14 Useful Items Hotels Usually Provide for Free

We've all been there. You're in that pre-trip rush, and you forget to pack an essential travel item, or just need a little something extra when you arrive at the hotel. Before you make that trip to the gift shop or convenience store, swing by the front desk. Many hotels are well-stocked with freebies and extras for road-weary travelers. Here are 14 useful items hotels usually provide free of charge.

1. Extra Pillows and Blankets

I'm man enough to admit it — I need at least five pillows (two on each side and one under my head) to get a good night's sleep. In recent years, hotels have begun to appreciate how important pillows are to the guest experience. Besides offering an extra pillow or two upon request, major chains such as Holiday Inn now offer quests pillow menus — just pick your pillows based on the preferred firmness level.

2. Roll-Away Beds

Many hotels will provide a rollaway bed for an unexpected guest or to accommodate an unusually large group. It may not be the most comfortable way to sleep, but it beats the floor.

3. Nightlights

Nightlights can help small children and the elderly navigate unfamiliar spaces. Higher-end chains provide nightlights to guests upon request.

4. Earplugs

Though providing guests with free earplugs may imply a less-than-ideal location, they're part of the standard offerings at La Quinta and DoubleTree hotels. These chains have realized an important truth: Cities (and guests!) can be noisy — especially during big events. Often, a disposable pair of foam earplugs can mean the difference between a decent sleep and a fitful night of tossing and turning. (See also: Tips for Sounder Sleep at Hotels)

5. Sewing Kits

Have a loose button or split seam? Don't come unraveled. Many large hotel chains have complementary sewing kits on-hand for just such wardrobe malfunctions.

6. Activities for Kids

An occupied kid is a happy kid. If you forgot to pack your little one's favorite toy, ask the hotel staff to help. Many chains offer coloring books and crayons, word search books, and other age-appropriate material that promotes nearby attractions. (See also: 9 Things You Must Do If You're Traveling With Kids)

7. Board Games

Snowed in? Rained out? Many hotels will deliver board games to guests' rooms or provide them as part of the amenities in the lobby.

8. Books

Country Inn & Suites' Read It & Return It Lending Library lets guests borrow a book free of charge. It's pressure-free. Readers who haven't finished the book by the end of their stay can just return it next time. How's that for service?

9. Phone Chargers

Who hasn't left for vacation and completely forgotten their cellphone charger? When (not if) this happens to you, your friendly hotel staff can help. Most hotels have a respectable collection of chargers left behind by previous guests and are happy to pass one on.

10. Toothpaste and Toothbrushes

Got a wicked case of morning breath? Basic oral hygiene products like toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, and even toothbrushes are available at the front desk.

11. Razors

Have an important meeting but forgot to pack a razor? Never fear. Savvy hotels — especially those that cater to business travelers — usually keep a stash of extras at the front desk.

12. Curling Irons and Straightening Irons

Ladies, if you've forgotten your curling or straightening iron, don't despair. Many top hotels chains such as Kimpton and Hyatt have loaners on-hand. Check with the front desk staff and don't miss a beat in your morning routine.

13. Snacks

We're all familiar with the complementary coffee and cookies available in most hotel lobbies. But some of the more accommodating hotel staff members will raid the continental breakfast bar after hours to help a guest in need. Yogurt, fruit, energy bars, and bottles of juice are the standard fare and will work in a pinch.

14. Dog Treats

Pets are family and pet owners are loyal to hotels that don't forget Fido. Many pet-friendly hotels provide free dog treats and even loan out food and water bowls for their four-legged guests.

What's the most surprising thing you've received for no charge at a hotel? What do you wish more hotels offered their guests? Share with us!

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