Dream mini bar: three seasoned travellers put together their ideal snacks

We spoke to three seasoned travellers about the additional touches that make their hotel stay memorable. Whether it’s the locally sourced mini bar treats, eco-friendly options or personalised service, it’s clear what separates the great from the mediocre.  

You arrive in your hotel room, dump your bag on the floor, dive into the soft bed and then what…you check out what goodies are on offer in the mini bar, of course! Whether it’s a selection of specialty teas, luxurious toiletries or an in-room mixologist, it’s the thoughtful extras that make a hotel stay all the more special.  

We spoke to three discerning travellers about what makes or breaks a great hotel vacay.  

Julia Ashwood – influencer and travel writer, The Vista

What sets a good mini bar apart from a mediocre one?  

Mini bars can add a great deal to the guest experience and really reflect upon the establishment. They should be considered, based on both your audience and location. I believe having local products is always a lovely touch. I am working on a new hotel project right now and we have spent hours selecting just the right ingredients for guests.  

What five items would you put in your dream mini bar? 

  1. Farmer Jo Muesli 
  2. Mary’s Gone Crackers 
  3. Loco Love Chocolate 
  4. Popcorn 
  5. Corn chips and a good salsa 

If we are talking drinks too – a mix of alcoholic and non-alcoholic is great. The premixed negronis are always a hit with me. A good kombucha is also a welcome favourite, as well as local wines. 

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What mini-bar items are great for travelling with kids?   

Popcorn and crackers – really anything that takes more than three minutes to devour! 

Any memorable mini bars you’ve had on a trip?  

Seascape, New Zealand was an incredible place. Stunning! The mini bar featured all local products, so you could sample from local producers from the region. Oh, and the cheese! The mini bars in Japan are divine, with carefully packaged rice crackers and sweet confectionery. Hoshinoya Hotels were most memorable.  

Sonya Gellert – travel editor and writer, Delicious travel  

What sets a good mini bar apart from a mediocre one? 

It’s the thoughtful inclusions that I think sets a good mini bar apart from the rest. A good mini bar presents you with things you want, before you even realise you want them. It anticipates your food and drink whims. 

What five items would you put in your dream mini bar? 

  1. Mixologist-made cocktails (think ready-to-pour negroni) 
  2. A mixture of sweet and savoury snacks (let’s say artisanal chocolates & buttered popcorn) 
  3. Good-quality coffee 
  4. A fragrant tea selection  
  5. Baked goods for snacking on the run.  

And, I award bonus points for locally made products and minimal waste packaging.  

Any memorable mini bars you’ve had on a trip? 

While staying at Salt of Palmar on the beautiful island of Mauritius, I enjoyed a delicious and, better yet, waste-free mini bar experience. Served in locally made pottery vessels, crispy cassava chips and dried coconut snacks were replenished daily (without using any wrappers) and each guest received a reusable water bottle, to fill up at sparkling water stations around the resort. 

What other additional touches do you think set a hotel apart?  

It’s the small touches that help guests experience the best of the destination they’re visiting. Be it handmade soaps, a local artist’s works in the room, locally sourced wines to try, an illustrated map with tips for the local area or bicycles on hand to allow guests to see the neighbourhood close-up. 

Pre-batched Poncha cocktail
Pre-batched Poncha cocktail

Tayla Gentle – Travel video producer and writer

What sets a good mini bar apart from a mediocre one? 

A good mini-bar is one that’s locally sourced and plastic-free. Because it’s possible. Glass bottles and recyclable cardboard containers aren’t hard to come by – neither are delicious regional producers. Also, a bit of diversity! I like more than just chips, chocolate and soft drink. Give me local cheese and interesting booze – beer in Belgium! Sake in Japan! Tequila in Mexico!   

What five items would you put in your dream mini bar? 

  1. Aperol and soda for making spritzes after a day spent exploring. 
  2. Cheese and crackers because it’s hearty and better than a pack of M&Ms. 
  3. Dark chocolate. Local preferred.  
  4. Almond milk and frother for real coffee and tea.  
  5. Fresh berries! Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries – whatever is in season.  

What’s the most extravagant mini bar you’ve ever had? 

The most extravagant minibar I’ve experienced was in Singapore and it came stocked with a complete cocktail making kit. I drank a few too many Singapore Slings.  

What other additional touches do you think set a hotel apart? 

I once stayed in a hotel in Vienna that came with its own signature scent (which you could buy at the front desk) that had been designed by expert perfume makers – now that’s a nice touch. For me, I appreciate any hotel that manages to make your stay feel intimate. It’s important to feel welcome.