Staying at a hotel is always exciting and fun. They’re clean, have beautiful facilities, and provide you with a new personal space with endless options for fun. Though the hotel culture in one country is not necessarily the same as the next and if you’re traveling internationally you will notice slight differences in how hotels are run.
When it comes to Australia, the following are a few necessary things you should know about staying in our hotels. These are the most common and most significant things you just must remember while planning your stay.
Things You Should Know About Staying in Australian Hotels
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Tipping is Not Required
The advertised price here in Australia includes service, and while tipping is always a lovely gesture, it’s not part of the culture here. If you try to leave extra cash we’re generally trained to refuse.
Australians are paid a high minimum wage compared to the rest of the world, and regardless of your position, once you hit 18, minimum wage here is upwards of $17 per hour. Much of the time when you leave a tip, it goes in a jar toward the end-of-year staff Christmas party, though many companies claim the tips for the till and not individual employees.
Negotiate For a Better Price
The hotel industry in Australia is competitive, and one of the best ways to get a better deal on accommodation is to negotiate for a better price. Unless you’re traveling during peak time, there’s usually room to move on the nightly rate. Reservations will have 5 or 6 room rates for any given night, and will usually start by quoting you somewhere in the middle.
The best way to get a cheaper rate is to simply ask. The worst thing they can say is no, and you would be surprised by how often hotel staff will work with you if you’re polite. Ask the following questions to negotiate for a better price:
- Is that the best price you have at the moment?
- Are there any discounts for a longer stay?
- Is there any way to waive the fee for children?
- Is breakfast included? Is it cheaper to book a bed and breakfast package? (Normally a B&B package will drop the room rate by $10)
- Is there any chance for an upgrade?
- Can you match the online rate?
- Can you match the rate of XYZ property down the road?
The Water is Fine to Drink
Unless you’re staying somewhere incredibly remote, hotels across Australia have clean water, and its fine to drink from the tap unless there is a sign which says otherwise. You may be instructed to avoid tap water in rural areas where they use tanks, but in populated areas the water is fine.
Always ask the concierge or front desk staff if you’re unsure of the water. It’s a good idea to pack a drink bottle to take with you on days out exploring – bottled water in Australia can be expensive, and having something to refill means cutting down on plastic waste.
Don’t Expect to Smoke Here Like it’s Europe
Smoking may be a cultural pastime elsewhere, but Australia has passed several federal laws which make it difficult to smoke in public places. It doesn’t matter if you’ve booked accommodation in Perth or in Sydney, most hotels across the country have done away with their smoking rooms, and will charge hefty fines if you’re caught lighting up inside
Smokers are going to want to book a room with a balcony; otherwise there is usually a small designated smoking area on the grounds – usually at the front of the hotel or in the car park. We’ve banned smoking in enclosed restaurants, airports and any kind of public transportation too.
Note: Cigarettes in Australia carry ridiculously high taxes. A packet of 25 cigarettes in Australia will cost you between $25-$30 AUD; more than $1 a piece.
Be Aware of Credit Card Surcharges
It’s pretty standard of hotels across Australia to apply 1.5% surcharge to your invoice when using your credit card to pay on check-out. This has been a hotel standard since 2009 and is in place at all major hotels around Australia.
This credit card surcharge is in place to recover their merchant fees – management has made the choice to pass on the fee that they incur from the banks.
There is no surchage on EFTPOS (debit) payments, or on cash. VISA and Mastercard will normally carry a 1.5% surcharge, and AMEX and Diners can often be up to 3%. Depending on your bill, this can rapidly become quite expensive. So remember to budget for these fees.
Our electrical current is 220 – 240 volts, AC 50Hz. The Australian three-pin power outlet is different from many other countries, so you may need an adaptor.
Electrical points in Australia have 3 flat contact points. If you’re traveling from overseas with a lot of camera equipment, check that you have the correct travel adapter for Australia. This means ensuring your chargers and devices are rated to 230v. Most new electronics (including phone and laptop chargers) input voltage range between 100-240v and 50-60hz.
If you don’t have the correct adaptors you run the risk of permanently damaging your electronics. You should always take out travel insurance for expensive equipment – Southern Cross Travel Insurance is popular among Australians; www.scti.com.au.
WiFi is Not Always Free
It’s said that scoring a hotel with free Wi-Fi in Australia is harder than almost any other country except for China.
The majority of Australian hotels still charge for WiFi, so don’t automatically assume that this is included with the room.
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Photo credits: Australian powerpoint by Alikai.
Great tips Megan! I am actually gladly surprised about the fact that you can negotiate prices and services in hotels in Australia!
Thanks for sharing! Hope to visit Australia some day soon!
Thanks Christina! Hotels will always have a base rate they won’t go below, but yes, from working in reservations, we generally quote a little bit higher to begin with and can then bring the price down if need be. So it’s always worthwhile to ask! Generally the internet price will be the cheapest available rate, so it’s a good idea too to research that quickly before giving the hotel a call.
Hope you have the chance to visit Australia soon!
Good to know! You can haggle on the price? That’s freakin’ cool! Sucks on the credit card surcharge though.
Absolutely – sometimes, like in peak season, the price is going to be the price without room to move, but generally there is always a little wiggle room to come down :)
And yes, credit card surcharges are a hot topic of debate in Australia at the moment – it can really add up if you’re on a lengthy trip!
I never really thought about negotiating for a price! I wonder if there are any other developed countries where that is common practice? Probably comes in handy in a country where everything is so expensive!
I’ve found it’s pretty common across many countries to be able to negotiate on price actually :) Especially if you’re traveling to a destination with a lot of competition for tourism $$$
Very helpful! My daughter has been approved for immigration into Australia and she will start living there in February 2017. This means I will be exploring Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, and New Guinea in the next few years! But the deal about wifi sucks!
Sounds like a fabulous excuse to visit Australia and explore! Yes, just watch out for the charges on WiFi while here … if you’re here for a decent period of time you can get a prepaid sim card which comes with data and use your phone as a hot spot :)
Some great tips. I had an unexpected overnight in Melbourne so I didn’t know have time to look into things. Glad to know the credit card surcharge was standard and wasn’t something I was being taken advantage of, you never know. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Megan – you definitely weren’t being taken advantage of – credit card surcharges are right across the country unfortunately!
Will definitely remember about negotiating hotel prices in Oz. So good to know as I plan my trip!
Absolutely! Have a wonderful trip :)
Great tips! These will be very helpful when we travel to Australia and I totally would not have negotiated on price. I am quickly learning that prices are negotiable in most places so it is always worth asking. Good to know about the tips too. That can be so confusing from country to country. And with all of our kids tablets and our computers knowing how the electric works is very important :)!
Thanks Bryanna! Absolutely – I’ve found that prices are negotiable in most places too. And yes, definitely make sure you have the right adapters for electronics – can’t imagine the headache if a kids iPad ended up fried!
Thanks for the fantastic tips. I have also found in the States some of these things coming into play – WiFi that isn’t always free, very strict smoking laws, etc. I do love knowing that negotiating is completely normal and accepted – not always the case around the world. Cheers!
You’re welcome Julie! Glad to hear that non smoking is also very strict in the states – I can’t stand walking into a room and having it reek of smoke!
Thanks for the tips. I’m hoping to head to Australia at the end of the year so these will come in handy. I’m def gonna try and get a better rate!
You’re welcome Claire! Feel free to reach out if you have any further Q’s in the lead up to your trip :)
Absolute perfect timing since I will be headed to Australia in 6 weeks! I had no idea that I needed to convert my camera so I cannot thank you enough for saving my Canon! I assumed it would convert like it did in Europe so I would have been in for a nasty surprise!!
On Negotiating for a better price, do you mean only in person or on the phone? I’m wondering if the best way to book is through a travel website or is it possibly to email them to get a better price? I usually do hostels but it seems like hotels might be a better option for this trip!
Definitely make sure you have the right conversion and adapter for your camera – never a nice surprise to have something blow up because of the wrong voltage!
You can negotiate on price over the phone. Or email them. Usually the price online will be the cheapest rate, and over the phone they quote you a bit higher. But compare a couple of different websites, and then look on the hotel website itself to see what the average rate is looking like. Then you could send them an emai and ask, for instance, if there are any discounts or deals on offer, or if they are able to offer a cheaper rate for a longer stay, or match the rate of the hotel next door etc.
Feel free to reach out if you have any further Q’s in the lead up to your trip :) Happy travels!
Great post for new visitors to Aus – the fact that wifi is not always fee here really gets on my nerves! You get free wifi in the developing world – I hate the fact the western world thinks a reason to rip people off!
Mine too Vicki! I’ve always found it amazing too that it’s generally high end hotels which charge the highest nightly rates that charge for WiFi, while mid range and hostels usually offer it for free!
No free wifi? Ouch. Good to know in advance though. Thanks for the tips.
Glad we could help Melissa and give you the heads up :) Safe trip to Aus!
Do not assume wifi is available, let alone free – especially in the North where buildings are cyclone rated. Often the metal framework blocks the wifi signal, meaning only cabled wall connection internet is available in your room.
Thanks for the note on WiFi in the north Victoria. I haven’t traveled through much of North Aus yet, though we’re hoping to get to Darwin and Cairns next year. Looking forward to it! :)
Thanks for the tips! Will be very handy soon I hope :)
Thanks for sharing these superb hints. I will make use of these whenever I’ll plan to visit Australia.
You’re welcome, glad the post was helpful for you :) Have a great trip to Australia!
Hey, really fine tips, thanks!
Just wanna throw some info about casino hotels. Well, maybe not all of them, but the one I’ve been to – definitely. It’s been Astral Tower And Residences At The Star
Charging money for WiFi through all Australia is quite unpleasant thing for every traveller… But lucky me, in The Star they don’t do that))
Water is really crystal clear, you’re right. And that’s cool that you have a possibility to refill your bottle any time you want.
Credit Card surchargers. It was not 1.5%, but a bit less than 1%, smth about 0,8-0.9%. Not big number at all, actually, but still I can’t understand why they do that.
Cigarettes and alcohol are allowed in gamble area. People like to drink, smoke and make their bets at the same time. It’s business, and nobody wants to lose their money. And, I guess they purposely make your feel like at home, so u could spend more money and time over there. By the way, the air circulation is well done, so u almost don’t smell cigarettes while sitting near a smoker, especially if u drink:)
There are a lot of different top lists of Australian casino hotels, so everybody got a possibility to check them out before ordering a room. I was looking for a hotel for about 3 weeks, and here is my guide for every trip to Australia https://www.katiewager.com/best-10-casino-hotels-australia. Actually, I just was looking through the Sydney that time, and the one from that list was the best.
Oh, and about tipping! It is really uncommon to leave some extra money for waiters, or some clerks, like we usually do. I was a little surprised.
Hi Peter, thanks for sharing your experiences, glad you’ve had some great stays at some of our Casino hotels!
Yes drinking water is great so you can fill up straight from the tap if you keep your bottles for days out. I think they’ve recently dropped the credit card surcharges since I wrote this post – they can’t charge a flat rate anymore, it has to be exactly what they’re charged by the credit card company. So that’s why they do that, to cover their costs there.
Glad you were pleased with the air circulation in the smoking areas of casinos – I’m not a big gambler or smoker, so usually try to avoid these sections, but it’s definitely good to know for those who do like those activities.
And yes, tipping is not part of the culture here, which does surprise many people who come from countries like North America where it is common. Great way to save some holiday cash though!
Happy travels & thanks for stopping by :)