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Some People Collect Stamps, Others Study Hotel Laundry Prices

Every once in a while, articles appear that illustrate the relative costs of living in various cities by comparing the price of a movie ticket, a cup of coffee or a short taxi ride. I study laundry prices at good hotels.

As I travel, I collect laundry and dry cleaning price sheets of various hotels, from Buenos Aires to Edinburgh, from Washington, D.C. to Tokyo. I’m fascinated by the wide difference in the cost of having a shirt laundered or a skirt sent to the dry cleaner. The contrasts can be stark.

A five-star hotel in Manhattan, for example, charges $12 to wash and press a man’s dress shirt, while it’s half that in Kyoto, Japan. In Taiwan, a five-star hotel will dry clean a woman’s skirt for $6.30; send it out at a similar hotel in Tokyo and it’s $15.64. Or $3.95 at a lovely Relais & Chateau property in South Africa’s wine country.

Check these numbers out.

Cost of having a man’s dress shirt laundered:
The Imperial, Tokyo, Japan: $6.70 (Hand ironed: $8.90)
Hyatt Regency Kyoto, Japan: $5.85
The Mark, New York City: $12 (“Hand touched” $18; “Hand finished” $24)
Le Quartier Français, Franschhoek, South Africa: $4.60
Embassy Suites, St. Charles, MO: $5
Park Hyatt, Mendoza, Argentina: $7.70
The Scotsman, Edinburgh, Scotland: $7.55
Affinia Chicago, IL: $8
The Carlton, New York City: $12
The Landis, Taipei, Taiwan: $5.70
The Taj, Boston, MA: $8
Saxon, Johannesburg, South Africa: $5.90
The Hay Adams, Washington, D.C.: $8
Faena Hotel + Universe, Buenos Aires, Argentina: $8
Lausanne Palace & Spa, Lausanne, Switzerland: $16.10
Conrad Indianapolis: $7

Cost of having a woman’s skirt dry cleaned:
The Imperial, Tokyo, Japan: $15.64 (pleated: $20.10)
Hyatt Regency Kyoto, Japan: $12.75
Le Quartier Français, Franschhoek, South Africa: $3.95
Embassy Suites: St. Charles, MO: $8 (pleats extra)
Park Hyatt, Mendoza, Argentina: $6.40
The Scotsman, Edinburgh, Scotland: $11.35
Affinia Chicago, IL: $9 The Carlton, New York City: $11 (pleated: $18)
The Landis, Taipei, Taiwan: $6.30
The Taj, Boston, MA: $8.50 (25 cents per pleat)
The Saxon, Johannesburg, South Africa: $8.50
The Hay Adams, Washington, D.C.: $11 (pleated: $15)
Faena Hotel + Universe, Buenos Aires, Argentina: $13
Lausanne Palace & Spa, Lausanne, Switzerland: $14 (pleated: $24)
Conrad Indianapolis: $6.50

Am I crazy for compulsively collecting this information? Over the years, my traveling companions have certainly thought so. Until, that is, they run out of clean shirts on the road.

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About Rudy Maxa

Rudy Maxa

Rudy Maxa is host and executive producer of the public television travel series, Rudy Maxa's World. The 78 episodes he has hosted have won numerous awards, including a 2008 regional Emmy for his episode "Rajasthan." He's a contributing editor with National Geographic Traveler magazine and has written for a host of national travel magazines and newspapers. For nearly 15 years he offered consumer travel commentary on public radio's business show Marketplace as "The Savvy Traveler," which was also the name of a one-hour, coast-to-coast weekend show on public radio that he co-created and hosted for four years. Prior to his career as a travel writer and broadcaster, Maxa was an award-winning Washington Post investigative reporter, magazine writer, and columnist for 13 years, during which time his reporting was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He was a senior writer at The Washingtonian magazine and Washington, D.C., bureau chief of Spy magazine. The author of two non-fiction books, Maxa lives in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota.