A lot of hotel guests wonder if the coffee and tea in their hotel room is free for the taking.
In this article, I’ll take a look at whether or not the tea and coffee in your hotel room is actually free and some key considerations you want to think about when deciding to take it.
Is the coffee and tea in your hotel room free?
Most hotels allow you to consume the coffee/tea provided in your hotel room for no additional charge. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you are getting it for “free” though. Keep reading below for some things you need to know about using the coffee and tea in your hotel room.
Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!
You are probably already paying for it
A lot of hotel guests get excited about free things during their visit.
Free welcome cookie? Awesome. Free water bottle? Cool.
Not to burst anyone’s bubble but many of these things are not really free when you consider that you’re basically paying for them when you book a hotel room.
In other words, the cost of those items is probably already factored into your room rate, so it’s really like you’re getting them at no additional charge.
You can bet that when a hotel sets the price of a room, they are assuming that you will take advantage of the “freebie.”
If you don’t use the freebie, the hotel makes more profit from you. If you do use them, the hotel makes less profit from you but still does not lose money because they already factored in the cost.
When you’re staying at a Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt, etc., you’ll almost never see coffee/tea itemized on your check-out receipt (although in some cases you’ll see in room coffee/tea itemized as part of a resort fee).
While these facts might dampen some of the enthusiasm about getting free stuff, it should make you feel a little bit better about utilizing everything “free” in your room.
For example, a lot of people don’t like to take full advantage of situations where they are given complimentary items like coffee and tea.
But if you are already paying for all of this stuff then you should be more inclined to indulge in as many cups of tea or coffee as you would like.
And all of those creamers and sweeteners? Use them up if you’d like!
The only time you might be getting charged extra for coffee is if it is part of a snack bar/mini-bar item but it should be very clear that you will be paying for it and most likely it will come in a more premium form if that is the case.
Check out: Should You Tip Hotel Housekeeping?
Can you take as much coffee as you want?
It’s debatable about whether or not you should take coffee and tea packets home with you.
It’s one thing to consume the coffee and tea when you are staying at the hotel but to take a handful of packs with you back home, well that’s just a bit different.
Still, within reason, I believe it’s acceptable to take a couple of packs with you.
The reason is that it’s not uncommon for people to take a cup of coffee with them to go when they check out.
I would just try to not get too excessive about it.
That’s because as mentioned the price of your in-room coffee or tea is already factored in to your room rate but they probably assume you will be consuming a reasonable quantity.
At a certain point, when your consumption level of these becomes ridiculous you’re no longer taking things that you’ve paid for. (They truly do become free at that point.)
I’m not saying that you always have to stay within the unofficial and unstated consumption limits set by the hotel (whatever those might be). If you normally drink an absurd level of coffee or tea then by all means I say go for it.
But when you are going out of your way to stash coffee and tea in absurd quantities, it’s just not a good look.
You can usually get more in the lobby
Your hotel room may have a few packets of tea and coffee but in a lot of cases you can find a lot more down by the hotel lobby.
This could be in the area where they serve breakfast or somewhere nearby but a lot of times you can find a much larger offering of coffees and teas.
And I don’t just mean quantity, there may be more variety down there as well. Sometimes you even run into unexpected offerings like a free sparkling water machine or perhaps some type of infused water.
Some non-guests try to abuse these situations by just walking into a hotel and making a glass of coffee and then heading out. It’s not always easy for the front desk to tell these people apart from paying hotel guests so a lot of times they get away pretty easily.
But as a hotel guest you should feel perfectly okay with walking into the lobby and walking out with a cup of coffee or tea. This is the case even if you are heading in via the main entrance and you don’t necessarily look like a hotel guest coming in from the elevator or common area.
In the very unlikely situation you are asked about your guest status, you could simply flash your key card and go on with your day.
Be careful with coffee makers
The biggest advice I have about using coffee makers for tea or coffee in your hotel room is that you should think twice about doing it.
I’ve done a lot of research on coffee makers in hotel rooms and I can tell you that many of these do not receive the attention they need in terms of cleaning and descaling.
In fact, some hotel employees remarked that their hotel basically never cleans them. It’s not uncommon for these coffee makers to be home too high levels of bacteria and other germs. So when I travel I never use the hotel coffee maker.
Instead, I bring along my own collapsible tea kettle. It’s the one pictured below and it makes me feel exponentially better about heating up water for tea.
Typically, the tea/coffee/hot chocolate in your hotel room is free of charge in the sense that you will not be charged extra for it.
But it’s not exactly free because chances are you already paid for it when you paid for your room rate. For that reason, you should feel okay taking full advantage of your coffee packets and pods.
I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking some with you on the road but just try to avoid doing so excessively.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.