Among the fears and questions that arise in the mind of the not-so-frequent traveller, whether they will be charged unexpected extras and surcharges by the hotel they stay at is one of the most common. Obviously, it is in the hands of the managers and owners of the hostel, guest house, apartment, boutique hotel or hospitality chain to determine which services and amenities are included in the nightly rate and which ones must be paid for separately. In general, the wisest thing to do is asking them directly or consulting the reservation receipt, where a thorough description of everything that is included in the price is mandatory. That being said, we are about to outline the hotel features that are frequently offered for free alongside with those which normally entail additional costs.
Hotel services and amenities that are always complimentary
Whenever you book a hotel room, a bed in a hostel dormitory or a bungalow in a holiday resort, there are features that almost invariably come for free. For instance, it is safe to say that everything inside the room can be used at no extra charge: you will never be charged for water supply or energy, so you can enjoy the shower, lighting, ironing facilities, coffee and tea amenities and TV as much as you like. Take into account, however, that pay-per-view movies or channels might appear on your TV set, but you will always be warned with a message before you accept this paid service.
If you ask for a wake-up call, that is, to be woken up in the morning with a telephone call, you won’t have to pay for it. Also, the toiletries provided in the bathroom, even the luxury ones, are available for you to use and take away with you as a souvenir; what is more, they are refilled or replaced should you need more products during your stay. Using the towels and bathrobe if offered has no additional cost, but contrary to what some people think, you cannot take them home; some pairs of hotel slippers, though -particularly those with the name of the hotel chain on them-, have been conceived as a gift for guests to keep. The hair dryer is normally in the bathroom or can be borrowed from the reception at no extra charge.
Furthermore, some hotels make sure their guests are given a warm welcome in the form of free bottled water, chocolates or fruit awaiting them on the hotel bed; others offer this service for a surcharge. Storing your valuables inside the safety deposit box provided should not be charged for either. Activities like reading papers and magazines in the lobby, working out in the gym and accessing public areas of the establishment such as the gym, the pool or the terrace do not commonly entail paying any extra fee, and the arrangement of services by the staff at the front desk such as shuttle transfers, tickets for tours and attractions, directions and advice, meeting rooms and conference spaces should not generate any costs other than those of the service itself exclusively.
Hotel services you will sometimes have to pay for
Breakfast is always included in the nightly rate of B&Bs, guest houses, hostels and many hotels; other establishments will either give you the option to select a “breakfast included” rate during the process of making your reservation or have it available as an extra in their dining facilities or restaurant. Access to spa centres may come in an already planned “holiday package”, be considered as complimentary to your room category (especially in superior and deluxe ones) or be free for all guests.
Parking spaces and conference rooms are usually a complimentary amenity for executive travellers and company delegations; we recommend you address this question to the hotel managers before arriving to make clear whether they can be used for free or not. Another issue you are advised to ask about beforehand is if you will be allowed to add a cradle for your baby or an auxiliary bed for an extra guest without incurring costs. And lastly, regarding eating and drinking inside the premises of the hotel, we recommend reading the fine print of your half-board, full-board or all-inclusive reservation.
Hospitality chains and establishment across the world differ in their policies regarding the WiFi and airport transfers. Wireless internet is being increasingly offered at no cost both inside hotel rooms and in the communal areas, yet do not be surprised if some resorts charge for WiFi by the hour. Airport shuttle services and transfers to convention centres are courtesy in the majority of transit hotels (those located near airport terminals) and business hotels, yet it may be the case that the establishment where you are staying does charge a nominal fee for them.
Hotel services that are not complimentary
What you can be sure of is that every item inside your shiny mini bar by the hotel bed will be charged for; the price list next to it is there for you to tick off each consumption, although maids also check if something is missing every day when they come to clean the room. Likewise, every order to the room service entails the payment of a fee: it may be added to your total invoice or requested upon delivery; note that the price of meals delivered to your room is always listed by them on the menu. And finally, every extra service you order while staying in a hotel –laundry, dry-cleaning, ironing, babysitting, massages and beauty treatments, for example- will imply the addition of charges to your final invoice.