Outrageous Hotel Charges: 13 of the Worst



Author: Oliver Smith

After a British businessman was charged £75 for three bottles of water at The Wellesley in London – due to a “minimum spend” rule in the hotel’s bar – we look at other shocking charges around the world.


This must be the most irritating of all hotel fees. If virtually every modern pub and café, not to mention the majority of hotels both large and small, are able to offer free Wi-Fi, why do a handful still feel they can justify charging for it? And the charges aren’t small. Earlier this year, Telegraph Travel found that hotels expect guests to fork out as much as £6 for a single hour's access (thank you Mandarin Oriental), or £19.50 for 24 hours (The Dorchester). Many more hotels claim to offer free Wi-Fi, but then limit the bandwidth, leaving guests with the option of spending hours trying to view a single episode of the Sopranos, or paying extra for a “premium” service .

And it’s British hotels that are among the most stingy. A survey of thousands of hotels across Europe carried out earlier this year found that around 90 per cent now offer entirely free access, but, of the 10 worst cities for free Wi-Fi, three - Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester - were British. On average, just 64 per cent of hotels in Manchester were found to offer it.

Mini-bar prices

Everyone know that the mini-bar should be avoided at all costs. But occasionally, usually following a day’s sightseeing in the summer heat, you just cannot resist the lure of that crisp, refreshing in-room G&T. You then cough up the first gulp as you notice the prices on the menu. How did the chap who wrote this keep a straight face? £10 for a thimble of Bombay Sapphire? £4 for three inches of Pringles? £6 for a jar of macadamia nuts?! The website Oyster.com managed to track down some of the most egregious examples, which included $80 for a box of chocolates (Peninsula Beverly Hills) and $25 for bottled water (Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago).

Even more annoying are the fridges that have been deviously armed with sensors that automatically charge your room if you dare to move an item – surely a cunning way to prevent you from buying bubbly at the local supermarket and keeping it chilled in your room for later.

There have even been reports of hotels charging a “mini-bar restocking” fee, on top of the cost of the drinks you’ve had.

Room service

The prices barely fall when you order from room service. Take the humble club sandwich, for example. Research by Hotels.com recently found that hotels in Geneva charge up to £25.82 for them. In the Swiss city, lovers of the chicken, bacon, egg and salad creations will find themselves forking out £19.46 on average – putting it ahead of Paris, where it typically costs £17.53.

Other costly destinations to feature in the study included Helsinki – where a club sandwich costs £14.54 – Stockholm (£14.36) and Oslo (£14.21). London came fifth in the study, with the sandwiches priced at £13.53, on average .

And according to research by TripAdvisor, a can of Coke costs up to $7.72 in Oslo's hotels.

Tea and coffee

If Travelodge can offer free (though admittedly cheap and unappealing) in-room tea- and coffee-making facilities, then so should every hotel, particularly those that have already charged you hundreds of pounds for one night's accommodation. However, many do not. They would rather charge upwards of £5 per person for a couple of tea bags, hot water and a splosh of milk, plus an unavoidable room service fee.

The cost of fancy afternoon teas if equally ridiculous. Considering the food is akin to what they serve at a village cricket match or a meeting of the Women’s Institute (coronation chicken sandwiches and cake), how can prices as high as £51.50 per person (step forward Brown’s Hotel, London) possibly be reasonable ?


One of my worst hotel breakfast experiences was in the posh restaurant of the Xenia Hotel in London. Cucina Evolution (which claimed to be, ahem, “a new food culture in which pleasure and wellbeing, art and science, creativity and technology harmonize to give an elixir of long life”) insisted on covering everything with blasted flower petals. An unnecessary accompaniment even to my dinner the previous evening, their appearance on top of my fried eggs and hash browns was utterly ridiculous. Perhaps it helped them justify the £20 price?

Research earlier this year found that the average hotel fry-up in Britain costs £11.60, placing it behind only Singapore, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands. The most expensive in the country? The Jumeirah Carlton Hotel in London, at £39.

Is it any wonder we all sneak croissants, bread rolls and bananas in our backpacks for later – it’s the least we deserve!

Spa treatments

You’ll need another massage after forking out for spa treatments at the world’s five-star hotels. At the Bulgari in London, to name just one, a 90-minute facial costs up to £270 (or £600 for the “delux” option), and a one-hour massage costs £130 (or you could make big savings by opting for the 90-minute option; that’s just £180). More intriguing is the two-hour “synchronised four-handed massage” – a snip at £570 – and the 90-minute “emotional healing with the modern day wizard” - £600 well spent.

Resort fees

Common to hotels in the US – particularly Las Vegas and Florida – these charges, which can be as high as $60 (£35) a night (hats off to the St Regis Bahia Beach Resort in Puerto Rico) are ostensibly for use of hotel facilities – such as the gym - but cannot be avoided, even if you don’t set foot on a treadmill for the during of your stay.

Late check-out/early check-in

For every hotel that offers leniency when it comes to a late check-out, there is one that will insist on charging as much as £20 an hour. If your room being occupied for an extra hour was really a problem, surely it wouldn’t offer the service at all, rather than trying to squeeze an extra score from you before you exit the building?

Hidden VAT

I experienced this after staying at the Hilton Park Lane . A cocktail that was advertised as £20 in the bar became £24 when I paid the bill, because VAT wasn’t included. Ludicrous.

Charitable donations

A modern phenomenon that has reportedly gained traction in the States. I don’t want to sound like Ebenezer Scrooge, but if I want to give to charity, I’ll do it myself – don’t add an optional donation to my bill. It’s not optional, because who has the guts to stand at the head of the queue at reception insisting that a charitable donation is removed from their bill?!

Best of the rest

On-demand films – £10 to watch Adam Sandler?

Laundry fees - £15 to wash and iron a shirt?

Towel deposit – fees of up to £10 have been reported, payable if you accidentally leave your towel by the pool.


This article was written by Oliver Smith from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.