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.