I look out the floor-to-ceiling window of my extremely compact hotel room at The Line in Los Angeles. It’s my first trip since February 2020, and just looking at the rooftops of a city that’s not mine feels like an adventure. I slipped on the slippers and the ubiquitous hotel robe and pillow around the tiny space with the large windows, feeling chic. Then I fold back into the king-size bed of ironed sheets, like a sort of “pretty woman.” But, lying there, I can’t sleep. There is a smell, a stench, and no matter how hard I try to ignore it, I can’t.

I get out of bed and call the front desk. Can I change rooms, I ask, embarrassed.

As someone who goes camping multiple times each summer and again, in their forties, luckily stay in $ 20 a night in Mexican surf hostelsI consider myself to be a fairly laid back and unpretentious traveler. “Pretty Woman” fantasies aside, I rarely stay in hotels that cost more than $ 150 a night, which can easily be a Motel 6 in California, where hotel prices, like house prices, are overly swollen. I am certainly not a resort person.

The lobby of The Line, Los Angeles, looks eerily like any other mid-range business hotel.

Freda moon

But here’s the catch: This high-rise Koreatown hotel, which I booked for its mid-range price (no chips) and proximity to the Korean spa I had indulged in for Mother’s Day, is a complex. Or he claims to be. How can I know? Because it’s listed on my bill as a “service charge” of $ 28.92 per night.

Yes, the hotel has deteriorated since my last visit two years ago, a fact that I reflexively attributed – with or without precision – to the pain the last year inflicted on the hospitality industry. The carpets are very stained and vaguely sticky. And there was no food or drink of any kind available after 9 p.m., a major change from before the pandemic, when the hotel bar was a hip hangout in its own right. Even the in-room minibar, once famous for its assortment of Korean snacks, had been emptied.

The Line is a decent and adequate downtown business hotel.  But this view is not worthy of resort fees.

The Line is a decent and adequate downtown business hotel. But this view is not worthy of resort fees.

Freda moon

But my frustration with The Line was not lax maintenance or restorative limitations in the days of a pandemic. It wasn’t even the irresistible and impossible to ignore cigarette stench that was graciously remedied by a room exchange. My annoyance was not about this particular hotel at all. Even so, his cause, that nearly $ 29 fee, somehow amplified all of the hotel’s other flaws, big and small.

Resort fees looked like someone pointedly saying your name at your first meeting. It was both a lie and an insult. And, like a bad first impression, he persisted – giving the entire stay an antagonistic undertone. It was me against The Line. Woman looking for a safe, clean, reasonably priced hotel near downtown LA versus a mediocre, overpriced, scam “resort” that advertised my modest room for $ 148.50, but cost actually $ 200.73 with taxes and fees (but not parking, which is a whopping $ 48.40 per night). This is 35% more than the advertised base rate.

Here’s the thing: if your hotel room faces a 7-11 and a Carl’s Jr., you’re not in a resort. And if the sounds of traffic and horns and people screaming in the streets are louder than the lapping waves or the chirping of birds, you are definitely not in a resort town.

The patio is a nice touch, but a patio doesn't make for a complex.

The patio is a nice touch, but a patio doesn’t make for a complex.

Freda moon

Yes, there are urban complexes – the beautiful, historic, beachfront Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica and Oakland Claremont’s sprawling hill – come to mind here in California. But not all hotels that are in a “destination” or have a pool are resorts.

Resorts, by definition (mine, yes, but also that of any reasonable person) are places of relaxation and escape – not high-rise hotels where you awkwardly jostle yourself with masked businessmen in them. elevator or look down the street seven floors. in a jumble of traffic, sirens sound through windows that are not even soundproofed.

But that’s not really the source of my boredom either. What’s infuriating about these fees is that they’re a bait and a change, a way to make you feel like you’re getting a good deal when in fact the real price is significantly more. higher than you might initially think.

Oddly enough, the fees pay for things, like a pool or Wi-Fi, that lower-end hotels and motels offer as part of the package. And since these amenities aren’t optional, but just part of the hotel, there’s almost no way to avoid paying for them. You don’t get anything more. It doesn’t matter if I use the pool (when I travel for work I always hope, but I never do) or if I use the “free” bikes, the charge will be on my bill regardless.

“The term ‘resort fee’ is a bit inappropriate as ‘service charge’ and ‘cleaning charge’ can also apply to low end hotels and therefore these charges affect consumers across a broad economic spectrum.” , said William J. McGee, aviation and travel advisor for Consumer Reports, in an email.

“Unfortunately,” said McGee, “the travel industry has a long history of concealing mandatory and optional fees, and some of these“ optional fees ”are not viewed as luxury by many travelers. is another way to twist the background – the online price of an overnight stay, so guests will be hit with a sticker shock once they realize the full cost. “

The Line hotel's restaurant, Openaire, has a resort vibe.  But no, still not a seaside resort.

The Line hotel’s restaurant, Openaire, has a resort vibe. But no, still not a seaside resort.

Freda moon

Obscuring and distorting the cost of a hotel is obviously bad for travelers. But it is also, I would say, bad for the hotels themselves. That first impression – when you look at the resort fee line on your bill, then in the lobby of a generic hotel in a bustling, noisy downtown area – is hard to shake.

The hotels have gone through a 15-month pandemic. Customers know they are hurting. And just as my favorite local restaurant has had to raise prices several times over the past year to survive, I wouldn’t fault a hotel for doing the same. I don’t think most people – those reasonable people who know a hotel when they see one – would. But dishonest, unfair, and downright absurd charges are a quick way to squander all goodwill travelers have for a hard-hit industry. So increase your prices if you need to, but eliminate the fees.

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