Most travelers know that hotels carry typical toiletries such as sewing kits and tooth brushes, just in case you need them. But many properties have other secret amenities that you might not know about, or ever see—unless you ask. Here are a few you might want to inquire about the next time you check in to your favorite hotel.

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Pillow options

There’s nothing worse than plopping down onto a hotel bed, ready to drift off into dreamland when your head hits the pillow and it’s rock hard or way too soft for your liking. Many business hotels are now offering “pillow menus” that allow guests to choose the pillow that is just right for them. The Benjamin Hotel in New York City, for example, has a selection of ten types of pillows to choose from, including an anti-snore pillow and water-filled pillow.

Workout equipment

No time to hit the gym while on vacation, but wondering how you’re going to work off all those extra calories from indulging while on the road? Have no fear, workout equipment is near. Through the “Five Feet to Fitness” program, select Hilton hotels offer guests the option of booking a room with 11 pieces of fitness equipment and accessories. Westin hotels are also offering gear lending through their “Wellness at Westin” initiative. Guests can request workout gear such as New Balance shoes, socks and workout clothes. Meanwhile, InterContinental Hotel Group’s Even Hotels feature in-room “fitness zones” including balance balls, resistance bands and suggested routines.

Room upgrades

At some hotels, if you book a less expensive room available and then ask to upgrade when you get there, you will only pay a slight fee to upgrade, rather than having paid a high price when you booked. But be sure to mention if you’re celebrating a special occasion and you might even get an upgrade for free. Of course, any upgrade is based on availability. In Las Vegas it’s common to employ the “$20 trick.” Simply ask if an upgraded room is available and slip a $20 bill to the front desk agent when he/she requests your credit card and I.D. Allegedly, it works 75% of the time!

Forgotten toiletries 

For travelers who have forgotten to pack essential items, most hotels offer complimentary toiletries such as toothbrushes or shaving cream. But some hotels go one step further. At Kimpton hotels, for example, guests can get useful items such as lip balm, makeup remover, hair bands, lint roller, nail clippers, tweezers, anti-static spray, a curling iron and more. All you have to do is ask.

Late check out

Staying one night at a hotel usually means that you get to enjoy it for less than 24 hours, with check-in often beginning around 3pm and check out happening at 11am. While some early check-in/late check out offerings are only offered to loyalty club members, many hotels will allow it—if you just ask. Meanwhile, at properties like Disney’s Aulani resort in Hawaii, guests who want to enjoy the resort past the 11am check out time can take advantage of the Luana Lounge, which has restrooms, showers, dressing rooms and a television.


Why pay for a ride from the airport to the hotel when you might be able to get picked up for free? When booking your hotel room, check if the hotel’s Travelocity listing mentions free shuttle to/from the airport. A few luxury hotels also offer guests free car service, such as the St. Regis New York, which provides a Bentley for exploring the city (upon availability). These days a lot of hotels, such as the Saguaro Palm Springs, provide free bikes for cruising around the neighborhood.

Phone chargers

You’re just about to take an epic selfie on your dream vacation when your phone dies. The good news is that a surprisingly high number of people forget their phone chargers and adapters when they check out, so most hotels have plenty on hand to lend to guests who need one in a pinch.

Custom music

Would you like your hotel room outfitted with your favorite tunes? Some hotels are offering free custom music for guests to rock out to—or be soothed to sleep. At the Edgewater Hotel in Seattle for example, guests can get their retro fix by checking out a record player and selecting from a plethora of vinyl to play in their guest room. Hard Rock Hotels have a “Sound of Your Stay” amenity that allows guests to download expertly curated music playlists or you can check out a Fender guitar and strum tunes in your room.

Board games

Rather than sitting in your hotel room wasting time watching another reality show, why not socialize with your travel partner by playing a board game together? Hotels such Hotel Zetta in San Francisco and Pod 39 in NYC offer plenty of board games on hand for guests to borrow. Traveling alone? Meet someone in the lobby to be your game partner… You never know where it will lead!

Club Level

When making a reservation, ask if the hotel offers “club level” accommodations. Hotels such as the Ritz-Carlton have certain floors with rooms that have access to a lounge that offers private self-serve dining with complimentary meals, snacks and drinks (including alcohol) offered throughout the day. The price to upgrade is usually minimal compared to the amount you’ll save on food and beverages dining on the town, especially for large families.

Loaner umbrellas

There’s nothing worse for sightseeing than an unexpected rain shower rolling in. A lot of hotels, such as Rosewood properties, offer loaner umbrellas for guests to borrow. Be sure to ask so that the rain doesn’t ruin your trip.

Baby gear

No need to drag that Pack-n-Play through the airport or have it taking up the entire trunk of your car on a road trip. Many hotels, like the Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas, offer free use of cribs, high chairs and booster seats. Some even provide strollers. Just be sure to request yours well in advance.

Sharael Kolberg
​Sharael, founder of Family Travel Channel (, has been writing about travel since 1995. Her work has appeared in Sunset magazine, Outside magazine,,, and many others. Follow her on Twitter @FamTravChannel, FB and Instagram @FamilyTravelChannel. See more of her work at
Sharael Kolberg

Travelocity compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site; such compensation may include travel and other costs.

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