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The Best, Editor-approved Hotel Amenities

The Departures staff weigh in on some of our all-time favorite hotel perks.


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When you travel so frequently, hotels become more than just places to rest your head at night. For us, they are experiences in themselves, with amenities that are worth an entire trip just for a stay. When it comes to communing with South African giraffes or detoxing under Icelandic mineral mud masks, we know the best places. These are just some of our favorite luxury hotel amenities from around the world.

Ellerman House in Cape Town has something few hotels have: a museum-worthy art collection that covers multiple genres and periods. It also makes the art a joy to observe: you find yourself staring at an essential painting by one of South Africa's most beloved artists as you're enjoying breakfast or a cocktail. And the art tours are informative but low-key, not didactic. My favorite amenity at Ellerman House, though, is their 24-hour, self-service pantry loaded with snacks, desserts, drinks, yogurt, etc. It's like a little bakery you can raid whenever you're hungry and don't want to order a whole meal.”—Ben Ryder Howe, Senior Features Editor

“I always appreciate the simple gesture of hotels leaving chocolate on the pillow, so at the Malibu Beach Inn, I was thrilled to learn that they include Vosges Haut Chocolat for their nightly turndown service. Vosges is one of the most luxurious chocolatiers in the US, and the hotel offers their Piemonte chocolate, a favorite of mine flavored with fresh Italian hazelnuts from that region.” —Joseph Harper, Associate Editor

“The state-of-the-art Alpine Spa within the newly renovated Bürgenstock Resort in Switzerland (in the same town where Audrey Hepburn married Mel Ferrer, and Sophia Loren lived in the 60s) has become an attraction for world-class wellness treatments. My favorite is the La Prairie Caviar Lifting and Firming facial, which is the perfect solution to jet lag. After, I suggest soaking in the hotel’s herbal bath tea (provided in every room) and absorbing the stunning, floor-to-ceiling views of Lake Lucerne.”—Annie Davidson, Associate Editor

"The Deep Sleep massage at the Mandarin Oriental Milan spa, which I love getting during Milan fashion week."—Jason Sheeler, Style Director

“The Hermes products at Sofitel New York City are the ultimate luxury for staycations. At the Karkloof Safari Spa in South Africa, you can commune with zebras and giraffes all afternoon then get an organic scrub and massage in a private thatched villa. It doesn’t get much more luxurious than that.”—Laura Feinstein, Senior Digital Editor

“I love that the Ace Hotel includes turntables and a selection of vinyl in their properties. Last time I went to New Orleans, I splurged on LPs by The Meters at the Louisiana Music Factory and was thrilled to be able to play them as soon as I got back to my room. The Murray Hotel in Hong Kong has a pillow menu, which I was tempted to order from, but jet lag knocked me out before I could even pick up the phone.”—Julian Sancton, Senior Culture Editor

“I spent my stay at Iceland's’s newest hotel, The Retreat at Blue Lagoon (suites starting at $1,800), constantly lathered in the geothermal spa’s magic ingredients: sulfur and silica. The silica is what gives the water its lucent, milky glow, and what’s behind its skin-health benefits. From my suite’s private lagoon to the meandering pools that comprise the resort’s backyard to the subterranean spa and its ‘Ritual’ self-treatment (a three-part process using mineral salts, silica, and algae to scrub and cleanse your skin), there was no avoiding the mud-like substances. When I was forced to part, the fact that one of the three bath amenities on offer was a tube of the resort’s own silica mud mask made my withdrawals a little more bearable.”—Erin Riley, Associate Editor

"The Buly products at the Hotel de Crillon in Paris."—Melissa Ventosa Martin, Fashion Director

The Berkeley in London monograms your pillowcases to take home.”—Maura Egan, Executive Editor

"Adare Manor on the west coast of Ireland offers a handful of unique amenities, like carriage rides around the property and archery lessons, but the one that stood out for me was falconry. Their bird expert introduces guests to their nine resident fowl, from tiny owls to a domineering bald eagle. Guests are even invited to have some of the birds rest on their arms, so it makes the experience very hands-on, literally."—Sean Flynn, Senior Digital Writer

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