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WillTravel Oct 22nd, 2004 10:40 AM

If you don't like a hotel when you arrive, will you be charged if you leave?
One thing I've always been a little unclear about.

Suppose you book a hotel with a credit card using conventional means. This is not a prepaid reservation, and say it is cancellable with 24 hours notice. Suppose you arrive at the hotel, go to your room, and find it unsatisfactory. If you want to leave at that point, what are your options? How should you protect yourself from being charged, either for one night or the entire reservation?

I'd be curious to hear of anyone's experience in this respect.

janis Oct 22nd, 2004 10:43 AM

every hotel will have its own rules so you need to ask them.

If there is a 24 hour cancellation policy then you would most likely be charged a MINIMUM of one night's stay. The other nights would be beyond the 24 hour period so they MIGHT not charge you for those.

But most hotels will try to move you to another room if the first one is totally unacceptable.

WillTravel Oct 22nd, 2004 10:55 AM

I can see why the hotel would think that charging a minimum of one night is within their rights, but it doesn't seem fair if the hotel is definitely not up to expectations.

Dick Oct 22nd, 2004 10:57 AM

There is a diffenence between, "not up to expectations" and misrepresentation.

m_kingdom2 Oct 22nd, 2004 11:03 AM

I will nearly always change room at an hotel.

However, nowadays with the internet, nearly everyone who books online will research the hotel and see examples of typical rooms, and read personal unbiased opinions on the property. As a result, it's fair enough to change your room if you don't like it, but changing hotel because you don't like the public areas was your responsibilty.

Supose they don't have any rooms other than the one you were shown, then it's fair enough to leave, but expect to lose at least a night as per their cancellation policy. I've done this in the UK (never abroad - as I can't simply drive home or elsewhere) and have, as yet, never been charged. Hotels are usually understanding, but if you're given an adequate room and are being overly fussy, then you can see their position.

Larry_M Oct 22nd, 2004 11:10 AM

I had this experience, not in Europe, but in Montreal. The hotel was recommended by a casual acquaintance, and looked nice on the website.

When we arrived, the first negative clue was the neighborhood ... not very nice. The parking lot behind the hotel was littered with trash, broken glass, etc.

The hotel itself was very old, and it was apparent that the website photos had been spruced-up. We went ahead and checked in, and found our room to be very tiny, with a double bed instead of the requested 2 singles, and no air conditioning (it was a very warm, late June weekend). We went to the front desk to request another room, and were told nothing else was available.

We went to grab some lunch and talk about it. As we were only going to be in town for 2 nights, we decided to just stick it out and stay, rather than waste precious time looking for another hotel.

We returned after lunch, and upon entering our room, found someone else's belongings had been left there! Two suitcases, a baby swing, and a bag of infant clothes and accessories - just dumped in the room along with my and my friend's stuff!

We gathered up our stuff, returned to the front desk, and advised the yung lady there (who despite the circumstances and our obvious displeasure, was reasonably cordial) that we were leaving, and had no intention of paying anything. She gave us a full credit card refund without argument, and we found an acceptable place without much trouble.

Larry_M Oct 22nd, 2004 11:17 AM

Correction - the desk clerk was a young lady, not a descendent of the "yung" dynasty. ;-)

ira Oct 22nd, 2004 11:23 AM

Hi will,

If the hotel is "as advertised" and you just don't like it, you are going to pay for 1 night.

If the hotel has been misrepresented, they might try to charge your CC, but you should contest the charge.

We had an experience some years ago in London, in which we had paid for a night as a deposit on a room which was not at all what we had been led to expect (4th flr no elevator) and told that that was all that was available.

I left my LW in the hotel, walked around the corner, got a room at another hotel. When I came back, the clerk had my deposit ready for me.

WillTravel Oct 22nd, 2004 11:30 AM

That makes sense, Ira. But I guess it's a matter of judgment.

For example, suppose you are given a room where you note bedbugs. Presumably that's a good enough reason to get a new hotel, even if they would give you another room, or is it?

How about if the desk clerk gives you "bad vibes"? I guess you will have to pay in this case, but it's easy to think of a case where the clerk was so unpleasant as to make staying at the hotel almost impossible.

None of these things have ever happened to me. I'm just always preparing for the worst-case scenario.

AAFrequentFlyer Oct 22nd, 2004 11:32 AM

Usually a &quot;regular&quot; reservation is cancellable till about 6p of the day of arrival, so if you show up before that, and you are not happy, it's no problem. If the cancellation policy is 24 hours, then the hotel <b>could and has the right</b> to chrage you for the first night unless you could prove there are some building safety concerns. Not happy about location or the size of the room or the clientele, or, etc.etc... is not considered a viable excuse to leave. Imagine if it was, the hotels would have a nightmare on their hands with clients reserving rooms, then leaving, etc. The hotels could not afford to hold reservations and then wait till the last moment if the guest approves and decides to stay.

that's another question. Each incident will yield different results as already posted by others above, BUT the important thing to remember is that if it is a 24 hour cancellation, and your need for leaving is other than a true building safety concerns (where you could get the building/hotel inspectors involved if necessary), the hotel has the right to charge you for 1 night. End of the story.

WillTravel Oct 22nd, 2004 11:36 AM

AAFF, suppose you have a hotel reservation with the 6 PM cancellation rule. If you check in at 3 PM and aren't happy, does that ability to cancel still apply? I would tend to think that a reservation where you've actually entered the room might be different than one you cancel right there at the front desk.

ira Oct 22nd, 2004 11:39 AM

Dear will,

If you keep this up you will go nuts. :)

WillTravel Oct 22nd, 2004 11:41 AM

Ira, some might say that's already happened! :) I told my husband that he had better make sure all of his travel documents were in order in case he needed to pick my body up from Italy. For some reason he did not see this as an pleasant, matter-of-fact subject to discuss.

Vicky Oct 22nd, 2004 11:45 AM

This is a little off topic but related. I booked the Best Western Marais Bastille hotel thru Expedia in Paris for 5 nights, with a credit card guarantee (American Express). I had a print out with all the info - rate (130 E), confirmation #s, etc. When I arrived the clerk said, &quot;There was a problem with your credit card - it was refused - so we thought you were not coming.&quot; Well my Amex limit is quite high and even if they 'blocked' the cost for 5 nights it would not have put me over my credit limit. They said, &quot;you can stay tonight&quot; and charged my VISA card 1 night's stay right then. Then he said, 'You can stay till Mon but you will have to move then.&quot; Instead of going into control freak mode as usual, I was very laid back and just said, &quot;Can you make us a reserv at another Best Western for Mon?&quot; The old me would have gone right out and found my own hotel for Mon, thinking I had to be the one to 'fix it.' But this time I merely checked the next day on the status of our stay and was told we could stay till Mon and they had made a reserv for Mon night at a hotel nearby - a 2 star rather than a 3 (which was what the BW was) at a rate of 75 E. It was NOT a Best Western. Our BW room was quite nice; it was a pain to pack up and walk a couple blocks over for 1 night - but the new hotel was just fine and I saved 55 euros. I have never had a problem with Expedia before and have not yet contacted them about this as I haven't had time to look for the confirmation print out. What is really weird is that the reserv has disappeared from my Expedia My Trips folder (where even past trips are still in there). What would you all have done?

WillTravel Oct 22nd, 2004 11:50 AM

Vicky, I think you should get a refund of at least one night from Expedia for messing up your reservation. But that's just my personal opinion. I have read that Expedia sometimes faxes the hotels and the hotels never receive the faxes (or lose them). It seems to me the hotels should be forced to respond in some way to let Expedia know the fax has been received.

Patrick Oct 22nd, 2004 11:51 AM

We had a guaranteed reseservation that could be cancelled up to 6 PM on day of arrival at a hotel in Bergen, Norway. When we arrived, I was furious that we weren't in the hotel itself that we had booked months before, but in their &quot;annex&quot; which was actually university dormitory housing that they used in the summer. Even without seeing it, I said I was very unhappy and wanted in the main hotel but they insisted it wasn't possible, and that we'd love the room as it was one of their best, and certainly the &quot;best that is available&quot;. They gave us a key and we drove several blocks to this dump -- and I do mean a dump!! The hotel itself looked gorgeous, and this was not a cheap place by any means. We were furious and went in search of another hotel and found one. So we returned to the original hotel, turned in the key and said we weren't staying. They got all upset and said we'd have to pay for one night. I showed them my clearly printed reservation which said we could cancel until 6 PM; it was then maybe 3 or 4. They then started talking about moving us to another room, and I said it was too late --&quot;you told us this was the best possible room, so why did you lie to me if they had better rooms all along?&quot; Well, we did leave and that was the end of that. No charge, even though they had my credit card number.

But your situation is different. If it says 24 hour cancellation, and it is after that (which it certainly would be when checking in) then I don't think you have much recourse. You could try to demand a refund as the place isn't as advertised (wrong size beds, no air-conditioning, etc.), but simply not liking it isn't much excuse.

suze Oct 22nd, 2004 11:53 AM

We didn't like our hotel in Paris (yes looked cute from the outside and OK on the website). It wasn't so awful as to be frightening or have bugs or anything... but we went out that evening and found a nicer hotel, same price just a few blocks away. So we stayed 1 night, checked out AM paying for 1 night, and moved hotels before getting on with our day.

I guess that doesn't really answer all the worrying taht WillTravel is doing, but that's my only story even close to on-topic!

WillTravel Oct 22nd, 2004 11:55 AM

I'm not really worrying that much. Scarcely at all in fact, because I'm pretty confident of the choices I've made for my next trip. I just want to be prepared.

Melissajoy Oct 22nd, 2004 12:37 PM

WillTravel, you might be worried about your hotel room because it is your home away from home...If it's no good, you'd be homeless! Not a happy thought.

I always have those fears. But I have had excellent fortune by researching my hotels endlessly. Look at the user reviews on (although you have to remember to go with the general tone, because there are always a few complainers who just like to complain and will never be satisfied.)

Ask people on the travel sites like this one about your hotels.

and, very important, contact the hotel directly and get an e-mail correspondence going with someone at the hotel, preferably even addressing your e-mails to someone by name (whoever responds to your e-mail.) Ask this person lots of questions and be courteous and grateful. Hotel Flora in Venice was so helpful by e-mail that one guy even went and measured the bed for me, because a &quot;double&quot; bed by European standards is bigger than our double bed, it turns out, so there was some confusion. What he was calling a &quot;double&quot; bed was bigger than our USA queen beds. But the point is a good hotel is very helpful, even by e-mail. If you are polite to them, they are polite to you.

Using this method I got 100% satisfaction from all the hotels we stayed at in our family trip to Italy, and not only that, but our rooms were just exactly the ones I wanted...rooms with nice views but on the quiet side of the hotel for a quiet sleep at night.

Unfortunately, a bad hotel often has too many vacancies and are sometimes unwilling to cancel your reservation even if you call! This happened to me for an Anaheim hotel and we had to have the credit card company handle the problem. Good hotels usually have lots of customers and know how to keep them happy. Good hotels usually have high ratings on!

grandmere Oct 22nd, 2004 01:40 PM

Today I emailed a hotel in Normandy, inquiring about rates, etc., for next May; they wrote back that to make a reservation, they will charge 30% to my Visa NOW. I've heard of this but never experienced it before. I may end up doing this, but not in Oct. for May!

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