Whether one decides to go on a cruise stay at a hotel or even a lodge, there’s bound to be amenities that are available for use. In general, the term refers to a feature that the place-in-question offers which it encourages those who are staying to take advantage of either to pass the time or for the sake of convenience on the guest’s part. While most of these are advertised as being free, there may be a few underlying rules that contradict this notion. For instance, some items may be free under a package deal that requires one to pay extra for it but not for those who pay the regular booking fee.
Then there are cases where some services are available at one place but not another, so one shouldn’t assume the service-in-question is available just about anywhere to avoid future problems or complaints for that matter. Additionally, some items that used to be complimentary such as toiletries and towels are no longer the case in certain places due to the excessive amount of hoarding that some guests have done. Therefore, it’s important to read between the lines when it comes to “Free” amenities since there may be an unexpected catch to them.
25 Toiletries - Up for Grabs (Sort of)
An umbrella term for things like shampoo conditioner soap and lotion, toiletries tend to be the more common items that are taken from hotels by guests. In fact, “A recent Travelocity survey found 86 percent of hotel guests admitted to taking toiletries” according to Elliott Advocacy. Since they don’t have price tags, it’s easy for people to assume they’re free. Plus, they’re convenient things to have in general. But “While some of these products come with a small fee, others are free of charge” CheatSheet states. So depending on the item-in-question, it may or may not be free.
24 Card Keys - Don’t Have to Return Them
When checking into a room, not only does one get the card key to their room but also a deadline for when the key should be returned by. Because of their importance, most people don’t think twice about losing their key or missing the return deadline for that matter. Yet "Magnetic card keys may be recyclable” Elliott Advocacy claims, meaning that even if a guest loses their key or doesn’t return it the key can be replaced. So in cases like this, guests don’t have to necessarily return their card key on the deadline which is the day of departure.
23 Credit Card Hold - Might Want to Check That Before Doing It
Because traveling comes with a variety of expenses, people will often pay for them on a credit card as an easy way to cover them. Additionally, “Most hotels put a hold on credit cards to cover any incidentals” according to CheatSheet. This way, a guest’s bank account is protected from things like fraud or unnecessary charges. It also ensures that the hotel will get paid for its services since they’re the ones putting the card on hold. With that said, it’s “A good idea to ask how much that hold is and when the funds will be released” CheatSheet advises.
22 Running Club - Isn’t Heavily Advertised
Depending on their popularity with guests in general, some free amenities get more promotion than others. Some examples of this include running clubs which “Aren’t heavily advertised” according to CheatSheet. Though it’s not clear why this is the case, we can speculate that it probably has to do with the fact that this would only appeal to people who enjoy running which make up a relatively small minority in all the guests that stay at a hotel at any given time. Plus, it would only be worth investing in if one plans to stay for an extended length of time.
21 Comforters and Blankets - Not Always Clean
Before a new guest arrives in a room, it’s assumed the cleaning staff of any given hotel automatically wash the bedsheets and whatnot to get rid of the germs of the last guest who stayed there. Yet the truth is that, “While hotels change the sheets for new guests, they don’t always wash the comforters and blankets” as stated by CheatSheet. So while the bed may look clean on the outside, it might not be in actuality. Therefore, CheatSheet advises that it wouldn’t hurt to “Ask for a clean comforter and blanket” upon checking into the hotel just in case.
20 Rental Yoga Mats - Don’t Know Who Touched Them Last
Though traveling can be exhausting in of itself, it can also result in laziness in terms of one’s eating and exercise habits. For most people, this is not a big deal. But “For those who like to get a workout while traveling, several hotels have complimentary yoga mats” according to CheatSheet. While most of them can only be rented, a few hotels give their yoga mats away for free. Now this may seem convenient for those who weren’t able to pack a yoga mat before going on their trip, one has to consider whether they are actually clean or not.
19 Free Weights - Maybe just go to the gym instead
As part of a daily workout, some people might do a combination of stretches on a yoga mat and weightlifting. Now compared to yoga mats, which are light and easy to pack, weights might be harder to bring along on a trip depending on how heavy they are. Fortunately, some places like “Hyatt hotels provide free weights to guests” Business Insider states. With that said, there are a lot of hotels that have fitness rooms with weights of various sizes in them. So what would be the point in getting free weights when there’s already a complementary fitness room available?
18 Board Game Competition - Not a High Selling Point
Though board games are generally seen as an old-fashioned form of entertainment, they have made somewhat of a comeback recently due to the implementation of digital elements. Of course, most hotels tend to carry the traditional kinds of board games which “Are available for guests on request” according to Business Insider. In fact, there are even competitions involving different board games that are available at certain hotels such as the chess tournament shown in the above picture. Like the running clubs, this seems to be something that would only appeal to a certain group of people and not everyone.
17 Bean-Bag Toss - Mainly Fun at Parties
Now compared to board games, bean-bag tossing can be fun without having to learn a lot of rules for it beforehand. All it requires is some small bags, a wooden board, and a means to keep track of scores. After that, it’s all on the players to keep the game going for as long as they want. With that said, the fact that certain hotels advertise this as part of their free amenities seems a bit underwhelming. Because while bean-bag tossing can be enjoyed by just about anyone, it’s arguably best enjoyed under certain circumstances such as parties.
16 Pillow Menu - Makes Things More Complicated
Because we all have different comfort levels when it comes to pillows, it can be discomforting when the kind offered at hotels doesn’t sit right with our heads and shoulders. As a result of this ongoing problem, Business Insider states that, “Some hotels have been trying out pillow menus that allow guests to select their preferred pillows”. As the above picture shows, the options are based on several factors such as: firmness, the material that’s used, and even the shape of the pillow itself. Now this may seem like a good idea on the surface, it does unnecessarily complicate things.
15 Extension Cords - Possibly On Hand
Depending on how many electronic devices one owns, let alone plans to bring on a trip, it can be annoying when the place one stays at doesn’t have enough outlets to plug the devices into. So to accommodate for this, some might resort to bringing an extension cord with them even though they’re bulky and take up a lot of unnecessary space as far as packing is concerned. Luckily, “Some hotels will have them on hand” as claimed by Business Insider. But with that said, it’s best not to assume that any hotel is going to have complementary extension cords.
14 Smart TVs - with extra hidden fees
While we may be living in a new “Golden Age” of television right now, that doesn’t mean everything that’s offered through the channels on the TVs provided in every hotel room is any good. Plus, it can be pain to flip through channels looking for something to watch knowing that paying for more would be an additional cost to one’s booking fee. So “A lot of hotels now offer smart TVs” according to CheatSheet which connect to the Internet allowing one to watch shows that are only available through streaming services. Yet like the extension cords, it's not ubiquitously available.
13 Nail Polish Remover - Not Available Everywhere
On any trip we’ve gone on, there’s usually at least one thing we forget to bring. Though depending on the item that was left behind, this simple mistake can either become a minor or major ordeal. For instance, a woman who regularly paints her nails might be peeved if she forgets to bring nail polish remover and even more so if there’s no place that sells the stuff near where she’s staying at. To aid in this dilemma, some hotels offer “Complimentary nail-polish-remover wipes” according to Business Insider. While that is nice, it shouldn’t be taken for granted.
12 Pool and Fitness Room - Aren’t Open 24/7
Most hotels have at least a pool and/or fitness room to satisfy those who either want to get a decent workout in while they’re staying at the hotel, or entertain any children that might be along for the trip. With that said, it’s a good idea to “Ask what time both areas open and close everyday” upon checking in as recommended by CheatSheet. After all, these places typically aren’t open all the time so one should plan accordingly. Plus, they can get crowded so knowing the hours ahead of time means a better chance at securing a good spot.
11 Rental Cars - Limited Time
For those who are staying somewhere without a vehicle of their own, either because they flew there or took some other form of public transportation, it can be inconvenient to go anywhere outside the place one is staying at. Fortunately, there are hotels which have rental cars available that are top-quality in terms of model. So even if one does own a car, this is a way to travel in a more stylish vehicle by comparison. While the rental cars are “Free of charge,” according to Business Insider, they can be typically rented “For up to four hours” total.
10 TVs - Aren't free, don't steal!
As stated before, some guests will resort to taking things from the place they’re staying at. These range from minor things like soap to more expensive items like TVs. An example of the latter comes from the Millennium Bostonian, where a guest stole a TV from one of the rooms. Though it’s unclear which model the stolen TV was, the hotel’s staff contacted the last person who stayed in the room before the TV went missing thus implying they were the thief. But despite their efforts, “The hotel took the loss” in the end according to the Elliott Advocacy organization.
9 Dishes and Silverware - Not Okay to Take
Even though the guest who stole the TV from the Millennium Bostonian got away with it, this was mainly due to the hotel’s limited capabilities in terms of what they could do to deal with the situation without making too much of a fuss. After all, hotels are made to serve the people it lodges. So when a controversy comes up, the hotel’s business suffers as a result. But that still doesn’t excuse what these thieves do, whether they steal something like a TV or even silverware and dishes. Although, it’s generally rare for these kinds of thefts to happen.
8 Corner Room - (Not) Always a Bargain
Depending on our personal preferences and circumstances, certain types of rooms that are available in hotels and/or lodges may be more appealing than others. For instance, those who have families will certainly prefer a bigger room over a smaller one. But the former kind tend to be more expensive than the latter, so it’s not always easy when it comes to room selection. With that said, there is the option of getting a corner room which are big in space and don’t require paying extra for them. However, “Not all hotels will offer them free of charge” CheatSheet warns.
7 Room with a View - Charge for an Upgrade
Apart from the size of the room, one may also pay attention to the type of room that’s available in any given hotel. Some examples include a corner room, suite, and a room with a view. Of these, most people try to get their hands on a room with a view especially in a location that has a lot of pretty sights close to the hotel. Unfortunately, “Most rooms with a view are an upgrade” according to CheatSheet meaning one has to pay extra in order to get it. This is despite the exceptional hotels where this isn’t the case.
6 Bottled Water - Extra Charge
In most hotel rooms, one will find at least a couple of water bottles from a particular brand on display. Now they may be tempting to drink, but these tend to cost extra as demonstrated by the obvious price tags on the water bottles in the above picture. There are exceptions to this rule, though. For example, if one stays “On the concierge floor” the water bottles are free of charge according to Elliott Advocacy. However, a concierge floor room can be expensive. According to TripSavvy, they typically cost “50 percent above standard rates for a room” in any hotel.
5 Minibar - Pricy Drinks
Now as common as water bottles may be, what’s less common in most hotel rooms is an entire minibar with all kinds of drinks available from carbonated to alcoholic ones. Then as the above picture shows, some places have minibars which include snacks. But even these come with a price tag, unless one happens to be staying on the concierge floor or have a similar privilege to where they won’t be charged alongside the booking fee. So unless one has a lot of money to burn, it might be best to not bother indulging in things that aren’t exactly free.
4 Bathrobe and Slippers - Might Have a Price Tag
Another complementary thing that some hotels offer, though usually the fancy ones, is bathrobes and slippers with their logo on it. Meant to be used by guests during the length of their stay in the rooms, these typically aren’t free to take home as they “May have a price tag” Elliott Advocacy states. Yet this hasn’t stopped people from taking them as all they have to do is remove the price tag and put them in their suitcases. Then there are confusing exceptions, as apparently a hotel manager “Said it was OK to take the slippers” according to Elliott Advocacy.
3 Towels - May or May Not be Complementary
While putting a price tag on something can be useful in deterring those who automatically assume it’s free, some items are less clear cut than others. One such example is towels, “Since some hotels have given away towels as a promotion in the past” Elliott Advocacy states. This is further emphasized by the fact that any unclean towels in a hotel room will often be replaced by new ones either after the guest has left or during their stay with permission. So hotels seem to have a lot of towels to spare, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to take them.
2 Bibles - Gideons Say It’s Okay to Take
Whether one is religious or not, opening up the bedside cabinet in a hotel room and finding a Bible inside is both surprising yet expected since most hotels have them. Though what’s stranger than the Bible’s presence is knowing that there are some people who actually steal them. Now given that the Bibles found in most hotels aren’t particularly valuable, it seems like an odd thing to take among the other things that could be taken. Yet according to Lifehacker, some Christian groups like the Gideons want people “To steal the Gideon Bible” from the hotel rooms they are in.
1 Resort Fee Coverage - Unclear on purpose
Apart from the room itself, a guest of any hotel is also required to pay for a resort fee. What this covers depends on the hotel, because “What’s included might vary” CheatSheet states. So while one hotel might put things like wireless internet and being able to access places such as the gym or pool onto the resort fee, another might include them as part of the payment for the hotel room itself. There’s even a chance that some of these things are a separate fee altogether that’s neither included with the room nor the resort fee for that matter.
Resources: elliott.org, businessinsider.com, cheatsheet.com, tripsavvy.com, lifehacker.com