Should Guests Be Compensated for No Hot Water in a Hotel Room?

“I’m not normally a compensation kind of guy but I had a miserable end to my stay at the Marriott Burbank today (5/17). When I went to have a shower this morning, I was greeted to freezing cold water in the hot water faucet, and exactly the same in the shower. Not taking a shower was not an option, so I had the most miserable shower, complete with uncontrollable shivering and chattering teeth, it really was that cold! On check out I mentioned the issue and was greeted by a really indifferent front office staff who said something to the effect that ‘yeah, a few people have mentioned that as an issue’. What does the collective wisdom of the group think is an appropriate ask as compensation?”

Should Guests Be Compensated for No Hot Water in a Hotel Room?

Canopy by Hilton Reykjavik City Center

Photographs ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Finding out that no hot water was available for a shower prompted FlyerTalk member timfountain to post the paragraph you just read — but do you believe that compensation is deserved and forthcoming in this particular case?

This is just the latest in a series of at least 24 discussions which have been posted over the years at FlyerTalk pertaining to having no hot water in a hotel room — and at least 30 percent of them ask about compensation as a result.

The Importance of Hot Water

Tru By Hilton Oklahoma City Airport

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

Arguably the most important feature of a hotel room — after a clean and comfortable bed in which to sleep and a toilet — is hot water to properly clean yourself in the form of either a bath, shower or rinse from the sink.

I know that after spending many hours traveling from the United States to Finland via Amsterdam and taking a train from Helsinki Airport before transferring to a bus and then walking through the cold weather to the Hilton Helsinki Kalastajatorppa hotel property, the first thing I wanted to do after checking in and prior to going to sleep for the night was to take a nice long hot shower — the type with which the bathroom more closely resembles a sauna by the time I am done.


I am not sure how I would react if no hot water was available at that moment. I know I would not be happy — but would I request compensation?

One argument may be that a person could live without taking a shower for a day — but that argument can be countered by the fact that a hot shower is an expectation and essential to the experience of staying in a hotel room, for which you paid as part of the room rate. Other than home, a hotel room is the one place where you can take your time in the shower or bathtub without feeling rushed.

What to Do When No Hot Water is Available

Review: Hilton Garden Inn Krakow Airport

Photographs ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

The very first thing which you should do if you encounter a hotel room with no hot water is contact the person at the front desk as soon as possible to resolve the issue — as opposed to contacting customer service at the corporate office after the fact when it is too late to correct the issue — as the cause may potentially be something which could be literally fixed in minutes. That may be cold comfort when you are in a hurry and want that hot water right now; but not everything is perfect in this world.

An interesting suggestion was imparted by FlyerTalk member Oxon Flyer: “…in situations where there’s a localised HW outage in the room and it’s just not an option to miss your shower and time is limited, collective wisdom says a quick/pragmatic fix is to go straight down to the health club/pool and use their showers instead.” Note that the key word is localised, as the problem could exist throughout the entire hotel or resort property and therefore not be a viable solution — plus, the element of privacy and convenience is somewhat mitigated when you are not with your belongings in the hotel room.

A hotel or resort property whose staff prides on offering service will find no hot water for any guest unacceptable; and the manager will likely automatically compensate you for your troubles — especially at hotel and resort properties which guarantee that you enjoy your stay…

…but if no compensation is offered to you automatically, you may want to consider asking for what you believe is appropriate: perhaps a discount off of the room rate; some points added to your frequent guest loyalty program membership account; or maybe a little bit of both. I personally would not consider demanding compensation for the absence of hot water.

Another consideration is how long your hotel room has not had hot water. A minimum of two days without hot water would be unacceptable by the standards of many guests; while one day is debatable and dependent upon the set of circumstances in each situation. I personally would probably overlook only 30 minutes without hot water.

If a member of the staff advises you that hot water is not expected to be available for at least two full days, you may want to consider asking to be moved to a different hotel property. In this case, you would be issued a refund and a stay at a different hotel property at a reduced cost — or perhaps even at no charge at all. Again, this depends on the circumstances of the situation.


Hilton Helsinki Strand

Photographs ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

No lodging company — or, more precisely, no hotel or resort property — is immune from a breakdown in the plumbing system, which does not automatically mean that compensation is due to you if you are affected as a guest.

For me, myriad factors depend on whether or not I would request compensation for no hot water. For example, if the members of the staff did everything they could for me, I would not request compensation — but if they were rude and apathetic with a half-hearted attempt to resolve the issue, that is another story.

One thing is virtually certain: unless the hotel room was unbearably hot, I would not consider taking a cold shower.

I am interested in reading in the Comments section below about your experiences when you were in a hotel room with no hot water available — or, at least, whether or not you believe the resolution to this issue should include appropriate compensation.

All photographs ©2015, ©2017 and ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

8 thoughts on “Should Guests Be Compensated for No Hot Water in a Hotel Room?”

  1. Rich says:

    You write “A hotel or resort property whose staff prides on offering service will find no hot water for any guest acceptable”–I’m sure you mean “… unacceptable.”

    I consider adequate hot water on demand to be part of what the hotel commits to in accepting my reservation. My response to failure to provide hot water would depend on when the problem presented itself and how long it was expected to last:

    No hot water on arrival, no estimate of when it will be fixed: I’d consider this a walk. It doesn’t come from the hotel being too full, but it’s an inability to provide what’s committed to, similar to what happened when I arrived at the Hyatt Churchill in London a couple of hours after an accidental gas explosion. The hotel treated that as a walk without my having to ask for it.

    No hot water on arrival, expected to be fixed soon, and actually fixed soon: No big deal to me.

    Short outage, scheduled in advance so that I can plan around it: No big deal.

    Unexpected outage that I can work around: Inconvenient, but I wouldn’t ask for compensation.

    Unexpected outage that I can’t work around (like, I can’t shower before work or going to the airport): A big deal. I think I’d ask for the equivalent of half a night’s rate, and not settle for less than a quarter. They’ve failed to provide an essential part of what they promised. If the chain has a 100% satisfaction guarantee, I’d invoke it.

    Like you, the staff’s attitude would have a big impact on what I demanded and how insistent I was. In the case that prompted this discussion, I’d make a big fuss with corporate.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I cannot argue with you, Rich, as I believe that everything that you wrote is reasonable…

      …and the correction has been applied to the article. Thank you. I appreciate it.

  2. Gene says:

    Last time we had no hot water while preparing for our departure to the airport we refused to pay for our one night stay. The manager whined about how we should have been notified via card slid under our door and that we could have planned accordingly. Problem is that the union staff claimed that they couldn’t slide the cards under the doors because their contract didn’t allow it and they may injure their backs.

  3. Mike Saint says:

    HOT water is a DEFINITE must! I’ve only had 2 times in 25+ years of traveling where the hot water didn’t work. I complained and they gave me I believe a 50% discount. One time it was localized and I had to go to a hospitality suite type room to take a shower but it was a pain as it wasn’t ready yet. The other time I went to the spa and took a shower. Still inconvenient compared to taking one in your own room.

  4. D.A. says:

    Yes to compensation. This a basic requirement/expectation. Once in this situation, I encountered an unsympathetic and indifferent manager. The hotel had no health club/pool shower. One quick call to the local city health inspector with a complaint of a health code violation got a resolution real quick with the indifferent manager!

  5. Jimmy says:

    Yup, I would ask for a refund if I didn’t have hot water for my stay (one night of no hot water = one night refund, etc.) as I fully expect there to be hot water in my room.

  6. Scott says:

    Didn’t have hot water at the Novotel Rotorua one morning, they comped dinner for 2 and a bottle of wine.

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