Forget room service -- order a bike

cnn
Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 9:20am

Hotels have introduced all sorts of fun amenities over the years, from iPads to pet goldfish. One of the features that seems to be growing in popularity is bicycles, which are no doubt a great way for guests to discover a new destination.

While some properties charge for the privilege, many don't, such as these 10 hotels across the globe that have free loaner bikes so their guests can get out and explore everything the area has to offer. So strap on your helmet, stretch out your quads and start pedaling.

Hotel Monaco (Portland, Oregon)

Back in July, Kimpton announced that all of its hotels would now offer free loaner bikes. This Kimpton property happens to be in Portland, one of America's most bike-friendly cities -- boasting miles and miles of well-marked bike paths, including the esplanade along the scenic Willamette River. In addition to a fleet of 18 beach cruisers, city bikes and road bikes for guests to tool around town on, the hotel has a special bike with a built-in beer tap and coffee spout that's on display when staffers aren't out cruising around in it.

Ace Hotel & Swim Club (Palm Springs, California)

Not only does the retro-funky Ace Hotel sport a hopping pool scene where they host weekly DJ dance parties, a dog park and design touches such as concrete floors and kiva fireplaces, it also features tandem bikes for those guests who prefer to share the pedaling with a pal. Single-cyclist cruisers are available as well.

Element Vaughan Southwest (Vaughan, Ontario, Canada)

This brand new property, the first of Starwood's extended-stay Element brand to open outside the United States, boasts loaner bicycles as part of its eco-conscious practices (think water-efficient faucets and a chlorine-free pool). Guests can use its colorful Strada track bikes to go in search of the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame and Museum, scenic Boyd Conservation Area and other local attractions. If they're more ambitious, they can pedal the 19-odd miles to downtown Toronto.

Twin Farms (Barnard, Vermont)

This quaint but luxurious property in a centuries-old farmhouse that was once the home of Nobel Prize-winning writer Sinclair Lewis, equips interested guests with either a high-end mountain bike or more casual cruiser -- along with chef-prepared box lunches -- for the 10-mile trip down the hill into the village of Woodstock. Better yet, they'll pick you up once you get there so you don't have to pedal back up the hill.

Holiday Inn Express Playa del Carmen (Playa del Carmen, Mexico)

Budget-conscious vacationers seeking sun, sand and surf in Mexico's popular Riviera Maya often opt for this clean, straightforward member of the IHG family. It's five blocks from the beach and its myriad activities -- from snorkeling to swimming with the dolphins -- and even closer to the bustling 5th Avenue Corridor. If you don't want to take the hotel's complimentary shuttle to the shoreline or beyond, then grab one of their loaner bikes and get there via pedal power.

Jane Hotel (New York)

This trendy mariner-themed boutique lodging in lower Manhattan has offered bikes to its guests since opening in 2008, but they just recently upgraded the fleet to Brooklyn Cruiser's cool new three-speed Driggs and Willow models. "Our bike program has been hugely popular with our guests," proprietor Sean MacPherson commented at the time of the changeover, which also included the bikes at his and partner Eric Goode's other NYC properties: the Bowery and Maritime hotels. "The uniquely New York style of Brooklyn Cruiser is a natural fit for our hotels and guests."

Le Meurice (Paris, France)

What more fitting way to get around the City of Light than on a classic European two-wheeler complete with a wicker basket you can stuff with baguettes, French wine or other Parisian goodies you pick up along your journey? The landmark Le Meurice hotel makes it possible. In fact, if you become especially enamored with your sweet ride, they'll let you buy it and take it home with you.

El Encanto resort (Santa Barbara, California)

The gorgeous El Encanto, which reopened in March after a $134 million makeover, sits on seven lush acres in the hills of Santa Barbara. Which perhaps helps explain why all of its loaner bikes are electric. They'll give you that extra oomph you may need to get up some of the steeper inclines surrounding the resort.

Heywood Hotel (Austin, Texas)

Austin's hip Heywood Hotel may be small when you count the number of rooms (seven), but it's big on style, including the spiffy Republic bicycles boasting one green wheel and one white wheel that, according to owner and GM Kathy Setzer, mimic the design of the hotel ("it looks like a bungalow in front and modern courtyard in back"). The bikes have proven such a popular amenity since the Heywood opened a year and a half ago that Setzer has created a special bicycle scavenger hunt with photographic clues to area sights. Complete the tour and post photos of your finds and you win a few Heywood T-shirt.

Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club (Nanyuki, Kenya)

With a few rare exceptions, Fairmont hotels all feature BMW bikes for their guests' complimentary use. But it'd be hard to beat the scenery you'll find on a cruise through the forested reserve surrounding this particular Fairmont, a restored '50s-era hunting lodge located at the base of Africa's second-highest peak. Don't forget to take along a camera.

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