free drinks

Freebies, discounts and surprise perks for voters

Hotels offering perks and packages for Election Day

(Our story about Election Day perks first appeared on NBC News in a slightly different version).

Election Day, and perhaps the days and weeks following, may be especially tense this year for a myriad of reasons. To help ease the stress and mark the day, some hotels and restaurants are offering discounts and perks for overnight guests and complimentary cocktails for those who have proof they have voted. 

And some hotels, and at least one museum, are even turning their lobbies and rooftops into polling stations.

A president slept here, now you can visit and vote

The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site in Indianapolis, Indiana is a museum year-round. But at election time the home of the 23rd U.S. president becomes a voting site.

During an Election Day tour visitors can see historical voting machines and learn about the history of the U.S. voting process in the “Protect the Vote” exhibit. While that’s going on, actors portraying the Harrison family will be on site awaiting results from the 1888 presidential election.

Vote on a hotel rooftop or in a hotel ballroom

Some hotels around the country are turning ballrooms, rooftops, and other large event spaces into polling places where citizens can cast a vote or drop off a mailed ballot with adequate social distance.

In California, the Kimpton Le Peer Hotel in West Hollywood is serving as an early voting and vote-by-mail ballot drop off location from October 30 through November 3. The dining space on the outdoor rooftop is being refitted with voting booths so voters will have fresh air, social distance, and great views.  

Voting booths will be sanitized after each use and guests who vote on-site will receive a 15 percent discount on special menu items, including sliders adorned with American flags and a “Bubbly Pilgrim” cocktail. In the lobby,  the hotel’s resident artist will be working on a new Election Day inspired mural.

The historic Hotel Figueroa in downtown Los Angeles, which was funded and built by women in 1926 and served as a YWCA women’s hostel in its early years, will serve as an official polling place from October 30 through November 3, with voting booths set up in the hotel’s Gran Sala event space.

And although the historic Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. is closed through early 2021 due to the pandemic, its ballroom joins the Capital One Sports Arena and other area sites as a Super Vote Center to accommodate large numbers of voters from October 27 through November 3.

Vote, then drink or eat free, or for cheap

In Texas, from now through election day, the LINE Austin is offering a $1 cocktail, beer, or wine at their bar P6 for visitors who show proof of voting. (1 drink per vote.) 

In Houston, Texas, three of the restaurants in the H Town Restaurant Group – Hugo’s, Caracol, and Xochi – will be treating voters who wear their “I VOTED!” sticker to the restaurant to a complimentary red, white or blue margarita. (Value $11).

The Kimpton Sawyer Hotel in Sacramento, CA will offer a complimentary glass of wine to guests who show their “I Voted” sticker from October 24 to November 3 on the hotel’s rooftop bar and lounge, Revival. The hotel is near the Golden 1 Center, an arena that will serve as a voting center on those dates.

In Denver, from now through Nov. 3, a red, white, and blue “Rock the Vote” cocktail will be complimentary to guests who sport their “I Voted” sticker and purchase a menu item at Local Jones restaurant at the Halcyon hotel in Cherry Creek.

The Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery, in Arlington, VA, which boasts of serving sweets and sides to Washington insiders, will have two special candidate-themed sandwiches on the menu November 2 and 3: a catfish filet for Trump and a sliced roasted turkey sandwich for Biden. Each sandwich will come with a complimentary “Vote” sugar cookie with red, white, and blue icing.

And starting at 5 pm PST on Election Night, The Hoxton, Portland will be hosting a political trivia night with an evening-long Happy Hour and comfort-food snack fest with corn dogs, chowder, tater tots and apple pie. Tickets start at $4.60 and include a welcome drink. For those anticipating a late night or who just want to stay in bed until the election results are tallied, the hotel is offering 30% off rooms that week with code AUTUMN.

Stay over, sleep it off

The Crossroads Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri is offering a “Not at a Crossroads” package on November 3 to guests who show proof of voting. The $169 room rate includes CBD gummies, Painkiller cocktails and a variety of candies and snacks, including WHOMP popcorn, Hot Tamales and Milk Duds.

Through November 3 Les Cactus Palm Springs is offering a 10% discount, a bottle of wine and a relaxing Mar Mar candle on all reservations of 3 nights or more to guests who show valid proof of voter registration.

In Washington, D.C. guests at the Kimpton George Hotel who show an “I Voted” sticker or an Early Voting equivalent, will receive a ‘surprise & delight’ from the front desk in the form of a small gift, food or beverage amenity, upgrade or late check out. And in addition to the hotel’s normal wine offerings at the complimentary daily wine hour, on Election Day the options will include a glass of bubbly or a glass of whiskey from Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home.

When travel gives you lemons, drink free airport lemonade

To help travelers relax, many airports offer some form of summertime entertainment. For example, San Francisco International Airport has a You Are Hear summer concert series, Dulles International Airport hosts a Jazz Series and Vancouver International Airport offers DJs, live entertainment, free samples of treats and sweets, and $10 lunch specials all summer long during its popular, pre-security Take-Off Fridays celebrations.

Philadelphia International Airport’s summer-long Just Plane Fun program has been treating travelers to everything from free makeovers to live music and a chance to chill out and relax in one of the airport’s two Chillin’ Zones, which are outfitted with sofas, tables and plants.

Now Philadelphia International Airport is going a step further and offering complimentary cool beverages, serving 600 to 700 passengers daily.

“We were thinking of what we could do for people before they get to the security checkpoint, because there’s not much retail before security and all our entertainment is post-security,” said airport spokeswoman Victoria Lupica.

“It’s been a very warm summer and we know that people waiting in line can’t take a beverage with them through the security line,” said Lupica, “So we decided to offer passengers a refreshing complimentary glass of lemonade or iced tea. They can sip that in line and then dump the cup before going through the checkpoint.”

Lupica says the airport staff is monitoring the checkpoint lines, noting the busiest times in each terminal and dispatching the five rolling carts to areas where lines are longest.

“This isn’t something we’re going to stop doing when summer is over,” said Lupica. “When the weather turns cool, we plan to offer travelers hot chocolate to keep them warm and toasty.”

(My story about Philadelphia International Airport’s complimentary lemonade program first appeared on NBC News Travel.)

(Photo courtesy Philadelphia International Airport)

Free drinks at Changi; free shades at LGA

It’s got the largest slide in an airport, a butterfly garden, free karaoke and movie theaters. Now there’s one more reason to love Singapore’s Changi Airport: free drinks!

Changi Sinagpore Free Drinks

Photo courtesy: Changi Airport Group

“The Mix-it Bar” inside DFS Liquor & Tobacco shops at Terminals 1, 2 and 3 offers complimentary liquor and mixed cocktail drinks. “The brand of liquor featured changes bi-monthly,” says an airport spokesperson, “But over the past few month brands of liquor featured recently included Bacardi, Bombay Gin and Belverdere vodka.”

Worried you’ll have one too many? You may need to wear your sunglasses at the airport.

Sunglass Hut and the Food and Shops at New York’s LaGuardia Airport are hosting a Twitter sunglass contest.

They’ll be giving away two pair of Ray Bay Sunglasses each Friday through March 25.  Here are the rules.