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Travel Five ways to get the most from your luxury hotel stay

Get a free shoeshine

While they don’t make a big deal of promoting it, most five-star hotels offer free shoe polishing. Look in that guide-to-services booklet or binder in your room for details or call the front desk (or ask your butler if you’re staying somewhere really ritzy). Typically you simply leave your shoes or boots outside your door at night and when you wake up – voilà – shiny footwear!

Embrace the butler

Speaking of butlers, be open to what he or she can offer. Should the opportunity arise, do not pass up the decadence of having someone run your bath to just the right temperature, for instance. Also, a good butler can read minds. During a recent stay at the Plaza in New York, a friend asked hers for mint tea, and then jokingly added, “Or maybe I should make it a G&T.” He brought both, much to her delight.

Bag the free slippers

If your suite comes with a robe, slippers are likely on offer as well. While you might be tempted to leave them behind – they’re usually thin and disposable – take them with you. When you’re packing for your next long-haul flight, toss them in your carry-on bag. After you remove your footwear, you can throw them on when you have to use the bathroom. No need to fiddle with laces in a dark cabin – or be that person who goes to the toilet in her sock feet.

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Request turndown service

Make sure you ask for turndown service. The main purpose of this is to prep your room for sleep: Housekeeping will draw the curtains, fold down the bedsheets and dim the lights. Which is all lovely, but it’s the extra amenities often included that are the real perk. Forget chocolates: I’ve been surprised with little bonuses such as lavender pillow mist, a sleep mask, lip balm and a book.

Sample some pillows

It’s de rigueur for fancy hotels to offer a pillow menu. This is practical if you’re allergic to feathers, but look for options beyond foam. Jet lag keeping you up? Rest your head on a lavender-scented pillow. Back hurting? Ask for a full-length body pillow or one that offers better neck support. Ever wondered what a buckwheat-filled pillow feels like? Now is your chance to find out.

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