Hotels offer a variety of services, but many of them are ala carte. Make sure you find out if they are included in the price of the hotel or if they are extra. Here are a few:
Airport shuttle: Some hotels are starting to charge a fee for this usually complimentary service.
Bellhop/housekeeper gratuities: Sometimes called a service charge or service fee, and it covers gratuities for bellhops and housekeeping staff
Bottled water and snacks: Call the front desk before indulging in "complimentary" bottle of water that the hotel has left on your desk. It could cost you upwards of $5. Ditto for fruit plates, cookies or other munchies.
Cancellation: Before assuming that you can cancel your reservation a day or two before you arrive, read your hotel's cancellation policy carefully. You may be penalized the price of a night's stay (or more).
Checking in and out: Got into the airport early or have a late flight? Some hotels will charge you a fee for checking in early or checking out late.
In-room safe: Some hotels are charging guests just for the privilege of having a safe in their room, even if it's never opened.
Internet: Almost all hotels, especially those serving business travelers, offer high-speed Internet and Wi-Fi services. Costs vary widely; while many hotels offer complimentary Internet access, others charge per minute or per day, so be sure to ask before logging on. Also, note that some hotels charge for Wi-Fi by device, not by room -- so if you're using your iPad and your spouse is surfing the Net on a laptop, you may have to pay double the fee.
Luggage holding: If you need the hotel to store your bags for a few hours after you check out, they might charge a fee.
Minibars: There are a number of different fees associated with minibars -- even if you never eat or drink any of the goodies inside. Picking up an item and putting it back can trigger the minibar's sensors, immediately adding the price of the item to your bill. On sensitive machines, even jostling minibar items as you add your own food to the fridge can incur a charge. And if you try to avoid the hassle entirely by calling ahead and asking the minibar to be emptied before your arrival, beware -- you could be charged a "restocking" fee.
Parking: Mandatory valet parking can easily add $25 a day or more onto the cost of your downtown hotel -- and don't forget the tip.
Resort fee: This surcharge runs anywhere from $10 to $60 per day and can cover a wide variety of services and amenities, such as a business center, a pool, a gym, daily newspaper delivery, housekeeping or "free" local calls. Even if you don't use any of these services, you'll still get stuck with the tab.
Taxes and other local charges: Taxes are no huge surprise, but be careful about extra fees to pay for local building projects or tourism marketing efforts? Hotels often pass on these mandatory charges straight from the local government to you.
Telephone: Study your hotel's list of telephone charges carefully. Some hotels charge for local and toll-free calls, while others do not. You may occasionally be charged simply for dialing, even if your call is never connected.
Towels: An extra towel at the pool could cost you an extra buck or two, particularly if you bring it back to your room with you
The Independent Traveler: 6/4/15