April 3, 2023 at 4:59 pm

Discover Why We Get Ice For Free at Hotels

by Jen Sako

You should feel at home whenever you pay for and use a guest room at a hotel. At least that’s the way the hotel wants you to feel. The little soap and other toiletries, plus the coffee makers, hair dryers, and ironing boards are put in the rooms so you shall want for nothing during your stay–just like you’re in your own home.

And, if you’d like a nightcap or need to fill your Yeti to keep your drinks cold as you continue your journey, you can even avail yourself to the hotel’s ice machine thoughtfully placed on every floor (most of the time).

But did you ever stop to wonder why there’s so much ice available at hotels?

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Image Credit: Pixnio

The other stuff I can understand because I have those things in my home and they are necessary for my “home away from home” comfort.

What I don’t have is dedicated ice machine. Yet, just seeing one on my floor does make my traveler’s heart sing.

And we have Kemmons Wilson to thank for this complimentary icy treat.

Wilson founded the lodging-king of the road hotel chain, Holiday Inn, and was the first hotelier to offer free ice to guests.

He knew that his competitors charged big bucks for ice and he could beat them by giving folks access to ice machines for free.

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Image Credit: Rawpixel

In the 19th century, ice was a luxury item and had to be harvested from frozen lakes and rivers, then sold to the wealthy. After a bit of innovation to keep ice coming to the rich year round, the prices began to drop. Hotels jumped at the chance to own machines that made ice to take advantage of the cost savings. So, to lure customers, the hotels began making the machines accessible to guests who were crazy about cold drinks.

The ice machines are still rattling and rumbling at the ends of hotel floors to this day, filling our little plastic bag lined ice buckets so we can have ice in our rooms…because that’s what we need to feel at home.