Travelers need to be aware that hotels are making extra money by charging for little extras: According to a Fodor’s article “How nice that a bottle of pure spring water was thoughtfully left in your room. Don’t drink it. Chances are it’s not a gift and you will be billed anywhere from $4-$6 a bottle. The newspaper that shows up at your door in the morning? Expect to be billed for the “convenience.”
Don’t be shy! Speak up and ask for hidden costs. Those on the other end of the telephone line will understand, they’re not the owners, only the clerks. Tell them you’re on a budget and it’s important that you save as much money as possible on your hotel bill. It’s possible they will have a lower priced room if they see you may not accept on their terms. In off seasons they may have extra rooms to spare and will settle for whatever they can get out of them. Don’t pay without haggling a bit.
Hotels charge for every little convenience, therefore if you must stay in that high priced luxury hotel, sleep there but go elsewhere for breakfast, for lunch and for your entertainment. The best bet may to save money staying in lesser priced hotels or motels that set up shop on the outside of town rather than strategic locations in the heart of the city. Mostly these of these will be motels catering to travelers needing a place to rest; hotels in town are usually designed for those who are in town for special events and they’re more expensive than out of the way hotels.
To save money, the first option is to stay in one of those. But if you want to hang out where the party is and still want to save money there are a few ways you can cut expenses: Don’t use their telephone, don’t call down for room service, don’t ask them to press your suit or to shine your shoes and don’t eat in their dining rooms. Don’t do any of these things unless it’s where the reception is and it’s free.
*Try not to add any extra expense. Expect to pay what the amount is and no more. Of course that does not take into account the tip for the maid but you leave that in room rather than have it added to the bill. Eat at outside restaurants, or better still, buy your food at the grocery store and prepare your own lunch; bring along a cooler case from home if you’re traveling by car and in the trunk of your car. Use this for food that must be kept cool.
*Don’t use the room phone to make outside calls. This once was more of an added expense before cell phones, but still, while it is easy to pick up the phone and call home, use the cell instead or email from your wireless laptop.
*If at all possible try to plan your off season traveling during off-season time when the rates are cheaper. It may be possible to plan ahead and get the hotel for a flat rate during this time.
*Select a hotel or motel on the outside of town if you are driving. These generally are less expensive than those that are in town. But that may not always be the case. If you travel often, keep a list of the best places to stay, and know what is expected. Regular customers are welcomed and they will treat you fairly.
*If money is really tight, settle for second rate hotels and take along your own bed sheets, or two sheets sewn together along with a pillow cover, if you are concerned about cleanliness. Bring along your own towels and washcloths, if you are really fastidious about what touches your body. Don’t be shy about accepting your friend’s invitation to sleep on their couch, or on a sleeping bag on the living room floor.
As the article from Fodor’s states, increasingly there are additions being added to hotel bills. Be wary of any little extras that seem to be included in the bill. Frugal guest should think twice about staying in hotels with special equipment rooms. A hefty price has been added for this specialty. There are others so be ever vigilant.
Why should you pay for what you don’t use? Check the bill first and ask them to remove the fees for items not used. Be aware of you rights: “According to federal law, additional fees should never be a surprise. Hotels must post information about such fees “clearly and conspicuously.”
What “clearly and conspicuously” means in practice is in the eye of the beholder, but if extra fees aren’t clearly stated in the reservation conditions when you book on-line or over the phone, you should inform the hotel they are violating the law and politely but firmly ask for the charges to be removed. Obviously you now need to read the fine print conditions when you book online, and should ask if any extra fees are billed when you book over the phone.