Legal thievery: The scams & rip-offs built into nearly every hotel bill
Most major hotel chains don't want you to know their industry's dirty little secret: they will rob you blind, and they even do it with your permission
Yes, this bottle of water being provided "as a service to our guests" in a San Juan, Puerto Rico hotel costs a mere $7. Now that's what I call service! (Tip: suck it out of the tap in the bathroom sink ten feet way and it's free.)
Six main hotel rip-offs
• the minibar
• the telephone
• the parking garage
• the breakfast
• the laundry service
• the taxesI have nothing against hotels, but some of their common charging practices are so sneaky as to almost qualify as criminal. Almost.
This page is not about outright thievery—that rare front-desk clerk who will try to slip in an extra night's charge on unsuspecting guests (in 25 years of international travel, that's happened to me precisely once).
All of the rip-offs listed below are perfectly legal; they're just not very nice. And, I should point out, by a huge margin it tends to be the pricier establishments that do this, not so much (or at least less flagrantly) the smaller mom and pop hotels, where extra charges are often nominal and quite reasonable.
Many hotels, though, try to squeeze every Euro they can out of you beyond the cost of the room. Because, hey: once you're booked in, you're bound to get thirsty and give into the temptation of that Coke in the minibar, or want to phone some great-sounding restaurant to make reservations for the evening or (God forbid) make a quick call home, or wash some of those clothes you've been wearing for a week, or you may eventually want to, you know, eat breakfast or something.
And then they have you.
Let the fleecing of the unawares begin!
Here are six main hotel rip-offs—and, more importantly, how to avoid them:
the hotel minibar
the hotel telephone
the hotel breakfast
the hotel taxes