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A few weeks ago I noticed that the Andaz West Hollywood has started charging a ‘Destination Fee’ of $23.10 to all guests other that Hyatt’s top-tier elites and now, not to be outdone by an upstart in West Hollywood, the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown has added a ‘Facility Fee’ of its own.
I’ve been thinking about trying out the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown for a while (actually, since it opened) but it’s often hard to justify a hotel stay in your home city and I just haven’t got around to finding a good reason to book….but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been keeping an eye on room rates.
The other day I was innocently playing a game of ‘how much would it cost to go to a game at the Staples Center and stay downtown‘ when I noticed something odd – a Saturday night stay at the InterContinental Downtown Los Angeles looked like good value in the IHG search results but was noticeably more expensive when I clicked through to actually price up the room.
At under $210 for the night the property was selling entry-level rooms at one of the lowest rates I’ve seen it offer….
…and you you could even pick up a suite (which I didn’t need) for under $245….
….but the final total cost (for the entry-level room) was coming out at almost $272:
I know LA taxes are high but they’re not that high!
Sadly, because this nonsense is becoming all too common, I knew exactly where to look to see what was going on.
Under the breakdown of the room charge the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown was showing ‘additional charges’ of $28.93 and, underneath the breakdown, was an explanation of what that charge was for:
The hotel was adding a $25 + tax ‘facility fee’ to the booking….and it’s also adding it to award bookings too:
I’m not sure when this fee was introduced (the hotel has ignored my emails asking for clarification so far) but I’m reasonably sure this is a recent move as I don’t recall seeing the fee mentioned the last time I checked rates at the IC Downtown LA….and that wasn’t all that long ago.
Anyway, let’s take a look at what this buys?
- Access to the hotel gym
- Access to the hotel’s rooftop lounge for two people
- Local phone calls
- Digital newspaper
- Luggage storage for up to 24 hours
- Guaranteed seating at one of the hotel’s restaurants.
Are you kidding me??!!
Let’s take these one by one:
- Why should guests have to pay to access the hotel gym when hotels all around the world have been offering the same thing for free for decades?
- Since when is one of a hotel’s bars or eateries only accessible to hotel guests for a fee?What next? Wll we have to pay to access the lobby?
- WiFi? seriously? All IHG Rewards club members (free to join) get complimentary wifi so why on earth is this being bundled in as one of the things the ‘facility fee gives you’?
- The brazenness demonstrated by the ICDTLA in trying to claim that local phone calls are a thing guests may actually wish to pay for is staggering – who doesn’t travel with a mobile phone?!
- No one ever checked out of a hotel thinking “that wasn’t bad….but it would have been better if it had offered me a digital newspaper“. All news can be found on the internet for free and if people want a digital newspaper they usually already have their own subscription (perhaps the InterContinental Downtown LA hasn’t head of Apple News).
- I’d love to know just how many guests (per year) ask the hotel to store their luggage overnight – I’m prepared to bet that it’s in low double digits.
- Apparently the ICDTLA thinks guests should have to pay for the privilege to get a seat at its steakhouse which, for the record, is never, ever even close to being full on most nights of the week.
What a colossal rip off.
I thought the Andaz West Hollywood’s reasons for charging a destination fee were nonsense but the InterContinental Downtown LA has taken things a step further – you’d have to be certifiably insane to think that any of the ‘extras’ the new fee covers are worth paying for.
Fortunately, for now, the InterContinental Los Angeles Century City isn’t charging a ‘facility fee’ but that doesn’t make the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown the only IHG property in LA adding fees like this.
The Kimpton Hotel Palomar Beverly Hills charges a $25 + tax ‘guest amenity fee’….
….and the Kimpton La Peer in West Hollywood charges a ‘guest amenity fee’ of $30 + tax:
At least with the Kimpton La Peer guests get $20 of the fee back at breakfast and I can see one or two of the other Kimpton extras which may be useful to guests…but this doesn’t get us away from the fact that these are fees designed to increase revenue without sacrificing the properties’ position in hotel searches performed on price comparison sites.
Most price comparison sites will not automatically account for destination/resort/facility/guest amenity fees when visitors as them to rank properties in order of cost so hotels charging these fees can appear to be cheaper than they really are….and guests often don’t notice the extra fees until it’s too late.
These extra fees that more and more hotels are adding to their nightly rates are an abomination and an unsubtle attempt to rig search results in favor of properties which charge them.
IHG and InterContinental Hotels should be ashamed and embarrassed about the ‘facility fee’ the InterContinental Downtown Los Angeles is now adding to all bookings – the ‘extras’ which the new fee supposedly covers should either already be included in the nightly rate or they offer absolutely no added value to guests whatsoever. It’s a rip off and a scam.
The sooner lawmakers take action to prevent properties levying these unconscionable fees the better.