I have used Hotwire a few times before without any issues, but only for short stays when traveling through a city. This time, I used Hotwire to book a four night vacation in [redacted]. I selected a four star hotel, and was delighted when it gave us [redacted] Hotel, which appeared to be luxurious. If you look at the website, you’ll now see that it’s closed for renovations. Whether it’s because of the angry, miserable people leaving when we did, or if this was scheduled all along, I can’t say for sure.
When we arrived on Friday, April 12th, we were exhausted from a 15 hour trip from Boston (another long story, screw you US Airways, we should have walked), it was almost midnight and we just wanted to get to bed. At first glance, the hotel looked fine, and our room was spacious. We threw our bags on the floor, took a shower, and went to sleep.
We awoke at 9am to the sounds of jackhammers. We quickly discovered that the entire hotel was under massive renovation. We tried to get breakfast at the poolside restaurant and walked into a construction site. The pool was ‘open’, with all the chairs laid out, but the air was filled with the sounds of 50 people systematically disassembling every balcony and the building’s facade. It was louder than a jet engine. The only people by the pool were a group of sullen looking young women texting on their phones. The poolside restaurant was (of course) closed.
We get breakfast at the interior restaurant, which was laid out like a buffet. The only people eating were us and a pair of men who flew in for the gay pride festival, who were also quite angry at the hotel. We fill our plates with cold and gross looking food and sit down, shocked at the situation. The hotel is perhaps 5% full, and not many people were eating breakfast, so it seems they put out food in the morning and let it get cold and forgotten. We had a few bites and decided to get the check. Surprise! It turns out that the buffet was actually a la carte, and we were billed individually for each ‘type’ of food. Thus, I had to pay $90 for the bill, the highlights of which included a $5 slice of bacon and a $5 yoplait yogurt cup.
Calling Hotwire, we waited for 30 minutes on the phone to speak with a representative (I suppose they get very busy in the morning with angry people calling about their hotels). The lady on the phone was very unhelpful, disbelieving any of the information that I told her, and refusing to refund any of the money. She even put me on hold while she called the lady standing at the counter, who then denied that the hotel was unlivable. The Hotwire customer rep also said, “The hotel sounds packed to me! I hear lots of people in the lobby!” as if hearing a group of people in the lobby over the phone was evidence enough of a perfectly fine hotel.
Luckily, [the hotel] was becoming very used to angry yelling people in the lobby, and they agreed to refund all money except for the night we stayed. The Hotwire lady was pretty shocked! I guess refunds are a rare occurrence for them.
Moral of the story- Hotwire does no vetting of hotels that they sell rooms for, and paying for a 4 star hotel is no guarantee of quality. The [hotel] shamelessly selling rooms despite being a construction site confuses me, as I can’t imagine it would do anything but spread anger and ruin their reputation.
Maybe they’re depending on Hotwire to sell rooms once they reopen, and regain customers that way?