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Holiday accommodation and your rights

See what you're entitled to if you need to cancel your plans or there's an issue with your booking.

Holiday accommodation and your rights
Last updated: 14 March 2023


Checked for accuracy by our qualified fact-checkers and verifiers. Find out more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Need to know

  • The resolution to most accommodation issues will be decided by the business's own terms and conditions
  • But consumer laws can override these if there's a serious disruption to your holiday plans or there's something wrong with your accommodation
  • You have rights to a remedy if you are given the wrong room or get charged more than was advertised, for example

No one wants their hard-earned holidays ruined by hotel booking dramas or a room that doesn't pass muster. So what rights do you have if things don't go to plan with your holiday accommodation?

Tips for hassle-free accommodation

  • Look at the terms and conditions of the company you're booking with and find out if there are any penalties if you decide to cancel (see trouble-shooting guide below for more details).
  • Paying by credit or debit card can provide you with added protection in the form of chargebacks, but be wary of additional fees.
  • Book your travel insurance at the same time as you book your accommodation, as policies may cover unforeseen cancellations.
  • Find out if there'll be any extra potential costs, such as if the business charges for Wi-Fi or for parking.
  • Specify at the time of booking any additional requirements you may need, such as a quiet room or a cot for your child.
credit card fees when cancelling holiday

Paying by credit or debit card can provide you with added protection.

Your rights on holiday

When making a reservation to stay somewhere, most of your entitlements will be outlined in the accommodation business's terms and conditions.

But in all cases, the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) also backs you up with certain rights when you purchase goods and services like accommodation, and these can't be taken away by business contracts.

This law entitles you to remedies when something goes wrong with your accommodation, protects you against unfair contract terms and is applicable for travel within Australia or purchases made from businesses within Australia, such as a local travel agent.

Your ACL consumer guarantees require that accommodation services (including Airbnb) be provided:

  • with due care and skill
  • so that they are fit for any specified purpose
  • within a reasonable period of time (if no time was set when booking).

In addition, the hotel or accommodation itself must:

  • be safe and of acceptable quality
  • match the description provided when you booked it
  • be advertised in a manner that is not false or misleading.

Travelling overseas?

While the ACL protects you within Australia, if you're booking accommodation or travel with overseas companies, your entitlements will be dictated by the consumer regulations in that jurisdiction.

This list of resources from our sister consumer organisations in the UK, New Zealand and the US will tell you how to tackle common holiday hiccups and inform you of your rights in each country (luckily, most are similar to those we have here in Australia).

United Kingdom

How to complain about hotel accommodation

My self-catering accommodation isn't what was promised, what can I do?

Can I claim back a non-refundable deposit?

New Zealand

Your rights when travelling: Flights and accommodation

United States

How travellers can deal with customer service problems

Travelling made easier

Accommodation trouble-shooting guide

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.