Accidentally booking a smoking room — reader mistake story

Apr 20, 2020

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Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Debbie, who got an unwelcome surprise upon arrival at her hotel:

I almost always book hotels in advance, directly with the hotel. I then watch the rates, hoping for them to go down. This often happens and I cancel my original reservation and rebook at the lower rate. But, this time I was in a hurry.

I booked a nonsmoking room for two (one king bed), for my stay in Tucson early this month. I was lucky, and the daily rate dropped $7 a night, so I canceled and rebooked as I usually do. Imagine my surprise when we checked in, to find that in my haste, I had rebooked a smoking room for one person!

This was right before the coronavirus impacted travel and there wasn’t a single nonsmoking room available. Plus, the proprietor of this independently-owned, budget chain, added $10 to the bill for the second person. Because I wasn’t careful, my ‘savings’ actually cost me $3 more. A nominal amount, for sure, but a good lesson for me to learn. Read what I am signing up for!

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Thankfully Debbie’s mistake wasn’t too expensive here, but having to stay in a smoking room as a nonsmoker is quite the unpleasant (and unhealthy) experience. Most major hotel chains default you to booking nonsmoking rooms, but when you’re staying at a boutique or independent property, or in some foreign countries where smoking is more prevalent, this is something to be aware of.

The fee for the second guest is much more frustrating, especially if, like Debbie, you thought you were scoring a great deal on your hotel rate! Many hotels around the world charge this, though enforcement varies heavily. Your best bet is to always book a room for the exact number of guests in your party, and if that number changes, you should reach out to the hotel before your stay so there are no unpleasant surprises at check in.

Related: 5 ways to save money on travel by checking existing reservations

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing us to post it online), I’m sending Debbie a gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.

Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can’t respond to each story individually, but we’ll be in touch if yours is selected. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Featured photo by China Photos/Getty Images.

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