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I have read various stories of travelers on an (otherwise free) award stay still being charged a “hotel city tax” on checkout.  I have seen reports of the hotel city tax mostly in Europe: Rome, Amsterdam, Paris and other cities.  Generally, the reports have been that it is charged most (but not all!) of the time, even on Points, Points + Cash, or Free night certificates, and the reports I have seen said that very few people have had any luck arguing with the front desk at checkout about the hotel city tax, though there were some reports of getting refunded after the fact from the hotel / chain.

I thought that I would share my experiences from my recent trip to Europe:

Nice hotel city tax

When I say Nice hotel city tax, I don’t mean that it was a “nice” hotel city tax, but instead a hotel city tax in Nice, France 🙂

We used our free hotel night from the Hyatt credit card to stay at the Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Méditerranée

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The hotel was nice, though it didn’t give breakfast (for non-elites), but the location was GREAT – when taking this picture, I was standing right on the boardwalk right on the Mediterranean.

Our reservation was a free award night, and had a balance of $0.  But when we went to check out, the agent told me that €3 was due, due to the hotel city tax for 2 people.  I’ve learned that generally speaking the person that you talk to has no leeway to not charge you the hotel city tax, so I paid it, and complained to Hyatt later.  So far Hyatt has rebuffed my suggestions, though I’d say we are still “in negotiations” 🙂

Rome hotel city tax – Radisson Blu

When we went to Rome the next day, we checked in to the Radisson Blu in Rome.  We didn’t have a super experience at the hotel (hotel review coming), but one nice benefit is that when we went to check out, there was no hotel city tax charged.  I had heard that it was €7 / person / day, so since we stayed 2 nights, I was prepping to fight a €28 charge for the hotel city tax, but when we checked out, there was no charge.

I don’t know if that was due to the fact that we paid 50% extra points (66,000 vs. 44,000) to get a “Premium Award” (which also came with breakfast)

If you look at the Rate details when you book online (for both a Premium Award as well as a Standard Award), it says
rome-radisson-blu-hotel-city-tax

(emphasis mine).  Does that mean that the hotel city tax is EXCLUDED from the rate (you should expect to pay it), or if you book this rate, then you are EXCLUDED from having to pay it?  If I had to guess, I’d say the former, but again, I was not charged the hotel city tax

Rome Fiumicino hotel city tax – Comfort Hotel Fiumicino

After 2 nights at the Radisson Blu, our 3rd and final night in Rome we stayed at the Comfort Hotel Fiumicino, closer to Rome’s Fiumicino airport.  Again, this was an award stay (I used 8,000 Choice points which I had transferred from Chase via Amtrak)

(SEE ALSO: Why you want to transfer Amtrak points to Choice Hotels)

But when I went to check out, I was charged €4 (2 Euros / person) as a hotel city tax.  I tried to say that it was an award night and I shouldn’t have to pay, but (probably in part due to a language barrier), that went nowhere, and again, I paid it and then complained to Choice.

The other day, I did get a note back from the General Manager

Regarding your complaint about the city tax I would like to let you know that I’m personally sending you the 4  euros via priority mail.
Please write me back your exact address so that I can proceed.

To me, it’s not so much about the 4 Euros but more the principle of the thing

I think one of the things that myself and other travelers find so frustrating is the lack of any consistency applied.  All the other taxes are (typically) excluded on an award night, so why is the hotel city tax any different?  If so, why is it charged sometimes and not others?

What about you? Have you paid a hotel city tax on any hotel award stays? Do you feel it’s a legitimate tax, or are individual hotels trying to take advantage of the situation?

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