I love holidays and I generally like hotel booking sites – they enable travellers to compare costs and facilities before making a decision. However, some sites bamboozle users with a raft of hidden charges that can add hundreds of pounds to the cost of a holiday.
I recently visited Ebookers.com to look for a hotel in Miami. A room at the Clay Hotel in South Beach was advertised at £62.88 a night for the week-long stay I'd requested. So the total should come to £440.16, right? Wrong. There was a compulsory "resort fee" of $56 (£36), bumping up the total to £476.16. What do you get for the resort fee exactly? Breakfast, a bottle of water in your room, wi-fi and some discounts at local restaurants – all the things you thought you'd just paid for, minus the actual bed.
Down the road, the Metropole Hotel costs £108.27 a night – so how much for a seven-night stay? £757.89? No. A further £80 is payable at the hotel, bringing the total cost to £837.89.
Ebookers told me the fees are a charge applied by hotels in particular "resort" destinations – including Miami. "These fees are controlled by and paid directly to the hotel, so are not included in the price paid to Ebookers," said a spokesperson, "Whilst these resort fees are paid upon check-out direct to the hotel and can't be paid in advance through Ebookers, we are letting our customers know what this cost will be upfront."
It was a similar story on Booking.com when I checked out the South Seas Hotel, also in Miami, where a seven-night trip would set me back £805. Or would it? No. The small print revealed that the hotel would expect me to pay a further 13 per cent tax plus a nightly resort fee of $15.82. This would bring the total cost to around £980, £175 more than originally quoted.
When questioned, Booking.com maintained that it was "easy" for customers to see what's included in the price displayed. After searching several pages, checking the small print and getting my calculator out, I'm not so sure.
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