So, you booked a hotel in one city and the hotel bumped you to another in their chain due to “technical problems”. Has it ever happened to you?
In all my years of traveling, this was a first. I’d always thought the company would offer identical, similar or better accommodations. That isn’t always the case, as we discovered this month.
Bait and Switch
We’d planned a relaxing weekend in Normandy and looked forward to staying in Honfleur, France. We booked a room at the Campanile Hotel in La Rivière-Saint-Sauveur, France. It was minutes away from shops and a quick trek to the harbor and tourist area.
While we were enjoying dinner at a quaint restaurant in Rouen the night before our arrival, the phone rang. It was the Campanile hotel. There was some bad news.
What to do?
The staff informed us that due to a technical problem, they had to cancel our reservation. This wouldn’t have been a huge problem as other hotels would usually be available. But this was a long holiday weekend in France, and there wasn’t much availability. We were stuck!
The staff kindly assured us that they had another room for us in a nearby. The hotel bumped us to a Campanile miles from where we wanted to be. Nevertheless, we reluctantly agreed.
A Bridge Too Far
We hoped we could still stay in the area and drove to our original hotel in La Rivière-Saint-Sauveur. Wishful thinking? Maybe a room opened up? Nope. The hotel apparently had some flooding and an air conditioning problem that took 20 rooms out of operation. We were being transferred to a Campanile hotel near La Havre. It was about 15 km away and across a high bridge. Did I mention that my friend who was driving hates bridges?
Before making the trek to Le Havre, we spent the day in Honfleur as we suspected there wouldn’t be much to do near the new hotel. Boy, we were right. We arrived at Hotel Campanile Le Havre Est – Gonfreville at the end of the day hoping to at least find the same level of accommodations. As we neared the address, our concern mounted.
Where Are We?
Instead of being near shops and the Honfleur harbor, we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere near a sort of warehouse district. No houses, no restaurants, and nothing scenic. Aargh. Why would a hotel chain put a hotel here?
The spot the hotel bumped us to was worn and in need of maintenance, repairs and painting. The stairs were dirty, old green carpeting on the walkway was buckled and not particularly safe looking.
There was a little restaurant in the original hotel. Our jaws dropped when we saw the restaurant in the new hotel. Teal crepe paper draped the walls in the restaurant. A corner was filled with sand to give it a beach feel. There were even plastic flamingos, a fake tiki bar and fringed umbrellas that hit your head when you sat at the tables for dinner. I might have been able to accept this if there was a sign prominently stating that the design was the result of a contest at the local elementary school and the winning entry was going to be on display for the week. Who came up with this idea, I wondered.
Now that we had scouted out the property, we checked in and slowly walked to our room, examining everything along the way. Exterior blinds were dirty, wood at the bottom of the exterior wall was rotted in several places and concrete steps leading up to the first floor were littered with cigarette butts and dirt. I wondered when the stairs were last swept. Clearly, the maintenance and cleaning team must have been on a summer vacation.
Some Good News
Not everything was a total disaster. The room was clean, although the pillows were wafer-thin and extremely uncomfortable.
The bathroom got a C+ rating. It was clean and the shower had good pressure. But we didn’t have hand towels. Also, the light to the bathroom is on the outside of the door. If you miss it and use the switch inside, you activate a heater for seven minutes. Discover your mistake and try to turn it off and your heater is activated for an additional seven minutes. Don’t think the air conditioning will help you. While there was a unit above the wardrobe, it didn’t work well, and we slept with the windows open.
Our bathroom heating unit looked like it caught fire. There were pieces of blackened material all over it. The vent inside the shower was covered in dark lint, desperately in need of a cleaning.
Chef Saves the Day
The restaurant doesn’t have much atmosphere, but the food did turn out better than expected. Steamed fish with tomatoes and beans was quite tasty. It was a special recipe by the hotel chef and scored well with me. There was also a selection of wines. Breakfast offered a nice assortment of pastries, yogurt, juices, fruit and cereals.
Hotel Review: This Is One to Miss for Now
While the new location the hotel bumped us to was cheaper than the original, the massive reduction in quality did not make up for the $25 we saved. The only word I have for our visit is a disappointment. I am hoping the hotel owners upgrade the property so it better fits with the brand standard. If their other hotels are like this, I may be crossing this chain off my list.
So a Hotel Bumped You. What Now?
- If you are traveling in a foreign country, the front-desk staff doesn’t always speak English. Try to get someone who is fluent in the language to assist. Google Translate or a similar translation app can help.
- Once you realize the hotel is not up to par, request a discount on your room rate. Not all staff is accommodating, but it’s worth a try.
- Contact the hotel chain directly. If itis a franchise hotel, the company will want to know. Brand standards need to maintained to protect the integrity of the chain.
- If you booked through a travel agent, ask them for assistance. But if you booked the hotel directly, request a refund by mail.
- If all else fails, chalk it up to experience. Next time, book with a hotel group that can better ensure quality standards will be met.