Salt Lake City: Little touches can make a big impression

Road Journals Blog—As travelers, we can sometimes feel like the world is busy thinking up cruel new ways to take away our stuff—Hand over the moisturizer, ma’am!which is why I’ve learned to relish the freebies that get thrown my way on a trip. The extra pillow in coach or on-the-house dessert from a winking waiter are the things that give me hope, that keep me chugging along cheerily to my destination.

They don’t have to be grand gestures of generosity. In fact, the smaller the perk, the more likely it is to put a smile on my face.

Free water in SLC.

I recently spent a couple nights at the Hotel Monaco in downtown Salt Lake City. Upon checking in, the concierge proudly informed me of the hotel’s nightly wine reception: Free vino and a complimentary chair massage—by a professional masseuse—in their well-appointed art deco lobby. Just for being a guest.

I thought, “Sweet!” and started to walk to my room when something stopped me. Something sweeter. There, atop a credenza near the front desk, sat a tall pitcher of iced water garnished with five or six slices of fresh lemon. The fruit was cut widthwise so as to expose the maximum amount of pulp to the liquid, making it fruitier, tastier. A stack of cups flanking the pitcher told me that this was for the taking. So I poured myself a cup and gulped it down in one sip.

One satisfying, refreshing, free sip.

Q: Has a freebie—small or otherwise—helped perk up one of your travel experiences?

Nino Padova's article on Salt Lake City will appear in the March/April California and Oregon editions of VIA.

This blog post was first published in February 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.


My son eats his weight in crackers on a daily basis, so when we recently stayed at Embassy Suites Riverfront Promenade in Sacramento, he chowed down on the free happy hour cheddar goldfish like a shark gobbling guppies. (Happy kid = happy parents!) Oh yeah, for the grown-ups, they also served free wine.