Today’s gift shop hawks more than cheap toothpaste and forgettable postcards. Thanks to boutique hotels and upscale chains, everything from kimono robes to portable speakers are now up for grabs. We’ve rounded up six gift shops worth a stop on your travels, based on research and recommendations.
Hotel San José Store at Hotel San José, Austin, Texas
No trip to the live music capital would be complete without a South by Southwest onesie or a leather Baggu backpack roomy enough to fit your iPad Mini. You’ll find all this and more at the well-edited housewares shop — just make sure not to go over budget.
Madison Hall at Chicago Athletic Association, Chicago
Take a trip back in time to the jazz-fueled 1930s, when Aesop skincare, Tatine candles and Monocle Magazine were all the rage. Oh wait, that’s today? Never mind, you’ll still find what you need — and don’t need — at this stylish extension of the Roman + Williams hotel.
Ballymaloe Shop at Ballymaloe House, Shangarry, Cork, Ireland
Turns out Shangarry, once home of Pennsylvania founder William Penn, is a great place to stock up on bakeware. And kitchen utensils. And Irish cookbooks. After rolling out of bed from the Ballymaloe House next door, you can literally spend the day kitting out your kitchen in Celtic style. Who would blame you?
Drake General Store at The Drake, Toronto
Drake aptly bills itself as “a classic general store, a flea market stand and a museum shop all rolled into one,” where you’ll find practical and not-so-sensible gifts. Local goodies like Nicolas Vahe cake mix and Bata sneakers are tempting, but save your cash for the colorful Kreafunk headphones.
Eloise Shop at The Plaza, New York
Little girls — and little girls at heart — will be delighted by The Plaza’s pink-and-black homage to its most famous resident. Cool your heels in the living room or stage an impromptu costume party in the fashion room. Either way, you’re sure to enjoy this glimpse into the world of author Kay Thompson’s heroine.
Thornwillow Press at The St. Regis, New York
If your idea of a perfect weekend is thumbing through books in a wood-paneled library, hightail it to the “cognac room” off the St. Regis hotel’s lobby. There you’ll find the stately ambience of Thornwillow Press, where the selection of paper, ink and gilt are enough to make this writer’s eyes water. As you’d expect, all their printing is done at an old-fashioned factory.
Save on Your Next Trip
Planning a trip to New York to visit Eloise? You should probably make a plan to save on your travels. Rewards cards are a great way to do it, and they can help you nab some freebies — hello, first class — if you swipe them wisely. Before you hit the tarmac, take time to check out our helpful roundups of the best airline miles cards and cards with no foreign transaction fees.
When is the last time you found time to get away and enjoy a vacation? If you had to stop and think, that is the perfect sign it’s time to book your next trip. And if you have a stockpile of Hilton Honors points, you might want to check out of these recently opened or upcoming Hilton hotels. You may have enough for a free night at some of these great new hotels. (Not a loyal Hilton visitor? You can check out hotel stay hacks at Hyatt properties here.)
1. Hilton Brooklyn New York
If you are heading to New York City, consider a stay at Hilton Brooklyn New York. Located in the heart of Brooklyn, you will be close to the Barclays Center if you are visiting during the season when you can catch a Brooklyn Nets game (or one of the other countless events at the arena). You will also have easy access to the Brooklyn Bridge to get into Manhattan.
Booking a room at the Hilton Brooklyn New York on June 16, 2017, would start at 65,000 points per night.
2. Miramonte Indian Wells Resort & Spa, California
If you’re after relaxation, a trip to Palm Springs and a stay at the Miramonte Indian Wells Resort & Spa may be a perfect choice. Part of Hilton’s Curio Collection, this resort has quickly become known for its 12,000-square-foot Well Spa. Conde Nast Traveler has rated it one of their top-100 resort spas in the world. Plus, you will want to make sure you reserve a table at the Grove Artisan Kitchen to enjoy their farm-to-table cuisine.
A search for rooms at Miramonte Indian Wells Resort & Spa for July 7, 2017, showed rooms starting at 41,000 points per night. Award rates at this property tend to be lower during the summer than the winter.
3. Conrad Bora Bora Nui, French Polynesia
Bora Bora is a destination many people dream about visiting. If you are lucky enough to do so, make sure you check out the Conrad Bora Bora Nui. This property, which recently reopened, had been the Hilton Bora Bora Nui until Conrad took over and renovated. During your stay, you will have four different restaurants to choose from, including an overwater lounge.
A search for rooms at the Conrad Bora Bora Nui for Nov. 10, 2017, shows rooms going for 266,000 points per night.
4. Hilton Sanquingshan Resort, China
You will find the new Hilton Sanquingshan Resort in China’s Mount Sanquin National Park. Inside you can enjoy modern and traditional Chinese architecture and a meal in one of three restaurants. The resort is within walking distance of a cable car that takes you to the top of Mount Sanquin.
We searched for rooms at the Hilton Sanquingshan Resort for May 26, 2017 and they started at 10,000 points per night.
5. Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, California
The Waldorf Astoria is one of Hilton’s iconic brands, and starting in June 2017 you have the chance to stay at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills. This hotel will have 170 rooms, including 51 with oversized balconies. During your stay, do not miss the chance the enjoy a meal at the hotel restaurant. It will feature Michelin-star chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
A search for rooms at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills for July 21, 2017 showed rates starting at 344,000 points per night.
Of the four options, our favorite is the Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card. Not only does it give you excellent earning potential, but it also comes with no annual fee. When you sign up you receive 75,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $2,000 in the first three months. When you use your card at Hilton Hotels, you receive six points per dollar. Additionally, you can earn three times points when you use the card at grocery stores, drugstores and gas stations. All other purchases earn one point per dollar.
Each year that you spend at least $1,000 at Hilton hotels, you receive a 10,000-point bonus. Plus, as a cardholder, you automatically receive silver status. This gives you a 15% bonus on your earnings, your fifth night free on Hilton stays and more. On top of that, if you spend $20,000 or more in a calendar year, or have four stays within 90 days of opening your account, you will be upgraded to gold status. You’ll need excellent credit for the Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card, so be sure to check your scores before you apply. To get an idea of your chances of qualifying, you can view two of your scores free, updated every two weeks, on Credit.com.
Points & Money: Instead of only being able to book Hilton hotel rooms with points or cash, you can now book with points and any amount of cash. The more points you pay for a room, the less it will cost in cash.
Pooling Points: By April 2017, you will have the opportunity to share your points with family members so you can reach a reward night faster.
Amazon Shop With Points: In July 2017, you will be able to use your Hilton points to shop on Amazon.com.
To go along with these three features that are being added for every Hilton Honors member, Diamond reward members will have the opportunity to bank their elite status. If you are planning a life change, like a new job, an addition to the family or something else that will cause you to not requalify for elite status, then you will have the chance to extend your existing status once by a period of one year.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.
At publishing time, the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card, Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express, Citi Hilton Honors Visa Signature Card and the Hilton Honors Card from American Express are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).
Massages and body treatments are considered the ultimate luxury, and for good reason: They don’t come cheap. The average hour-long massage can set you back a good $60 while body treatments can cost even more. Book your appointment at a high-end hotel like the Bulgari in London, and you could easily spend a weekend draining your savings account.
Check out some of the most ridiculously expensive hotel spa treatments around the world:
Cost: Course of six treatments for €1,250 or approximately US$1,326
This non-invasive cosmetic treatment is geared toward those freaked out about cellulite and other worrisome signs of aging. The idea is to “tighten and rejuvenate the skin” while promoting production of collagen, that structural protein that makes skin look so youthful. An Alma HD3D RF machine delivers focused RF energy to each layer of skin; the spa brochure says you’ll notice results after one session.
Granite Spa at The Ranch at Rock Creek, Philipsburg, Montana
Renew your skin with a 60-minute Bulletproof Coffee Detox Wrap, followed by “an invigorating exfoliation.” From there, you’ll be wrapped in a hot towel and given a face and scalp massage. Hand-picked essential oils and Swedish massage are designed to make you feel as “fluid as Rock Creek.” The “cheaper” 120-minute version costs $400.
Cost: 100,500 French Pacific Francs or approximately US$891
With this package, couples receive access to their own outdoor terrace, a soaking bath, drench shower and relaxation area — and that’s all prior to the actual services. Slip behind close doors and you’ll be led to two treatment beds with wide-open views of the water below. Any combination of treatments and rituals may be chosen.
Take your main squeeze to a “safe, sacred space established by the medicine wheel,” says the Post Ranch brochure. There you’ll experience an indigenous fire ceremony of purification or transformation, depending on where you’re at in your life. “Your shaman guides an interactive journey, drawing the energy of the fire to focus attention on an opening for healing distinctive patterns.”
Promising “clarity, inspiration and enlightenment,” this POTUS-approved massage slathers you with oils “infused with the healing benefits of precious diamonds and botanical essences.” If diamonds aren’t your thing, they also offer Purifying Emeralds, Revitalizing Rubies and Calming Sapphires editions.
You get what you pay for at this Swiss retreat: aromatherapy foot polish, The Chedi Jade massage, REN facial, Thai-style foot reflexology, Himalayan crystal body polish and an Oriental bathing ceremony.
Got three hours and $650 to spare? If so, this personalized treatment may be just what you’re after. Combining hot stones, aromatherapy, chakra balancing and energy work, you’ll feel brand new when the session is over. Or not — this is Vegas, after all. Be sure to check out the Arctic Ice Room, where crystals made from soap and water drip from ceiling vents with the goal of reducing hypertension and tightening pores.
Remember, before you apply for any credit card, it’s wise to check your credit to see if you’ll qualify. You can do that right here on Credit.com, where you’ll get two of your free credit scores with helpful updates every two weeks. Checking your credit scores won’t hurt them one bit and is a great way to manage your finances.
If you have a large balance of Starwood Points, you might want to consider one of these five Starwood properties that have recently opened around the world. Take a look.
1. Las Alcobas, a Luxury Collection Hotel
Located in California’s Napa Valley, this new Luxury Collection hotel is perfect for any wine lover. Most of the hotels’ rooms come with spacious balconies overlooking the vineyards. When not taking advantage of the complementary shuttle, you can indulge yourself at the hotels’ luxury spa. Or you might choose to dine at The Acacia House, the restaurant by Top Chef alum Chris Cosentino.
This is a Category seven property, so it will set you back 30,000 to 35,000 points a night.
2. W Las Vegas
If Las Vegas is more your scene, make sure you check out the new W Las Vegas. Located on the northern end of the Strip, you will find this new property in one of the SLS towers. You will have access to seven different restaurants as well as three entertainment venues and a bar to wind down with a drink. If you want to get out and explore the Las Vegas area, Enterprise Rent-a-Car service is available.
The W Las Vegas is a Category five property, so it will cost 12,000 to 16,000 points a night.
3. Le Méridien Visconti Rome
If you are looking to get out of the U.S., then Rome might be the perfect place to visit this year. This new Starwood property is located in a prime location near the Vatican. If you have ever been to Rome, then you know that most of the city’s hotels were decorated with the renaissance style in mind. The Le Méridien Visconti Rome chose to do things a little differently, going for a sleek contemporary look. Not only does this hotel have the perfect location, you will enjoy its rooftop terrace while you relax after a long day of sightseeing.
The Le Méridien Visconti Rome is a Category five property, meaning rooms cost 12,000 to 16,000 points a night.
4. The St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club
Polo is one of the most popular sports in the United Arab Emirates, and this property sits on a massive equestrian complex. In fact, the St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club is host to the Dubai Polo Gold Cup.
The St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club is a Category six property, so rooms will cost 20,000 to 25,000 points a night.
5. Four Points by Sheraton Kolasin
If you are looking to hit the slopes this spring, you might want to check out the Four Points by Sheraton Kolasin. This chalet-style hotel, situated near Montenegro’s northern city, Kolašin, feels just like you are in the Rocky Mountains or Swiss Alps. And it has the services you require. You will find two on-site restaurants, a rental car counter, and a spa where you can relax after a long day on the slopes.
The Four Points by Sheraton Kolasin is a Category four hotel, which means rooms will cost 10,000 points a night.
How to Earn Starwood Points With Your Credit Card
The easiest way to earn Starwood points fast is by using the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express. When you sign up for this card, you will earn up to 35,000 points. You will earn 25,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. You will then earn an additional 10,000 points after spending another $2,000 in the first six months. (This offer expires April 5, 2017.)
When you use the card at Starwood properties, you can earn up to five points. You can also earn two points when you use the card at participating Marriott properties. All other purchases with the card will earn one point. As a cardholder, you will receive a credit for two stays and five nights that count toward SPG Elite status. (You can read more about this card in our American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Card review.)
You can choose to redeem your points at any of the 1,000+ Starwood properties, including the five mentioned above. You can also choose to transfer your points to one of many different airlines. When you do this, you will receive a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer. This card has an annual fee of $95 that’s waived the first year. It carries a variable APR of 15.74% to 19.74%, based on your creditworthiness. (Not sure where your credit stands? You can view two of your scores for free on Credit.com.)
If you are a business owner, then you will have even more options for earning Starwood points. In addition to the personal credit card, you will also be able to get the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express. With this card, you will have the chance to earn 35,000 points. You will receive 25,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months. You will then earn another 10,000 points after spending an additional $3,000 in the first six months. (This offer ends April 5, 2017.)
With this card, you will be able to earn Starwood points the same way you can with the personal card. The business card also comes with a few extra benefits. You will receive unlimited complimentary Wi-Fi at any Boingo hotspot, and you will receive access to Sheraton Club lounges. The Starwood Preferred Guest Business card has a $95 annual fee, which is waived the first year. Its variable APR is 15.74%, 17.74% or 19.74% based on your creditworthiness when you apply.
At publishing time, the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer. Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.
Packing for a trip, be it business or pleasure, is rarely anyone’s idea of a good time. Add to it the frustration of knowing you’re going to have to fiddle with filling those usually awful travel containers with shampoo, conditioner and other personal products and … just ugh.
Instead of that, why not let your destination hotel take care of it for you? Plenty of hotels — most, in fact — provide a lot products for free, and it’s not just the soap and shampoo you always find in your room. Some hotels even go beyond the essentials, offering some pretty sweet perks to guests. But if you aren’t staying at one of those hotels, rest assured you can still get some freebies.
Here are 14 items you should let the hotel provide during your stay (and, when possible, take home with you when you leave) to make traveling easier and saving money a breeze.
These items usually aren’t in the room waiting for you when you arrive, but most hotels have toothpaste and toothbrushes on hand and will bring them to your room for free. And when you leave, you can take the typically small tubes on the plane with you to ensure you have a fresh, gleaming smile when you arrive home.
It’s not a good idea to take these home with you. That would be stealing. But asking for some extra blankets and pillows to make your stay more comfortable is perfectly fine, and most hotels have a range of pillow options available, so even if you’d just like a different firmness (or need extras for a pillow fight), go ahead and ask.
A lot of hotels these days provide good quality shampoos and conditioners in their rooms. These little bottles come in super handy at home for guest baths as well as for future travel, so stick them in your luggage every day so you keep getting fresh ones from housekeeping all throughout your stay.
You definitely can’t take this home with you, but you should certainly ask for complimentary Wi-Fi if it doesn’t already come with the room.
If it isn’t offered to all guests, you might want to see if your plastic entitles you to some free web-surfing. A few hotel rewards credit cards entitle their accountholders to free Wi-Fi in their rooms and even beyond. (But, if you’re thinking of applying for one, you may want to check your credit because a good score helps you qualify for cards with the best perks. You can view your two free credit scores, updated each month, on Credit.com.)
If you have a coffee maker in your room and you like the quality of the selections available, pack up the ones you don’t use every day and take them home. Grab the sweetener and creamer packets as well, if you’re so inclined. They’re often great for keeping in the car or for house guests who might use artificial sweeteners when you don’t.
Just like the toothbrush and toothpaste, these aren’t in the room, but they’re available for free at most hotels. Not only is it easier to ask the hotel for these items than it is to pack them, you can take the free toiletries home with you.
If your hotel offers complimentary slippers, by all means take them home with you. No one else is going to use them. And if you don’t use them at your hotel, take them home anyway, as they can make a nice treat for your house guests.
These things come in so handy on your return trip home when you want to keep your dirty clothes separate from the clean ones, or if you have anything damp like a swimsuit or gym clothes that will foul up everything else in your bag.
Take advantage of the free breakfast, if offered. Even take it back to your room where even a bowl of cold cereal can feel a bit more special than in a room full of other travelers. While you’re at it, be sure and grab an extra muffin, banana or cereal bar as a mid-morning or afternoon snack. Grab a few of the cereal bars to take home with you as well.
A lot of hotel rewards programs offer upgrades and special events for guests. Some hotels offer a free cocktail hour or a complimentary glass of wine or beer for guests in the afternoon, and it can be a nice way to meet some of your fellow travelers. If it isn’t mentioned at check-in (or during booking), ask the person at the front desk if it’s available.
Most hotels offer these freebies through the concierge or front desk. They can be very practical and handy during your stay, but also can serve as a reminder of some of your favorite spots for return trips, so keep them in a file at home where you can refer to them easily.