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.

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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Hotel breakfast included: buffet etiquette

Whether we are visiting a city as business travellers or as tourists, having breakfast ready and made available to us before leaving our accommodation is certainly an advantage: for sure we won’t be late for our appointments and we will be able to make the most of our trip. In the case of being away on holiday, the daily breakfast buffet will help us save a good amount of morning time that can be spent strolling by the seashore or catching the earliest rays of sun.

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For this and some other reasons, the majority of travellers appreciate the opportunity to enjoy the first meal of the day as a complimentary feature of their stay, as well as the peace of mind of knowing that they will find food they like amongst the wide variety of categories that hotel breakfasts usually offer, namely continental, American, Full English, Irish, gluten-free, vegan, Halal or Asian, just to give some examples.

Types of breakfast-included hotel rates

You will get the chance to enjoy breakfast at your accommodation in the following scenarios:

-You have booked your stay at a B&B: the owners or hosts at a bed & breakfast accommodation will provide fresh homemade-style breakfast every morning. Often times, and according to their degree of dedication, they will ask you in advance in order to offer a personalised breakfast that suits your taste and dietary needs.

-You have selected “breakfast-included” while making a hotel reservation: such option will automatically entitle you to access the hotel restaurant or dining area every morning to enjoy this complimentary meal.

-The hotel you stay at gives you the chance to have breakfast on site for a nominal extra fee: the difference between the previous case and this one is that here you will only pay for breakfast if you decide to have it and only on those days when you have it.

Regardless of their star rating and total capacity, hotel restaurants that serve complimentary breakfast for guests tend to get crowded during the morning, and based on our experience we have gathered a set of rules of behaviour that every traveller should follow.

Hotel breakfast buffet etiquette

-Hotel staff will generally give you the freedom to choose a table yourself in the dining area; once you have chosen your seat, keep coming back to it no matter how many times you get up to help yourself.

Use the tools and utensils provided so that you do not need to touch the food: keep in mind at all times that you are sharing it with many other people. If the containers are open, avoid coughing, sneezing or even talking directly over them.

-When taking pictures of your beautiful hotel breakfast to be posted on social media, take special care that other guests are not captured without their consent.

-If eggs, milk or your favourite type of cereal runs out, tell the people in charge politely and find out if they can bring out more. Since hotel personnel frequently supervise containers to detect this, this circumstance is uncommon; however, it might happen during peak-times or in hotels at full capacity.

-Fill your plate only if you will finish it up: it is preferable to get up several times rather than to waste food.

-If you cannot figure out how the coffee machine works or how to toast bread with the toaster, always ask the staff for help before running the risk of breaking the appliance.

-The big debate: taking away hotel buffet food or not? Many travellers see breakfast buffets as a chance to save money by stocking up on food (bread, cold meats, fruit, yoghourt, pastries, etc…) they can carry in their bags for the rest of the day. While it is true that nobody will blame you for taking those two extra muffins, shamelessly filling your bag with food from the buffet will be seen as greedy. Rather, you are advised to take advantage of the breakfast buffet and eat a bit more than usual before a day out exploring the city, thus making sure you won’t be hungry for a long period.

-Do not show up too late. Service may end at 11:30 am, meaning that you can access the breakfast hall even if it is 11:20, yet this would be somehow inconsiderate towards the kitchen staff or the B&B owners, who might need to exceed their working hours. Besides, in the case of buffet breakfasts, all you might find will be cold leftovers.

How to watch Netflix in your hotel room TV

In the not so distant past, when our hotel stay featured satellite TV channels we would already consider the service to be high-standard, especially if we had travelled overseas. Today, with fast access to worldwide news via the internet connection of our smartphones, this feature is no longer as appealing as it used to. That is why some hospitality chains are taking further steps to set a new milestone: making Netflix available for guests to use in their hotel room TVs. Come to think of it, being able to binge-watch your favorite streaming TV shows after a long, exhausting day doing business in a foreign city would certainly feel like home. Let’s take a deeper look at how this innovative hotel amenity works.

Which hotels have the in-room TV Netflix feature enabled?

For the time being, you can log into your Netflix account using the TV in your hotel room at select United States locations of internationally renowned hospitality chains like Marriott, Starwood, Best Western, Hilton, Four Seasons, Hyatt, Intercontinental and Wyndham. You may contact the property where you will be staying to ask whether the service is enabled prior to your arrival.

Accessing your Netflix account from your hotel room TV

If this amenity is indeed available at the location where you are staying, you will have to options to log into your account: pressing the Netflix button on the remote control or else looking for the Netflix icon on the main menu on the TV screen. Both methods will lead to the displaying of a login screen and a touch keyboard; all you need to do at this point is entering your e-mail address or username and password and start enjoying your binge-watching session. Well, before you do, perhaps you should order room service.

Are my personal details safe if I enter my Netflix account at a hotel?

Watching Netflix on the TV of your hotel room does not entail any risk, since all the information you enter to log in is automatically cleared up as soon as you check out. For your peace of mind, though, you may want to sign out before you leave your room by selecting this option from the main menu.

What if I don’t have a Netflix account?

If you are not a user yet, you can still sign up for a Netflix account during your hotel stay, which you will be able to access from your own electronic devices using your chosen credentials after you leave.

What can I watch during my trip?

It largely depends on how much time to spare you have before bedtime or an appointment, if you watch TV to relax and fall asleep or if you really want to make the most of your hotel stay and watch meaningful content. In case you simply can’t make up your mind, scroll down and browse the menu for documentaries, movies and series, search for a specific genre or actor or trust Netflix’s personalized recommendations.

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