In the “no surprises here” category, a survey conducted by TripAdvisor found that travelers mostly avoid hotel minibars because of sky-high prices, not selection. This subject is top of mind for me right now as I just stayed in a hotel in Costa Rica that had $2.50 beers and $1.50 sodas in its minibar. So I used it quite a bit. Meanwhile, I saw an article in Travel & Leisure talking about a Paris hotel that had $9 bottles of water in its minibar. Who pays that?
Not many people, apparently. “Price, not selection, is the most important factor when it comes to using the mini-bar, as 94 percent of all travelers surveyed would use the mini-bar more often, if the prices were more reasonable. Thirty-three percent of travelers said they never hit the mini-bar.”
Personally, I’ve never understood the logic of charging more for an item in the minibar than it goes for in the real bar in the hotel. In the real bar you’ve got labor costs, additional space requirements, furniture, and lots of other aspects that contribute to the cost of a drink. In a hotel room you’ve got none of that and the guest does all the work. There’s just the cost of electricity for the fridge. (Which is completely wasted in most cases since guests just balk at the price and don’t use it at all.)
And in a move that had to be dreamed up by an accountant rather than someone who faces guests, mini bars with motion sensors are more trouble. “With the advent of motion and weight sensors, 16 percent of travelers have been billed for simply adding items to a hotel room mini-bar/fridge or for moving contents around. Seven percent have been charged for merely storing their own items in a mini-bar/fridge.”