How To Tell When Paying The Hotel Parking Fee Is Worth It

Staying at hotels can be expensive. When it comes to vacationing, you'll typically spend much of your budget on your travel, whether you're driving or flying, and your accommodations. Finding places to cut costs on these two expenses means extra cash for dining, entertainment, tours, and shopping. You know, the fun stuff.

But this always entails a cost-benefit analysis. Is that four-hour layover worth saving $100? Would you rather commute or save $20 a night staying outside of the city's center? When traveling, there are all kinds of decisions to make, and they typically involve the added cost of convenience. Paying for hotel parking is no different.

Parking at a hotel in major cities can cost between $25-$35 per night, if not more. Also, many luxury hotels have mandatory valet parking policies, which can add additional costs. If you're staying at a hotel for multiple nights, the cost of parking onsite can up quickly. While there may be ways to avoid this additional cost, there may be circumstances in which paying for parking onsite is absolutely worth it.

How to avoid hotel parking fees

First, we should mention the best way to avoid parking fees is to skip the car. If you're flying to a destination, the cost of renting and parking a car may not be worth the convenience. Unless you're planning day excursions outside of town, opting for rideshares and public transportation will almost always be less expensive.

However, if you're driving into the city, then researching parking alternatives may save you money. Parking in major cities can be difficult but rarely impossible. You can use Google Maps to locate nearby parking garages or utilize parking apps, such as ParkWhiz or Parkopedia, to compare nearby parking costs. While perhaps not as convenient as parking at the hotel, these spots may be a fraction of the cost.

If you're an elite loyalty member of the hotel, you can also ask if they'll waive the hotel parking fee. For example, World of Hyatt provides free onsite parking for elite-status members who reach a certain tier.

When hotel parking fees are worth it

When we mentioned that "parking in major cities can be difficult but rarely impossible," we mostly meant that — with one caveat: special events or holidays. If your hotel is located near a sports stadium or arena with a large planned event, you'll find that the cost of nearby parking garages may be even more expensive than your hotel parking fees. During these special events, parking is at a premium, if you're lucky enough to even reserve a spot.

Similarly, you may find it nearly impossible to locate parking during certain holidays. For example, you'd be hard-pressed to find parking at popular beach destinations during Spring Break or over Memorial Day weekend. Your best bet is to pay up for hotel parking, which may actually be a steal compared to other options.

Finally, it's a good idea to research the parking situation of the particular area or neighborhood of your hotel. On-street parking may not be allowed during the week (but allowed on the weekends) or the parking garages may charge a fee every time in enter and exit. While some budget-cutting options may be initially enticing, you may find the hassle and cost of parking offsite less appealing after digging a little deeper.