If you fly a lot, then you are probably getting used to being nickeled and dimed. Airlines now charge for lots of things – checked baggage, advance seat assignments, extra legroom, phone reservation fees, etc.
But a lot of us don’t think about the extras that come with a hotel stay. The rate that you see on the webpage before booking is never what you will be seeing when the credit card bill comes in a few months. All hotel stays are subject to hotel taxes (which can be quite high as localities like to stick it to the tourists), plus many hotels now rival the airlines in finding ways to charge you for the little extras.
Here are the little extras that can unfortunately add up to big bucks for your family:
1) Resort fees: A number of luxury hotels and resorts have been charging mandatory “resort fees” for access to amenities that used to be free: phone service, fitness centers, pools, and internet access. These fees have been the source of much controversy for lack of disclosure, especially on opaque booking sites like Priceline or Hotwire. If you are staying in a resort-like place or in Las Vegas, be sure to inquire about resort fees before you book and be wary of the opaque booking sites if your budget is tight.
2) Parking: Most of us know that hotels in prime spots in New York or San Francisco can often charge upwards of $40 per night for parking, but a number of hotels charge exorbitant rates for parking even in areas where parking isn’t exactly at a premium. Be sure to check the fine print of your hotel’s website or ask the phone reservations line what the parking policy is before you reserve a room.
3) Internet: $15-20 for one evening of internet access? It’s par for the course these days. Even more frustrating is the fact that you’re most likely to be charged for internet access at the nicer hotels where you are already paying much more for your room. The more budget chains often offer free WiFi, so it pays in more ways than one to stay in a more modest hotel.
4) Crib/Rollaway rental: It doesn’t happen often, but a few hotels do charge you use of a crib or a rollaway bed. If you are traveling with kids and think you will need an extra space for your little ones to sleep, be sure to inquire about this charge.
Before you book a room, be sure to think about the amenities you will need and use and be sure to price out those amenities at the different hotels you are considering. Case in point? Last week, I stayed in downtown Stamford, Connecticut for a family wedding. There are two Marriott-branded hotels in the area, within two blocks of each other. One is a full service Marriott (Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa) and the other is a Courtyard by Marriott (Stamford Courtyard Downtown). I was thrilled to find the bride had chosen the Courtyard as her wedding hotel, as it offered valet parking at $10 per night (vs. the Marriott’s $18) and it also offered free internet ($9.95 per night at the Marriott). For a three night stay, my family saved $54 on top of the (already cheaper) room rate by staying at the Courtyard.