I’m a budget kinda guy. If I need to crash somewhere in a foreign city, I’ll pick a cheap motel or a discount hotel like Holiday Inn Express.
The places are cheap, have free parking, fast check-in, usually free breakfast, free wireless Internet, free wake-up calls, and free maintenance when something in the room breaks (by accident, always). Sometimes they even have free shuttles from the airport if you are flying in (saving you an expensive taxi ride).
Contrast this with the five luxury hotels I’ve stayed at in my adult life. Each hotel was upwards of $200 a night, and you would think with paying that much for a room, the costs would end there. Nope.
Here are some of the extra costs I found associated with more expensive hotels.
No Free Parking
Want free parking? Sorry, none of them offered it. If you park the car your self, you’ll pay at least $20 a day.
If you want valet, you’re going to pay lots more.
And none of the hotels offered shuttle service from the airport, so it was either a rental car (plus parking expenses), a shuttle (not too pricey, but cramped), or a very expensive cab ride from and to the airport.
Checking in isn’t any faster
I arrived at one luxury hotel at 1am in the morning. I was expecting to just breeze in and get some much needed sleep. However, even at 1am, the check-in line was ten people deep.
With only one person checking people in, the process took about a half-hour.
Not everything in your room will work
In one of the hotels I was staying at, the shower head didn’t work. At another, the air conditioning had to be set at 55 degrees fahrenheit just to get the temperature comfortable.
At another, the toilet wouldn’t flush properly.
You’d think that paying $200 plus a night for a room that everything would work, right? Not the case in my experience.
Want free Internet? Dream on.
Two of the hotels I stayed at offered “free” wireless Internet in the lobby. I was like, “Great, I’ll just work in the lobby.”
One had power outlets out the wazoo in the lobby, but (wait for it), none of them worked. At this particular hotel, connecting to the free wi-fi also seemed slower than my Internet in the 90’s when I was only getting a 14.4 connection out of my dial-up modem.
I ended up paying for Internet in my room. Some charged $10 a night, while one I was at charged $30 a night.
Like breakfast? Eat at IHOP.
None of the places I was in had free breakfast. Want a sunny-side-up egg breakfast? $15. Want a cup of coffee? $8.
Waking up thirsty and need some water? Well, there’s some in the fridge for about $5.50 a piece. At that price, you just drink out of the bathroom faucet and hope your stomach can handle the tap water.
Breakfast at all the hotels approached insane on the pricing scale.
Granted, the free continental breakfasts at most cheaper hotels aren’t stuff to brag home about, but at least you can get filled up fast and back to what you need to do without monitoring your credit card statement.
Free wake-up calls? Kinda.
All of the hotels save one offered free wake-up calls. One charged about $10 for a wake-up call. Add that up over a three or four night stay, and it’ll make you want to pay more attention to your alarm clock.
And finally, I got charged for maintenance.
While staying at one hotel in Greenville, South Carolina, my bathroom sink stopped up. I just let it go, but when I woke up in the morning, it was still backed up.
I called maintenance, they came in, and fixed it. And lo and behold, there was an extra $30 added to my hotel bill for the fix. It didn’t matter that I was checking out that day and could’ve just ignored it (I could’ve brushed my teeth in the shower!).
Okay, I lied.. One more thing. Meals and drinks.
Most of these nice hotels offer some kind of restaurant or bar. Expect to pay three to four times as much for these places.
At a few hotels (they called themselves resorts), it was impossible to get off-site. So I had to eat at their in-house restaurant. I went for the cheapest thing on the menu, which was a cheese burger ($22). And for $22, you’d think the cheese burger would be the greatest thing ever. I’ve had better at Fuddruckers for a quarter of the cost.
I don’t work in the hotel industry, so I’m not sure why the more expensive hotels keep nickel-and-diming you after you’ve already paid so much for a room. While, on the other hand, the cheaper places can offer so much more for free.