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Will You Be Surprised By Hidden Hotel Fees?

Posted By Miranda Marquit On 02/07/2013 @ 12:06 pm In Travel | 4 Comments

It seems straightforward. You book your hotel, and you see the cost per-night. You might even see that you will pay taxes, including state and local taxes, and possibly a room tax. What you might not see, though, are “resort fees” or other sneaky charges that some hotels are starting to add to their bills after you arrive. So you book, and when you arrive you see fees added to the bill. Most travelers are too tired to be bothered with looking elsewhere for accommodations once they get to this point, so they accept the charges.

Even though the FTC recently sent letters to some hotels [3], insisting that they begin revealing the total cost at booking, you still might not get the whole story when you reserve your hotel online. And, even though hotels might disclose their resort fees on their web sites, you might not see these fees if you are looking for a deal [4] by using a third-party booking site like Orbitz or Travelocity.

What Fees Might Be Charged?

Sometimes, the fees are just billed as “resort fees.” This doesn’t tell you much, especially if you are being charged resort fees when you are staying at a hotel that isn’t an all-inclusive result. However, here are some of the items that might be charged to you, either individually, or under the term “resort” fee:

  • In-Room safe: Check your room for a safe. If there’s one in your room — even if you don’t use it and don’t want it — you might be charged.
  • Water: You probably know that you shouldn’t use the mini-bar unless you want to be charged. However, realize that the bottle of water in your room probably isn’t free, either. It might cost you as much as $5.
  • Baggage hold: You need to check out of your room, but you still have things to do. So you ask if you can leave your baggage at the front desk after checkout. They’ll let you, but there might be a fee.
  • Business center: Many hotels offer “business centers” that allow you to send and receive faxes, print items, and engage in other activities. Unfortunately, some of these activities can come with a hefty charge to your room.
  • Wi-Fi: One of the biggest incongruities I’ve noticed in my recent travels is that expensive hotels are charging for Wi-Fi acces, while the cheap hotels offer it free. Double-check whether or not you will have access to free Wi-Fi [5] during your stay.
  • Breakfast: This is another odd one. Many low-cost hotels still serve a Continental breakfast (and sometimes something better) for free. However, you might be charged for breakfast at more expensive hotel. You head down to the lobby, and are asked for your room number. You eat your breakfast. When you check out, you find that there is a charge to your room for the food.
  • Facilities use: Just because you don’t use the pool or the fitness room doesn’t mean that you won’t be charged for it.
  • Cleaning: To me, this is the most insidious of fees. Many hotels that charge a cleaning fee just pocket the money — it doesn’t actually go to the cleaning staff. You should know this, since it means you are still on the hook for a tip [6].

Ask the hotel for an itemized list of the fees that they charge, and what they are for. Then, ask if you can avoid at least some of the fees.

(Photo: VrySxy [7])

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[1] Tweet: http://twitter.com/share

[2] Email: mailto:?subject=http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/surprised-hidden-hotel-fees.html

[3] FTC recently sent letters to some hotels: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324669104578207700578932668.html?mod=WSJ_PersonalFinance_PF14

[4] looking for a deal: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/5-ways-snag-holiday-travel-deals.html

[5] free Wi-Fi: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/hotels-should-offer-internet-access-for-free.html

[6] still on the hook for a tip: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/bargaineerings-general-tipping-guide.html

[7] VrySxy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vrysxy/2170515304/

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