What Hotel Services Could You Live Without?

Recently, The Cranky Flier wrote about the airline El Al (which seriously sounds like it should serve flights to the planet Kypton) creating a super-low economy section by charging for services normally offered for free. This “unbundling”, as it’s known in industry parlance, would charge for things like snacks and drinks. I’m assuming there’s no upcharge for seat belts and barf bags.

And I just complained about the ludicrous prices of hotels in much of the First World – the United States is my most egregious example, but western Europe is hardly a bargain.

Why not put the ideas together? That is, unbundling hotel services. I can’t take credit for this idea – it was the ever-practical wife’s suggestion when I told her about El Al.

I’d completely be willing to forgo telephone services, irons in the room, cable TV and a bad continental breakfast. Hmm, I guess “bad continental breakfast” is redundant. I’ve always thought that first a pastry is a pastry – then it gets stale and becomes a “scone.” Once the scone solidifies into a rocklike mass surpassing diamonds on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, it winds up on a tray in a hotel’s continental breakfast spread; only the brutally acidic coffee on display is caustic enough to break it down for consumption by some humans. But I digress.

That seems a nifty solution to what I consider the really poor values that are most hotels.

Here’s a question for you: What standard hotel services would you forego to knock some bucks off the bill?

American Hotels are a Rip-Off

I was somewhat excited about an upcoming trip to Boston. Then I started researching hotel prices.

Check this out:

1 night in a generic hotel in Boston = $210

Now contrast that to these (bear in mind that I generally travel just slightly off the peak seasons, but not much):

1 night in a British Bristol freighter airplane turned into a hotel in New Zealand: $160 Nz, roughly $85 US

1 night in a two-room suite with kitchenette in Queenstown, NZ: $150 NZ

1 night at La Mansion, a spectacular hotel in the jungles near Manuel San Antonio, Costa Rica: $150-$350 US (FYI, this place is super-deluxe. Ex-presidents stay here. It is not a (long string of expletives deleted) Best Western or Holiday Inn.

1 night in a slick backpacker’s lodge in Tongariro National Park, NZ: $40 NZ (call it $25 US)

1 night in a super-awesome eco-lodge in the rain forest of Belize: $85-$105

1 night in a sleek, modern, convenient hotel steps from downtown Cairns, Australia: $115 AU (call that about $85 US).

Seriously, are American hotels trying to price themselves out of consideration? If so, they’re doing a grade-A job of it. Factor in the fact that, to reach most foreign destination, I have to fly a foreign airline with better service and that I LOVE long flights, and you can see that American hotels will get my dollars only when family obligations require travel within this country’s borders.

If you’re a traveler, vote with your wallet. Take your dollars off-shore. Maybe that will get the message through.