Last night my friend Fiona popped in en route to Glasgow where she and her son were going to have a night in an hotel and then get an early start on their christmas shopping in the city. Impressed at this plan I asked where they were staying. 'Oh I booked it with laterooms.com, hopefully it will be okay'. Well this brought something to mind, jolted my memory like a kick in the teeth.
On the 13th of October I flew down to Stansted in order to catch a flight the next morning our to France. I had booked with laterooms.com to have a hotel for the night. The hotel was called The skyline hotel and was based just five minutes from the airport, I checked out their web site and the rooms looked ideal. Sounds great so far doesn't it, read on…………
I couldn't find the pick up point for the courtesy bus to the hotel so asked at the airport help desk. They kindly phoned the hotel for me and someone arrived about ten minutes later in a people carrier. The driver then informed me that my hotel was over booked and that he would take me to another hotel in their chain called The Oasis Hotel. 'It is only 20 minutes away'. Now bear in mind that it is 10pm now and dark, I am on my own and have nowhere else to go. I ask if the hotel is same standard etc as the one i am booked for, oh yes of course he says.
After a 20 minute drive sure enough we arrive at our destination. I won't say we arrived at the hotel, for to use such a term would imply a hostelry of some substance. What i am faced with is a grotty doorway between an Indian restaurant and a chinese restaurant. Inside this doorway is the bar to the Indian restaurant and a board behind with keys on it. Mine host appears and assures me that this is 'a very fine hotel and madam with receive the finest room'. Well by now 'madam' was pretty scared and nervous and really at a loss. He showed me to the most disgusting little room with a double and single bed squashed in, mismatched shabby furniture and a chunky fridge sitting on the floor. I pointed out that I had booked for b&b, he informed me that I would be leaving too early for their breakfast (in the Indian restaurant!) but would bring me a tray. Five minutes later he reappears with a plate with a carton of Tesco Value Orange juice and 2 frozen croissants straight from the freezer.
There is no lock on my door, instead an alarm sounds loudly whenever you open the door. The sheets have not been changes, the place is a mess. I spend the night with my coat wrapped round myself sitting on top of the bed, no way would I get inside those dirty sheets. All I could think of was 'Thank God I don't have Idgy with me', the thought of my darling daughter and bestest friend being in such a seriously disgusting place would be too much to bear. Me, the queen of the photo story did not take any pictures. Oh I know I should have, but to be honest I was so disgusted and so horrified that I was actually staying in that place I couldn't bring myself to take pictures. It would almost be an admission of failure, failing myself in being there in the first place.
The night passed very, very slowly. Thankfully I had a taxi booked to take me back to the airport at 5am. The taxi driver asked what on earth I was doing staying in that hotel. He then told me that this hotel is used for asylum seekers and the DHSS. It all fitted well.
On return from France I filled in the feedback on laterooms.com and phoned them to complain. They told me to email and that they would get back to me. They never did.
That week I ran in to all the heartbreak and hassles of poor old Mum and the care home situation. France, the hotel and all those nightmares were thrown out of my mind as I dealt with other things.
They all came flooding back when Fiona told me she had booked with this company. I told her my story and she said that the last time she had used laterooms.com to book a hotel in Edinburgh they had informed her at the last minute (of course) that her hotel was overbooked and she was to go somewhere else. The story she told of her experience was somewhat similar to mine.
'Why on earth are you booking with them again' I asked her. She had forgotten about the hassles of the last experience with them (rather like childbirth really, hellish at the time but you go and do it again anyway), but of course now it was all brought back in all its glory.
Oh I do hope Fiona had a good hotel this time. For me, well I will NEVER forget my experience with laterooms.com and will NEVER use them again.
Just thought I would give you the benefit of this little rant this morning. Has anyone else had this sort of thing happen to them?