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Is a Surprise Hotel Fitness Fee Worse Than a Steep WiFi Charge?

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 17 East Monroe St [map], Chicago, IL, United States, 60603
April 7, 2009 at 9:13 AM | by | ()

Just when we thought paying for WiFi to be the worst of hotel extra evils, a reader has reminded us of yet another devil in the details: additional charges for using the hotel's gym. Calling out Chicago's Palmer House Hilton in particular, our tipster uncovers more than just the fee, but also the lack of signage regarding it:

Just discovered -- the Palmer House charges $18 (!!) for guests to use their fitness center. I'm sure it's lovely, but at the news of $18 I turned around and left. Outrageous on several levels: the price (although I wouldn't pay anything) and the fact that there was absolutely no clue until I walked and found a front desk that there were any fees involved. Even then, nothing's posted.

While the Palmer House's "Spa Chakra Luxury Fitness" center does look mighty fine on their website, we highly doubt that many guests would crowd the space even if it were free; you go to Chicago to eat carbohydrates and worry about the damage later, after all. Still, we majorly sympathize with this surprise, having run into a similar $10 fitness fee at Harrah's Atlantic City before.

What about you? Have you encountered any hotels who hold their gyms above guest's heads with extra fees? Did you cave and pay or wait to return to your Wii Fit back at home? Sound off in the comments.

[Photo: Palmer House Hilton]

Archived Comments:


Can we make a sign that says "$18 Fitness Fee" and then take a picture of it and then submit it to ThisIsWhyYoureFat.com?

Okay, it's 9:20 am, I am not funny yet. Or maybe at all.

Not completely against fitness center fees

Many of the hotels I have been to have charged a fee for their fitness center. To their defense, those fitness centers are usually top notch and are located within some type of spa.
I workout regularly while I am on vacation, and the free fitness is a plus. However, I have found out that many of the free fitness centers in hotels have poorly maintained equipment or not a lot of variety. Typically, I look for fitness centers that are pretty sweet in hotels, and I am used a paying a fee from $10 - $20. Sometimes, hotels will offer passes to local fitness centers which is the biggest plus for me.

I have also been to many hotels that have free fitness centers to find their equipment in such ill-repair. I then have to find a fitness center locally and pay the $20 per day fee - which infuriates me. So if it means quality well maintained equipment in a sweet fitness setting, I'm all for it.  

Also, look for newer hotels - they have the health conscious in mind and design awesome fitness centers with cool equipment free for hotel guests. aloft Hotels, Nylo, the new Wynham Garden Inns come specifically to mind.


I'm a platinum member with Hilton which gives you a discount at this fitness center but since I booked on Hotwire, they didn't give me the discount or any of the benefits.

Thats not a great way to keep your loyal customers in this economy...

Fitness charge ok with me

Having a good fitness facility while vacationing or away on business is a plus in my book and would gladly pay a surcharge.


Andy, being a loyal Platinum HH member you could probably do better calling the hotel direct and negoiating a price, getting upgrades or securing extra perks. Booking via Hotwire doesnt show any brand loyalty, just helps with the lowest priced room. You shouldnt receive any points or privledges booked via hotwire or priceline. Hotels are more flexible than ever to do whats right for its repeat guests.

Fitness Fees

I enjoy working out while traveling but hate to pay a fee to do it.  If I'm paying for a room I feel it should come with all the amenities.  I understand why some hotels charge a fee especially if the hotel does not run the fitness center.  As a Hilton Diamond member, I am almost always given free entrance to their clubs.  The one time I did not get free fitness access  was at the Hilton Cavalieli Rome.  The fee was an unbelievable $40 US per day!!!  I wrote to Hilton and received a reply from the manager at the Cavalieli.  He explained that the Fitness Center was not affiliated with the hotel.  I still question the $40 US fee.  Why didn't the hotel negotiate a reasonable fee for their guests. Isn't it amazing that all the other hotels like Embassy Suites, Hampton Inns and Hilton Garden Inns all have free Fitness Center access.  It always seems to be the more expensive or resort hotels that feel they have to charge.

Nope...charging for WiFi is worse...a lot worse!

At least the hotel has an investment in equipment, finish-out, maintenance and staff to run the fitness center.  What does it cost to provide WiFi...a couple of dozen $100 routers?  WiFi is still the rip-off of the Millennium.  The budget and mid-priced chains have no trouble giving it away, so you be the judge of what's justified and what isn't.  Besides...I can do without the fitness center; wifi is a necessity, just like hot water.  Only in the hotel business are things this backwards...when it comes to chains, the less you pay, the more you get!

$40 per day!!

At the wonderful Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, they charge $40 PER DAY to use the facilities which are spectacular, but really $40 for a workout?  Of course, if you book a spa treatment, the fee is waived. How about a three-day pass for $50 JUST for workouts?