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10 Services Vacationers Assume Most Hotels Offer but Don’t

Hotels are amazing...but they aren't genies.

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Beautiful modern hotel roomZiga Plahutar/Getty Images

You might be out of luck

Hotels are magical places where rooms are straightened up the moment you step away from them, trendy restaurants are booked in a snap, and travel troubles (hello, lost passport) are solved. And chances are, these 13 amazing hotel perks will make you want to book a room ASAP. But hotels do their hospitality job so well that sometimes we assume they will do absolutely everything for us. Unfortunately, there are a few services that they don’t typically provide.

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colorful wooden building blocks in the floor at home or kindergarten, educational toys for creative childrenRaul_Mellado/Getty Images


Hotels offer so many activities, restaurants, and fun stuff that surely they must offer babysitters, too, right? Actually, it’s super rare for a hotel to offer a babysitter. In the best-case scenario, they’ll provide you with a phone number (or app) for a local or even national babysitting service so you can find your own. It’s all due to liability, says the New York Times. They don’t want to offer a babysitter and take on the responsibility if something goes wrong. That said, according to Fodor’s, it’s pretty common for them to offer kids’ clubs and on-site kids’ services; many of them are outsourced and require you to sign a waiver because of those liability issues. Some resorts like Beaches will go the extra mile, with supervised kids’ activities all day, essentially turning your trip into a child-free vacay. Here are 12 ways to find a babysitter you trust.

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Female chauffeur opening a luxury car door.baona/Getty Images

Free shuttle to and from the airport

It would be soooo nice if all hotels offered this snazzy perk. The last thing we want to do when we get off the plane is to try to navigate transportation to the hotel. And it really is the worst when Uber doesn’t work in your new location. Then, you feel like you’re totally stranded. But if this is a service that you really want, then check out these hotels that do offer a free airport shuttle.

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breakfast in bedcgering/Getty Images

Room service

You can thank all the restaurant-delivery options for this one: Room service simply isn’t profitable for hotels anymore, and many are phasing out room service, according to Hotel Online. Instead, some hotels are partnering with local restaurants that will deliver meals, or you can always try UberEats or other mobile delivery services. Here are more amenities slowly vanishing from hotel rooms.

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Desk and tv in modern hotel roomrilueda/Getty Images

A television

More and more hotels are going tech-free, according to Thrive Global, because this is what many travelers want when they are unwinding. So while televisions were a standard feature not too long ago, they may not be in your hotel room today. Maybe you won’t even notice: Apparently, business travelers aren’t bothering with televisions, according to the Business Journals. If you want to make sure you’ve got a TV in your room, just call ahead. And if you don’t, then simply BYO devices. And in case you were wondering, here’s why hotels are starting to get rid of minibars.

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Female tourist arriving in hotel, completing documents.valentinrussanov/Getty Images

Front-desk staff

Just like the supermarkets that have ditched their checkout workers and started offering self-checkout, there are some hotels that are experimenting with going sans a front desk altogether. Courtyard by Marriott renovated about a quarter of their U.S. locations and replaced front desks with welcome pedestals. And Starwood Hotels are testing tech-driven welcome services: Customers receive a text with their room number, so they can go directly to their rooms, according to Hotel magazine. The point is to get rid of that visible barrier between the guests and the hotel—and to make it easier for guests to go to their rooms without any lines or waiting. Still need help from an actual person? The hotels that have replaced their front desks with technology still make sure to staff the lobby with employees to provide a personal touch. Speaking of that personal touch, these 14 hotels have the best customer service.

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Unrecognizable female hotel receptionist working on computerHispanolistic/Getty Images

Overbooking protection

While there are a ton of overbooking rules for airplanes, hotels simply don’t offer this service. So if they oversell their rooms and you’re left stranded, you don’t have any protection at the federal, state, or local levels, according to The good news: Your confirmed reservation is a contract, so if the hotel can’t provide you with a room, you can take it up via contract law. The bad news: You may need a lawyer, and you still won’t have a room. If you find yourself in that situation, hop onto, TripAdvisor, or Orbitz to find another place to stay, and deal with the mess when you return. And before you book, check out these 13 things you didn’t know about online travel sites.

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woman in modern hotel room sitting on bed using laptop and talking over mobile phone. Business woman in hotel room using laptop and smartphone.jacoblund/Getty Images


Can’t go anywhere without cell service? You may want to inquire ahead of time to make sure you’re traveling to a Wi-Fi-friendly hotel. Some go out of their way to disconnect, and others simply don’t have the bandwidth to support all their guests who arrive with multiple devices, according to Hotel Management. Other hotels—often high-end hotels—charge for Wi-Fi. If you need to get online and are having issues, you may want to use a hotspot or go to your nearest coffee shop, where you’ll likely have better luck. By the way, here’s how to turn your smartphone into a mobile hotspot.

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Setting electronic thermostat heat to 68 degreesfluxfoto/Getty Images

Climate control

I recently stayed at a very upscale hotel that will remain nameless during an unseasonably warm week in the middle of winter. And I didn’t sleep the entire time I was there, thanks to a heating system that was set to operate for colder temperatures. This isn’t anything out of the ordinary, according to The Gate. Many hotels have climate-control systems that are set for specific seasons or temperatures, and guests can’t alter these. In addition, many hotel windows don’t open, and some charge for air conditioning. Read plenty of reviews before booking your hotel to determine whether you’ll be comfortable, and consult our list of the best hotels in every state, according to customers.

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Tube of toothpaste with breath strips. White background. Closeup.AndreyCherkasov/Getty Images


Hotels provide shampoo, body wash, conditioner, sewing kits, and slippers…but never toothpaste. Why? Apparently, there are a few reasons for it. The first is the cost: Per ounce, toothpaste costs more than other toiletries, according to Mental Floss. Second, there aren’t enough high-end toothpaste, and simply offering the brand that you’d use at home isn’t very exciting. And finally, to become a Five Diamond Hotel, you need to provide two types of soap, shampoo, and one additional item such as a hairdryer or sewing kit; there are no toothpaste requirements.

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Cropped shot of women working out with exercise bikes in a exercising class at the gymgradyreese/Getty Images

Fitness classes

These days, most hotels have a gym, or at least a room with a few treadmills and bikes. But the majority don’t offer fitness classes due to the staffing cost. (They’re usually offered on cruise ships, where they know you’re a captive audience and often charge extra for the classes). Fortunately, many hotels have alternatives, such as Peloton bikes (the classes are on-demand via the bikes), yoga mats that you can bring to your room, and in-room tablets with on-demand meditation, according to Travel + Leisure. Some hotels also have deals with nearby gyms so you can use their facilities for a small cost—and take their classes as long as you’re staying in the hotel. Next, check out the 10 most extravagant hotel amenities in the world.

Reader's Digest Canada
Originally Published on Reader's Digest Canada

Danielle Braff
Danielle Braff regularly covers travel, health and lifestyle for Reader's Digest. Her articles have also been published in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Boston Globe and other publications. She has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and a master's degree in musicology from Oxford University in England. Danielle is based in Chicago, where she lives with her husband and two children. See her recent articles at You can follow her on Facebook @Danielle.Karpinos, Twitter @daniellebraff, and Instagram at danikarp.