Free WiFi, bottled water, swimming pools, mini fridges–BORING. If your summer travel plans include a hotel stay or two, don’t settle for a boring batch of prosaic, run-of-the-mill amenities. It’s your vacation! The utilitarian approach to barebones lodging will save you a buck or two, but why not make your hotel a rewarding part of the experience? Here are 10 of best hotel amenities you’ll find anywhere in the world.
Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya is the only hotel where you can eat breakfast with giraffes–and we don’t mean enjoying your eggs benedict from behind the safety of a 12-foot fence. Every morning, a herd of eight Rothschild giraffes meanders over to the luxurious European Manor house. As you take your morning meal, prepare to be joined by long necks reaching in through the open windows for a quick treat.
Oscar Wilde’s Smoking Jacket
Okay, not his ACTUAL smoking jacket. But if you stay in room 118 at The Cadogan Hotel in London’s Knightsbridge, your amenities include a replica of the infamous writer’s coat. Why? It was in this very room he was arrested for “committing acts of gross indecency” with a young man. The hotel honors Wilde’s memory by offering both the smoking jacket and menu containing several of the author’s favorite drinks: hock and seltzer, absinthe and pink Perrier-Jouet.
At the Grotto Bay Beach Resort in Bermuda, “grotto” is not just a cool, sexy word to lure in wealthy patrons. The hotel actually incorporates caves into its facilities. Guests can take a dip in a crystal clear underground pool amid dimly lit cave formations or enjoy a massage among the mighty stalagmites and hanging stalactites. And of course, the grottos are only on small part of what this luxury Caribbean resort has to offer.
Located in the main shopping and entertainment district of Kuwait City, the Hotel Missoni is a chic and vibrant indulgence in luxury lodging. The bold decor mimics the turquoise, gold and beige color scheme of the Arabian Sea. Amenities include 3 restaurants, a 10-room spa, 2 yoga studios, a juice bar and–the cherry on top–a Maserati limo ride from the airport to the hotel.
Okay, the Maserati limo ride was kind of cool, but it pales in comparison to the transportation available to the Six Senses Yao Noi at Thailand’s Phang Nga Bay. For a fee, guests can take a helicopter from the Phuket Airport to the island resort, cutting down travel time while providing spectacular views of the Bay. The Golden Eagle Eurocopter, with leather seats and air conditioning, soars over limestone formations, islets and even James Bond Island–the filming location of The Man With The Golden Gun.
The Hard Rock in Chicago offers a “Check In, Rock Out” program, which gives guests a menu of 20 different electric and acoustic Gibson guitars they may rent for the duration of their stay. Each guitar comes with adapters and headphones so rockstars don’t disturb fellow their fellow guests. If you’re not quite in league with Jimi Hendrix, private lessons are available, and each room streams a 70-minute virtual lesson.
Not everyone needs African wildlife or exotic helicopter rides to be impressed. The Ace Hotel in New York unabashedly caters to a younger, cooler crowd and is referred to by some reviewers as “hipster heaven” and “hipster paradise.” In addition to craft beers and a Stumptown Cafe, guests can enjoy their own personal vintage record player with a selection of vinyl carefully selected by a local indie music store.
Maybe this isn’t so much one of the world’s “best” hotel amenities as it is one of the world’s strangest. Since 1940, a small group of mallard ducks has lived in the fountain at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. The tradition allegedly began when a the hotel’s general manager returned from a hunting trip and drunkenly threw live decoys into the fountain. The ducks march through the lobby every day at 11AM and 5PM with much fanfare.
What’s better than a massage? How about a massage aboard a gondola floating gently through the canals and waterways of the Coronado Cays? The Loews Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego deploys a 33-foot gondola from its private marina, equipped with two massage beds and two straw hat, striped shirt wearing masseuses. Each voyage concludes with champagne and strawberries.
The vertically gifted face daily challenges us short folk would never even consider–ducking through doorways, feet hanging off the edge of the bed, hunching uncomfortably to fit in a average-sized vehicle. The Epic Hotel in Miami knows that being tall can be tough. That’s why they offer rooms specially designed for guests of exceptional stature. Mostly, this means longer beds and higher showerheads.