Hotels have increasingly turned to the fee model adopted by many airlines, in which services and amenities that used to be included in the price of your stay are now priced separately and added to your bill.
Hotel fees can be even more annoying than airline fees, because it is difficult to get information about every fee charged by a particular hotel without calling the front desk. This process can be time-consuming if you are comparing several hotels.
Avoiding Hotel Fees
Some hotel fees are unavoidable. If your hotel charges a parking fee and there is nowhere else to park your car, you can pay to park your car or leave your car at home.
It is possible, however, to avoid some hotel fees. If your hotel charges a resort fee and you don't plan to use the services or privileges that fee covers, talk with the desk clerk when you check in and ask to have the resort fee waived. Avoid telephone fees by using your own cell phone. If you skip watching movies and premium television, you will not have to pay extra for them.
Hotel Rewards Programs and Hotel Fees
One way to avoid incurring hotel fees is to join a hotel rewards program. Every rewards program is different, but most offer at least one benefit, such as early check-in or free WiFi, that would normally cost you extra.
Irritating Hotel Fees
Hotels that charge resort fees claim that the fee covers amenities such as bottled water, newspapers, WiFi and pool / gym use. If you don't plan to use any of the resort fee "privileges," make your case at the front desk and see if you can get the fee waived.
Early Check-in / Late Check-out Fee
Some hotels charge extra for checking in early or checking out late. The Hilton Washington Dulles Airport, for example, charges $50 for early check-in and $50 for late check-out. To avoid this type of fee, plan your arrival and departure times carefully, or join the hotel's rewards program and ask for this benefit.
Early Departure Fee
A few hotels charge a fee if you change your plans and decide to leave on an earlier date than was specified on your registration. The best way to avoid this fee is to ask about it before your trip begins so you can make an informed decision if your plans change.
Fitness Center Fee
While most hotel chains offer free fitness center use to their guests, some charge a daily fee. To avoid paying for fitness center use, ask for a map of the city and take a walk. Some hotels even provide walking trail maps for their guests.
If a minibar is part of your room's furnishings, do not touch anything inside without first notifying the front desk that you do not plan to consume anything from it during your stay. Some minibars have sensors inside that trigger a charge to your bill if the item on top of the sensor is moved.
Room Safe Fee
A small number of hotels add a daily room safe fee to your bill. This fee normally ranges from $1 to $3 per day. It is difficult to find out about this fee when you reserve your room unless you talk with a reservation clerk. If you reserve online, also call and ask about room safe fees. If you don't plan to use the safe, ask to have this charge taken off your bill.
Many upscale hotels charge $9.95 per day or more for WiFi use. A few offer two levels of WiFi access, with greater bandwidth available at a higher cost. You can avoid this fee by bringing your own mobile hotspot or by going somewhere local that offers free WiFi.
Business Center Fee
A few hotels charge for use of their business centers. The specific charge details are usually only available at your hotel. If you plan to use the business center, call ahead to learn about possible charges.
Rollaway Bed / Baby Crib Fee
If your hotel charges for use of a rollaway bed or baby crib, expect to pay $10 to $25 per day. This fee is difficult to avoid if you are traveling with an adult guest, but you can bring your own portable crib if you are traveling with a baby.
Acceptable Hotel Fees
While the fees listed above can irritate travelers, there are a few fees that do seem legitimate. For example:
Cleaning Fee for Smoking in a Non-Smoking Room
The standard cleaning fee for breaking the hotel's smoking rule is $250 in the US. That's probably not enough to get the smoke smell out of the carpeting and drapes.
Refrigerator Rental Fee
If your hotel room does not come with a refrigerator, ask if you can rent one. Typically, hotels in the US charge about $10 per day for a mini-fridge. You will save this much and more by buying beverages and food and stashing them in your rented refrigerator rather than ordering them from room service or purchasing them from your hotel's mini-mart.
Pet fees vary. Some hotels charge a nonrefundable deposit of $50 to $100 and assess a separate daily fee. Others charge a flat fee that covers your entire stay. The fee covers cleaning costs and allows you to keep your pet near you at all times. Look for a pet-friendly hotel chain to minimize the cost of traveling with your pet.
Downtown hotels often charge high parking fees because city parking is expensive. If the parking fee bothers you, find another way to get to your hotel or look for cheaper parking nearby. Remember to check for online parking coupons before your trip begins.