Watch Out For These 14 Hidden Hotel Fees

Fodor’s posted another helpful list of hidden hotel fees to beware of the next time you travel. In most cases, these fees fall under the practice of “negative option billing,” meaning that there’s an assumption you’ve used the related service and therefore agree to the charge. If that’s not the case—or, in the case of gratuities, if you’ve already tipped—you should definitely ask the hotel to remove such fees from your bill.

  • Groundskeeping
  • Towels (other than room—e.g., pool or fitness center)
  • Business center, fitness room
  • Safe
  • Housekeeping, bellman gratuity fees
  • Water and newspapers
  • Energy surcharge
  • Early check in or out/extended cancellation
  • Shuttle service
  • Baggage-holding
  • Bartenders
  • Room block fees
  • Mini-Bar
  • Random incorrect charges

Fodor’s point out that federal law requires such “hidden” fees to be disclosed “clearly and conspicuously.”

If extra fees aren’t clearly stated in the reservation conditions when you book online or over the phone, you should inform the hotel they are violating the law and politely but firmly ask for the charges to be removed. Obviously you now need to read the fine print conditions when you book online, and should ask if any extra fees are billed when you book over the phone.

“14 Hidden Hotel Fees to Avoid “ [Fodor’s]

“10 Annoying Hidden Hotel Fees”
(Photo: pixeljones)


Edit Your Comment

  1. parad0x360 says:

    Call me crazy but shouldnt most of those charges be what the original room fee is for?

    What next, will we pay for a room and then get billed for using the bed?

  2. urabl says:

    If I remember correctly, Sheraton will charge you 75 cents a day to NOT get USA Today at your doorstep every morning.

  3. peggyhill says:

    don’t forget the 75 cent USA Today or other local paper rag…

  4. AnneofAndover says:

    I will be staying in a hotel for one night for a layover next month. We will arrive sometime around 7:00 pm and leave around 7:00 am the following morning. We will be charged a resort fee of 10% of the room rate. When I made the reservation I questioned this fee as we will not be using any of the resort features but I was told it is mandatory and cannot be removed. Even though it goes against everything I believe in, I went ahead with the reservation as this hotel was the best deal closest to the airport. I imagine they have a captive audience at this particular hotel becuase of the location and people just suck up this fee, but is a resort fee really mandatory or should they remove it if I complain at the front desk?

  5. DeltaPurser says:

    @urabl: Actually, it’s the other way around… If you inform them when you check in that you DO NOT want the paper, they will DECUCT 75cents per night. Makes more sense, but it’s still trivial…

  6. Chris Walters says:

    @parad0x360: WHY DO YOU HAVE TO GIVE THE HOTEL INDUSTRY FREE IDEAS?!? I’m almost certain we’ll see that “additional” charge now within the next 12-18 months.

  7. snoop-blog says:

    the fee that i hate the most, (though i understand the purpose) is the extra adult fees. it just ticks me off for some reason. i think at some point, it is unfair to the consumer to nickel and dime for every extra service. it would just seem smarter to charge everybody for all or the majority of services/fees in the price of the room. if they didn’t use all of them, you just made out pretty good. and it doesn’t make you look like a douche of a company. it makes you look like you actually offer free services. (though we know NOTHING is free, it’s all about the illusion.)

  8. DCGaymer says:

    The hidden fee that catches a lot of people visiting San Francisco is parking…the major hotels downtown charge $45.00+ for overnight parking…in fact for some hotels just eating dinner onsite while parking your car will incur the overnight parking fee….We had guests join us for dinner at the Tonga Room and added the valet parking charge to our bill…the hotel added $31.00 for the convenience of inviting our friends to dinner. A relative bargain compared to other hotels……but still peeving.

    In San Antonio, there’s a convention/tourism tax of 13%. That can get steep quickly if you’re there for 4 or 5 days.

  9. Trick says:


    I will be staying in a hotel for one night for a layover next month. We will arrive sometime around 7:00 pm and leave around 7:00 am the following morning. We will be charged a resort fee of 10% of the room rate. When I made the reservation I questioned this fee as we will not be using any of the resort features but I was told it is mandatory and cannot be removed. Even though it goes against everything I believe in, I went ahead with the reservation as this hotel was the best deal closest to the airport.

    Can’t say I wouldn’t do the same under the same circumstances but this really explains why the hotel gets away with such things.

    If you, I or anyone else voted with our wallets, told the hotel to take a flying leap and why you are not staying with them, they have no reason to change.

    These kind of hotels know that people are just going to suck it up and take it up the rear, that is why they continue to do these type of things.

    Best Buy is a perfect example. They make it clear the customer sucks and they will rip you off no matter what, yet people keep on on going.

    I don’t… I refuse to buy from Best Buy and have converted many people from not doing so… but that is just one small battle victory. The war is probably lost.

  10. jonworld says:

    I just got back from Grand Geneva resort in Wisconsin and I noticed on the bill they lumped all these little fees together into a nice all-inclusive “resort fee”…now I’m paying for even more things that I didn’t use, such as access to their pool (which was closed, drained, and covered in snow).

  11. mynameisnate says:

    I am going to the Bahamas this week and staying at Atlantis. I’ve heard of flat resorts fees, but they charge a resort fee of $15 per PERSON per DAY. Plus, a flat service fee PER PERSON per STAY for tips and gratuity. Plus the traditional 12-18% tax. Ridiculous, a $500 a night stay becomes over $625 just like that. They better have darn good waterslides.

  12. Chris Walters says:

    @Trick and @AnneofAndover: Michelle Delio at Fodor’s discusses this at the end of her article, although I think it can take a bit of guesswork to figure out what’s really the best deal when you try to factor in convenience, location, pricing transparency, etc.

    Stay at hotels that charge a fair rate for a room and facilities, rather than a bogus low rate which they then jacked up with an assortment of dubious additional fees.

    I would still try to get the front desk to remove the fee, especially if any of its “resort” facilities (pool, gym, office area) are closed during the hours of your stay. Although they may refuse, if will fulfill your obligation to deal directly with hotel management before you contact their corporate offices to escalate the matter.

  13. MoCo says:

    Another fee to watch for is a fee that is disguised as a tax. Watch for “tourism promotion assessment” or similarly named fees. They are often very small, like 50 cents per day, so few people question these fees. They are fees that are forwarded to the local tourism promotion organization and they are not legally mandated taxes at all. If you ask about them, the hotel will remove these fees, but few people ask.

  14. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    Can’t some of these be kicked off with a credit card dispute claiming the fees were not disclosed “clearly and conspicuously”?

  15. jdame says:

    @mynameisnate: The auto tipping at Atlantis is annoying because it applies to EVERYTHING. If you buy a pack of gum at the gift shop, there will be an automatic tip added in(at 18% i believe). There will also be a line on your receipt to add in extra tip if you so choose.

  16. Alger says:

    “Random incorrect charges” are a “hidden fee”?

  17. timmus says:

    Timmus’ Top Ten Hotel Charges we’ll see by 2020.

    1. “Random Adult Movie” Billing Error Insurance $4.85
    2. Guest Visitation Fee $5.25
    3. Bathroom Sewage Disposal Fee @0.80/log $3.20
    4. Bathroom Sewage Pipe Analysis Staffing Fund $3.25
    5. Remote Control Energy Usage $0.14
    6. Shower Enclosure Urine Damage Fee $24.50
    7. Free WiFi Surcharge $8.95
    8. Luggage Trolley Collision & Damage Waiver $19.95
    9. Sleeping Charge $4.50
    10. Electronic Access Key Technology Convenience Fee $9.95

  18. AaronZ says:

    What exactly ARE you paying for in a hotel room basic fee? When they charge a “resort fee” (wtf is that?), a water fee, an ~energy~ fee, cost for extra towels, etc.
    Seriously, what is the base $150/night going towards if they’re just charging you for every little thing in the room (and out) anyway?

  19. Employees Must Wash Hands says:

    I just think it’s ridiculous that I’m writing this post using $9.95/day hotel internet.

    Hotels know that it’s a reimbursable charge for most business travelers, and that’s why they continue to charge for it rather than give it away for free, because why not?.

    I can understand that the bottom of the barrel places want to be no-frills (which is why, say, Red Roof Inn sells their access via T-Mobile). But it blows my mind that a $150/night or more place tacks it on for ten or fifteen bucks a day.

  20. MrEvil says:

    In Texas if the hotel charges a fee for the safe then the hotel is responsible for any items that a guest finds missing from their room. The law is pretty clear on the matter (for a change). So I doubt you’ll find many if any hotels in Texas charging a fee for a safe. Any hotel I’ve stayed in in Texas that had a safe in the room did so without charge.

    In my experience more of the upscale chain hotels charge all the bullshit fees. I stay at Best Westerns for the most part and apart from state and local taxes they don’t tack any of that stuff on the bill.

  21. Corydon says:

    Some things never change, as our friend Thenardier from Les Miserables reminds us (I can’t believe no-one else thought of this!):

    Residents are more than welcome
    Bridal suite is occupied
    Reasonable charges
    Plus some little extras on the side!

    Charge ’em for the lice
    Extra for the mice
    Two percent for looking in the mirror twice
    Here a little slice
    There a little cut
    Three percent for sleeping with the window shut
    When it comes to fixing prices
    There are a lot of tricks he knows
    How it all increases
    All those bits and pieces
    Jesus! It’s amazing how it grows!

  22. Made the mistake of staying at the Imperial Palace whist on a severely budgeted trip to Vegas. They charged $1 per person, per night to turn the phone on. Didn’t matter if you used the phone or not. We paid 12 bucks for the freaking phone to have the ability to be used.

  23. FLConsumer says:

    @MrEvil: You know, that’s the sad part — it’s the expensive hotels which charge these extra fees (and don’t offer free internet) while the budget hotels don’t. Doesn’t seem right, does it?

  24. Snarkysnake says:


    Actually, the biggest rip off in the Bahamas is the electricity surcharge. It’s steep- came to $68 for me -ONE PERSON- back in December for a week. Until that swindle is done away with,I will not be going back to Freeport. Electricity is a cost of doing business. It should be included in the quoted rate. Period.

  25. mike says:

    Hotels are becoming like BB/CC: Make the room cheap and affordable…then tack on the “extras”.

    That’s where they make the money.

  26. gisgt says:

    Yay, Les Miz!!

    Everybody bless the landlord!
    Everybody bless his spouse!
    Everybody raise a glass
    Raise it up the master’s arse.
    Everybody raise a glass to the master of the house!

  27. vastrightwing says:

    Speaking of hotels: go to youtube and search “hotel glasses”. Be prepared to be sick!

  28. thatgirlinnewyork says:

    Guests at W Hotels are automatically charged for the daily (and crappy) USA Today left at their door, unless they specifically request to not receive it–the jacket in which they insert your card key at check-in details this policy in 4 pt type.

  29. yikz says:

    @Chris Walters: I’ve done this. Last year, I stayed at a major resort on Hilton Head. I was given a good room rate. They didn’t tell me the hotel was under construction. They drained the pool while I was there. Construction was going on the entire time. Saws, jackhammers, air nailers all going from 7am to 4pm every day. They ended up comp’ing a portion of my stay, and credited me a bunch of hotel points. All of this was due to a well-constructed email complaint to their corporate headquarters.
    Paying these hotels money also means you have the right to b*tch when you experience poor service. And that often means they will compensate you back in some way.

  30. LankanDude says:

    Can someone please post the link to the federal law regarding negative option billing?
    I would like to take a copy of this with me next time I go on a vacation.

  31. LankanDude says:

    Anyway found this link.
    don’t know if its the right one

  32. Blueskylaw says:


    LOL, thanks for a good morning laugh, especially the Free WiFi Surcharge.