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Hotel Freebies

This photo shows bottles of premium shampoo and conditioner in a hotel room, which are paid, not a freebie or complimentary.

Don’t crack open the bottle without reading the fine print.

If you want to avoid unnecessary charges on your hotel bill, read these quick tips.

Consumables like toilet paper, facial tissue and soap are included in the price of the room. You might have to pay for anything else that you use. So before you, or the family, crack anything open, take a moment to look before you leap.

If there are little bottles of shampoo, conditioner and lotion sitting out loose, those are included in the price of the room. Same deal if there are shoe shine cloths, shower cap, cotton balls and some cotton swabs.

On rare occasions, and some in some developing countries, there is no shampoo, conditioner or facial tissue. The only thing that comes with the room is soap and toilet paper. The real clue is in the packaging. If they are sitting out loose, they are meant to be used, unless there is a card under the items stating the price.

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If all the personal hygiene items are wrapped in cellophane, or a gift basket, then it’s usually a paid item. You’ll see this in many independent hotels. There’s usually a card near the basket, or a sticker on it, that states the price if you crack it open.

If there’s a coffee maker in the room, they usually include a complimentary beverage, like a weak pack of coffee and a few tea bags. If you asked for a tea kettle in the room, some chain hotels surprise you with a complimentary tea selection, which is a nice bonus.

The bottled water is usually free. At least the first small bottle or two, that are sitting out on the counter at room temperature. Be sure to look for a card near the bottles, because it should say if they are complimentary or not.

The drinks in the fridge, or minibar, are definitely not included. So don’t drink them unless you want to pay four times more for them, than you would in a corner convenience store.

(Personally I hate it when they fill up the bar fridge with their stuff. I’d much rather have an empty fridge to put my food in when I arrive. I really dislike having to empty out their stuff, to fit mine in, and then put their stuff back in when I check out.)

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Something to be aware of are fridges with built in sensors. It will flag something as consumed if a bottle, or package, of exactly the same weight, is not replaced within a few seconds. 

Usually these sensor fridges are nothing but trouble. If you so much as jiggle a bottle trying to squeeze your food into the fridge, they assume you drank it. That leads to delays in check out, because housekeeping needs to check the room and count the inventory. Luckily, these dumb devices – and the hoteliers who use them – are few and far between.

So when you enter a room, tell the kids and spouse not to drink the booze, eat the snacks, or crack open the sodas, unless you’re willing to pay through the nose for them. You’re far better off to buy from a vending machine.

Better yet, buy your own snacks and goodies at the grocery store and bring them back to the room. Not only will they be much cheaper, you won’t be tempted by all the snacks in the hotel room later on.

Also, bring your own soap, shampoo and conditioner. Don’t assume the hotel will provide good ones. That way you have the products you like and are familiar with. You’ll depart fresh, and in good spirits, just as if you had showered and “made pretty” at home.

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