Category: Hotel info

Best Western Malte Opera Paris comprehensive review

My wife and I stayed at the Best Western Malte Opera near Pairs’ Pyramides metro stop from Jan. 2 to Jan. 7, 2010. The room came to about $850 and we booked online through hotels.com.

I do not recommend this hotel. Some reviewers said that the hotel tends to overbook and then it sends people to another hotel in a less convenient location. We booked in spite of this because my wife said if they tried to do that to us she would call the police and refuse to leave the hotel. I asked her if that was really how she wanted to spend her vacation but the answer was yes because we didn’t see a cheaper hotel in the right area of Paris. Luckily, we had no problem checking in. We were very careful to call the day before and confirm the reservation though…

I like the location: 5-10 minutes walk from Pyramides metro station (one subway stop from the Louvre). My wife and I were able to walk a lot of places: The Louvre was 10-15 minutes. Longer walks got us to Galleries Lafayette, Notre Dame, and so on.

There are some negatives. The room was tiny, though the bathroom was fine. The room size wasn’t a big problem for us because we were so happy about the location. The room was also nice and warm and the hotel offered free WiFi – you just had to get a password from the front desk once a day.

People at the front desk were friendly and helpful. At least they seemed helpful at first…

There is never more than one person there so you sometimes have to wait. That wasn’t the problem though. On our first night we asked if breakfast was included and the fellow there looked us up and said it was. Then when we checked out the woman said we owed them 126 euros for breakfasts. We explained the situation and she said she believed us but there was nothing she could do – only the manager could change anything. We asked to speak to the manager but the manager wasn’t there. We asked her to call the manager but she said that was impossible.

This is why I can’t fully recommend the hotel (well this and some might be more worried about room size than we are). We checked out around 10:30, left our luggage, came back around noon and stayed until 12:45. In all that time they couldn’t get ahold of the manager? If the people working the front desk have no power to get things done shouldn’t Best Western make sure someone who does have some authority is available? The best they could do was charge our credit card and invite me to fight the charge. They also gave me a blank piece of paper with the hotel’s business card stapled to it. Then they stamped the paper – I guess that made it an “official complaint form” or the closest thing available. We’re supposed to use this to ask the manager to drop the breakfast charges or just to complain. I’m not really sure which.

Instead of mailing that I ended up talking to Best Western customer care. You can read that story here: My complaint, update 1, update 2

Anyway, I’m not totally surprised that the hotel wants me to pay for breakfast even after they told me it was included. They made a mistake and they hope I’m willing to pay for it. But I don’t understand how it’s possible that no one in charge is available who might have a chance of resolving the situation. The manager’s job is to resolve problems, not to duck them by being unavailable.

In the end, Best Western Malte Opera has a nice location and you should be able to find a nice price. Just be advised that you’re getting a tiny room, an inefficient front desk (friendly though), and according to some travelers you’re risking overbooking / getting bumped. Plus, from my own experience, you’re running the risk of getting overcharged and if you do have a complaint I’m guessing management’s policy is to pretend you don’t exist. That’s some crappy customer service and Best Western corporate seems to let t go on.

Best Western customer service fails to make up for the horrid customer service at Best Western Malte Opera Paris hotel

It seems to me that Best Western allows its hotels to get away with lying to customers in order to overcharge them and then ignoring them.

You may remember the problem I had with Best Western Malte Opera in Paris. They told me that breakfast was included and then when I checked out told me they’d be charging me 126 euros for the breakfasts. When I explained that front desk staff told me breakfast was included, I was told that even if they made a mistake only the manager could fix it. When I asked to speak to the manager, I was told that would be impossible.

I complained to Best Western customer care who gave the Malte Opera hotel 1 week to respond. The hotel did not so Best Western corporate offered me a 30 euro travel card good at Best Western hotels.

I told them this would not be nearly enough when I have $186 charged to my credit card (which I never authorized or signed for) and that if the charge was not removed I would contest the charge, contact travel trouble shooters, and leave negative reviews on various sites (starting with my own of course). I’d also have no use for the travel card since I’d never stay at another Best Western property if the brand allows its hotels to treat customers the way I was treated and get away with it.

They replied by asking for an itemized bill with the breakfast charges. This bill does not exist so far as I know and certainly the hotel never gave me one. A few emails later I sent Best Western customer care my credit card statement which shows the charge. They said they couldn’t find it.

I politely replied: It’s right there, item 27 on the list. I also thanked them for looking into the case and let them know I appreciated the time they were spending on me. But I also said that I would need the charge taken care of as soon as possible or I’d have to contact my credit card company.

I don’t know if they ever found the charge or even looked at my credit card statement but they just replied that they were offering me the same old 30 euro travel card. I waited 2 weeks and sent 7 or 8 emails (getting replies from at least 3 different people) for zero progress.

It’s a little hard to believe that they wasted so much of my time. I proved that the hotel had charged me all this money which is exactly what customer relations asked me to do. Why did they bother asking me to supply evidence if they weren’t going to use it? Why do they allow their hotel to get away with this. Hotel management should deal with the problem instead of running away from it. And since they failed, corporate should deal with the problem.

So now I contact the credit card company. I never signed off on the charges but hotels always ask for a card to cover any extras. Do credit card companies take the hotel’s word for it when they say so and so used the mini bar or damaged the room or whatever?

I also contact any travel trouble shooters I can find. And I start leaving negative reviews on websites like mine, hotels.com (where I made the reservation), tripadvisor.com, and so on.

I’ve been traveling for a few years and have stayed in a number of hotels. I can say that this is easily the worst customer service (especially from the Best Western Malte Opera hotel but Best Western customer care also proved to be pretty useless) I’ve ever experienced.

Well there is a possible exception from when I was in Assisi back in 2001 but that’s a story for another day.

Best Western customer care responds but falls a bit short (so far)

A week or so ago I wrote to Best Western customer service complaining about their Malte Opera Paris hotel. I got an automated response saying the hotel had up to 7 days to respond.

Considering that management at the hotel refused to speak to me, I guess it’s not much of a surprise that they refused to respond to Best Western corporate. So I got an email today apologizing that hotel management would not respond to my complaint and offering me a 30 euro Best Western travel card.

Considering that the hotel manager refused to speak to me and now refuses to speak to best Western corporate I must say I was expecting more. I replied:

I appreciate the gesture Chad, but I’m afraid that a 30 euro travel card is not satisfactory, not at all satisfactory considering we were charged 126 euros for breakfast over the course of our 5 night stay. To make up for the bad information and the inexcusable refusal of management to meet with me to correct the situation, I feel that charge needs to be credited to my Visa. If not, I will certainly be contacting my credit card company, travel troubleshooters, and every consumer protection agency I can find in Europe and America.

Furthermore, it is no surprise that the hotel’s management team did not respond. They refused to speak with me while I was at the hotel and they continue to refuse to deal with the problem. If Best Western allows this poor customer service, then I can not consider any Best Western hotels in the future and will also have to recommend that my readers on travel-plan-idea.com also avoid Best Western in addition to people reading comments on hotels.com, tripadvisor.com and so on.

Can Best Western customer relations suceed where staff and management at Best Western Malte Opera failed?

So I just contacted Best Western customer relations regarding my stay at Best Western Malte Opera (review coming soon) in Paris. The story should be evident from the complaint I submitted and have copied below in case you’re curious.

I would have written more but they limit how much you can submit:

Our first night at the hotel, front desk staff told us that breakfast was included. We did not question this because the gentleman working the front desk made a show of looking up our reservation.

When we checked out, we were told we would be charged for breakfast. We explained that we had been told otherwise but front desk staff said they had to charge my credit card, that only the manager could straighten out the charges.

We asked to speak to the manager but this request was denied. Front desk staff would not even call the manager.

It is possible that front desk staff made an honest mistake when telling my wife and I that breakfast was included. However, if it were an honest mistake we would expect the hotel to fix it (by removing the 126 euro charge).

The fact that management at Best Western Malte Opera is unwilling to speak with us indicates terrible customer service. It also makes us suspicious that we have been scammed; it’s too “convenient” that the hotel’s “mistake” is impossible to fix.

I’m curious to see if and how they respond. My hope is that they get this taken care of so that one more blog entry finishes the story. Otherwise you may get to see an ongoing drama: me vs. Best Western Hotel Malte Opera…

So far I have received a noreply email saying that I should be patient. To their credit there is a phone number for those who need immediate attention. I’ll call it if I have to but there’s no toll-free number from Korea so I’ll wait and see if they respond via email for now.

Speaking of hotel deals…

A few hours ago I posted the hotels.com press release. Now I find this article on hotels fighting for guests and surprising customers to gain loyalty. Very cool story:

And 50 years after their honeymoon stay in room 870 at the Peabody Memphis Hotel, Mr. and Mrs. Royer tried to book a stay in the same romantic room. The hotel has been reconfigured and that room number no longer exists, but the hotel surprised the couple by presenting them with flowers and rolling back their room rate from $179 to just $8, the amount they paid back in 1959.

And what comes next is interesting too. Apparently Ritz Carlton Hotel employees have a $2,000/guest budget for keeping customers happy. I can’t help but wonder if there’s an unspoken policy not to spend that money at the Seoul Ritz Carlton. As a tour guide, my wife has talked to a number of people who have stayed there and many have said it’s not as good as other Ritzes.

Should You Pay for Internet Access in Hotels? / Some Even More Expensive Hotel Rooms!

Mancunian is back:

If you are reading this in a hotel room somewhere, you may be paying more than you want to in order to access the internet. A USA Today survey of 80 major hotel chains found that around 40% of them charge for internet access in guests’ rooms. Strangely enough, the more expensive hotels tend to charge, whereas cheaper hotels generally don’t charge. The daily charge can range from $9.95 to $14.95 per day and often guests don’t realize or understand that they are paying extra. Hotels that charge include Marriot, Omni, Embassy Suites and Sheraton.

The outrageous cost of some of the world’s most expensive hotel rooms never ceases to amaze me. It’s something this blog has looked at before, although it seems that the worse the economic situation gets, the more some people will pay for a night’s stay.

The latest contender to have prices so ridiculous that one wonders who actually stays there is the Palms hotel and resort in Las Vegas, that offers a 10,000 square foot suite with its own basketball halfcourt, for $25,000 a night. But that seems quite a bargain compared to the hotel’s Hugh Heffner Sky Villa, which rents for $40,000 a night. I trust there is no additional charge for internet access in the room…?

And just when I thought that $40,000 a night could not possibly be beaten, I came across this list of hotel superlatives, which lists the world’s most expensive hotel room as the $50,000 a night Royal Villa at the Grand Resort Lagonissi in Greece. Apparently, if you stay there, you enjoy a wonderful view of the Aegean Sea; well, I should hope so, for that price!

If you are looking for an unusual – and not necessarily expensive – room, this site is exactly what it sounds like – a guide to some of the oddest and most intriguing hotel rooms around the world. Using this guide, you can sleep in a 747 Jet, a tree house, at the bottom of the ocean and even in a hotel that straddles the border of two countries.

And here is an interesting concept – the Westin Resort in Aruba is offering couples a credit of $300 toward a future stay, if they conceive while staying at the hotel, anytime between now and December 19th. Apparently, if you become pregnant, you would have to supply a doctor’s note stating that it probably occurred during that period. No word on the hotel’s policy if you conceive, but you didn’t actually mean to.

Things I’d like to do and places I’d like to stay in California

So I was reading Reader’s Digest Off the Beaten Path because I’m going to review it tomorrow. It’s going to get a good review. I mean it’s $30 for a hardcover with nice color photos and good content while we’re used to paying $20 or more for much lower quality (not hardcover) travel books.

Anyway, I was reading up on some California stuff and somehow I ended up thinking about that California travel plan a while back written by Kiwi Collection because they wanted to show off some of the best hotels in California. The general outline for that itinerary is San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Carmel by the Sea, San Luis Obispo, and LA.

Off the Beaten Path has the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park and Museum. Frankly it’s hard to believe that any National Park is off the beaten track in San Francisco but who knows?

Then in Santa Cruz, we have Natural Bridges State Beach. The picture looks awesome though, again, it’s hard to imagine a beach in Santa Cruz that isn’t packed with tourists.

Anyway, I’m thinking that anyone could use this book to find some different things to add to a vacation itinerary.

Meanwhile, I wanted to make this entry a little longer so I checked out the Kiwi Collection’s hotels in San Francisco. The St. Regis San Francisco says it is 5+ stars and $450 – $10,000 a night. That puts it in the category of some of the world’s most expensive hotels, of which I have stayed at none.

But Kiwi Collection includes San Francisco hotels that coast as little as $140/night according to that page I linked to above. If you’re curious, the hotels in LA don’t go up to 10 grand even though they have their own 5+ star hotel in Hotel Bel-Air ($385 – $4,000/night).

Anyhow, between the pictures and travel tips in Off the Beaten Path and the lure of hotels I can’t afford I should be pretty busy tonight.

Budget Hotels becoming more popular

Not surprisingly, given the state of the economy, so-called budget hotels are becoming more and more popular in the US. The biggest budget hotel and motel chains — Microtel, Motel 6, Super 8 and Econolodge — all report an increase in bookings and all of them are trying to offer more amenities and better customer service.

The largest budget hotel chain in the US is Super 8, with around 2,100 properties. The company promises such amenities as free high speed internet, a “super start” continental breakfast (which sounds better than a bowl of pastries), cable TV and an upgraded bath with a curved shower rod (?). They also have new room prototypes at certain locations designed to attract a younger clientele. Their average room rate is around $60 a night — certainly more appealing to budget minded travelers than some of these pricey properties!

Many more American travelers are also choosing to stay in hostels — apparently, around 20% more in 2008. The last time I stayed in a youth hostel was about 25 years ago and I still associate hostels with being full of noisy backpackers, uncomfortable bunk beds and having to do a chore in the morning before I left. But many now have suites and family rooms, free internet, fine dining and even swimming pools. This site lets you browse hostels all over the world. I see there are hostels in London (one of the world’s most expensive cities) with prices that start at around $40 per night — and that’s for a private room, not a dormitory type room. The site also lists hostels in such exotic countries as Latvia, Kazakhstan and Sierra Leone. Does anyone have any good hostel experiences to share?

And this site lists some of the more unusual hostels that can be found around the world, including those in tree-houses, caves, prisons and lighthouses.

The poor economy is also hurting timeshares, too, according to this article.Perhaps the cheapest option for lodging these days is the home share option?

And on a completely unrelated note (but I cant resist one of my favorite topics) if somebody from the Travel Channel is reading this, please stop showing “Bizarre Foods” and “No Reservations” all of which have now been shown several times. Thanks! How about a new series in which Samantha Brown goes to Asia or the South Pacific? Just a suggestion!

Guest entry by Mancunian

More on the Korean B&B in London

It turns out that the hotel I’m staying at is not registered as a hotel or any other kind of business. So while I’m not unhappy with the place I still don’t feel good staying here.

At first, I figured my responsibility was to move to a legal hotel but with New Year’s Eve coming, that’s pretty difficult and we don’t want to spend our entire vacation shopping for a new hotel.

So it looks like I’m stuck here for now but I think I have to report the place:

If you know someone whose business is not registered for tax call the Tax Evasion Hotline on 0800 788 887 (open Monday to Friday from 8.00 am to 8.00 pm, Saturday and Sunday 8.00 am to 4.00 pm) and HMRC will do something about it. You don’t need to leave your name and address.

More later.

Guests in a hotel?

Well it’s Christmas Eve here in New York but in some parts of the world it’s already Christmas. Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate though.

I got an email complaining about a hotel partially because the hotel charged extra when the person staying there wanted to entertain some company. This got me thinking a bit because I’m not sure what’s considered normal here. I’m sure that in most big hotels they wouldn’t bother you too much – only the smaller hotels would bother trying to keep track. But how many of them do and have other people had similar experiences?

I just want you to let other people know that I have had a terrible experience at the TRAVELODGE in Eureka, CA. The address is 4-4th Street, Eureka, CA 95501.

The staff at the hotel were terrible. I was so disappointed by the services they provided. They invaded my privacy. As soon as they saw my guests arrive, they asked me to pay extra in order for them to stay with me for a few hours. If not, they had to leave the room or they would be calling the cops. What kind of the services were that? So without any choice, I was forced to pay them the money in order to keep the peace in my room. Xiu Y. Yan and his father were very getto. They screamed and used Chinese profanity when speaking with me. It was such a disappointment to see this kind of low class services.

Secondly, the room was terrible. It was filthy, dusty, and smelly. The heater was not working and I had to pay 60 per night for this terrible room.