This blog post was updated on May 12, 2020.
I walked into my hotel room in Innsbruck, Austria to numerous questionable stains on the carpet, a dead mosquito squashed on the wall and a non-existent Wi-Fi connection. It was quite clear I had to get out of here. The only thing keeping me under the hotel’s lock and key was a non-refundable room rate. As I wasn’t getting what we paid for, namely a clean room and a working Wi-Fi connection, I left. Rather than eating the price for two nights on my non-refundable rate, I managed to finagle a refund by following several steps. While these tips might not guarantee a refund on your hotel room, following these measures could increase your chances of getting the unthinkable, your money back on a non-refundable rate.
Express Your Concerns To The Hotel Directly: Even if you booked your non-refundable room rate on a third party booking site, you have to express your concerns with your room or your travel plans with the hotel directly. I made this mistake in Iceland when I left my non-refundable hotel room due to major cleanliness issues. Upon calling the booking agent when I go back home, they said I would have had to bring up the issue with the hotel directly. If your room isn’t right or you are experiencing extraordinary circumstances changing your travel plans, express your concerns to the hotel directly. An email to the hotel manager or a simple talking to just might right the wrong.
Keep Cool, Calm and Collected: It can be easy to get mad at hotels when you aren’t receiving what you paid for in the end. However, making up excuses or crying wolf will not get you a refund. In my case, I calmly explained to the hotel manager why the room was unacceptable, especially with no working Wi-Fi connection. While the manager was not too please to give me my money back, she did let me walk out of there without paying for two nights I wouldn’t be using. Getting angry or overly aggressive won’t help your chances for obtaining a refund.
Call Your Booking Agent: If you didn’t book directly through the hotel, give your booking agent a call. In my case over the Iceland hotel, they couldn’t refund my money but they did offer me a credit. Each and every booking site is different and it might take calling a few different times to get someone who can either lend a refund or a credit for your troubles.
Use Travel Insurance: If there is a death in the family or maybe a hurricane forces you to change all of your travel plans, most hotels aren’t going to give you a refund. They don’t care that you can’t make it to your non-refundable room. However, if you have travel insurance in certain cases, you might be able to file a claim and be reimbursed for those hotel rooms you didn’t end up using.
Ask For a Hotel Credit: If you have pleaded with the hotel about your travel plans changing and they just won’t budge on a refund, at least ask if it possible to rebook for another time or receive a hotel credit. While you might not want to book with that chain again or stay at that specific property, a hotel credit might be the only refund they are willing to give.
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