That Time I Was Catfished By Hotels.com

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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.

Phone booths in Edinburgh

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.

Phone booth in Edinburgh

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!

Don't book here!

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.

Hotels.com confirmation

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.

This is what it's like to visit the Jasmine Apartment in Edinburgh

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!

Hanover House Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland

Hanover House Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland

Hanover House Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland

Hanover House Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland

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.

hotels.com

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.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

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?

 

40 thoughts on “That Time I Was Catfished By Hotels.com

  1. What a harrowing and exhausting night! Needing to find a place at the last minute has almost never worked for me – even in the U.S. (I’ve found that Hotels Tonight App is appallingly slow in confirmation with the hotel!) I’m glad you ended up at a decent place and that Hotels.com came through in the end. A cautionary tale.

    • Mags

      It certainly could have been worse, though it was quite frustrating at the time. That’s bad news about hotels tonight, I’ve never used them before. Thanks for the heads up!

  2. A similar fiasco happened when my friend booked us a hostel on a well-known hostel booking website. We arrived in Florence and trekked with our overloaded backpacks from the train station to a nonexistent address. This was in 2006 — long before I had a smartphone or any cell phone at all while traveling internationally. A shop owner luckily let us use the landline to call the hostel, which, of course, was a waste of time. We realized we had been scammed, so we scoured the web for other hostels. Of course, being May and entering into high tourist season in Europe, everything was booked to capacity. We ended up pounding the pavement (or cobblestone street) and eventually found a nondescript hotel with one vacant room. Not only did we lose the deposit we had paid online, but we also ended up spending more on lodging that we had budgeted. Sometimes even when you plan ahead of time and have a hotel/hostel booked before you arrive, you can get duped if you don’t do your due diligence while researching. At least your story had a happier ending. Thank goodness for international phone plans, right?

    • Mags

      That’s awful. I hate when you’re in a bind and forced to spend more than you’ve budgeted. I hope you at least disputed the charge with your credit card company.

  3. it reminded me my arrival to some small town in Indonesia, after midnight, because my flight was delayed; I took a taxi to my hostel and when I arrived there hostel didn’t exist… no a nice feeling….
    fortunately someone recommended me other place and everything went fine.

    • Mags

      You’re lucky it turned out that way, as am I, I’ve certainly heard horror stories where it hasn’t

  4. That’s a great deal from T Mobile – have you got the specifics of it? I’m on ee and wonder if I can also benefit from it. Google maps has almost always been a life saviour in our Asia travels, particularly in Bali recently , but Gmaps is frequently wrong and it’s times like this you need a decent phone package!

    • Mags

      I’m afraid I don’t know the specifics, but I believe that they now include international text and data in 100 countries in their standard plan. I changed from Sprint because of this deal and my phone bill is actually cheaper now.

  5. I did not know you were such a talented artist! … lol. Wow! what a mix up. Thank goodness it worked out in the end. Honestly I still walk with a paper map as my back up.

    • Mags

      Haha, thanks for compliment on my art skills 😉 I will certainly be packing a paper map from now on!

  6. what an experience! i’m glad see that hotels.com were helpful and found a solution for you. there are so many places that would overlook your circumstances and send you to some satellite office customer service center.

    good for them for doing their due diligence as well. thank you for sharing!

    • Mags

      They did end up being helpful, I was bounced around to a few satellite offices first however, very frustrating at the time. They did end up saving the day however.

  7. I wish I could be more like you and just ‘wing’ it. Unfortunately I am an organised person and always have something booked. In saying that your night sounds stressful yet fun and is something I would like to experience. Therefore sometime in 2016 I am going to head to a new city with nothing booked and just see what happens 🙂

    • Mags

      There are certainly pros and cons to both approaches. I really wish I were a little more organized (or a lot). I do have some adventures, but I also end up paying more than I want to because sometimes I get in a bind. I think it’s probably best to find some balance between planning and winging it.

  8. Holy shhhhhh that is some crazy story! I’m so glad hotels.com came through in the end but talk about a major fail! Def one of those experiences you can look on and laugh about a while later! P.S. Love the artist rendering! 😉

    • Mags

      Thanks so much! Don’t worry though, I don’t think I’m going to quit writing to pursue my art career 😉

  9. WOW! That would be so frustrating! I have had that happen to me but with a car rental company. They said they would have a shuttle pick me up at the Maimi airport and take me to the rental center. But nobody came nor did anyone know who the company was!

    • Mags

      That’s so annoying! I actually just had a similar car rental situation over Thanksgiving. They wouldn’t let me rent a car when they found out I would be crossing state lines, then refused to give me a refund. Stuff like that makes me so angry!

  10. I’ve stood in that very red phone booth earlier this year. Way too many memories of Edinburgh for me. An expensive place to stay and seems you turned a disaster into success. Well done.

    • Mags

      It was sheer luck, believe me. I’m glad it worked out the way it did though. I absolutely LOVED Edinburgh, I would hate to remember it as the first city where I had to sleep in a ditch.

  11. So glad it all worked out! I really can’t imagine how I would have gotten out of a lot of sticky situations without phone plans like htis.

    • Mags

      I really lucked out! This phone plan is a life saver!

  12. Haha, this post reminded me of… well me. I always have this concept in my head that I’m going to “do this right” and “plan accordingly, ahead of time.” At the end of the day, it ends up being 2-3 weeks before my trip and I’m scrambling to buy transit passes and figure out my inter-city routes. 1 week before the trip, whatever hasn’t been booked is left up to chance. At least you were in Edinburgh. One of the few cities I’ve been to where I felt like no matter what happened, I was at home and knew everything would be fine. Edinburgh (and nearby Stirling and St. Andrews), are all ideal places to not over-plan anyway. I’ll also be purchasing the T-Mobile 4g international plan when I go again :).

    Greig

    • Mags

      I am quite fortunate. Edinburgh is probably the best city to be stranded in. Everyone there was so nice too, I’m sure someone would have taken me in.

  13. what a nightmare, I don’t think I would have stayed as cool as you! You must’ve been mightily pissed off too at having to lug your case all that way for nothing. You never think it’s gonna happen to you, but at least the story ended well and they took the apartment off the website.

    • Mags

      haha, I’m only cool in hindsight! I was beyond pissed, and tired, and not having it at the time!

  14. I’m a way over planner, so this hasn’t ever happened to me, but I did show up at a hostel once and wish I’d booked somewhere else because of how shady it was. Boo, Hotels.com: Get your sh*t together! At least they found you a new place and it all worked out.

    • Mags

      I really really wish I were more of a planner. I think that’s going to be part of my new years resolution. It would really help avoid nonsense like this.

  15. Interesting experience! It’s great that Hotels.com took the responsibility and fixed the issue in your case. It never happened to me, but one time my hotel was overbooked and they transferred me to a far away hotel. I booked it through Travelocity that time. They couldn’t get me a room in the hotel I wanted, but gave me a discount on my next booking. Looks like the hotel aggregators do their best in resolving the issues since there a huge competition among them in the market.

    • Mags

      That is good, and most big companies will do what it takes to make it right, and they can afford to appease people. Could have been a very different turn out if I booked directly through the hotel.

  16. Oh no. Okay, I admit I laughed hysterically at the true picture, but we’ve all been there and lived through at least one crazy experience like that. 😉 Ours was in Cancun, Mexico.

    • Mags

      When you travel it’s hard to avoid some mix ups. I certainly could benefit from some better planning though.

  17. I’ve had a hotel appear not as advertised but this is something else! Luckily it looks like your found a great place to sleep.

    • Mags

      It certainly could have ended worse! I lucked out quite a bit.

  18. Oh man, that sucks! I would have been SO pissed. But I’m glad it all worked out in the end. And I have to give you props, because I don’t think I could ever go somewhere and not have a place booked beforehand!

    • Mags

      Don’t give me too many props. It was poor poor planning on my part!

  19. Mar

    Shame this happened to you but great job on the hotels.com side to make it all up and solving the situation. I have to admit I use Hotels.com for all my bookings. their loyalty program is just fab, the best, simplest and best value there is. And hope you had a good rested night after all!

  20. What a palaver! Glad it was resolved eventually and that you got to see a bit of our capital city. If you are ever back, Leith is a very cool area! I lived there for over a year!

  21. I had no idea there was an international phone plan at T-Mobile! That’s definitely a game changer.

  22. Bwahahahaha what the hell?! Girl you crack me up. Can you do all your photos in ‘artist rendering’ please?

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