Hotel Room Fees Exposed!


Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono /

I opened the hotel room door to find a flyer labeled “Express Check Out” laying on the floor. Our vacation was over, and it was time to settle up with the hotel for our accommodations. I opened it up and sat down on the bed to examine it for accuracy. The daily room rates were as expected, but there were so many different taxes listed that I began to wonder exactly what those amounts were for. Normally I just assume the hotel is charging the government required taxes, but I was feeling especially frisky that morning and decided to verify each additional tax with the person working behind the front desk.

Who I’m sure was just thrilled with my questions.

State Tax:

Many states treat hotel room stays as a product and not a service, thus subjecting them to the state sales tax. Other states just impose an occupancy tax on hotel rooms. This is essentially the sales tax for the room.

Room Tax:

This is a tax imposed by the city in which the hotel is located. The intent of this tax is to fund tourism marketing and promotions for the surrounding area including brochures and information services.

So far so good, chalk these fees up to normal life as a tax paying American. But then it got a little more interesting.

Resort Fee:

There was a $9.95 per day Resort Fee which covers things such shuttle service, wifi access, and the activities held in the hotel’s large atrium. These are all things that are listed as amenities that are included with your stay, but in reality each guest PAYS for them whether they use them or not!

Package Tax:

We signed up for a Summer Splash Package. As listed, the package includes:

  • Tickets to a ski show ($87 value for my family)
  • Tickets to a wildlife park ($70 value for my family)
  • Tickets to the resort’s Indoor Theme Park ($100 value for my family)

They said that we could get this Summer Splash Package for only $10. Sounds like a GREAT deal, right? After further investigation, we found that the ski show and wildlife park tickets are given to all guests this summer regardless of whether the Summer Splash Package is purchased. Plus, while the package only cost $10, there was a Package Tax of $45 on my bill as well. So in reality, what we really got was the Indoor Theme Park tickets regularly priced at $100 for $55. Still a savings of $45, but not nearly the awesome deal it was portrayed as.

Premier Resort Fee:

This fee is so mysterious that the desk clerk didn’t even know what it was. She referred me to the Past Guest Services department and gave me the number. I called it and left a message, but at the time of this post I had not yet received a response. Hopefully I can post the answer in the comments.

The next time I stay at a hotel I’m going to insist to have explained to me what fees will be added, and what they are for. I doubt that any of these fees are negotiable, but I definitely frown upon a fee being added for services that I may not use. I’m certainly not going to pay a fee if they cannot explain what it is.

I challenge each of you to do the same. You may be surprised by what you are being charged for.

Do you have any stories about being charged some crazy fees? Lemme have ’em in the comments below!

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18 Responses to “Hotel Room Fees Exposed!”

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  1. Those hotel fees really do jack up the cost of the stay. Here in Nebraska, ours is one of the highest in the country – almost 20% in taxes. We’re going to Vegas in January and they charge a crazy $28 resort fee per night. Thankfully, it’ll be paid for with rewards points. 🙂

    • Travis says:

      Wow, 20% in taxes is crazy! Is that a combination of the State and Local taxes (I hope yes)? Reward points would definitely take away the pain, John – thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. Michelle says:

    I hate resort fees. Usually they are $30 to $50 a night at some of the hotels that I’ve been to. UGH!

    • Travis says:

      Holy Hell, I hope you actually get something for that kind of daily fees, Michelle. I can’t even imagine what a hotel could give me that would be worth $50 a night!

  3. Wow, that is a real eye opener!!! I had never really explored anything beyond room charges or just the cost of the room. I will be checking that out from here forward! Great post!

    • Travis says:

      Knowledge is power, Suzanne! I plan on making sure all fees and charges are explained to me ahead of time…and then cross checking with the bill that I receive. Fees like a “resort fee” is just another way of hotels increasing revenue without formally changing their room rates!

  4. You were feeling “especially frisky that morning”? And you dealt with it by examining fees? You clearly never watched “Happy Days” : )

  5. Bryan Logan says:

    I think I’ve stayed at the same place before. Is this the one where the TV actually has _EVERY_ channel as a premium channel? That’s right, want to watch some “Nick Jr.” for 15 minutes while getting the kids ready for the day? Unlock the channel for just $10!

    Another thing to confirm when checking in is to make sure you’re getting all the things promised to you. All our “access” was on a card, so it’s not like we were be given out armbands or tickets for anything. The person didn’t mention the indoor theme park upon check-in, and I asked her about it. “Oh, I don’t see that included.” I brought up the PDF of the flyer (that I saved locally, they had changed it later online) that had it.

    • Travis says:

      Doesn’t sound like quite the same place, Bryan, as they didn’t charge extra for any of the TV channels. I wouldn’t put it past any hotel to try that little scheme – although I would expect heavy resistance from guests since cable TV is pretty much expected at this point. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  6. The Warrior says:

    I’m going to one-up ya here (unfortunately).

    Forgive me for not knowing exactly what the numbers were but there are close.

    Mrs Warrior and I went to Austin, Texas for a wedding. I booked the rental car for around $100 for 3 days. I knew it wouldn’t be “that” cheap but I was way off. When we arrive at the airport and walk to the car rental desk, the guy tells me it is $240. WHAT?!?!?! I did add the insurance coverage which was about $40 (later learned my credit card covered that…woops), but it was the taxes that were the big hit. There was an airport fee and a state and city tax. I can’t remember whether it was state or city, but one of the taxes was 40% for tourism. Absolutely ridiculous. I’ve learned to always ask all applicable taxes and fees when getting a rental car these days.

    The Warrior

    • Travis says:

      Great example, The Warrior…..I’ve had a similar (although less extreme) experience with car rental. I can’t believe the taxes and fees ended up being MORE than the actual car rental fee! Thanks for sharing your experience!

  7. radarkaty says:

    I booked a room for my cousin and his son at a local hotel when they were visiting, since my house would not accommodate the extra people. I booked online to get the 15% discount and had a total of $146.22, including the taxes. The day he checked in, I was told it was 149.21. I asked why the difference? My online receipt – from the hotel’s own website – said something different. Clerk said, It’s the safe fee for $1.50/day. He waived the fee and I paid what my online receipt total said.

    • Travis says:

      Good call on questioning the extra fee, radarkaty! It may not seem like much, but it’s also about the principle. If you are told one price (especially if you have a receipt!) and then they charge you another, that’s nothing short of a RIPOFF! Thanks for sharing, radarkaty!

  8. Stefanie says:

    Wow! Some of that sounds a pretty shady. I’ve often come across fees for newspaper delivery or safes (neither of which I have a need for) and they’re easily removed at checkout.

  9. Angella says:

    Yikes, that’s a lot of fees! We recently went to Florida for a wedding and spent three nights in a hotel. When I called to make reservations I was given the nightly fee and requested the tax rate (12%). Thankfully no other fee’s and it came out right on budget. The rental car on the other hand was a whole other story…fee’s left and right, crazy high deposits, etc.

    • Travis says:

      The interesting thing about this hotel is that their website says each room is taxed 11.5% per night. BUT after adding in the resort fees, it ended up being more than that….which is one of the things that made me take a closer look at my bill. You’re the second person to mention rental car in a comment…..maybe I’ll have to do a second post on that subject! Thanks for commenting, Angella!

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