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A few months ago, I did a post and video on my top 13 air travel annoyances. This is a continuation of that series, with this list focused on hotel annoyances and pet peeves. Whether you’ve paid a resort fee or been disturbed by a noisy neighbor, I’m hoping you can relate to some of these issues.
1. No safe in your hotel room
I always prefer to keep my passport in the hotel safe and a photocopy in my wallet when traveling abroad. This method works well until you check into a hotel that doesn’t have an in-room safe. Or even worse, has one that doesn’t work properly.
You usually have a few options in this situation. One is to ask the front desk to lock your valuables in their main safe. This works well but usually means that you won’t have access to your items until the end of your stay.
The second option is to lock your valuables in your suitcase, which isn’t very secure. If you going to lock your suitcase at the hotel, I recommend using a non-TSA friendly luggage lock since it’s possible to open TSA-approved locks with a special key.
The third option, which I prefer, is to use a portable safe. These are generally made from cut-resistant materials which should deter the basic or casual thief.
2. Lack of plugs in the hotel:
This drives me insane. Oftentimes, the only accessible plug is along the side of the bed or hallway. This is a horrible place for your phone or tablet, especially if you visit the bathroom when the room is dark.
There are a few ways to get around this issue. One is to use USB ports on devices like the alarm clock and TV. Some TVs have to be on in order to power the port, while others provide a constant charge even when off.
Another method is to charge devices using a large USB battery pack, then charge the battery pack during the day. I did this during a homestay in Vietnam when six people in my travel group shared one outlet.
Also, I do have two gadgets that help with addressing a lack of plugs or those in inconvenient locations.
I recently got a cool device that allows you to charge an iPhone on the outlet. It’s called the Orbit iPhone Charger, and it’s made from a company called Hip Product Factory. I think it’s a sleek and compact solution, especially if you’re worried about stepping on your phone at night.
The other device is the Anker PowerPort Cube. It’s a portable power strip that’s shaped like a cube and includes three main plugs and three USB ports with their proprietary PowerIQ system.
3. Noisy hotels:
This has been an issue for me on many occasions, even at fancy hotels. I’ve been woken up in the middle of the night by drunk hotel guests yelling in the hallway. I’ve also had situations where I stayed in a hotel and could hear the elevator passing by my room from the wall. Since I’m a light sleeper, it felt like torture!
If you can’t get a new room or don’t want to bother with having to move, I suggest a low tech solution: earplugs. I bought a large pack from Amazon and they work great. In fact, I currently have a noisy neighbor living in the apartment below mine that wakes us up at 5 AM. We now keep a few pairs of earplugs on our bedside table and always carry a pair while traveling.
Also, when given the option of specifying room preferences, I recommend requesting a quiet floor or a room away from the elevator. It doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get a quiet room, but it’s worth trying.
4. Erroneous charges on your hotel bill:
Hotels are notorious for adding all sorts of charges to your stay. Newspapers, tourism taxes, and parking charges are just a few examples. If you find yourself in a situation where you are disputing the charge, and the hotel is unwilling to work with you, I suggest NOT signing the receipt or invoice. By doing so, the hotel can still charge you, but you can work with your credit card issuer to dispute the charge.
This happened to us last year in Mexico. We only stayed one night at our initial hotel and checked out early due to unresolvable issues with the room. The hotel insisted on charging us five days of resort fees. I was willing to pay for one day, but not the remaining days. Luckily, I filed a report of my situation with Chase and they were able to adjust the charge on my Sapphire Reserve card.
5. Expensive drinks and snacks:
There’s nothing worse than opening a water bottle in your room and finding that the bottle costs $5. I recommend checking or asking before opening any drinks in the room. Also, many hotel minibars use sensors to detect when something is consumed. The problem is that the sensors can be tripped if you happen to take out drink to examine it or move things around.
This happened years ago when I got a small bottle of prosecco and wanted to chill it in the room. I put in the minibar and moved a few items around in order to make space. Though when I was checking out, I noticed several charges on my account.
There are a few solutions to this issue. A lot of hotels will allow you to get the minibar locked which is useful if you have curious kids. I’ve even heard of people taking photos of their minibar to document what they’ve used or haven’t used. If anything, be careful with moving anything in the minibar and look for any extra charges on your final bill.
6. Resort fees:
I find resort fees to be ridiculous. It’s essentially a mandatory fee that’s charged separately from the booking rate, making it seem lower than the actual cost. You can sometimes get the hotel or resort to waive the fee, especially if you’re not using the services that are supported by it (e.g., parking, golf course, pool). Though in most cases, there is no way around it.
7. High prices for basic services:
When I traveled to Southeast Asia, I had the hotels wash and fold my laundry every other day since I had packed lightly and it was so affordable. The cost was around $1 per bag of laundry. At that rate, it made more sense than washing my clothes in the hotel sink or bathtub.
However, the low laundry prices at hotels did not last when I arrived
I decided to do a quick Yelp search online and found a local cleaner a few blocks away that had good reviews. After venturing down the street, I found the shop. It ended up being only a few dollars to have my clothes washed and folded.
I had a similar experience with transportation to the airport. When I was in Costa Rica at the Andaz Papagayo, I asked about getting a taxi from the hotel to the airport. Based on my online research, many local operators were charging less than $30 per person for the ride. I was surprised when the Andaz concierge quoted me $50 per person for the ride to use their preferred driver. I decided to arrange it myself and save money.
8. No iron in the room (or dirty irons):
This is an issue that I used to encounter when traveling for work. I would be rushing in the morning to get ready, only to find that there wasn’t an iron in the room, or even worse, it was dirty. I remember getting marks on my uniform when I was in the military due to starch residues on the iron.
A good tip for dealing with wrinkles is to hang up your clothes in the bathroom when showering. The steam and humidity should help with removing the wrinkles. You might be able to avoid ironing all together with this technique.
Also, I recently discovered merino wool dress shirts. I got one from Hardvark that’s lightweight and wrinkle resistant. We did a post/video on merino wool clothing a while back and discussed why it’s a great fabric for travelers. I never thought about merino wool dress shirts, but it makes sense. My
9. Low water pressure:
I hate to sound high maintenance, but this one drives me crazy. I’ve been to some nicer hotels where the water seems to sprinkle out of the showerhead, extending my time in the bathroom.
There isn’t a realistic solution to this problem. My only recommendation is to shower during off-peak times. For example, if you notice that the water pressure is low in the morning, it’s likely that other guests are also showering at the same time. This contribute to lowering the overall water pressure at the hotel.
10. Pitches for timeshares or vacation clubs:
We did a post/video on this topic a while back, but it’s honestly something that annoys me. I’ve been to many hotels where I’m told that I’ve been selected as a “VIP”. It usually follows with instructions to stop by the concierge to pick up a free gift. I’m given a bag of swag and goodies, but then I’m told that I need to take a tour of the “VIP properties and services”.
This happened when I stayed at the Sheraton at Black Rock in Maui. I ended up giving back the bag and told them I wasn’t interested. I wasn’t trying to be rude, but I’ve been to too many presentations to know that there’s always a catch. Since I feel like my vacation time is so valuable, I hate wasting my time being pressured to buy a timeshare or vacation club membership.
Also, have you ever won a free hotel night or vacation, only to find out there are strings attached? Just like my earlier point, don’t fall for it! Fiona and I recently went to a local wedding show that was hosting a giveaway for a free vacation to Hawaii. Guess who won? Both Fiona and I received separate calls saying that we were one of the winners, even though we entered separately. It was obvious that everyone that entered was a winner. More importantly, it was a ploy to get people to go to lucrative presentations during their trip.
It’s like the old economic saying: “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”
11. Late check-out fees:
When we traveled to Las Vegas for our Death Valley trip, I was surprised that our hotel didn’t have any flexibility for a late checkout, even with our Hyatt status. They did offer some options, but all were pricey. Since our flight wasn’t until the late afternoon, we opted to have the hotel hold our bags instead. Most hotels will offer this service without any extra charge, so it’s worth asking if you’re unable to get a free late checkout.
When requesting a late checkout, it’s better to ask on the day of your departure. The front desk won’t know
Additional tip: I recently heard a story about a couple that checked out of their hotel by simply leaving their keys in the room. They were surprised to get a bill a few weeks later for additional nights of stay. They found that someone broke into their room after seeing them leave and was able to use the keys. Rather than checking out, they were charged for extending their stay.
I always assumed that the keys would deactivate, but apparently, they don’t. Make sure you are officially checking out of the room. And instead of leaving your keys in the room, leave them at the front desk. It’s worth reviewing your final bill at the front desk too in case there are any discrepancies.
12. Confusing policies:
I dislike it when hotels have policies that affect some guest but not others. An example is the Hyatt Place policy for breakfast. I love the Hyatt Place brand, and I’ve been able to find great redemption rates at them. The hotel used to offer a basic free breakfast during your stay. However, in 2018, they changed their policy. Only members of the World of Hyatt loyalty program who book their reservations directly with Hyatt are eligible for the free breakfast. The hotel now has someone checking your eligibility as soon as you enter the breakfast area.
Needless to say, the policy is confusing. For example, suppose you have status with Hyatt, but you used the Chase Travel Portal to book your stay. This means that you would not be eligible for the free breakfast.
It’s an extra hassle for both the visiting hotel guest and the staff that has to enforce the policy. I wish hotels would keep it simple and make these types of benefits and services inclusive for all guests.
13. Not getting the points for your stay:
This is for
I recommend verifying during check-in that your loyalty number is listed in the booking. This is especially important if you booked from a third party site like the Chase Travel Portal or Expedia. The front desk will be able to confirm it. It might even remind or encourage them to give you additional perks or upgrades for your loyalty status.
While I probably sound crabby for putting together this list, I still love staying at hotels.
What are you travel pet peeves and annoyances when staying at hotels? Do you have any other tips?