5 On Your Side

Consumer Reports Surveys Readers About Hotel Chains

Posted June 21, 2007 6:16 p.m. EDT

Consumer Reports recently surveyed its readers about 48 hotel chains.

Among other findings, it discovered that many hotels are adding new fees. For instance, some hotels now charge for maid service and more.

“You can pay upwards of $30 or more per day if a facility has a golf course, tennis courts, hiking trail – whether or not you bother to use them,” said Tod Marks, with Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports found travel sites like Expedia.com and Travelocity aren't the bargains they used to be. That's because hotels don't sell rooms to the sites at fire-sale prices, and hotel chains are now using sophisticated software to track whether a hotel is full so they can adjust their prices accordingly.

“Generally, these fine adjustments work against the consumer, because it probably means bargains are less likely to be had,” Marks said.

With fewer bargains, it's more important than ever to be happy with your hotel. To help your chances, Consumer Reports surveyed 35,000 readers about 48 hotel chains.

The Ritz Carlton had top scores for service and value and was one of the highest-rated chains among the most expensive hotels. Homewood Suites and Springhill Suites are high rated, as were many all-suite hotels.

Hampton Inn and Drury Inn/Suites were among several described as a good choice in the $60-$100 a night price range ― where the survey revealed the biggest differences in satisfaction.

As for ways to get a better deal, Marks suggests that consumers haggle with the desk clerk or hotel manager.

“A majority of readers we surveyed who try these tactics were successful,” he said.

Consumer Reports' survey also found that people who arrived at a hotel with no reservation actually paid less than those who made reservations in advance.

When booking a hotel room, make sure to ask for the lowest rate. It's usually the "corporate rate." Otherwise, you could pay more than you have to.