Watch out for hotel rooms advertised at a non-existent 20% discount

Bitterwallet - Iceland HotelVAT is one of those annoying taxes. Annoying because it is very difficult to avoid if you are a normal consumer. So difficult, in fact, that because you almost invariably have to pay it, retailers who are selling products to the general public (ie those unlikely to be VAT registered) must include VAT in the stated selling price.

However, some hotel retailers appear to have decided they are above the law, quoting their best prices online excluding VAT as a sneaky trick to lure unwary consumers into booking their rooms. And these aren’t just dodgy foreign sorts of hotel chains, these are big names like Holiday Inn, Hilton and Malmaison.

This excellent investigative work was undertaken by our friends over at ¿Which? Travel, who found these naughty hotels were advertising a great rate, but not including the extra 20% VAT charge until the payment page. And adding 20% on to the cost of a room is likely to make it far less attractive to most cost-savvy consumers.

¡Which! were tipped off to this skulduggery by an Advertising Standards Agency complaint against Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) (which includes the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza brands), which found that the VAT-exclusive prices shown on its websites were misleading and breached the ASA code.

The ASA have now ordered IHG to change its practices and have started a compliance action to get the entire UK hotel sector to adhere to the code. However, if you are booking with one of the eleven chains found to be misrepresenting their retail prices, better make sure you know exactly how much you are paying for your room. Or don’t come crying to us.

The 11 chains highlighted were Crowne Plaza, Doubletree by Hilton, Guoman, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Malmaison, Marriott, Mercure, Radisson Blu, Sofitel and Thistle.


  • M4RKM
    Holiday Inn have been doing EX Vat rates for their London hotels for YEARS. Which%%%% have obviously been sleeping far too much.
  • Inspector G.
    They could probably argue that businesses are quite likely to book hotels therefore the VAT issue is a valid one.
  • whasitoya
    ^It is valid. If they get business customers then they need to list both prices like how Screwfix do it.
  • Trollateriat
    It's not a 20% discount retards. It's 1/6 off the price if it's ex VAT. Last time I thought about that, that was a 16.67% discount mofos.
  • Sicknote
    Agree and in fact Hilton do it all the time. I stay at the Hilton Malta maybe twice a month and they are forever sending me offers with reduced rates; sure you pay less for the room but they remove the breakfast and when you add that back you pay more. What pisses me off more than this is when you book Hilton Gatwick the price you see is NOT the price you pay because after you've entered your CC details and paid you get hit with VAT and local service charges for Gatwick. Fark orf I say Hilton
  • Mike M.
    Darlings, isn't it written Which!

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