On the Road

Highway Robbery at the Sheraton New York or A Cautionary Tale of Minibar Snickers

As long as I've known about that monstrous invention known as the hotel minibar, I have also known better than to satisfy my hunger and thirst with its overpriced wares. The first time I encountered a minibar was at an Embassy Suites during a family vacation to Philadelphia. The idea of staying in multiple rooms was thrilling to my ten-year-old self, but even more impressive (or so I then thought) was that there was a fridge and it was full of snacks.

Papa O'Leary quickly warned me that everything inside the minibar was hyper-expensive, and used, fittingly, a candy bar as an example. "See, the hotel will charge us three dollars if you take a Milky Way from the minibar. But, if we go to Rite-Aid, I could buy you THREE for the same price." (My mother was not thrilled he was tacitly approving buying and eating three candy bars.)

Anyway, I took this warning to heart and have restrained myself from raiding the minibar even when I have been a) really hungry, b) really drunk and c) both a and b.

Until last week. I was in New York, visiting some friends, and staying at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers. One night around 10 o'clock, I was a little peckish (note, though, neither ravenous nor intoxicated) and, feeling rather gleefully indulgent, ate a Snickers from the minibar. I figured it would probably be $4, maybe $5. Exorbitant but not mind-blowing. After all, I was staying at the Sheraton, not the Ritz.

A few days later, I received my bill and saw that I had been charged $6.53 for the Snickers, which was not, by the way, king-size. Or cloaked in a limited-edition wrapper. "Well," I hear you snicker (har), "it's New York City. It's a minibar. What did you expect?"

Um, obviously, not that much. Dad, why did I ever stray from your advice? Readers, have you had similar experiences? What is the most ridiculously overpriced item you've seen in a minibar?

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Joanna O'Leary