Have you noticed how much it cost to stay in a nice hotel these days? I bought a house for less.
If you add up the daily rate for a moderately priced hotel room, such as a Hilton or a Marriott, the 30-day total would be more than twice my monthly mortgage payment. That doesn’t seem quite right. And what’s worse, the room rate is not really the room rate. It’s the room rate less the service fees, the gratuities and the stick-it-to-you-when-you-leave charges.
For example, a few weeks ago, I was staying in a moderately priced hotel and ordered room service. Between you and me, the only real difference between room service and eating in the hotel restaurant is that someone brings it to your room. It’s certainly a nice benefit and it allows me to avoid the embarrassment of eating alone while others wonder what’s wrong with me, but is the walk from the kitchen to my room really worth 30-50 percent more?
I don’t think so. In fact, I estimate, even in the biggest hotels, that we’re only talking about 10 minutes round trip. If I was in the restaurant, I’d be taking up a table for nearly an hour and the waiter would have to attend to me the entire time. And when I’m alone, I require a lot of attending to so I don’t look like a social outcast or a loser.
So at best, the difference between the restaurant and room service is a wash.
I ordered the hotel’s Grand Burger. Burgers, I’ve found, seem to be the most consistent item on the room service menu. Fish, soup, and salads are not. They are, however, consistently smelly, bland and wilted. And for what it’s worth, once the fish smell rides into the room, it never leaves—no matter how far down the hall you take the plate.
The hamburger cost $14, a markup of about 300 percent over regular hamburger joints. Then, I paid an 18 percent service charge, a $3 delivery fee, and another 10 percent in taxes. The total was $21.47… for a $14 hamburger.
And that’s only a small part of this extra fees the nicer hotels lay on you. They stuck me with an Internet fee of $14.95 per day. That’s an expensive charge to update my Facebook profile and see what Lady Gaga did that day on TMZ. There was also a parking fee of $35, which did, luckily, help me avoid a $20 cab ride. And while they graciously accepted a few boxes I shipped, they charged me $12 per box as a handling fee that involved only that—handling it to me over the counter.
I’m telling you, it’s hallway robbery. The nicer the hotel is, the more they fee you to death. How can the cheaper hotels offer you many more services for less cost?
When I go to a Hampton Inn, I get free Internet, free parking, and a free hot breakfast with variety that includes egg discs, endless coffee and make-your-own waffles that emit a haunting aroma of oil and sugar. And there is no room service charge at the Hampton Inn because they don’t offer room service. So there.
Oh sure, the sheets and the walls are thinner and the bar of soap is Ivory rather than some oatmeal infused exfoliating hybrid. But those grainy soaps give me a rash anyway. And while the towels at a Hampton Inn can be scratchy and the bedspread sometimes smells like my grandmother’s attic, I’m still not surprised by a service fee, handling charge or gratuity when I check out.
Plus, as a bonus, I don’t have to watch television in cheaper motels because the conversations and activities I can hear in the next room are entertainment enough.
I think the nice hotels have gotten away with deceiving us for too long. Don’t charge us the endless add-ons. Instead, tell us the rate and we’ll pay it. If we’re not surprised, we’ll be happier. We’ll even leave the light on for you.
Note: This paragraph represents 10 percent additional content that I require of my readers when they open one of my columns or articles. These words offer no additional value to the original column but simply add space so that I can meet my word limit without having to actually write something of value. This is essentially my literary service fee and suggests that my words are of more value than a lesser-experienced or cheaper writer.