Monday, 3 September 2012

Always read the small print

Liz & I were booked into the Brambletye Hotel in Forest Row, Sussex, for the night of 1st September but regretfully had to cancel. I 'phoned the hotel at about 09.00 on the morning of 31st August to cancel & was told I still had to pay for the room as their cancellation policy was three days. I booked through Laterooms & indeed it does say that cancellation is 72hrs on Laterooms site. Serves me right for not checking. However I thought there was a good chance that they could let the room so I rang again on the morning of the 1st and was told they were indeed fully booked for that coming night. It therefore seemed reasonable for me to see if the cancellation fee could be waived. Later that day, after we had got home, there was message from the hotel so I 'phoned them. I was told that the room had not been sold and that the receptionist to whom I spoke in the morning was not aware that the room was simply being held for someone else pending their confirmation which had not been received so I would still have to pay. In several decades of staying in hotels I had not before come across the idea of asking for a room to be held pending confirmation. It is a neat way of avoiding a cancellation fee and my previous experience has always been that you are asked to commit, with a credit card, on the spot. According to the hotel's own website “ Cancellation & pre-payment policies vary according to room type. Please enter the date of your stay and check the conditions for your required room”. Interestingly the hotel has no vacancies for any Saturday night during September so I was very unlucky that they could not re-let my room. You learn a new business practice every day. In future I shall look VERY carefully at a hotel's cancellation terms and just not stay there if they want more than 24hrs notice.

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