Staying in a four- or five-star hotel is a much better experience when you know what to expect—and know what’s expected of you. With a little help from an experienced hotel concierge, Experimental Wifery explains everything you need to know about staying at a nice hotel.
Before you Arrive
- Confirm your plans. Most hotels need 24-48 hours’ notice to cancel a reservation. Keep in mind that pre-paid reservations are usually nonrefundable. Be especially careful if you book through a third-party vendor like Expedia or Travelocity. Technically, you paid the vendor to pay the hotel—the hotel staff won’t be able to change your reservation or issue a refund.
When You Check in
- Be prepared to check in. Bring along the confirmation number and know the name you reserved your room under. You can save yourself a lot of stress by helping the staff easily locate your reservation in the computer system.
- Expect to pay up-front. The card or cash will need cover your entire stay, taxes (which range from 10 to 20% depending on where you are staying), and about $100 per night in incidentals—like food from the mini-bar or use of the guest laundry service—whether or not you plan to take advantage of these services. The hotel will refund any money leftover at the end of your stay.
- Expect to pay to park. Most hotels use a third-party for their valet so the prices are not set by the hotel and are non-negotiable. Parking can be expensive, especially at urban hotels, so ask in advance if you’re worried about the charge. It is customary to tip the valet $2-5 when he brings your car around—not when he parks it. (Read more about tipping…)
- Let the bellman deal with your luggage, rather than grabbing a bellman’s cart on your own. Expect to tip him $2 for the first bag and $1 for each additional bag.
During Your Stay
- Tip generously. The standard tip for most hotel employees is only $2-5 per service. Although tipping is not expected of you, it is an important way to say thanks to a staff that takes great care of you. Besides, the better the tip the better service you will get. Hotel employees brag about generous guests.
- Keep your key with you at all times, especially if your name is not on the reservation. Nice hotels take guest security very seriously, so staff will not (and should not) let you into a room they cannot verify you’re supposed to be in. If you find yourself locked out of a room that isn’t yours, politely asks the front desk to help you get in touch with the reservation-holder.
- Nice hotels do not have vending machines. Either bring a few snacks of your own or plan to use the minibars and 24-hour room service in the hotel. Food from the hotel will be expensive, but the luxury of not worrying about a midnight case of the munchies is part of the experience.
- Be considerate of other guests. Try to keep the volume at a reasonable level in your room, especially after 10pm. If the staff must repeatedly ask your room to quiet down, don’t be surprised when you are asked to leave with no refund. Some hotels will also charge you for any compensation they have to give out to your neighboring rooms for the noise issues you caused. Instead, take the party to the hotel lobby or bar.
- Make use of the concierge. A concierge is one of the best benefits of a nice hotel. They are there to do everything from recommending restaurants to securing sold-out concert tickets to arranging wedding proposals on the stadium jumbotron. You don’t have to tip a concierge for his or her expertise, but tips are appreciated for more difficult tasks.
- Cover up. Protect the ambience for other guests. Use a cover while traveling through the public areas in your bathing suit, especially if the public areas you are walking through are not the ones used to access the pool.
Remember that the staff is there 24/7 for you needs. They are happy to help you with whatever you request, but you’ll catch more flies with honey.
What was your most memorable hotel stay? Let us know in the comments.