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I was in Istanbul a couple of months ago, staying at the (excellent!) Conrad there, and was reminded of one of my hotel-related pet peeves: ludicrous hotel car service fees for travelling to/from the airport. It’s good that hotels offer these services, but the pricing is usually mind-bogglingly high.
The Conrad Istanbul was no exception. Here is the email I received a few days before I was due to check in:
Warm greetings from Conrad Istanbul Bosphorus.
For a hassle-free arrival to our hotel from the airport, we provide an array of transportation options including the most extensive fleet of Mercedes and BMW luxury vehicles.
Please kindly check the attached document, you may find different vehicle options with price list.
Our transfer service includes:
– Greeting at the aircraft gate by CIP hostess and porter assistance until your transfer vehicle.
– Privileged gate for visa transactions and passport control to avoid long queues
– Assistance and privileged payment point at Duty Free Shops.
The VIP Meet & Assist Fast Track Service is included to the price only for arrival.
We look forward to welcoming you in Istanbul. Please do not hesitate to contact with us for further assistance or any information.
I clicked through and was presented with the following ‘offers’:
Ok, so the VIP Arrival Service could be useful, but the price for departing is the same and there are no fast track benefits included then. Also, note the small print – the ‘Premium Sedan Car’ can only carry 1-2 passengers. The prices above are all pre tax too, so add on another 18%.
The relevant pricing for me was for Ataturk Airport, so presumably now that operations there have moved to the new Istanbul Airport, which is further from the city, prices will be even higher. For context, an UberXL (which holds up to 6 people) between the Conrad and Ataturk Airport could be booked for £15-20.
If you’re wondering about the quality of the car being substantially different, all the UberXLs I’ve taken in Istanbul have been well maintained. I’ve even been driven in a Mercedes Vito on a number of occasions – the exact same car that would cost 205 Euros (+ tax) if booked via the hotel…
I can see why people might like the security and convenience of having a driver waiting for them when they arrive at an airport, but you could always just arrange a private transfer yourself in advance for a reasonable price. Paying a hotel 10x the going rate just seems crazy to me.
The Conrad Istanbul is far from being the only, or worst, offender by the way. The reason it stuck with me is because the hotel is generally superb value (it can be booked for under £80, or 30,000 Hilton Points per night) and the stay in all other respects was excellent.
Am I missing something about hotel car services, or do hotels just hope that a certain proportion of guests won’t care about the cost because they can put it on an expenses claim?