Hidden hotel fees

2012-07-27 08:01

Hotels have a way of lulling travellers into a false sense of luxury. If you're not sure what we mean, think of that time you checked your tired body in, headed up to your room and, with resistance low, decided to tuck into the snack basket and a beer or two. Come check-out time and you had to cough up R200 for a couple of treats that would perhaps have cost you R75 at home or your favourite local bar. 

Yes, hotels are a potential landmine of hidden costs, but if you're aware of them, it should all be plain sailing. Take a look at our top 12 hidden fees to look out for. 

Shuttle services

Most hotels offer a shuttle service to and from the closest airport. Although it may be assumed that the service comes free of charge, rather make sure before ordering it blindly.

Photo: Wikipedia


So, most of us know that the contents of the mini-bar are not there for our free consumption (if you didn't know, now you do). However, when checking out, make sure that some unconsumed beverage haven't made it onto the bill, as some hotels minibars are so advanced that merely picking up and putting down an item could trigger the sensors which add it to your bill automatically. 

There is always the option of asking for the little fridge to be emptied before your arrival, so you can stock it up with self-bought (much cheaper) beverages and snacks of your choice, but this could also lead to a restocking fee. 

If this bothers you at all, check what exactly the deal with the minibar is before going to the hotel, and if your bill tells you any different be sure to get a manager involved. 


Valet parking comes standard at the average hotel, but some charge a fee and some don't. Before handing over your keys, make sure you know what the deal is! 


Ah, few of us can live without internet access - even if it's just for a few hours - now can we? Fortunately there is practically not a single hotel or a lodge, for that matter, that doesn't offer some sort of connection. While many do offer a limited amount of free access per day, some do still charge just to connect. Make sure of the costs involved at the front desk, and if you're worried you might get ripped off, opt to take your own mobile internet device along instead (e.g. Vodafone dongle)

Photo: Shutterstock

Gratuities for room service and housekeeping

Tipping is a courtesy, and one that should be practiced generously if the service is good. However, since some people aren't well versed in courtesy, many hotels have gone as far as adding s housekeeping and bellhop service fees to the bill in order to make sure that staff get their fair share out. Make sure what your hotel's policy is before double tipping, or even worse, not tipping at all. 


If you're the active type, you're probably going to want to get those muscles working in the in-house gym, or what? While it would make sense that this facility is open to all guests, and free of charge, this is not always the case. Make sure if there are any costs involved before heading in there and getting an exorbitant surprise on your bill at check out. 

Luggage holding

So you want to use your last few post-check-out-pre-airport-transfer hours to go exploring, but don't want to do it while trailing your bag along behind. Getting the hotel to hold your luggage is probably the most obvious choice, but what will it cost? Normally it's free, but before rushing out and blowing the last bit of your budget, ask the front desk what you could expect to shell out for the few hours. 

Check-in changes

Travel plans changed at the last minute? Some hotels may charge you for checking in late, or changing a booking, which is quite understandable. But, be aware of the fact that being overly punctual could also get you into some trouble, as some hotels charge extra for an early check-in. 


Before assuming that you can cancel your reservation a day or two before you arrive, read your hotel's cancellation policy carefully. You may be penalized the price of a night's stay (or more).

Photo: Shutterstock


These days the hotel room telephone is the epitome of a white elephant. With even toddlers carrying mobile phones to keep in contact, chances are slim you will be required to pick up the receiver and dial a number. However, if for some reason (maybe an intense moment of nostalgia), you do decide to make a call, just don't talk for too long. The charge is normally per minute and can add up to quite a lot. 


The front desk will ask you which newspaper you'd like to read in the morning, once again, this offer may sound delightfully free, but most of the time you will actually have to pay for the convenience. Small fry, yes, but still something to be aware of. 

Swimming pool towels

Thinking of taking some time out next to the pool? Don't be surprised if they charge you for the use of a towel. Once again, it's sure not to be a large amount, but it could still surprise you when you receive your bill at the end of your stay. 
Have you ever experienced a hidden hotel cost? What was it and how d

Read more on:    hotels  |  travel tips  |  travel international

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside Travel


#FindYourEscape with Traveller24

Your insider guide to exploring South Africa and the world...
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.