Recently, I attended a conference, and the hotel we stayed at had a charge for in-room Wi-Fi (thankfully waived for conference-goers). This is becoming more common — along with other fees that hotels are starting to try to sneak in. You have to be on the watch for these fees, since they can really begin to add to your overall bill.
Ask for an itemized bill from your hotel when you check out so you can see what might be added to it. Some of the sneakier charges you might see on the bill include:
- Facilities Use: These fees are charged for the use of the fitness room and the pool.
- Cleaning Fee: Some hotels are starting to sneak a cleaning fee into the room charge. And you’ll still have to leave a tip, since that cleaning fee probably doesn’t get transferred to the person who actually cleaned the room.
- Breakfast: Not all hotels offer a free breakfast anymore. You wander down to the lobby area, where a basic breakfast is set up. You are asked for your room number. And you are charged for breakfast. Watch out for that.
- Incoming Fax: If you take advantage of an incoming fax, you might see some surprisingly hefty charges. You might also be charged for other services that you use in a hotel’s “business center,” so be wary of that.
- Receiving Mail: If the hotel receives mail on your behalf, your room might be charged.
- Water: You probably realize that you will be charged if you take advantage of the in-room minibar. However, you might also be charged for water. Pay attention, since you could be charged $4 or $5 for the bottle of water left in your room.
- In-Room Safe: Even if you don’t request a safe, if it’s in your room, you might be charged a fee for it.
- Baggage Hold: If you leave your bags at the front desk after checkout, you could be charged a fee. Ask before you leave your bags, and determine if you can accomplish the same thing with a late checkout.
Hotels charge these fees because they can add up big. Consider your hotel rewards program, to see if it offers free perks and waived fees. In some cases, you can simply protest a fee. You can point out that it is excessive, and ask for a reduction. Or, if you didn’t use the services you are being charged for, you can ask that the fee be refunded to you. In the game of “what can we get away with?” you can gain an edge simply by calling out the hotel.
Interestingly, many of the most inexpensive hotels are not the ones adding fees left and right, while the more expensive hotels are adding fees left and right. Call ahead and ask about fees, and look for hotels that won’t nickel and dime your bill higher during your stay. You’ll be able to relax a lot more — and use your vacation money to buy a few more souvenirs.