Hotel Valet Parking is surely one of the ultimate scurges of staying in hotels on business trips. I’d hate it even more if I was on a leisure trip.
So let’s face facts Hotel Valet Parking is an expensive play on service which saps money and at times a will to live. Sold as a luxury it can sometimes come across as the biggest inconvenience to your free movement whilst away from home.
So let’s look at the facts as to why Hotel Valet Parking is so detestable:-
Premium Service at a cost
It is offered as a premium service. “Oh sir we’ll park your car for you”. Oh thanks. I’ve driven all this way and you think I can’t park the car myself now that I’ve stopped?
Okay you’ll park it for me but it’ll cost how much? I said how much? $10-$12 dollars more per night than if I parked the car myself? Ridiculous.
Lack of choice
I’ve often been shocked at the price of valet parking yet I often end up in hotels on business trips where the hotel offers parking, but it is only hotel valet parking! Yeah, nice. Thanks for the choice. Can I just park it myself? Er no, you haven’t got any parking bays visible for me to access. Nice set up you’ve got going there.
I remember arriving at the Toronto Hilton hotel one day after driving from the airport. A nice, plush hotel right in the heart of a great city.
As I pulled up at the lobby I enquired if it was okay to leave the car whilst I unloaded and checked in. The concierge said it was okay but would I like him to park the car for me with the hotel valet parking? I immediately expressed my preference not to and asked about where I could park the car.
He then told me a tale which to be honest was not entirely a lie yet it was certainly misleading and a tactic to scare me. He indicated that the nearby car park was expensive and would charge me each time I went in and out. I also believe he left me with the wrong impression on times of access.
I was tired, very tired in fact with jet lag. I didn’t want to argue or try to solve such a dilemma so hesitantly agreed to his offer. The way he sold it there seemed to be little other option.
No option in Washington D.C.
Word of warning for anyone visiting Washington D.C. – you’ll struggle to find parking on a weekend!
Yes I went a few years ago to Washington D.C. for a weekend trip. I spent close to an hour driving around the centre of the city looking for a car park, that was open! They all shut up for the weekend. This was ridiculous.
I only had an overnight bag so I didn’t mind walking a little bit but I couldn’t find anywhere open remotely close to the hotel.
So begrudgingly I arrived at the hotel and took little joy in their overpriced hotel valet parking service which was the only parking available.
Lack of freedom and unreliable hotel valet parking
This is not something new and I’m sick of experiencing it.
With hotel valet parking you can’t just come and go as you choose. You need to plan ahead.
I’m often told to call in advance so they can get the car for me. 10 minutes should be fine.
So I call 30 minutes before I need the car to give them plenty of time.
Yes, you’ve guessed it. It is not there. Not a great start when you need to be somewhere, like at work or make a flight.
This happened at the Toronto Hilton hotel to me. The hotel valet attendant apologised saying he forgot. Great! Now I need to wait another 10 minutes whilst a valet guy is free to go and fetch my car.
This also happened to me this morning at my hotel in Melbourne, Australia.
I called 30 minutes in advance, speaking to someone called Lisa on Reception. “It’ll be ready for you sir” she promises.
“Yeah right” I thought.
Sure enough I turn up on time and there is only Lisa on Reception. When I ask for the keys to my car she says “Oh I’m sorry, I need someone to go get it for you. Will you be going for breakfast first?”
“What!” I think to myself. Firstly the car is not ready when I gave you plenty of notice. Second you wonder if I’d like to go for breakfast whilst I wait? Are you crazy? I’ve already had breakfast and I wanted to leave at this time. Now I have to wait 10 minutes because you are not ready for me.
Forget hotel valet parking and do your own thing
So where ever possible I forget hotel valet parking if I can. Do my own thing even if it is a bit of a walk. This is admittedly not great if you have luggage but it saves the stress. It can also save a bit of money too.
You may remember my discussion at the Hilton hotel in Toronto. Well I soon sussed that one out. The car park opposite was not quite as expensive or restrictive as they made out. If I left the garage before a certain time in the morning, say 7 or 8am then I got the cheaper overnight rate.
This worked out fine for me as I was going to work each day. I’d leave early and catch breakfast on the way.
I saved around $12 a night this way; okay it was on company expenses but still it saved my company money.
The hotel even made the mistake of trying to charge me for hotel valet parking for the entire length of my stay. I soon put a stop to that as I explained what happened.
Is hotel valet parking worth it?
In one simple word I think “no”. If you have choices then avoid it and find a car park which is a few yards or a street or two away. I don’t find it to be a luxury and if they ever hang around expecting a tip from me they can get lost.
The worst thing about hotel valet parking
Do you know what the worst thing about hotel valet parking is? Well I’ll tell you.
They’ve never cleaned my car. Not once!