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.

Aaahhhhh.

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.

Summary

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.

17 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.

    1. Joe says:

      one night with no hot water is equal of 25% off the room rate not a full refund

  6. Scott says:

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

  7. Jared says:

    I’m dealing with this issue right now at a Ceasars property. No hot water for the 1 night stay. The hotel worker just checked me out and ignored my concern about no hot water or WiFi. She said the hotel had hot water problems and just checked me out.

    I said it was unacceptable so the manager came over to offer compensation of some sort for another stay. I said that’s not ok. So she took about 14 dollars off my hotel bill.

    I asked for a number for someone in corporate, she said there isn’t one and I could email. So I said I’m just going dispute the charge with Chase.

    So now that it’s posted, And they didn’t care to make it right, I’m going to dispute it.

    I’m not tracking down someone in the hotel after a very late night with a large group of friends after drinking. Hot water is expected, especially at an expensive Casino Hotel.

  8. Mary says:

    My kids are in Kentucky at a Best western. No hot water…. 2 hrs later….NO WATER ANYWHERE IN HOTEL! All hotels ANYWHERE CLOSE BY are bOOJED as the Bass Nectar New Years concert is going on tonight. What do they do!

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Your kids minimally deserve some sort of compensation for no availability of water at all, Mary.

      What eventually happened?

  9. John Vellacott says:

    I would just like you to comment on the following to see if you think this is acceptable customer service .

    I recently booked to stay for 5 days in Stratford London for business .

    I stayed the first 2 with no issues on the third day I woke up to find the whole hotel appeared to have no hot water .
    These things happen I made do without a shower and went to work .
    On my return approx 5.30 pm there was still no hot water .
    I was sweaty smelly and in need of a shower surely a minimum standard to expect .
    I spoke to the duty manager and he was unable to indicate when the water would be back on .
    I stated I did not wish to stay the night and could I have a refund for that night only as I would need to find alternative accommodation . He said yes but I would need to register my request on the web site .
    I am aware others complained and there may be other people in the same position .
    I then organised alternative accommodation which ended up costing me additional expense.
    On checking out I spoke with the duty manager and explained I would like a refund for that night only she again said it would be sorted if I contact customer services .

    On contacting customer services I was offered £40 as a good Will gesture and no refund . I asked if Click travel could be refunded the answer was still £40 as my booking was non amendable .

    I am unsure what they expect people to do they had no idea when the hot water would be on and they expect people to continue to stay even for that night ? They were not in a position to provide basic sanitary services let alone a good nights sleep .

    This clearly does not seem acceptable and I would like to give them an opportunity to have this reviewed and do the right thing provide a refund for the night I did not stay not my whole 5 days

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Hot water is one of the basic requirements of a hotel room, John Vellacott. Otherwise, you may as well camp in a tent.

      £40.00 rarely covers the total cost of a room in London unless you are in a run down hotel property. I believe you should have at least recovered your losses and been given compensation for your inconvenience.

      Definitely pursue this matter further; and please let me know if I can assist you, if possible.

  10. Amber Healy says:

    My family of 6 stayed at Red Lion Mcminmville, Oregon this past weekend, and within a few hours of checkin we had no hot water in both sink and shower. We also had other issues like a dirty room, and infestation of ants.Spoke with front desk and asked if maintenance can check on it. She said I would need to come back at 11pm to speak to manager. I asked to be moved to another room. They said no, because I paid through 3rd party.. (expedia)Basically our vacay was affected by this as I had to stay near the hotel. Manager checked water in the office area and says well we have hot water here. He was very condescending. Then he said he told me that maintenace would check out the room mid day Saturday. That never happened. Saturday night at 8pm we again requested to be moved to another room and was denied. At check out I asked for a partial refund do to the experience lack of hot water, dirty room, and ants. I was offered an apology and a 20%discount on a future reservation IF I booked on Sunday.
    Um. Why would I come back and if they wouldn’t make it right or at least acknowledge the fact that their hotel was having issues.
    Called the Yamhill Health Dept. And apparently they have received over 25 complaints just today!

  11. Susan Wilcox says:

    We have been staying at the Travelodge in Eugene Oregon for about 3 months now. Because of covid we have been unable to find a house to rent. Monday early afternoon we were presented with no hot water. I asked several people if they were experiencing the same problem and the response was yes to all. So I called the front desk and informed them that we were without hot water. They said they would have a plumber here is the following morning. Day two still no hot water and was informed by housekeeping about the plumber was there working on it and it should be less than an hour. Day 3 still no hot water! This is getting ridiculous. Unable to shower, clean our dishes, or even wash up. We are now working on day 4 and still no hot water! Barely warm enough to wash my face. I had a doctor’s appointment today and had to reschedule because I was not going to go without a shower or some other way to clean myself up. Now at the beginning of day 4 I can barely stand myself much less be around anyone else. My daughter is in treatment I have to go in everyday, she is embarrassed because she is unable to shower. I have several health issues that is causing me to have more problems because of things like yeast infection and such. I am a diabetic and have to give myself insulin shots four times a day so I wash the area with cold soapy water to do this. Many times I have been told that it will only be a few more minutes without hot water. Can’t afford to go anywhere else and have settled in this room now for 3 months. What should I do? When I talk to the front desk the lady was condescending and offered no apology and just that they were working on it. What do we do?

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Travelodge is a brand of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Susan Wilcox.

      Please contact their customer service here…

      https://www.wyndhamhotels.com/travelodge/contact-us

      …and tell them all about your stay — including how the employees are not listening to your concerns. You may be able to get compensation for your troubles.

      Please return to provide an update for your situation — as well as if you need any further assistance from me.

      If another place was available nearby, I would have checked out of the current hotel and checked into another one. Four days without hot water is wholly unacceptable and inexcusable.

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