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That extra guest you bring back to your hotel may cost you more than you’d thought.

This week Jabba’s band of merry boy lovers have been busy lamenting the cruelty of hotels in Thailand that charge a joiner fee. The issue has recently come to a head thanks to one of Bangkok’s better known dives, The Pinnacle Lumpinee Hotel, recently deciding to enforce their joiner fee policy. The sexpats are incensed that it can now cost them an extra $15 to use their hotel room for sex. And Jabba, the world traveller and hotel aficionado that he is, has decreed thanks to that policy they’ve lost his business.

Management at the Pinnacle are holding a party this weekend to celebrate the effectiveness of their new policy.

A joiner fee, for the uninitiated, is a charge some hotels in Thailand levy against a guest for bringing an unregistered ‘friend’ back to their hotel room. At its most basic, it’s a fee the hotel charges for pimping out its rooms. 500 baht is the going rate. Other hotels impose the fee, sometimes as high as 2,000 baht, to discourage their lobby from looking like a brothel. It’s also an effective way to keep fat, cheap ass sexpats from Pattaya out of your establishment. Some of the bars would do well to emulate this business practice.

Nothing raises the blood pressure of Pattaya sexpats quicker than an unexpected outlay of anything more than two bucks. Of course it’s the principle, not the money, that gets them going. Objecting to the fee one pundit wrote:

“Rules should never be accepted merely by the fact that they have been imposed by some authority. One should always question the validity of rules, as this is a major part of being a mature and responsible citizen.”

Can you blame the hotel for wanting a share?

Right. It’s a case of civil disobedience and not an objection to a hotel cashing in on a customer’s decision to engage in a bit of prostitution. And we all know nothing is more productive in Thailand than arguing with a local about the rule you just ran up against and didn’t like. Happy holiday, dude.

I’ve never stayed at the Pinnacle Lumpinee Hotel. For years I’ve read on the message boards that to save a few bucks you need to use the services of some local guy named Jimmy to book your room. Then when you arrive, you go to his room and hand over your cash. Sorry, call me old fashioned but I prefer to check into a hotel using their registration desk. I’ve got nothing against a bit of sleaze, but don’t see its appeal while registering into a hotel room thanks. Besides, a three star hotel quickly on its way to two star status that requires a ten minute walk to the closest MRT station is never gonna make it to the top of my hotel list for Bangkok. Though I do appreciate the idea of a $35 a night hotel imposing almost a 50% surcharge for using its rooms as a flop house. I’m just surprised they didn’t begin doing so sooner.

Joiner fees may not be unheard of in Thailand, but they are not the norm. At least not for most visitors. They are, however, popular with down-market establishments, especially those near the city’s naughty areas and/or those hotels popular with tourists who only visit Bangkok for its commercial sex industry. I consider joiner fees to be a ‘No Respect’ tax, not unlike the nickel and dimed to death backpacker trash who by going cheap pay twice the price of what their stay in Bangkok should cost them. A few 5 star hotels also have a joiner fee, usually in the thousands of baht, to discourage customers from bringing back prostitutes, though most of those hotels instead just have a ‘No Guest’ policy.

He’s not worth the extra $15?

It is not surprising that Jabba’s boys who are demanding to know how a hotel can justify charging this fee are the same who feel it is incumbent on the hotel to check their boy du jour’s ID card and/or to hold it at the registration desk until the punter has had his fun and sent his latest off with a thin wad of baht in hand. Because that service and use of manpower should of course be included in the thirty bucks per night they pay. And there better be a full buffet breakfast every morning too dammit! These guys are the reason the gods invented Pattaya.

Sometimes referred to as ‘Guest Friendly’ hotels – which really is what people mean when they ask about ‘Gay Friendly’ establishments – cheap hotels that do not impose a joiner fee are popular amongst sex tourists. There are even a few websites devoted to listing those places (thanks more to the straight trade than to the gay customer base). Most hotels that do charge joiner fees state so somewhere on their website. If the idea of your hotel pimping out its rooms bothers you, by all means pick an establishment that doesn’t do so. If on the other hand you are more ambivalent about the fee, there are a few steps you can take to help avoid additional charges showing up on your bill at checkout.

1. Quit Being A Cheap Ass. Hotels that charge 1,000 baht or less per night are more likely to insist on the payment of a joiner fee. At those rates, any money they can collect is important to their bottom line. Upgrade from the start and you can avoid checking into a place that charges joiner fees. Besides, your cheap room just got less cheap: a 900 baht per night room with a joiner fee added just became a 1,400 baht room.

Don’t want to pay extra for using your hotel room for sex? Try a massage shop instead.

2. Book A Double Room. The cost for a double room as opposed to a single one at almost all hotels in Thailand is the same. Many that have a joiner fee policy will not charge it if you are single and staying in a double room. Yes, I know, that doesn’t make any sense but then this is Thailand. An added benefit is that if your room comes with breakfast by booking a double you’ll have an extra meal ready to go if you keep your boy overnight.

3. Dress For Success. I thought that was a nicer heading than ‘Don’t Look Like A Fat Dirty Sleazeball Sex Touri’. Thai are very image conscious and react toward your appearance. Whether that reaction is negative or positive is up to you. Coming back from the bars late a night looking like you spent your night crawling through Bangkok’s gutters almost guarantees a joiner fee will be charged. Look like a respectable guest instead and the staff may not even notice you have a companion with you. Of course if your boy looks like a two dollar whore, all bets are off.

4. Pre-Negotiate A Waiver. If you have never had the joy of trying to argue with a Thai about a policy you just ran up against, let me save you some frustration. Don’t. You will not win. If you feel you should not be charged a joiner fee the time to establish that is before it is levied, not during or after. Agoda can’t do a thing for you, but if you book your room direct with the hotel you’ll be surprised how easy it is to get this type of fee waived for your entire stay. Just get it in writing along with the name of the person who agreed to waive the fee.

Sex at the sauna too can avoid the joiner fee hassle.

5. Sneak Your Boy In. This is a great idea. But please drop me an email and tell me which hotel you are staying at so I can come by and watch the festivities. The Ambassador is famous for the extents their staff will go to to nail guests who try to sneak a visitor past their joiner fee policy. Sometimes even the Boys in Brown get involved. There aren’t many other opportunities for that much fun when trying to save $15 in Bangkok, so go for it and really make your holiday a memorable one.

6. Get A Short-Time Room. I guess if you need to stand on your principles you can take your new friend to one of the numerous short-time hotels scattered around Bangkok’s gay night-life areas. You’ll pay the same as the fee your hotel would charge you for bringing back a guest, if not more, but I’m sure that will teach them a lesson.

7. Go For The Long-Term. If you booked a double room and found a guy you’d like to spend the rest of your holiday with, register him into your room. This avoids the whole joiner fee mess. BUT, once you have done so realize he now has complete access to your room, all of the hotel’s facilities, and all room charging opportunities the hotel offers. With the wrong guy, this can end up being more costly than paying a nightly joiner fee. With the right guy, you’ll have just given him major face and can expect your own pleasure to ratchet up accordingly.

Doubling down can be a better value for joiner fees paid.

8. Go Get A Massage. You can also avoid being charged a joiner fee by getting a massage instead. As infamous as the Ambassador is for its strict joiner fee policy, you can order up an in-room happy ending from the hotel’s spa and enjoy the comforts of your room without paying a joiner fee there (though you will pay for the massage and a tip for the service). Hitting one of the massage shops anywhere in town will also avoid being charged a fee by your hotel since you’ll take care of all of your business off site instead. Or better yet, go hit one of the gay saunas in town and you might just get your rocks off for free.

9. Cut Your Joiner Fee In Half. If value for the money you spend is your concern, go ahead and pay the joiner fee but double down on your fun. Bring two boys back to your room instead of one and you just cut your joiner fee in half. Four boys would cut it to a quarter, and if you schedule a big enough orgy the fee should zero out. Okay, so math was never my strong point, but sex and fun is, and since that is the point, are you really gonna cry over a lousy $15 bucks?

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