Ok, “Catfished” might be a bit dramatic, but this is a fun story about lack of planning and why I love my international phone plan.
I like to fancy myself one of those carefree souls that can show up in any city without any plans, with no stress, knowing that everything will fall into place. Turns out it doesn’t always fall into place. The truth is, much of the time I’ve failed to plan out of sheer laziness. I don’t know how it happens, but sometimes it’s all of a sudden 3 weeks from now. At any rate, I found myself in Edinburgh for the first time with nowhere to sleep.
In case anyone missed the commercials, T-Mobile now offers free international texting and data, and very affordable calls. They don’t pay me to endorse them (though they probably should), I just remember a time when I had to use calling cards and payphones. While we all know that phone booths are plentiful in the U.K., they also smell a lot like pee. International phone plans are a game changer.
So I’m in Edinburgh, no where to stay, but that’s okay because I have 4G! So from my booth in the shadiest Chinese restaurant near Waverley Station, I booked a very affordable apartment in Leith. It’s a 30 minute walk with my luggage, but what a deal! And 5 stars? Can’t beat that!
I don’t want to be one of those “if it’s too good to be true it’s probably not” people and I’m not at all, this is a mistake I would make again tomorrow. However, I booked this lovely hotel, received this lovely confirmation and guarantee, and walked my cumbersome luggage half an hour to my steal of a hotel.
Here’s where things get fun. 17 Great Junction Street, I had arrived! Turns out 17 Great Junction Street is a large unmarked red door and a call box full of exposed wires. This is where it would have been great to take a photo for this post, however, I didn’t. I had a lot on my plate. Here’s an artist rendering.
Note my sad face. So after spending the morning on Hotels.com booking this hotel, a half hour walk aided by battery sucking Google Maps, and probably some dicking around on Facebook in the middle, my phone was quickly dying and I was homeless in a foreign city. I used my last bit of battery to call the front desk of the Jasmine Apartment, which leads to a charming voicemail explaining that no one was answering nor were they accepting messages. Yay!
I gathered my things and moved to a coffee shop and tried to gather as much battery power as I could while they closed up shop around me. I called Hotels.com and explained my situation, and explained my situation, and explained my situation (a call that would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars before I switched to T Mobile). I was directed to someone who could transfer me to a different hotel. Unfortunately, I had no idea where anything was and hotel “just 20 minute drive” from me, could have been in any direction.
I’m not being salty about Hotels.com, everyone there was super nice and I imagine it’s not a situation they come across a lot so I get it, I was just frustrated. It was largely my fault for not knowing where I was and being too dependent on my phone. Paper maps are still helpful sometimes. It took some time, and almost all of my battery, but Hotels.com customer service set me up at the Hanover House Hotel, which seemed to be a pretty steep upgrade!
The fine folks at Hotels.com ended up saving the day. I also tried to look up Jasmine Apartment to reference this piece and this is what shows up on the Hotels.com website today.
Good job Hotels.com! I did feel as though I wasted a significant amount of time on my first day in Edinburgh, but I did get (have?) to walk around the entire city quite a bit and it ended up being a great way to explore this gorgeous city.
While Hotels.com catfished me in the first place, they did come through in the end and make it right. All is well that ends well. It was certainly a frustrating ordeal, but it could have been worse. And many many thanks to T Mobile for providing an international phone plan standard. I mean, our calls are going to space, why do they cost more on the other side of a land boarder?