When Hotels Go Bad…

Hello, I’m sorry its been such a long time since I last ran this blog. A lot has happened. So before I start, I’d like to give you a brief rundown on what’s been going on over the last year.

Last year, it was announced that the department I was working in was going to go through a heavy restructure, the implications of which meant I had to reapply for a job similar to my previous role. However, as fortunes played out, I didn’t get offered the job, and had the option for voluntary redundancy. There were quite a few of my colleagues that went through a similar outcome, and many, I’m happy to say, have moved on to other organisations, and indeed, other sectors. Myself included, but only recently.

I’m now a co-founder in a business that designs and makes tabletop games, and this week I’ve traveled with my business partner to the annual Spieltage convention in Essen, Germany. We are staying in a hotel that I booked on “Booking.com”, and as I begin to write this, I’m still staying in the very hotel room that I am about to wax lyrical about.

I wouldn’t normally do this, but I want to help others in avoiding this ridiculous mistake, which I found both ridiculous and totally preventable.

When I first looked into booking a hotel, I wanted to get somewhere that was easy to get to from the airport, and close to the convention centre, so that travelling there each day would be both cheap and easy.  However, the convention itself is so popular that to find a reasonably priced hotel close by, you’d have to book really early or be very lucky.  I had to book a room for myself and my co-director, and to save us money, we decided to book what we thought was a twin room through booking.com.  However, upon arrival we discovered that we hadn’t booked a twin room, we had booked a twin room or double room, and it seems the hotel is under no obligation to honor your preference in either case.

Of course, you don’t know this until your arrival, at which point, if they can only offer you a double, and this is unsatisfactory, as was in our case, it was too late to book a hotel somewhere else, as all the other hotels nearby were fully booked.  So therein lies the problem.  There was little we could do about it.  The man on the front desk said he could move us to a twin room on Saturday, meaning for three days, my business partner and I had to compromise and share a double room.

“Double room” was pushing it to be honest.  Yes the bed fit two people, but only two thin pillows and no spare.  A bath towel each, but no hand towel, flannel or toiletries, other than liquid soap for the sink (not the shower).  There was a sanitary bin in the toilet but no bin in the rest of the room.

No tea or coffee making facilities either.  There was a tray of water and glasses, but they wanted 3.50 in euros for it.  We grabbed two coffees from the bar and the next day after the maids had been, the dirty coffee cups were both still there.

As well as this the bed was rock hard solid and the room was so hot, I could not get comfortable on the first night, and I had the bed.  My colleague had the floor with a spare duvet and the bench padding as a mattress.

I don’t expect much in places where you’re paying little, but the room was not that cheap, and virtually no effort had been made to make our stay any more comfortable.  For that, they are not going to get a favourable Tripadvisor review, I’m afraid.  I’m only glad I didn’t pay extra for breakfast, and to be fair there were quite a few bakeries nearby.   However, nightlife left much to be desired, and aside from a high street that became deathly quiet after 8pm, there was only a handful of restaurants to choose from.

I think for next year, we’ll have to book much earlier or perhaps choose Cologne over Gelsenkirchen, for a bit of something to do after the convention of an evening.

I guess I’m not that upset about the room not having certain amenities more than I am about there being nothing that could be done once the mistake was realized.  I think that Booking.com should have done more to highlight that room choice was not a confirmation, just a preference, because at the end of the day, we would have just booked two singles, and would have only been mildly disappointed by the hotel, instead of severely disappointed.  Oh well… The moral of the story, always check the small print.