One of the more salient memories from a certain childhood vacation was my father saying, “Don’t touch anything in the minibar. Anything.” I’m sure he saw my greedy little eyes survey the wondrous contents of that little refrigerator and knew it would be ever-so-tempting for my nine-year-old self to grab an overpriced Milky Way or pop open a can of Coke Classic before flopping on the bed and watching Full House.
Unsurprisingly, one of my more salient memories from my first solo trip as an adult was a late-night minibar binge, facilitated by a few drinks earlier in the evening and, more importantly, the freedom to waste my money as damn way I chose.
Now older and marginally wiser, I can usually restrain myself somewhat in the face of the hotel minibar well-stocked with scrumptious snacks and fun-size liquor bottles. I was curious, however, what more tempting goodies might lie in the minibars at two of Houston’s swankier hotels, and if I could resist.
The short answer: “No.” At least not at the Four Seasons Houston. The hotel's “Ambassador” and “Presidential” suites all have fully loaded wine refrigerators and minifridges, but—and here’s the kicker—whereas in the regular rooms the bottles are miniature, the wine and champagne at the Four Seasons come in regular bottles and harder spirits are similarly vended in larger sizes, as one would expect in such premier accommodations. This means that post-prandial cocktail you decided to enjoy could easily turn into an all-night bender with a hefty price tag. However, should you be the Commander-in-Chief staying at the Four Seasons (or sleeping with him/her), you’ll also have the added bonus of a complimentary large bowl of fruit and chocolate truffles or the chef’s selection of antipasti. It all works out in the end.
It might be slightly easier for me to hold back at Hotel ZaZa. (Actually, I already know from a staycation experience that’s entirely false.) The ZaZa minibars contain all your usual booze suspects plus some of my favorite snacks like KitKats, Red Vines, chocolate chip cookies, “Dirty” chips, and beef jerky. There’s also coconut water, which, by the way, comes in handy for flushing all that sugar and sodium out of your system the next day.
I should note that the ZaZa folk are quite generous with the freebie amenities, especially on special occasions or holidays. Guests who stay at Hotel ZaZa on St. Patrick’s Day are treated to a small box of Lucky Charms and a $2 lottery ticket at turndown. On Elvis’s birthday (January 8), you'll find the minibar stocked with Moon Pies and Pepsi, and on National Tooth Fairy Day (February 28), you'll find a mini toothbrush, toothpaste, and $2 bill under your pillow. Good Lord, ZaZa, remind me to check you out on October 31. I hope there’s a giant Jack-o-Lantern filled with candy on my bed at turndown.
Of course, there’s always the option to ask the staff at a nice hotel to keep your minibar locked as a preemptive strike against costly indulgence. If you’re the type of person who values a full wallet over an empty one, that is.