After the Minibar

I was recently in Providence, R.I. for a conference where bars observe an early 1 a.m. closing time. This led many attendees to look into the availability of in-room liquor via the minibar but none was available in the hotel where most of us were staying. And apparently the smart thinking at higher-end hotels has shifted against the minibar concept, on the grounds that the costs of restocking, losing product to theft, and getting into disputes with customers are just too high.

That all makes sound business sense. And yet there’s something to the idea of making some beverages available and convenient to people working in their room. Hotels often offer a complementary in-room coffee machine as a perk/service for guests and a few cans of soda might be nice too for higher-end places. Alternatively, clearly marked soda machines as seen in limited-service hotels would be nice.

For alcoholic beverages obviously options are more constrained by regulations and practical costs. But this is yet another angle where I wonder if revenue-hungry jurisdictions shouldn’t consider rethinking the rules around late-night alcohol sales.