While hotels can be notorious for charging hidden fees, it’s the guests who come equipped with their own arsenal of sneaky, rule-breaking habits — ultimately proving that they’re the winners in the hotel hustle. Sure, these antics are frowned upon, but they’re de rigueur and wildly popular for getting the most out of a hotel stay on the sly.

The list was compiled by Thrillist and used with courtesy. I’m pretty sure (or hope) that our ethical BoardingArea reader community is at most guilty of numbers 6-8!

1. Refilling vodka bottle with water
Minibars are becoming extinct, and for good reason: people are stealing from them. And we’re not talking a pack of M&Ms, either — theft comes in the form of drinking any clear liquor, refilling the bottle with water, and re-shelving it as though never touched. 

2. Sneaking in a pet to dodge a fee
As pet-friendly travel becomes more popular, hotels are allowing man’s best friend (and cats!) to stay overnight for a fee (roughly $50 a night to $200 per stay). You won’t see a charge on your bill if you simply sneak Fido in, though. The most common scheme? Scoring a neon vest and dubious certificate for your “service” dog, which allows a free pass.

3. Not tipping housekeeping
Being nickel-and-dimed by a hotel is nothing new, and the last thing hotel guests want to do on their way out the door is pay more for their stay. That sentiment leaves the housekeeping staff… well, nothing. Housekeeping is the only traditionally tipped staff you never see (as opposed to the bellman, valet, or wait staff), so guests can escape without feeling cheap. Those sad little envelopes — which ultimately serve as a reminder to tip — are hardly ever used.

4. Smoking in a non-smoking room
Smoke-friendly hotel rooms these days are about as common as bath butlers, and when the nic fit hits, that walk to the ashtray outside the hotel lobby door is way too inconvenient. Smokers have gotten into the habit of blazing up in the room, using tricks like puffing out the window, running a steamy shower to mask the smoke, or straight up covering the smoke detector with a shower cap.

5. Charging your bill to someone else’s room 
When hotel guests get a random food and beverage charge on their bill, it’s more often than not an oversight. But not for some mischievous risk takers who believe the guy in Room 202 won’t mind picking up the tab. Room-charge robbery generally happens at the pool bar after one too many cocktails, or at a new hotel where there’s more room for error. Either way, the hotel ends up eating the costs.

6. Stealing from the housekeeping/minibar cart
Most housekeeping carts are generally equipped with all the necessities to replenish your room. But, for some guests, it’s basically a cart full of free stuff. Nabbing a towel here (one of the most stolen objects in a hotel) means that all the towels in the guest room are accounted for. The housekeeping cart often doubles up as the mini bar cart, too — who wants free soda?

7. Sneaking into the pool’s hot tub/pool after hours 
When hotel pools are closed, it usually means they’re being cleaned in the off hours — or that crazy folks do crazy stuff at night, which can be a liability for any hotel. This hasn’t stopped late-night revelers from slipping past the gate and taking their hotel party to the pool deck. And it’s not just hotel guests that “RSVP”. Non-patron pool crashers are regularly caught sneaking in to use the hotel’s pool facilities.

8. Lying about an anniversary or birthday to score an upgrade 
Guests who still book their rooms over the phone are sometimes asked how’s life in 1994whether they’ll be celebrating a special occasion during their stay, so the hotel can extend a gesture. Some people interpret this as, “oh, hey, free champagne or room upgrade? Count me in!”


The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


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The 8 Sneakiest Hotel Cheat You’re Totally Guilty Of | Globe Trotting Winos Guide to Frugal Travel August 26, 2014 - 10:44 am

[…] The 8 Sneakiest Hotel Cheat You’re Totally Guilty Of […]

Mark D. August 26, 2014 - 1:38 pm

I’ve only done #3, but that was as a new traveler, so I plead ignorance.

Bill August 26, 2014 - 10:31 pm

My dog’s urine passes as bourbon real good.

James August 30, 2014 - 3:29 pm

I’ve read your comments on number 3 before. I’ve never done any of the other things on your list , but I have to comment on the housekeeping tipping. Who does this? I’ve travelled extensively for business for the past 20 years. Other than on a cruise ship, I’ve never heard of anyone tipping housekeeping. And I have to ask; What “sad little envelopes” are you talking about? I stay in Marriotts, Hiltons, Radissons, Starwood hotels. I’ve never seen these envelopes! I don’t think this custom of tipping housekeeping actually exists, and I’m curious why you think this is really a thing?

Adam August 31, 2014 - 11:59 am

@James – The list was provided and written by Thrillist. However, check here for a post on tipping.

Jay September 5, 2014 - 11:11 am

To the crazy person who said that tipping housekeeping does not exist,
You think it is appropriate to tip everyone else but not the person who has the most intimate access to your stuff and your room?

I do not tip anyone in a hotel, other than housekeeping. Everyone else gets paid a decent wage. This excludes restaurants in a hotel of course.

Marriott Encouraging Tips for Housekeeping w/ In-Room Envelopes - Point Me to the Plane - Point Me to the Plane September 29, 2014 - 10:45 am

[…] The 8 Sneakiest Hotel Cheat You’re Totally Guilty Of […]

Lori June 13, 2017 - 5:16 am

As an owner of a small hotel in a mountain getaway location, my housekeepers gauge how well a guest appreciates them by the tips they get. They are very good at what they do and offer to help guests unload their car, bring continental breakfast from the office to their room in the mornings and even leave free water in the rooms for the guests with a note “Free Water” “Compliments of Housekeeping” “We hope you enjoy your stay”

What we have found is someone call roll up here in a 70K car, demand the highest amount of customer service but haggle our front desk clerks for the lowest room rates possible and never leave a tip. On the flip side of this we had some Florida farmers here recently and they left a very large tip which shocked everyone.

We have even picked up drunk guests from our downtown area and brought them back to the hotel safely due to not having a taxi service here or uber. Our hotel closes at 10 p.m. at night and guests call begging for a ride. No tip…..

It is an education process. When raising my children I always let them be the ones to leave money on the table for servers. As teenagers dining on their own they were the only one’s in their group of friends leaving money on the table and had to educate all their friends.


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