Airlines have gained success over the years for charging fees for what was once included in their rates. Hoteliers seem to have been inspired to follow this not-so-traveler-friendly trend and make their patrons pay for a variety of privileges they used to get for free.
Sneaky hotel fees and surcharges can range from resort fees to paid wi-fi to the innocent chocolate bar on the fridge you thought was a “gift.” And the worst thing is you’re not even aware these hotel fees exist until you’ve booked with the hotel or received your bill upon checkout.
The first step to avoiding them? Knowing exactly what they are.
1. Resort fees
The most deceptive fees are those that are obligatory but taken out from the listed room rate – like resort fees.
Many hotels are now charging these annoying fees for something that was once included in the price. The inclusions vary; some hotels cover gym and pool access, others cover privileges like wi-fi, local calls, minibar items, airport shuttle service, and beach access. While hotels give you a comprehensive list of the services these fees supposedly cover, you often have no choice but to pay them, whether or not you use any of them.
Hotels have now changed the name to “facility fee”, “destination fee” or “urban fee” but the results are still the same.
Fix: The best way to find out about resort fees is by calling the hotel directly and asking the front desk staff. What sort of fees are charged? Do you need to pay if you don’t use the services? If it’s a “no”, make sure the charges don’t show up on your bill. As much as possible, stay at fee-free hotels.
2. Minibar treats
Any travel enthusiast knows that the tempting treats inside that small fridge are not free. Another important reminder: in some hotels, simply touching (not even consuming) the items in the minibar could trigger a sensor that adds charges to your room. It’s a smart hotelier trick for preventing guests from replacing minibar items.
Also, beware of those complimentary-looking beverages and basket of snacks on the table. Ask first, and don’t grab that bar of snickers even when you’re hungry.
Fix: Don’t touch anything on that mini bar. Just don’t. Check your minibar charges: If you get charged for something you didn’t consume, request for a manual audit.
3. Housekeeping gratuity
Many hotels subtly make you pay for housekeeping that should’ve been included in your rate – “tip” is the magic word.
Hotels seem to expect you to tip housekeepers – a clear ploy to cut the wages of employees and encourage you to chip in. Other hotels even establish separate housekeeping fees as mandatory.
Fix: Inquire about gratuity charges beforehand. While it will not save you from paying such fees, you’ll avoid tipping twice.
4. Early check-in fee
Today, you could be charged for something that used to be a basic act of courtesy – early check-in. If you arrive at your destination a little earlier, ask the front desk whether you’ll be charged for accessing your hotel room before the regular check-in time.
Fix: Instead of checking in early, ask the hotel to store your bags. Make sure there’s no fee for storing baggage early as well.
5. Additional person fee
Hotel prices are often set for double occupancy, with small children staying for free. If you’re a group of three adults or more, you’ll likely to be slapped with an additional person fee.
Fix: Ask beforehand and compare prices. Be ready to look around and book with a cheaper property that doesn’t charge for such fees.
Internet access seems like a standard feature when staying at a hotel. And since accommodation rates are not cheap, you expect it to be bundled into your rate. Unfortunately, plenty of properties still levy a fee for such service. Some hotels offer free Wi-Fi only to guests who book through the hotel’s own booking system.
Fix: Find an internet connection elsewhere. You can create your personal hotspot, find a coffee shop nearby, or consider unplugging for the rest of the trip. You can also enjoy the free wi-fi in the lobby.
Gone are the days when the hotels let you park your car for free. Some hotels, especially in major cities, now add parking charges. When you’ve already driven to the hotel, it can be difficult to avoid this fee.
Fix: Walk around or use Google Maps to get a street view of the area around your hotel and look for nearby parking garages. You may find free street parking or an inexpensive parking garage.
8. Phone charges
The phone beside your hotel bed is meant for calling the front desk, not for anything else.
Many hotels charge expensive per-minute rates both for long-distance calls and short local calls. Keep that in mind when you’re tempted to order pizza from your room in the middle of the night.
Fix: You’re better off using your phone for all calls.
9. Cancellation fee
Well, this one’s not unexpected but it could still spoil your vacation. It’s a way of encouraging customers to follow through on filling the rooms they’ve booked.
Gone are the days when you could cancel up to 24 hours in advance, or maybe two days of notice, without penalty. Today, hotels are limiting it to three days or more. Canceling any later means you owe the hotel a payment.
Fix: The earlier you cancel, the better.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is one of the writers for Holiday Inn Parramatta Accommodation, a modern hotel in Western Sydney known for their exceptional hotel accommodation and location, which appeals to travelers in Australia. She has always been passionate about giving in to her wanderlust and collecting mementos from different places.