Now that ultra-plush bathrobes, high-thread-count linens and designer toiletries are de rigueur at upscale hotels, top properties are offering innovative and extravagant perks to ensure a distinctive experience.
Some, like the Ritz Carlton South Beach’s tanning butler and Hotel Monaco’s pet psychic, trend toward the whimsical.
Others are designed to enrich guests’ connection to the locale, like the in-house art concierge at Le Royal Monceau, who will design a trip through the best Parisian museums and galleries, or the genealogists on hand at Ireland’s Lodge at Doonbeg to track visitors’ family ancestry.
While some hotels charge a fee for these over-the-top services, many do not, adding it to the lavish perks and anticipated benefit of any stay at an extraordinary hotel, says Jonathan Frolich, general manager of Andaz 5th Avenue in Manhattan.
As part of his own property’s commitment to connecting guests with New York culture, Frolich and his team commissioned street artists to graffiti the walls of the hotel and offered guests an opportunity to jump a multi-month wait list to get a tattoo created by world-famous artist Mister Cartoon, whose client list includes Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake.
“Years ago, the grandest hotels were bastions of culture, representing whatever was happening artistically in that city,” says Frolich. “That commitment and connection has disappeared for a very long time — we’re trying to bring it back.”
For those eager to experience this renaissance in luxe hotel services — or simply get pampered in a creative, new way — here’s a menu of perks and amenities available around the world.
Fragrance Butler, Rosewood Hotels, North America and Saudi Arabia
For some adventurers, a new city is an occasion to try a new scent. Rosewood Hotels recently announced it would provide a dedicated fragrance butler in each of its North American and Saudi Arabian properties.
The butler arrives to guests’ suites with a fragrance menu tailored to the hotel, with offerings like Chanel No. 5, Bulgari Black, Daisy Marc Jacobs and Chanel CoCo Mademoiselle for women and, for the gents, Tom Ford for Men, Bulgari Pour Homme and Hermes Terre d’Hermes.
Artist in Residence, Andaz 5th Avenue, New York City
While many hotels commission work inspired by their home city, the Andaz literally went to the streets to find the cult-status graffiti gurus and tattoo artists headlining its rotating artists-in-residence program.
This winter, guests sidestepped a multi-month wait list to get tattoos by Mister Cartoon, a world-renowned ink specialist, whose clients include Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, Eminem, Justin Timberlake and Beyoncé.
This month, the Andaz welcomes Claudia “Claw Money” Gold, a graffiti artist and fashion designer, whose designs have been worn by stars like Rihanna and Nicki Minaj.
Gold will create a new graffiti tag for the doors to the hotel bar, as well as a limited-edition T-shirt, which will be available during her residency.
Tea Sommelier, The Lanesborough London
Apsleys at The Lanesborough takes its tea as seriously as most fine restaurants take their wine — which is why the hotel decided to create the world’s first tea sommelier.
Guests enjoying the property’s award-winning afternoon tea service can confab with expert Karl Kessab (who has led the hotel to win the United Kingdom Tea Council’s Award of Excellence three years running) on the characteristics and benefits of their selections, as well as various preparation techniques.
One not-to-be-missed brew he recommends is Rose of the Orient, an exotic antioxidant-rich green-tea blend flavored with jasmine, cornflower blossoms and rosebuds.
Soap Concierge, Viceroy Riviera Maya, Mexico
Whether guests need relaxation or invigoration after a long day of travel, there’s a soap to fit the bill at the recently renovated and renamed Viceroy (formerly the Tides).
Upon arrival, the property’s soap concierge will come by to offer a variety of artisanal cleansing options, created by hand in nearby Mayan communities using organic ingredients.
Scents change with the seasons (melon in spring; cinnamon in winter), each with its own restorative benefits.
Pet Psychic, Hotel Monaco, Portland
Plenty of hotels offer pet pampering, but Hotel Monaco is perhaps the only one with a pet psychic on staff. The psychic works with animals and their owners during a complimentary wine hour to solve behavioral issues and improve relationships.
“She works to understand what matters to the pet and helps to communicate that information back to their human to assist in strengthening the bond,” says Craig Thompson, the hotel’s general manager.
Lingerie Delivery, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas
For visitors in need of new — or more exciting — lingerie, the Hard Rock Hotel offers all manner of unmentionables (plus toys, bath treats and more) at Love Jones, their in-house boutique. Rather not leave the room to shop?
The boutique has a room-service menu, open 24 hours, with items like the Peek-a-Book Bra, Good Girl/Bad Girl Blindfold and a Sexy Scenario Kit.
Mad Men — Style Mixologist, The Surrey Hotel, New York City
Here’s a service Don Draper would love: The Surrey’s in-room mixologist is on call 24 hours a day, arriving within minutes with a fully stocked cocktail cart. First comes the selection: a Moscow Mule; Brown Derby; Dark & Stormy?
Next, the lesson: The mixologist will whip up the first round, giving instructions so guests can re-create the cocktail. Finally, the denouement: The bartender makes his exit, leaving the cart behind. All further rounds are, shall we say, on the house.
Plastic Surgery Recovery, The Pierre, New York City
Men and women come from all over the world to get “enhanced” on Manhattan’s Upper East Side — which is why luxury properties such as The Pierre offer a quiet (and discrete) place to convalesce afterward.
The hotel works in partnership with New York-Presbyterian plastic surgeon-in-chief Robert Grant, M.D., offering a package that includes car service to and from the procedure, a private escort, someone to organize billing and registration before arrival, in-room spa treatments and a specialty menu designed by a nutritionist to encourage healing.
Both Grant and a house doctor are on call 24 hours a day.