Posh hotels: why do they make us hate them?

Posh hotels? No thanksIn a recent Sunday Times article, Matt Rudd had an entertaining rant at the things that wind him up in high class (or at least high price) hotels. I think most of us will agree with his sentiments. He listed these 7 things that really upset him:

1. The quote

2. The bellhop

3. The show-around

4. The minibar

5. The television

6. The internet

7. The Do Not Disturb sign

I recommend reading Matt’s article to see what he has to say about these points, although I am fairly sure you can guess most of them without looking further.

I have stayed in a good mix of hotels, from the posh 5 star places (mainly with work) to the humble guest house. There is little doubt that the places where I leave feeling a complete lack of goodwill towards the establishment and its owners are almost always the high-end hotels. With a few exceptions I have typically left feeling as though I have been navigating shark infested waters rather than enjoying the luxurious calm of the sea that is pictured on the hotel’s website. Why does it have to be so difficult? Is it me? Am I just very tight-fisted, or do others have that same irritation of being fleeced at every opportunity?

My biggest gripes are similar to Matt’s:

Internet: how a hotel can justify charging $20+ for internet access when a motel across the road offers it for free is beyond me, and I simply don’t buy their flimsy excuses about the cost of the infrastructure and support.

Parking: if you want to make someone feel welcome at your exclusive hotel, is there a better way than to charge them $25 a day on top of the $200+ they’ve already paid, just to park their car in an open air parking lot? It’s an outrageous robbery.

Minibar: charge what you like, I don’t care as I never buy anything from it. But to start charging me for moving something just to fit my water bottle into your tiny fridge? It is petty, nasty and must leave a bad taste in the mouth for everyone.

Service charge on the final bill: if you want to take more money from me, just include it in the room rate. I might not notice it and it certainly won’t irritate me as much as when you try and take if off me at the end. Please, pay your staff properly, work out what your running costs are, set your prices accordingly. I don’t need to know the details of your business, just don’t ask me to subsidise your wage bill.

Aside from the hotel’s own sins, there are unavoidable nuisances of staying in the best places in town. Taxi drivers will charge you double or worse because they assume you’re loaded, and if you ask advice about restaurants or activities you will be inevitably steered to the places with the highest prices. Yes you can get round this, but I find the stress it creates for me just makes me wish I’d stayed somewhere else.

There are thousands of people who flock to the nicest hotels. Clearly they are highly sought after, or they wouldn’t be able to charge what they do. So maybe I have to put it down to me and my own preferences. Not that I don’t like nice things. Give me the luxury of a club class flight anyday; personal attention, good food, great comfort and best of all, no-one asking to be tipped or trying to extract anything extra from me once I’ve paid my fare. As for a luxury hotel? I’ll take the attitude and welcome of a good guest house anyday.

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8 Responses to “Posh hotels: why do they make us hate them?”

  1. Twenty-five dollars a day for parking? Consider yourselves lucky! This easily runs over $40 in central business districts.

    As long as these 4-star type hotels were catering to the expense account crowd, as well as to the leisure luxe rich, these types of fees were probably not a big issue. Now, that these hotels are opening their doors to the rest of us by deep discounting due to cash flow problems in this economy, unseemly fees have become a big issue in guest satisfaction.

    If they don’t want lower TripAdvisor ratings than the by-the-hour motel down the road, deluxe hotels should address the fee problem.

    February 2, 2010 at 7:02 pm Reply
  2. Hi Don, Thanks for stopping by and posting. Yes, you make a great point. If your business model revolves around guests who are on expenses and so don’t care about the charges, you can pretty much print your own cash. Now that we are back in the real world where companies are actually checking how their costs are racking up on travel costs, these hotels are being exposed. Let’s hope they get the message, and if TripAdvisor helps to force them into reality then all power to it.

    February 2, 2010 at 7:42 pm Reply
  3. Personally our family is a Super 8 fan. Cheap, Free Wifi, and breakfast every morning. For work sometimes I have to go to a higher class hotel, but it isn’t as good as Super 8.

    February 3, 2010 at 3:28 am Reply
  4. I was recently in Dublin where one of the hotels I attended a conference at was charging 20 Euro for Internet per day. My hostel room was 9 Euro and that included wi-fi! Fees like that drive me insane.

    February 3, 2010 at 12:43 pm Reply
  5. Super 8 are great. Cheap, clean and perfect if you just want to check in after 9pm and be out at sunrise. Some of them even have a pool! And best of all, from my limited experience of maybe five or six motels the staff treat you like a human being.
    €20 is about the going rate Anil. Like you say, it’s crazy. They would generate a much better public perception if they just absorbed the wi-fi costs into their room rates (it really wouldn’t be much)

    February 3, 2010 at 6:34 pm Reply
  6. Can’t agree more! I once stayed at an upscale resort that charged $30 PER DAY for internet acess! I had to head out to the nearby McDonalds to logon. There is no doubt that I’m never going back to that resort. There are many more hostels and guesthouses that tend to have much faster internet access with no extra charge. Give me a cheap hostel room with great service, anytime!

    July 5, 2010 at 5:39 pm Reply
  7. Carl #

    I quite agree about the charges for the Internet and mandatory service fees, resort charges and the like. Access to the Internet should be provided to guests just like water and electricity are provided. Use of water and electricity actually creates a cost to the hotel. Internet access is a fixed cost that does not vary based on use. And the mandatory service fees and resort charges are simply deception so that the hotel can advertise a lower rate, and then charge more. If the charge is required, it should be part of the room rate.

    I don’t mind paying for parking at city locations where space is scarce. There is no reason that if I am not driving a car I should be subsidizing a guest who does need an expensive car parking space. What does irritate is if a hotel is in a suburban or country location where free parking is common, but they work with the local authority to ban street parking and then charge guests $25-30 to park there. I nominate the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay, near San Francisco for extortion in this manner. The hotel is not accessible without a car. The road leading to it could easily offer street parking, and in fact, I have seen the valets use this street to park cars when at capacity, but overnight parking is prohibited without a permit, and they charge guests $30 to park.

    July 5, 2010 at 5:48 pm Reply
  8. What does it say about the ethos of guest care in a property where their customers are forced to go to McD’s to save $30 for internet access? It’s damaging to the brand, and plain wrong. No question.

    Carl, your description of hotels taking over the neighbouring streets and imposing a no-park zone just to cream off the parking fees is an appalling and contemptous way to treat guests. When will people start voting with their feet and avoiding these places until they start to act with decency to their guests?

    Thank you Nellie and Carl for your comments.

    July 6, 2010 at 10:55 pm Reply

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