You want a hotel to be your ‘home away from home’, but many aspects of hotel pricing and policy are anything but homey.
Here’s what you need to know –
– You get the best rate by calling the hotel’s local number, not the 800 number. The 800 number usually links callers to an off-site, centralized call center that only has the standard room rates. You’re better to call the hotel directly and instead of asking for the reservations desk, ask to speak with the manager on duty, the general manager or the director of sales. They have the authority to negotiate room rates.
– Rooms are more expensive in the morning. The best time of day to make a reservation is right after 6PM. This is when hotels wipe out all the ‘no-show’ reservations that were unsecured by a credit card. They then offer those rooms at bargain rates.
– Everything is negotiable. Think parking is overpriced? If the lot looks half empty, offer less than the daily rate. Planning to make a lot of phone calls? Some hotels offer a per-day flat fee for local and long distance calling in the US (usually $9.95), but you must ask for it.
– Rooms are available even when a hotel has no vacancies. In any large hotel, a few rooms are usually listed as ‘out-of-order’ at any given time. The problem might be something as simple as a stain on the carpet or a chair that has been sent out for repairs.
If you’re desperate for a last-minute room in a hotel that claims to have none available, tell the manager you are willing to take an out-of-order room with a minor problem.
– A thief takes one credit card, not your entire wallet. It’s no secret that crime is common in hotels. The new twist is that some hotel thieves now take just one credit card when they find a wallet in a room, and leave everything else untouched. Often, the victim doesn’t notice the card is missing until the credit line is maxed out.
Travel only with the credit cards you really need, and check your wallet carefully if you accidentally leave it unattended.
– It pays to tip the housekeeper every day. Exchange a few pleasant words with the housekeeper if you see him/her, and leave a $2 or $3 tip each day. You’ll get better service. Housekeepers are the most overworked, underpaid, underappreciated people in hotels.
Knowing the housekeeper also reduces the chances that your room will be burglarized. Dishonest housekeepers are less likely to target guests they have met. And if a thief enters your room while it’s being cleaned and pretends to be you (a common ruse), the housekeeper will be able to spot the impostor.
– Your bags aren’t safe with the bellhop. Even in elite hotels, luggage can be stolen right off the luggage carts in the lobby. And the hotel assumes no legal responsibility for the loss.
If your bag is going to sit for more than a few minutes, ask that it be placed in a secure room. Keep valuable items in the hotel safe.
High-end luggage might impress fellow travelers, but it also impresses thieves. The cheaper or uglier your luggage looks, the greater the odds that a thief will target someone else.
– Hotel rooms are infested with germs. Certain items in hotel rooms never get cleaned. Trouble spots include the TV remote control, telephone and clock radio. Travel with a package of antibacterial wipes and clean these items when you arrive.
Also, while reputable hotels provide fresh linens, bedspreads might be cleaned only once every few months. Ask for clean blankets as soon as you arrive.
– The ‘lost and found’ is a great resource for cell phone users. If you use a cell phone, odds are that someday you’ll forget to bring your recharging cord or lose it in transit. If you’re staying in a hotel, there’s no need to buy a replacement. Recharging cords are the No. 1 item left behind in hotel rooms. Most hotels are willing to lend chargers from their lost and found.