Hilton New York Has the Dumbest Hotel Fee I’ve Ever Seen

Hotels frequent charge ‘resort fees’. This is a deceptive marketing practice. It’s a non-optional charge, in other words it is part of the room rate. The hotel quotes you one price but actually charges you another. But it’s common practice in the industry and despite occasional noises from the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general little is done about it.

Even honest hoteliers are stuck between a rock and a hard place. If they add the fee they’re being underhanded. If they don’t add the fee they are at a disadvantage relative to competitors who hide part of the rate (since their hotel would look more expensive when customers compare). Most say they wish that resort fees didn’t exist, but since they do they have no choice.

What’s truly deserving of derision is a hotel that introduces a new kind of resort fee into a market where they didn’t previously exist. So the title for either the dumbest fee, or the most underhanded management, goes to the Hilton New York (formally now ‘New York Hilton Midtown’, renamed in 2013 on its 50th anniversary).

They can’t really call the Hilton New York a resort. So they have an “Urban Destination Charge.”

Urban Destination Charge with premium guest internet access (3 devices); $15 beverage credit in Lobby Lounge or Bridges Bar; $10 food credit in Herb N’ Kitchen (grab and go only); local and toll-free calls.

You get premium internet, of course elites get this anyway (and elites don’t get the charge waived). Plus free and local calls for people who don’t travel with their cell phone.

The $15 beverage credit in the lobby lounge is more or less a come on to get you to drink in the lounge, I check into plenty of hotels that offer a free appetizer or dessert with dinner or a free cocktail to get you spending money. I love that the $10 food credit in the place that replaced the hotel’s room service specifies that it can only be used for grab and go, heaven forbid you should eat there when spending your credit as a guest of the hotel.

And by the way the food and beverage credit is reportedly once per stay and not a daily credit.

Here’s the thing. The New York Hilton Midtown is the largest hotel in New York with over 2000 rooms. This isn’t a rogue franchise sticking it to guests. This is Hilton itself. Hilton says that the lyrics to John Lennon’s Imagine were composed here. This hotel was a leader in the elimination of room service. Apparently Hilton uses the property to imagine ways to squeeze the guest.

Resorts have resort charges. Now urban destinations have urban destination charges. Soon La Quinta’s will have Dennys surcharges. They might as well just call it “YQ” when fuel prices went down and it no longer made sense for airlines to have fuel surcharges they started calling the fees “carrier-imposed surcharges,” they stopped pretending the fees were for anything and describe simply who insists on being paid.

Your rate is no longer your rate, since it doesn’t capture the hotel-imposed surcharges.

(HT: Neil E.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This is creeping in, and it’s ridiculous.

    Park Central SF ($44.46) and NY ($31) have “Facilities Fee” that is even higher price for standard hotel services.

    https://www.parkcentralsf.com/facilities-fee
    https://www.parkcentralny.com/faqs

    The mandatory Facilities Fee of $31 plus tax per room per night provides guests with the following amenities: – Unlimited Local and Domestic Long Distance Calls – Unlimited use of the 24-hour state-of-the-art Fitness Center – Luggage storage on arrival and/or departure up until 9:00 PM – Apple workstations with printing, faxing and scanning offered through our Guest Relations Team.

  2. @Steve. Thanks for providing what’s included in this. I’ve never been clear what’s included with the Park Central SF facility fee. I’ve avoided that hotel when visiting SF and even though a lot of their award nights are only 12k, the redemption value declines because fees are not waived on award booking with SPG. For a city hotel though to charge a fee to access the fitness center and for luggage storage which are complimentary at other hotels I’ve stayed at in the area.

  3. Marriott Marquis in Manhattan also does this. $25/day for a $15 room service credit, gym access, internet access and the ability to make landline phone calls.

  4. It’s underhanded and outright fraudulent. They’re certainly not the first, though – a number of Marriott and SPG hotels in NYC already charge a similar fee. Here’s hoping it doesn’t catch on. I’ve already contacted Hilton to express my displeasure, as have many others (I’ve seen quite a few tweets). I recommend anyone who feels strongly does the same.

  5. Here is an idea. Call these hotels, book a room that you do not want and then on the last day to cancel call and ask if they have a resort fee or other fee and then cancel in protest. If all of us did this a lot they will end up with lots of empty rooms. I am going to book my Hilton room right now. This only takes a few minutes online as you are going to cancel anyway. Happy Trails

  6. …and not far from Hilton New York is Yotel, which charges what they call an “Experience Fee.” /gigantic eye-roll.
    The fees are getting exhausting.

  7. The fact that the Hilton is engaging in such fraud and deception is not surprising these days.
    Unfortunately, this deception and fraud is becoming increasingly widespread in the hotel industry. There are hotels at Waikiki, for example, that add on a $98 per day “resort fee” after you check in. This fee was not revealed when making the reservation through the travel agent, even after specifically asking the question: “Do you add-on a resort fee’. Of course, the hotel clerk lies by denying it.
    I am getting very disenchanted with Marriott properties, as they have largely gone to franchise operations, which abuse their guests and add on fees labeled as “taxes,” but which are clearly fraudulent. Their response sometimes is that the fee is for babysitting service, or use of pool, or use of exercise room, or use of business center, and other lies. However, if we are not using any of these services, why should we pay the fee, which is just another deception, lie and abuse by the franchise?
    Maybe a class action suit against at least one of the offending chains regarding repeated fraud and deception is a solution. It seems, these days, that unless an offending bank, hotel or other business is publicly humiliated and severely fined, they will continue to lie, defraud and deceive.

  8. This is totally unethical. Does anyone know of an organization i can join that might be pursuing a legal remedy?

  9. And hotels wonder why AirBNB and VRBO are becoming so popular? I would much rather pay a reasonable rate to an individual over pumping up the obscene corporate profits of Marriott or Hilton. Scott’s suggestion to book a room and call at the last minute to cancel because of added “rip-off fees” is a good one. Surprised they haven’t started to charge for “in-room television service.”

  10. IM A HILTON DIAMOND MEMBER AND A MARRIOTT LIFETIME PLATINUM MEMBER.
    I used to stay at Waldorf almost exclusively, where I would get a courtesy DIAMOND UPGRADE but now Waldorf is closed so I thought I would try the Midtown Hilton. When I aw the the fee I was not happy so I passed.
    Then I turned to the Marriott Marquis where I get a similar PLATINUM UPGRADE. They also charge the same fee so I decided to use points.
    When I was told there would be a $70 per charge to UPGRADE as a PLATINUM member, I was totally disgusted.
    I “chatted” on line about this and was promised a response after “investigating” the issue.
    To date, I’ve heard NOTHING.

    SO, what good are CUSTOMER LOYALTY STATUS PLANS AND CREDIT CARDS WITH ANNUAL FEES IF YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR PERKS?!?

  11. I’ve avoided this particular Hilton for years… despite attending multiple conferences within this property. This crap just means it’ll be on our office’s do-not-stay list for a few more years with the reason being “bulls**t fees”

  12. The Hilton scam isn’t new. They hit me with the add-on in Phoenix AZ back in 1990. Last time I used Hilton for anything.

  13. The whole American practice of quoting prices without taxes is wrong. That was the first strange thing I noticed about America during my first visit and it still bugs me to have to pay more than what it says on the shelf when I go to a store. Americans accept it and that’s why hotels are able to get away with outrageous fees like this one.

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