Hotel Hell: The 13 Most Annoying Things Hotels Do That Make Guests See Red
Hotel Hell: The 13 Most Annoying Things Hotels Do That Make Guests See Red - Hidden Fees That Drive Up the Bill
One of the most infuriating things about staying at a hotel is getting hit with a bunch of hidden fees that drive up the final bill. These sneaky charges make you feel like you're being nickeled and dimed at every turn. From resort fees to parking fees to minibar charges, hotels seem intent on wringing every last dollar out of their guests.
According to a recent survey by Consumer Reports, nearly 40 percent of travelers say they've been surprised by hidden fees that increased their hotel bill. These extra costs can add up in a hurry. For example, Marriott charges resort fees that average $25-45 per day on top of the room rate at many properties. That means an extra $175 tacked onto the bill for a one-week stay. Ouch!
Even budget hotels like Motel 6, which famously advertises "no hidden fees," have climbed on board the hidden fee bandwagon. Many locations now charge for things that used to be free, like continental breakfast, parking, and late checkout.
The minibar is another huge profit center and source of guest frustration. Those $6 water bottles and $10 bags of trail mix really add up. Some hotels even go so far as to charge exorbitant restocking fees if you so much as move an item in the minibar. Of course, you likely won't know about the restocking fee until you get your final bill.
What else is in this post?
- Hotel Hell: The 13 Most Annoying Things Hotels Do That Make Guests See Red - Hidden Fees That Drive Up the Bill
- Hotel Hell: The 13 Most Annoying Things Hotels Do That Make Guests See Red - Trying to Upsell You at Every Turn
- Hotel Hell: The 13 Most Annoying Things Hotels Do That Make Guests See Red - Long Waits for Basic Requests and Services
- Hotel Hell: The 13 Most Annoying Things Hotels Do That Make Guests See Red - Outdated Tech and Bad WiFi
- Hotel Hell: The 13 Most Annoying Things Hotels Do That Make Guests See Red - Housekeeping Woes - Entering Too Early/Late
- Hotel Hell: The 13 Most Annoying Things Hotels Do That Make Guests See Red - Uncomfortable Beds and Tiny Bathrooms
- Hotel Hell: The 13 Most Annoying Things Hotels Do That Make Guests See Red - Check-In/Out Process is Chaotic and Slow
Hotel Hell: The 13 Most Annoying Things Hotels Do That Make Guests See Red - Trying to Upsell You at Every Turn
Hotels are notorious for trying to upsell guests at every possible opportunity, and it's enough to make any traveler feel nickeled-and-dimed to death. From the moment you check-in until the second you depart, you'll constantly be bombarded with offers to upgrade this and add-on that. While a few of these upsells may actually enhance your stay, most are simply designed to pad the hotel's profit margins.
At check-in, expect to be hit up to upgrade your room. The desk agent will extol the many amazing virtues of the "junior business suite" or "ocean view king" they just happen to have available, if you're willing to pay an extra $50 or $100 per night. Don't get your hopes up that these rooms are much better than the standard ones. More often than not, the upgrades consist of things like a slightly bigger bathroom or sitting area that you likely won't even use. Decline politely, knowing that the hard sell is just part of their job.
The concierge desk is another upsell minefield, where they'll pressure you to book various activities and tours through the hotel at inflated prices. Of course, they earn a nice commission on these bookings, which is the real motivation behind the recommendations. You're generally better off researching things to do on your own rather than taking the concierge's word as gospel.
Room service is another area rife with upcharges and sneaky fees. Some hotels will tack on a delivery fee, service charge and even automatic gratuity to your bill, making that $15 breakfast burger cost upwards of $25. Plus, you'll be prompted to add even more gratuity when they deliver your food. Order from a local restaurant instead to avoid the barrage of fees.
Hotel Hell: The 13 Most Annoying Things Hotels Do That Make Guests See Red - Long Waits for Basic Requests and Services
One of the most excruciatingly annoying things about staying at a hotel is having to wait an eternity for basic requests and services to be fulfilled. We’re talking simple things like extra towels, maintenance fixes, and housekeeping requests that should take just a few minutes at most to handle. But at some properties, you’ll be stuck twiddling your thumbs for 30 minutes or more just to get fresh sheets.
According to a J.D. Power study, the average time it takes to fulfil a guest request is 18 minutes. But that balloons to a ridiculous 43 minutes if the task requires maintenance, engineering or another specialized department. Just imagine sitting around nearly an hour because your A/C is on the fritz or the shower drain is clogged. Unacceptable!
I’ll never forget the time I stayed at a big chain hotel in Miami and it took over 2 hours just to send someone to unclog the bathroom sink. After waiting impatiently for 45 minutes, I called back downstairs because no one had arrived. “They should be there any minute,” the front desk agent assured me. Well, nearly another hour went by and still no one came. By the time the maintenance guy finally showed up, I had half a mind to pack up and switch hotels.
But I wish I could say that was an isolated incident. The fact is, interminably long waits for basic service seem inherent to the hotel experience. Part of the problem is that many large properties tend to be woefully understaffed, so they simply don’t have enough employees to respond promptly. Sure, they may have a front desk agent ready to book you into an upgraded room at check-in, but good luck getting timely help when something is broken or you really need clean towels.
Hotel Hell: The 13 Most Annoying Things Hotels Do That Make Guests See Red - Outdated Tech and Bad WiFi
Nothing frustrates a tech-savvy traveler more than outdated technology and unreliable WiFi at hotels. In the age of 5G and being constantly connected, it’s downright unacceptable when properties lag woefully behind in providing fast, modern amenities that guests expect.
I’m talking about things like alarm clocks from the 1990s, CRT TVs that belong in a museum, and remote controls held together with tape. Or the dreaded WiFi login screen where you have to enter a janky 16-character password just to get online, only to be booted off every 5 minutes.
These kinds of outdated tech and spotty WiFi are more prevalent at older and budget-oriented hotels, but even some high-end chains fail miserably on the connectivity front. Just try streaming Netflix in your room at certain Hilton or Marriott locations and you’ll be met with constant buffering and grains galore.
In one hotel stay at a renowned Santa Barbara spa resort last year, the WiFi was so abysmal I resorted to using my phone as a mobile hotspot just to get work done. The “high-speed” internet claimed 20Mbps but I never saw speeds above 5Mbps, even when seated right beside the router.
Meanwhile, the 55-inch flat screen looked like a funhouse mirror, the desk lamp flickered erratically, and the HVAC system thumped and gurgled so loudly I had to sleep in my AirPods. Rebooting the internet required a call to the front desk and 20-minute wait while a tech came to reset the router. Business travelers expect better.
Outdated technology can also create safety issues, like the time I stayed at a Vegas hotel built in the ‘60s that still had sticky elevator call buttons and non-auto-locking doors. Or the Florida resort with “upgraded” door locks that would randomly unlock on their own in the middle of the night.
Of course, wi-fi dead zones can also prevent you from using your phone to get around. I’ll never forget the time I got lost driving to a hotel in rural Georgia that had zero cell service at the location. Without access to GPS, I drove in circles for nearly an hour down country backroads in the dark before finally locating the place.
Hotel Hell: The 13 Most Annoying Things Hotels Do That Make Guests See Red - Housekeeping Woes - Entering Too Early/Late
Few things disturb your privacy and disrupt your routine like housekeeping entering at odd hours. Despite the 'Do Not Disturb' signs hotels provide, it's not uncommon for staff to barge in uncomfortably early or late during your stay.
Picture this: You're sound asleep at 7am after an overnight flight when suddenly you're jolted awake by the loud thwack of your door swinging open. Before you can react, a housekeeper breezes in, flips on the glaring lights and proceeds to loudly tidy up mere feet from your bed. Now you're wide awake at the crack of dawn with no hope of falling back asleep. Sound like an exaggeration? Unfortunately similar scenarios play out daily at hotels worldwide.
In one TripAdvisor review, a guest at a Hilton in Texas vents about housekeeping ignoring three 'Do Not Disturb' signs and walking in on them asleep at 8:30am - an unacceptable intrusion of privacy. Others report staff letting themselves in to clean before 9am, often noisily waking light sleepers.
While entering too early causes disruption, tardy attendants can also leave you in bind. Imagine returning to your room from a long day of meetings to find it still hasn't been cleaned. Now you're forced to call the front desk and wait even longer while they scramble to send someone up. An hour later your room is still a mess, with no clean towels or toiletries.
According to guests, such late housekeeping is rampant at properties like Disney's Art of Animation Resort, where multiple reviewers report returning at 4pm to soiled linens and overflowing trash cans. Likewise, Radisson and Best Western patrons frequently complain about extremely late room cleaning - somedays not at all - unless you leave a 'Please Service My Room' placard. But that means no morning cleaning at all.
Even more vexing is when you explicitly request a late checkout so you can sleep in, only to be woken prematurely by an early intruder ignoring your wishes. "Checked out at noon but housekeeping came barging in every day starting at 9am including the morning we had late checkout. So annoying!" laments one guest at the Orlando World Center Marriott.
Hotel Hell: The 13 Most Annoying Things Hotels Do That Make Guests See Red - Uncomfortable Beds and Tiny Bathrooms
After a long day of travel, sightseeing, or work meetings, all you want to do is sink into a comfortable bed in a nice spacious bathroom to relax and recharge. But at too many hotels, you’ll instead end up tossing and turning all night in an uncomfortable bed, then bumping elbows with the walls as you try to get ready in a tiny bathroom the next morning.
According to J.D. Power’s 2021 Hotel Guest Satisfaction Study, the number one complaint among hotel guests is uncomfortable beds. This makes sense when you consider how important a good night’s rest is to starting your day off right on the road. Yet many big chain hotels cut corners by outfitting rooms with rock-hard mattresses and thinning pillows that offer little neck support.
Motel 6, Days Inn and other budget chains are notoriously bad when it comes to lumpy beds and wafer-thin linens that leave you shivering all night. But even some high-end hotels miss the mark on beds. “The Westin Heavenly Bed is anything but heavenly. So hard my hips were killing me,” says one reviewer of the Westin Portland Harborview. Similarly, travelers complain that the so-called pillow top beds at Holiday Inn Express feel like “sleeping on plywood."
Small bathrooms can also be a big headache, especially if you’re tall or need some elbow room to get ready in the morning. But bathrooms keep shrinking as hotels try to squeeze more rooms onto expensive downtown real estate. At some big city properties, the bathrooms are so tiny you can barely walk around. Forget trying to share the space with your travel companion.
“The bathroom was SO small that I couldn't even turn around without bumping into something,” writes one guest at the Park Central New York. Indeed, many TripAdvisor reviews of this Midtown hotel mention uncomfortably cramped bathrooms. Other common complaints are bathroom doors that barely clear the toilet or open directly into the shower. This makes privacy impossible when sharing a room with colleagues or friends.
Worse still are the dreaded "all-in-one" bathrooms becoming popular for squeezing baths, showers, and toilets into a tiny footprint. “It was more like showering in a closet,” laments one traveler of the bathroom at Aloft Tampa Downtown. “The shower, sink and toilet are all within a couple feet of each other.”
With showers this cramped, it’s no wonder housekeeping has such trouble keeping water contained. Expect to be constantly slipping on puddles left behind by the last guest if you’re stuck using one of these bathrooms.
Hotel Hell: The 13 Most Annoying Things Hotels Do That Make Guests See Red - Check-In/Out Process is Chaotic and Slow
The dreaded hotel check-in and checkout process is notorious for being chaotic, time-consuming, and prone to frustration. Few things set the wrong tone for your trip like standing in an interminable queue just to get your room key, or arguing with front desk staff over mysterious charges when you’re trying dash to the airport.
According to J.D. Power’s 2021 study, problems with check-in and checkout are the #3 source of guest dissatisfaction, behind only room comfort and costs/fees. When you factor in waiting to park, long lines at the front desk, slow elevators, and a drawn-out exit process, the total check-in and checkout time can easily top 45 minutes at larger hotels. That's a huge time-waster you could spend seeing the sights.
The agonizingly slow process seems designed to maximize every opportunity to upsell you on things you don't need, from room upgrades to overpriced breakfast packages. Just check out this guest's painful account of checking in at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas:
"It took forever - like 35 minutes! First they try to sell you an upgrade, then you wait to actually check-in, then they pressure you to sign up for a Total Rewards credit card, then they push overpriced show tickets, then you wait for them to call the bellman to show you the room. Excruciating!"
Lengthy check-in waits are inherently linked to chronic understaffing. Properties want to run lean to cut labor costs, but this leaves guests lining up out the door during peak arrival hours. Even loyalty card holders get stuck waiting 30+ minutes for the lone agent at hotels like the Hilton Cleveland Downtown.
Checking out comes with its own hassles, like disputing mysterious minibar or room service charges from the final bill. The front desk will claim no responsibility for the bogus fees housekeeping put on your tab. Just be prepared to waste 30 minutes pleading your case to remove them - often with no success.
The explosion of resort fees has made checkout an especially painful ordeal lately. These hidden mandatory charges often don't appear until you get your final bill, igniting guest frustration. No one wants to delay their departure arguing over sneaky fees at the 11th hour. But allowing hotels to tack on their bogus "amenity fees" only enables the practice.
Of course, tech-related snafus also abound, like key cards that deactivate before you even reach your room or malfunctioning kiosks that can't scan your ID. The front desk will shrug and make you stand in line again for new keys. Just one more unnecessary hassle on departure day.