Because most hotels charge the same rate per night whether one or two people are in the room, a double occupancy policy is built into your hotel cost.
Yes, it's a hidden single supplement.
But let's not take it any farther than that.
Depending on where you're traveling there are a variety of fees that could ratchet up the price of your hotel room. Knowing what they are is the first step to avoiding them.
Know Before You Go: Hidden Hotel Fees and Your Budget
Before you book your accommodation get a good handle on what your actual costs will be. The advertised price of a room can end up being much more if any of the following fees and policies are applied.
- City hotel room tax (this can be as high as 20%)
- State tax.
- Parking fees
- WiFi charges
- Telephone charges for local and long-distance calls
- Bottled water on your bedside table (unless it says complimentary, it's not)
- Spa or resort fees (you'll pay for them even if you don't use the services)
- Towels at the pool.
- Early check-in or late checkout charges
- Cancellation fees
- Energy surcharges
- Automatic gratuities. These are not a problem unless you tip directly as well.
- Tipping for staff (if it's not on your bill it's important to tip housekeeping and other staff as they are typically not paid well)
- Baggage and storage fees
- Minibar treats
Knowing the actual cost of accommodation can make the difference in where your stay and between traveling within your budget and returning with credit card bills to pay. Some online booking sites don't give you the details on additional fees. It's worth calling the hotel directly to see what other charges you can expect and what you might be able to get waived. If it's out of line with your budget, find another place to stay.
How to Lower or Avoid Hotel Fees
There are some fees you don't have control over but some you do. Here are a few ways that you could avoid hotel fees.
- Use your own phone.
- Carry a refillable water bottle.
- If they want to charge you for WiFi consider tethering to your phone and using your data. If you don't have unlimited data be mindful of your usage.
- Reduce your parking fees. Your strategy here will depend on how you plan to spend your time at your destination. For example,
- If you're driving into a major city like New York where everything is walkable, there's no need to have your car at hand. Find a secure lot in a bedroom community and leave your vehicle there. Or even better, leave your car at the home of a friend for free and take local transit to your hotel.
- If you'll be using your car during the day consider a parking lot near your hotel. Many lots have inexpensive overnight parking that could save you big time. But consider this carefully. If you'll be back and forth to your hotel and wanting to park multiple times a day, a flat rate for 24 hours could be better.
- Bring minibar-style treats with you and avoid the exorbitant prices of minibar items. If you need a fridge take a few things out of the minibar fridge to make space and put them back at the end of your stay. Wait! What about those electronic detectors that tell billing what you had? Check your bill carefully for any minibar charges. If they're there, ask for a manual audit of your minibar.
- Avoid WiFi fees. Yes, many hotels still charge for WiFi and the fees can be steep. You can often avoid them by becoming a member of the hotel's free loyalty program. Or the WiFi may be free in the lobby. You can go to a local coffee shop for free WiFi or use your cell phone as a hotspot. Read how to avoid roaming fees and get WiFi for any device through your phone.
- Go with a carryon and save on tipping. I don't recommend skimping on tips but one way you can save on tips is with the bell hop. As a solo traveler I recommend that you travel light which means it's easy to manage your own bags to your room.
Know what's free too!
And, of course, in addition to looking for extra charges consider what's free when you're deciding where to book. Some hotels offer:
- Free breakfast (usually continental)
- Free shuttle service to the airport or shopping
- Free WiFi