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31 Mar 2022

Expensive hotel add-ons to watch out for (and how to avoid them)

From new 'discretionary' service charges to £33 room service sandwiches, beware these pricey pitfalls

Booking a hotel for the night doesn't come cheap and that's before you factor in extra charges.

Whether it's pricey resort fees or eye-watering car parking, it's easy to rack up a huge bill for your stay.

And some hotels are charging the earth for those little extras. Here we reveal some of the steeper extra charges we've found.

Hotel breakfast charges

Rooms at the Dorchester start at almost £1,000, so you'd expect them to at least throw in a complimentary croissant. No such luck.

A continental breakfast of juice, yoghurt, fruit, toast and pastries will cost you a whopping £38 per person - and you'll have to fork out an extra £9 for coffee.

Much better to pre-book the bed and breakfast rate - an extra £50 when we checked - which bags you a full English breakfast for two people. Better still, try the local greasy spoon.

View to a bill

Who doesn't love a room with a view, whether it's a stunning seascape or a city panorama. Just beware that your nightly room rate could skyrocket for the privilege.

When we checked, a room at the Four Seasons in London was £330 extra to overlook Westminster or the park.

If you want to feast your eyes on the full panorama at the Carlton Hotel in St Moritz Switzerland, you'll have to book the penthouse. The top-floor suite, with five balconies, enjoys 360-degree views of the idyllic lake and the Swiss Alps. Prices start at around £12,000 a night, but you'll get personal butlers and a 24-hour limousine service thrown in too.

Most hotels will have a public terrace or a restaurant with a view, so dodge the extra charges and hang out there instead.

On a tight travel budget? Beware these six mistakes that will burn through your holiday cash

Pricey parking

Some hotels will charge extortionate prices for one of their coveted spaces. For example, the Hyatt Grand Central New York offers valet parking for $80 (£61) a night - and you'll be charged an extra $10 if your vehicle is deemed oversized.

It doesn't even include in/out privileges - meaning even after you've paid a small fortune, you can't come and go as you please.

Parking apps can help you find cheaper off-site spaces or call ahead to see if the hotel offers any packages or discounts inclusive of parking. Better still leave the car at home and use public transport or rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft.

Room service rip-offs

Tempted to order an in-room snack? A simple club sandwich (chicken, bacon, egg, salad and mayo) will cost a princely £25 at Claridges in London - and that's before you whack on the £5 supplement for in-room dining and 12.5% service charge.

That takes the price to an eye-watering £33. Booking website Hotels.com used to produce the annual Club Sandwich Index to show how far travellers' money will stretch around the world.

Geneva topped the final table in 2015, with the average triple-deck butty costing almost £20. Make sure to check the price - including taxes and fees - before convenience gets the better of you.

Room rate service charges

Some hotels have started adding a service charge to your room rate, separate to the percentage added for food and drink orders. Because the charge is 'optional' it's often not disclosed in the advertised price.

For example, when we checked, a junior suite at the Connaught in London was the best part of £2,000 - inclusive of VAT. However, click on the information icon and it tells you that this excludes a 5% discretionary service charge. This would add another £100 to your bill.

A similar pop-up advises of the same charge for the Mandarin Oriental in London. Check your bill closely on check-out and ask for the charge to be removed if you're unhappy.

Mini bar mark-ups

Most of us know better than to raid the hotel mini bar, however peckish we get. The most expensive mini bar item ever recorded may be a bottle of Louis XIII Grand Champagne Cognac at the Intercontinental Amsterdam, priced at u20ac3,500 - nearly £3,000.

It was shared by blogger John Ollila on travel website Loyalty Lobby. The bottle is displayed in a glass case, which must be opened by a member of staff - hopefully preventing any costly spur of the moment mistakes. Stock up on supermarket refreshments in advance to avoid temptation.

Sky-high resort fees

Common in New York and Las Vegas, these sneaky fees are added to your stay to cover amenities like wifi and gym access - whether you use them or not.

The most expensive we found was a $150 (£114) per day charge for a family of four at the Fisher Island Club and Resort in Miami Beach, Florida. This does however include access to the spa, golf course and private beach.

When using booking sites, click through to the payment page to check the final price. Also read the small print to avoid any nasty surprises on arrival. Some hotel loyalty schemes, like Hilton Honors, will waive resort fees for members.

Laundry heists

Hotel laundry services are notoriously expensive. One disgruntled guest was so shocked after a stay at the Hotel La Cisterna in Tuscany he shared the price list online.

Each T-shirt was charged at u20ac2.50 (over £2) while a pair of pants or socks was u20ac1 each, meaning a modest load would cost around £25. And that doesn't include even tumble drying. Much better to use the local launderette or rinse out your smalls in the sink.

See our expert tips to save money on your next hotel booking