Kate Simon: Those hotel charges that are just too much to bear
Sunday 16 January 2011
Fancy a short break? These bracing winter days are just made for a refreshing jaunt to the city or countryside, as takes the fancy.
But how much will the hotel you're thinking about staying in really cost you come checkout time?
That's the interesting question posed by a survey just released by Lastminute.com, titled "Holidays Unpacked". It says that hanging around your hotel for too long can be bad for your wallet, because you'll soon be totting up extra charges you hadn't banked on – about £32 per day across the UK, rising to £51 in London.
The travel and leisure website asked more than 2,000 people about what they feel they have paid through the nose for during a stopover, and sent in mystery shoppers to about 60 four- and five-star hotels across the UK to discover what is deemed a chargeable "extra".
The top complaint was about paying a supplement for a Full English, with Lastminute.com naming and shaming a selection of London hotels for their exorbitant pricing of this essential morning fuel for the short-breaker. The biggest offender was deemed to be The Langham London, which is said to charge £30 for a fry-up.
Other popular moans included the inflated price of refreshments offered in minibars, single-room supplements, high phone tariffs, room service tray charges and, a gripe familiar to this column, demanding payment for access to the internet.
It's hardly surprising that tourists – from home or abroad – feel ripped off when what you might be given for free in one establishment can cost you a pretty penny in another. For example, why did one large hotel chain charge me £5 for only an hour's Wi-Fi access, while the family-friendly guesthouse just up the road – which surely has tighter profit margins – gave it to me for free for the whole of my stay? And what possible justification did one five-star London hotel have for charging me a staggering £10 for bringing dinner to my room? Hiking prices is never good, but naked profiteering is another matter altogether. And that was just what was going on at one top Manchester hotel that I visited with my family a few years ago when, while browsing the children's menu, we found the dish of the day was "Heinz Beans on Toast", price £6.99. Now, that's what I call a rip-off.
Surely, the best value for money at the moment can be found in Dorset, where Eype beach, near Bridport, on the famous Jurassic Coast, was put up for sale for £1 last week by West Dorset District Council. But before you get too excited you should be advised that this stretch of sand doesn't generate any income and comes with "management costs and legal liabilities".
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