of points at...

    What I timely post. I recently stayed at a (run-down) Holiday Inn in Europe. As an IHG Platinum, I had to proactively request an upgrade when I saw multiple categories of better rooms available.

    To my complete surprise, someone came to the room 15 minutes later with a welcome amenity of a large bottle of water and a generous plate of whole fruits. FWIW, I had already chosen the drink vouchers instead of points at check-in.

    It's definitely nice when it's unexpected, especially at a non-luxury hotel. Conversely, it sucks when a welcome amenity is a status benefit, and you have to *ask* for it when you don't get anything (Radisson).

  18. Sean M. Guest

    I had a situation at a Hilton property in the UAE some years ago (not naming it because the matter escalated and they threatened police action) where I (HH Gold) received a room that had a welcome amenity laid out. The amenity consisted of a box of name-brand chocolates and a hotel-branded mug. There was also a covering note in an envelope with my name on the front, but the actual note was addressed to...

    I had a situation at a Hilton property in the UAE some years ago (not naming it because the matter escalated and they threatened police action) where I (HH Gold) received a room that had a welcome amenity laid out. The amenity consisted of a box of name-brand chocolates and a hotel-branded mug. There was also a covering note in an envelope with my name on the front, but the actual note was addressed to someone else - a generic note thanking me for being HH Gold and welcoming me back to the property (although it was my first stay).

    I called reception to ask if the amenity was for me and was initially told that it was not, and they would be sending someone to pick it up. They did not do so by the time I returned to the room in the evening, so I called again and was told that no, it was actually supposed to be for me. Accordingly, I opened the box of chocolates and ate maybe one or two. I did not touch the mug.

    At check-out however, I was shocked to find a sizeable charge on my bill for the welcome amenity (like nearly AED150/$40). I refused to pay and the matter escalated with raised voices on both sides. The manager showed up and basically told me that if I didn't pay, he would call the police. One of the porters whispered to me in Hindi that I should just pay because the manager was a hard-ass and he would ensure that there were problems otherwise. I had a flight to catch so I just paid and put the matter behind me.

    Every since then, I have been particularly careful to double check that any "welcome amenity" is actually complimentary and intended for me. If there is no covering note that specifically says "With Our Compliments" and with my name on it, I will call down to reception to check - and get the name of the person who confirms it is complimentary and intended for me.

    1. Alpha Golf Guest

      Wow. Good thing you speak Hindi. Quelle coincidence!

    2. Kelley Guest

      I would have followed up with a letter to their corporate office.

    3. Sean M. Diamond

      @Kelley - I raised the issue with the "regional cluster manager" who I had other dealings with. He promised to investigate and never got back to me - then left for another job anyway.

  19. asprino Guest

    If you are someone can decide on how much to spend on events, and for example you stay at a hotel when having an event there, it’s a sure way to get such stuff.

  20. Tim Guest

    Curious- I’m Hyatt globalist for several years and frequent Hyatt Regency’s and sometimes Grand Hyatts. I never do PH’s for work (just too expensive normally). What do you consider luxury hotels amongst the major chains like Hyatt, Marriott and Hilton, if your globalist, titanium, Diamond etc? Thanks!

    1. Eve Guest

      I am Ambassador Elite in Bonvoy, i would generally consider Ritz Carlton, Luxury Collection, St Regis and various W Hotels, JW Marriott and upscale Marriott properties in Asia and Europe to be luxury

      As for Edition, the bedding is amazing and they generally have brilliant restaurants but everything else is an IKEA level furniture with pretty decorations so I am kind of sceptical about them

    2. Fed UP Guest

      there you go, there is the 0 point 000001 percent - An Ambassador Elite .... they are basically non existent, so the article was written for one person , to complain about the crappy wine, of course its crap, this comes of their bottom line.... How about 10 times the points / stay, at least you get free rooms faster !

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Sean M. Guest

I had a situation at a Hilton property in the UAE some years ago (not naming it because the matter escalated and they threatened police action) where I (HH Gold) received a room that had a welcome amenity laid out. The amenity consisted of a box of name-brand chocolates and a hotel-branded mug. There was also a covering note in an envelope with my name on the front, but the actual note was addressed to someone else - a generic note thanking me for being HH Gold and welcoming me back to the property (although it was my first stay). I called reception to ask if the amenity was for me and was initially told that it was not, and they would be sending someone to pick it up. They did not do so by the time I returned to the room in the evening, so I called again and was told that no, it was actually supposed to be for me. Accordingly, I opened the box of chocolates and ate maybe one or two. I did not touch the mug. At check-out however, I was shocked to find a sizeable charge on my bill for the welcome amenity (like nearly AED150/$40). I refused to pay and the matter escalated with raised voices on both sides. The manager showed up and basically told me that if I didn't pay, he would call the police. One of the porters whispered to me in Hindi that I should just pay because the manager was a hard-ass and he would ensure that there were problems otherwise. I had a flight to catch so I just paid and put the matter behind me. Every since then, I have been particularly careful to double check that any "welcome amenity" is actually complimentary and intended for me. If there is no covering note that specifically says "With Our Compliments" and with my name on it, I will call down to reception to check - and get the name of the person who confirms it is complimentary and intended for me.

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Phillip Gold

As someone who doesn’t drink alcohol, I find that 80% of my welcome amenities not only include alcohol, but the vast majority is red wine. I have never asked for a replacement. If I don’t think a friend or family member would make use of it, I leave a note asking the staff to help themselves if they wish. Not exactly welcome amenity, but during a recent hotel stay, I walked into the bathroom to find a big clump of long hair stuck on the bathroom wall. I didn’t want to make a fuss so I took a picture and as I was leaving the hotel for the evening I dropped by reception and showed them. They were apologetic and asked what wine I liked. I told them not to worry, and I just wanted to let them know as feedback. They insisted, so I said I don’t drink alcohol and once again told them not to worry about. I came back to a large jug of freshly squeezed orange juice and an apology letter… but the clump of hair was still on the bathroom wall!

4
Eskimo Guest

Does towel animals count?

3
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