How to Avoid Hidden and Unexpected Hotel Fees
Hotel stays can go from affordable to expensive if you don't consider the fees you could be charged.
Dr. Bjorn Hanson, a clinical professor at the NYU School of Professional Studies Jonathon M. Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism, estimates hotels will bring in about $2.55 billion in revenue from fees and surcharges in 2016.
The forecast—based on interviews with industry executives, industry financial data, press releases, and information on hotel and brand websites—points to fees and surcharges hotels are introducing for everything from parking to early check-in.
Additionally, hotels can sometimes have “hidden” fees that can come as a surprise to travelers.
Thankfully, there are steps travelers can take to avoid paying more.
Ask before you book
Before you book, you can ask if there are additional fees for any hotel amenities, and what your total costs for the stay will be per night.
If you see that there is a service included on the additional charges that you won’t be using, ask to have it removed from your bill. Some hotels will do this for fees for items like safes, or the use of their business or fitness centers.
Hotels can also charge fees for services like having a package delivered, or even using the in-room coffee pots. Ask about fees upfront before arriving at the hotel.
Find out if tip is included
Check to see if the hotel adds gratuity to your bill so that you don't end up tipping twice.
Some hotels add a service charge of anywhere between 15 to 20 percent for gratuity, which might only be mentioned in the fine print of the receipt.
Don't rule out fees at all-inclusive hotels
Some all-inclusive hotels can still have fees on things like limited menu items. Be sure to keep your eye out for asterisks* in promotions and advertisements, and carefully go through the fine print in the “terms and conditions” agreement.
Use websites that disclose fees
Travelers can take a look at ResortFeeChecker.com to get a sense on some of the resort fees that often arise at the more than 2,000 hotels the website has listed worldwide. You can also do a quick check of customer reviews in case previous guests have highlighted unexpected fees at the property.
Use your elite status
Customers who have elite status in a hotel’s loyalty program can sometimes get amenities like Wi-Fi, breakfast, and flexible check-in and check-out without having to pay extra fees.
Call ahead to ask the hotel about its packages, which often include fee waivers for using Wi-Fi or parking at the property. Additionally, several websites offer comparisons of hotel loyalty programs so you can compare and contrast your options before selecting the right fit.
Talia Avakian is a digital reporter at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @TaliaAvak.