Which hotel services require the payment of extra fees?

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.

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A stranger is knocking on my hotel room door, what should I do?

If your Internet search for hotel stay safety tips brought you here, you have come to the right place, because we understand that solo travelers, whether they are men or women, must be wondering if it would be a good idea to sleep alone in a hotel room nowadays, abroad and in a place where you don’t know anyone, and nobody knows you. So in case you are that solo female or male traveler looking for advice on how to be safe in the event that a stranger knocks on your door trying to trick you into opening it with any kind of ill intention, continue reading below and, more importantly, always make your reservation on a reliable hotel booking site to prevent unpleasant situations from happening.

How to avoid unexpected events when staying alone in a hotel

First and foremost, as a solo traveler, you need to know how to watch your own back to avoid risky situations, and that is something easy to achieve just by being discreet and cautious. Someone who sleeps in hotels frequently will tell you to follow the advice below so as not to be identified as a candidate to be robbed or assaulted while sleeping alone in your tourist accommodation.

  • Never reveal or say out loud that you are traveling without company. Avoid telling this to anyone you meet along the way, hotel staff included. The personnel at the reception can see the info in your reservation and are already aware that you will be staying there alone, and if they are careful enough, they won’t say it aloud either.
  • Do not hang the “do not disturb” sign or a room service order on your door. Such an innocent act will let strangers know that there is someone inside and, in the case of the order, the number of people staying together.
  • If someone you know will be dropping by, ask them to call you on the phone beforehand and identify themselves when they reach your room.
  • Never take it for granted that any person knocking on your door will be a member of the hotel staff. The front desk rarely sends anyone to your room without calling you first. Only once, the reception sent someone to deliver a welcome gift to my room after I checked in, but they said my full name when they knocked and I opened. Even so, I could have called the reception to check whether it was safe to open the door, because it might have been somebody who overheard my conversation with the staff during check-in.

Somebody is knocking on the door of my accommodation, now what?

You may use different strategies to dissuade the stranger from bothering you:

  • remain quiet until they get tired of knocking without getting any sort of response, although this entails the risk of their assuming there is no one in the room and so trying to break in. In a hotel, bursting into your room would be virtually impossible, but beware if you are staying in a guest house or hostel;
  • pretend that you are not alone by speaking out loud with an invisible room mate, playing a conversation recorded on your phone or turning up the volume of the TV or music player;
  • call the reception to confirm that the person outside is not hotel staff and inform them of what is going on. They will probably send security or look after you if they know you have felt unsafe;
  • do not go out until you hear other guests on the corridor.

Bottom line

Under no circumstance should you ask “who is it?” or open (not even left slightly ajar) the door of your hotel room to a stranger. This will probably lead to engaging in unnecessary (and risky) conversation, or to giving them an opportunity to push you and assault you in your own space.

If you have any concerns about your safety in a hotel because somebody knocks on your door, or you have noticed someone following you or prowling around your room, don’t hesitate to ask the staff to move you to a different floor until your time to check out comes.

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What is a pet friendly hotel? Finding hotels that accept pets

Would you leave a son or a daughter behind when going on vacation? You certainly wouldn’t, and many travellers who are pet owners feel exactly the same when it comes to travelling abroad. Therefore, unless they know someone who can be entrusted with the task of looking after their beloved four-legged family member, finding a hotel where pets are allowed becomes mandatory in order to make that holiday trip or business stay with their dog, cat or turtle possible.

But what do we mean by pet-friendly hotel or accommodation? What makes it different to other hotels? Are they more expensive? What are the requirements your pet must meet so that you can enjoy a hotel stay together? Continue reading to find out.

Choosing accommodation where pets are allowed

If you travel with your pet and want it to stay in your room with you, additional charges may apply when you pay for your stay; that being said, this may be the case with any sort of accommodation that has pet-friendly policies regardless of its star-rating, so it would be safe to say that hotels that accept dogs or other pets do not belong to a separate category, but are regular hospitality establishments which are prepared to provide this service.

In case surcharges apply, the amount will depend on the number of amenities your pet will be able to enjoy. Sometimes the hotel simply accepts your pet as another guest, but occasionally they will go the extra mile and offer a whole range of dedicated services that you won’t find anywhere else. Also, a refundable deposit is often required: if your naughty pet breaks furniture or destroys the curtains, the deposit you paid will cover the expenses.

Provided that you make your hotel reservation online and select the “travelling with a pet” option, we recommend that you go through the fine print carefully or, even better, call the hotel and confirm with them that they actually allow pets in the guest rooms as well as everything you need to know before checking in.

The most common policies of pet-friendly hotels

Hotels that accept dogs, cats and other pets may provide amenities such as toys, towels, sitters, specific food menu, beds and blankets. This is frequent when you stay in a pet-friendly hotel rated with three stars or higher. However, every accommodation should at least provide a leash-free area for dogs to play in the communal zones and an in-room pet relief designated area.

Rural houses and villas have a tendency to accept animals and let them run freely around the facilities, yet hotels will probably ask you to keep your dog or cat either inside the kennel or leashed until you get to your room, and show proof of its vaccinations, good health and behaviour.

Take into account that a pet-friendly accommodation also provides service to guests without pets, and so it is likely that they will recommend not to wash your four-legged friend in the bathtub or let it sleep in the bed for obvious reasons. Choose a four or five-star hotel and they will cater to your needs with dog towels, wipes and small tubs so that your pet remains fresh and clean all throughout the stay.

As we mentioned above, some hotels where pets are allowed simply let your dog or cat stay with you in your room, but others can actually supply every amenity you may need so that nothing is missed and you both feel just like at home. This may include specific food and treats, pet beds, blankets, toys, kennels, grooming services, dog-walkers and veterinary care.

All these features might be included in the nightly rate you will pay for your room or be added to the final bill in the form of extras, so we encourage you to confirm with the hotel manager or staff whether these amenities come for free or require the payment of a surcharge in advance.

Have you found the perfect accommodation for your trip? Search for apartments, hostels, guest houses, bed and breakfasts and hotels all over the world and make your reservation here.

Travel tips: how to order room service at the hotel

Room service in hotels is a convenient feature that allows for the utmost privacy and comfort during your stay. Simply imagine: you have just checked in at your hotel after a long-haul flight, the onsite restaurant is already closed, and you are jet-lagged and hungry. Luckily, an increasing number of hospitality establishments are offering 24 hour availability so that guests staying in the hotel may order food to be delivered to their room any time of the day or night. Despite the price, it is highly likely that many travellers will request this service at least once during a short stay, because nobody will keep great memories of the early morning breakfast buffet, but what about the late breakfast in bed or the lazy rainy days without leaving your fancy hotel room? In most cases, ordering room service in a hotel is totally worth the price.

That being said, do you know how to be polite and ensure you will get your message across, which is particularly important in order for them to cook exactly what you want and how you want it? Bear in mind that the larger the hotel you are staying at, the greater the demand for food delivery they will have, as well as that the kitchen staff will be cooking your meal expressly for you, so be kind and patient. In any case, you will be informed of the estimated waiting time when you call or place your order via tablet.

How to order room service at the hotel

Needless to say, you should always say “please” and “thank you”, and use expressions like “I’ll have” or “I’d like” if you are using the English language or their equivalents in the language used. Picture yourself dining at a fine restaurant as a reference.

Let them know your room number; sometimes they already know when you call, but confirming it never hurts and it may avoid confusion.

When ordering, mention the codes of each dish instead of reading the whole description aloud; this will save precious time and help staff by using their working method. Then, simply add “without mayonnaise” or “without egg” (by way of example) and make sure you inform them about any allergies or specific dietary needs you have.

The hotel room service phone call generally ends with the person on the other end telling you how long you will need to wait (approximately); if they forget, ask them so that you can be ready to open the door. Also, understand that during peak hours (those when they serve the main meals of the day) waiting times may be longer.

When the waiter delivers the room service tray to your room, check that all the delivered items are all right and sign the receipt that will normally be added to your final bill, to be paid upon checkout. The tip for room service is sometimes already included in the price, while other times you will have to decide whether you should leave a tip or not. To make this clearer, you can read our post about Tipping etiquette in hotels.

Once you have finished, the most polite way to return the cart to the hotel staff is by calling the front desk to tell them you are about to leave it outside your room. Then they will let room service know so that they can remove it as soon as possible.

All this process, however, is significantly simplified by some hotels that put in-room tablet devices at the guests’ disposal, which –among other features- offer the possibility to order room service from a digital screen without talking to anyone, submitting all your specifications in great detail and even paying for it in advance using your credit card info, just like in a fast-food restaurant self-order kiosk.

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