Eat Up: Our 8 Favorite Foodie Freebies

by Kelsey Blodget on September 3, 2013

The marriage of travel and food has been a long and happy one. For foodies, a destination isn’t going to rank as a favorite unless its cuisine — be it Mexican food in San Diego, seafood in Seattle, or the hodgepodge of deliciousness that is New York –  is something special. For us, that logic applies equally to the hotels where you stay within a city: not just hotels with great restaurants, but places that incorporate gourmet treats into the overall hotel experience. These hotels we love offer awesome foodie freebies, from decadent a la carte breafkasts to free nightly wine hours. Talk about tasty extras.

A la carte breakfast

The free a la carte breakfast at Costa Rica's Gaia Hotel and Reserve is worth writing home about.

The free a la carte breakfast at Costa Rica's Gaia Hotel and Reserve is worth writing home about.

Spotlight On: Gaia Hotel and Reserve, Costa Rica

Free hotel breakfasts aren’t exactly a rarity, but they are usually comprised of cereals, fruit, and, if you’re lucky, some moderately edible scrambled eggs. Not so at Gaia Hotel and Reserve, where the free breakfast is a gourmet a la carte affair. Menu items include Eggs Benedict, Belgian Waffles, Italian Egg White Frittata, Vanilla and Mango Pancakes, a Costa Rican Breafkast, and more. And the freebies don’t stop there: The room rate also includes a short spa treatment.

Check-out treat

Check-out treats at the Andaz Fifth Avenue

Check-out treats at the Andaz Fifth Avenue

Spotlight On: Andaz Fifth Avenue, New York City

We adore the Andaz Fifth Avenue for its bounty of foodie freebies, including the choice of a check-0ut goody (during our stay, options included Fat Witch Baby Brownies or C.O. Bigelow Peppermints. Other free teats include water bottles in the lobby, minibar snacks and non-alcoholic drinks (many of which are from local vendors), wine in the lobby from 6 to 9 p.m. each evening, and made-to-order barista coffee in the lobby lounge.

Wine or cocktail hour

Hotel Vintage Park offers an excellent free wine hour, often featuring local vintages from the Pacific Northwest.

Hotel Vintage Park offers an excellent free wine hour, often featuring local vintages from the Pacific Northwest.

Spotlight On: Hotel Vintage Park, Seattle

Hotel Vintage Park’s focus on wine — particularly those grown in the 500 local vineyards — is evident from the moment you check in: The front-desk staffer (sporting a nametag that includes his or her particular favorite vintage) will explain the varieties you’ll enjoy at the free reception that takes place every evening from 5 to 6 p.m.

Free gourmet minibar treats

Minibar treats at the Rancho Valencia in San Diego are free.

Minibar treats at the Rancho Valencia in San Diego are free.

Spotlight On: Rancho Valencia Resort, San Diego

The Rancho Valencia’s excellent freebies, including free minibar snacks, morning juice and newspaper delivery, and free breakfast, contribute to the resort’s experience of exclusive pampering. This 49-room luxury resort is located in Rancho Santa Fe, a wealthy residential community in the hills of Southern California, on 40 acres of lush grounds. The Spanish-style suites, all with fireplaces and patios, are located in 26 casitas spread across the sprawling property, creating a rare level of privacy for guests.

Lobby snacks

The Villa d'Citta in Chicago has a communal kitchen where guests can treat themselves to free snacks around the clock.

The Villa d'Citta in Chicago has a communal kitchen where guests can treat themselves to free snacks around the clock.

Spotlight On: Villa d’Citta, Chicago

After a long day exploring, it’s nice to come back to your hotel to find free refreshments waiting in the lobby. The Laurel Inn San Francisco, for example, has free lemonade and freshly baked cookies in the lobby each afternoon. But the Villa d’Citta takes the cake on this one: This tiny Chicago boutique has a fully stocked communal kitchen where guests can prepare breakfast, snacks (such as sandwiches or hot dogs), and other light fare 24/7.

Lobby drinks

The Copley Square hotel has free coffee, hot chocolate, and tea in the lobby all day.

The Copley Square hotel has free coffee, hot chocolate, and tea in the lobby all day.

Spotlight On: Copley Square Hotel, Boston

Many hotels are thoughtful enough to provide basic refreshments in the lobby — ice water, coffee, and the like. Some properties take it a step further: The Andaz Fifth Avenue, for example, offers fresh barista-prepared coffee in the lobby, and the Westin Copley Place Boston has special seasonal drinks, like hot apple cider in the fall. The Copley Square Hotel in Boston, which offers free tea, coffee, and hot chocolate all day, is one of our favorites, partly because it’s so pleasant to sit down and sip in its stylish, cozy lobby. (There’s also a free evening wine hour if you prefer something a little stronger.)

In-room welcome treat

Guests will find fruit, chocolate and flowers waiting in their room at the Halekulani on Oahu.

Guests will find fruit, chocolate and flowers waiting in their room at the Halekulani on Oahu.

Spotlight On: Halekulani, Oahu

Arriving in your room to find a delicious surprise waiting for you goes a long way toward making you feel like a guest, rather than a customer. Fifteen Beacon in Boston deserves a special mention for the miniature tarts and chocolate covered fruit prepared by the hotel’s pastry chef that will be delivered to your room after check-in. But the Halekulani’s impressive display of tropical fruit, chocolate, and flowers will always be one of our favorites.

Check-in drink

The signature welcome drink at The Caves in Jamaica

The signature welcome drink at The Caves in Jamaica

Spotlight On: The Caves, Jamaica

It’s not that uncommon to get a check-in drink at nice hotels in warm-weather destinations, but that doesn’t make us like this refreshing freebie any less. The Caves in Jamaica is a romantic all-inclusive with locally focused cuisine and a top-shelf bar, and its signature welcome drink is de-lish.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Angela September 6, 2013 at 12:57 pm

These are not really freebies.

You pay for it in the hotel price.

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