Unbundled airfares — now unbundled hotels. How do you feel about paying for a towel?

by Janice Hough on May 5, 2010

As airlines continue to unbundle their airfares, it’s hard to believe that just a few short years ago, we thought a no-frills airline was one that just served snacks and didn’t pre-assign seats.

Now, hotels are increasingly emulating the “pay for everything” model.

EasyHotels, from the same company that brought you easyJet, has a number of hotels (at time of writing, 12) mostly in Europe, that offer tiny rooms with showers. And no frills — maid service, for example, costs extra.

Now an Asian budget hotel chain, Tune Hotels, is opening their first European hotel in London, and they are making easyHotels look all-inclusive. Booking a room at the new Tune hotel, which will open in August by Waterloo station will include a bed and a small shower room. Period.

For starters, Internet access, air conditioning, hair dryers, toiletries and towels will be extra. Rooms will start at 9 square meters. Yes, that’s a little bigger than the pod/capsule hotes such as Yotel. But barely. (Yotel standard capsules are 7 square meters.)

On the other hand, Tune Hotels does promise on their site “beds feature high quality spring mattress beds with pillows, pillowcases, bed sheets and 250-thread count duvets, custom-made for our requirements by bedmakers who supply 5-star hotels — the basis of our promise for a 5-star sleeping experience!”

While rates have not been set, the basic rates in Asia have started as low as about $5. Clearly for budget travelers, this is an idea worth watching.

Of course, if Tune hotels are successful in Europe, where do they expand to next and what new extras can they concoct? Extra charges for sheets and duvets or blankets? Extra charges for turning on and off the lights? Extra charges for an actual bed in the room as opposed to say, floor space or a sleeping bag?

These might seem tongue in cheek, but years ago could we imagine airlines charging for seat assignments, carry-on bags and even peanuts?

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  • Elisa

    Well, why not? I don’t mind paying only for what I want or need during a specific travel. I might want more comfort if I’m staying for, say, a working travel, or for longer stays, or if I’m on a “comfort holiday” – that is, if that is my only period of time of the year in which I’m free of my daily duties. On the opposite, if I’m only staying a night, or I’m a backpacker, I might accept a lower level of service, provided the cleanliness and safety are ok. I’m not very bothered in hotels, far less on flights, because I believe the airlines are exploiting what should really be a service: transportation can not mean simply a cargo space where to put people like if it was goods. Considering prices (I’m talking about European non-low cost airlines) they should offer at least free carry-on and a minimum of comfort – to me, that would be a coffee on three or less hours-flights, and a meal on over three hours flights.

  • Robert Duval

    As a U.S. traveler who has lived and traveled in Asia for many years, I have stayed at Tune Hotels in Malaysia. They are clean, conveniently located, and a real bargain. Easy online booking, and rates that start under $5 (before the add-ons) make them a great choice for budget travelers or a quick stopover. Their hotel at KL’s budget terminal in Malaysia is within walking distance of the terminal. You choose the add-ons ( which is basically everything but the bed), but my last overnight stay there, including towel, amenity kit and AC, cost a total of less than $15. Can’t be beat.

  • Susan

    Ultra discount hotels that have a low base rate and use the cafeteria system and the end product is still a bargain – absolutely!! $400+ a night at the Four Seasons and a charge to use a robe or a towel, no way, never.

  • karlakatz

    Well, I did it! I refused the towel, and used my bedsheet instead. As they say in in The Village: Phuque ‘em

  • Susan

    Will the unbundling ever stop? Will EVERY business do this? It is getting out of control.

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