Erroneous charges, reused bottles and expired drinks: TPG readers share their minibar horror stories

Nov 9, 2019

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We don’t know about you, but hotel minibars are almost always a bad experience for us. Why? Automatic sensors erroneously charging us, the fear of temptation, leftover food from previous guests — you name it, we’ve experienced it. We wanted to know if everyone else was suffering too, so we asked TPG Lounge readers for some of their worst minibar experiences. Here are a few of the best. (Some responses have been lightly edited for style and clarity).

Suspect beverages (and leftovers)

A few years ago I made a last minute trip to Seattle for New Years. I arrived at the hotel a few hours before midnight and wanted to get the party started so we raided the mini bar. Cracked the first ten-dollar beer and took a refreshing swing of water. Tried the next one. Water. And the next one … you know where this was going. The hotel didn’t charge me for any of them and I was grossed out that I was drinking from used bottles but I can laugh about it now.” — Zachary S.

Was at a mom and pop place and checked out the mini bar fridge. The little bottles of vodka and clear rum had been opened and refilled with water(?) complete with floaty stuff inside.” — Kim B.

Opened a beer in a 5 star hotel … luckily poured into a glass … looked like spit and water.” — Jean R. 

At the Conrad St. James there was someone else’s half eaten salad in the fridge still when we checked in.” — Michelle E.

Automatic charges

A co-worker told me that she asked the hotel to remove all of the minibar items from the room, as she didn’t want to worry about what her underage son might take. She said the hotel charged her for removing the items.” — Heidi H. 

Stayed at the Cosmo in Vegas, my husband knows I like sparking water and went to a nearby CVS to buy some, unknowingly he removed all the bottles in the mini fridge and put them in the cabinet not knowing they had sensors to determine if they were used. I came back to the room and he was so proud that he did that for me. I laughed and said thanks those are the most expensive bottles of water I have ever had. He looked at me confused, I pulled up the online guest and showed he they had charged us for everything he had removed. A long conversation with the front desk fixed it but I still laugh about it. I have a great husband.” — Anthony B.

Bellagio. Items not in the minibar but on a large tiered tray on a counter top. One item would consistently fall, then the others would cascade. Billed $50+ for this. Stood in ridiculous checkout line to get it corrected, only to have it return on CC a few days later. Send message to hotel through website, no response. Contacted Amex to dispute. Got credit within days. It never went through dispute process, so I wonder if Amex simply wrote it off. Have not been back to Bellagio and have minimized my spend at MGM resorts with similar snack and minibar setups.” — Susan L.

“I got charged for a $200 bottle of Chandon in NYC once. They reversed it but they insisted it was missing at checkout.” — Grant K.

(Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Expired drinks

After a long day, I succumbed to the lure of a mini bar Coke. Flat. Nasty taste. No wonder — the expiration date was nine months earlier. I took the bottle with me to checkout and it was removed from the bill. But I can’t figure out how it got missed for so long.” — Bernard W.

User Error

“I came out of the bathroom at a Towneplace Suites in NOLA to see my wife drinking a $5 bottle of Smartwater. She apparently didn’t read the little tag on the lid you had to remove when you unscrew the cap and thought it was complimentary.” — Jason M.

“When I was a kid, I went with my dad on a business trip to DC. All I saw were jellybeans sitting in the room. I didn’t have a clue what a minibar was. Needless to say, my dad wasn’t very happy when he came back to me devouring them.” — Dominic C.

“Hired a band to play our wedding and put them up at the St. Regis in DC. Most of the band members were friends but I didn’t know the bass player. Needless to say, he helped himself to the minibar. Not just one item … ALL of it!” — John Y.

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Feature photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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