My wife Julie and a group of seven of her friends recently planned a trip to London, to meet up. They were coming from all over the UK, so a central location was preferred for easier travel. One of the group found an ideal apartment, a short walk from Hyde Park Corner. She booked the place for the desired night, and sent a link around, so everyone could see the ‘luxury’ flat they would be staying in.
Unfortunately, that turned out to be a scam. The online photos were ‘stolen’ from a flat that was for sale, and the advertiser had no access to the premises, and certainly did not own the flat. Fortunately, this was discovered in time, and the lady received most of her money back. So she tried again, using a website called ‘booking.com’ to source an alternative flat. They found one in Covent Garden; very central, handy for transport, tourist sites, and restaurants. From the photos, it seemed to be basic but comfortable, and suitable for the group to stay in for one night.
However, when they arrived and were let in, they discovered that the flat they were expected to stay in was not the nice one advertised. It was dirty, with condom wrappers and drug paraphernalia evident, as well as blood spatters on a wall, and unsuitable, dirty pillows and bedding. They complained, and went out for lunch while the place was ‘cleaned’. That cleaning consisted of a quick tidy up, and the replacement of two sheets, as well as the removal of pillowcases with no clean ones provided. The seating accommodation provided for eight people was just two small plastic chairs, and two bar stools. Others had to sit on beds that would be slept on later, or on the floor.
Of course, they could have just left, and tried to get the money back. But after travelling for many hours to spend one night together, they were unlikely to find, or be able to afford, alternative accommodation in the heart of London during the busiest tourist season. So they did what British people tend to do, and they made the best of it. Julie has formally complained online today, through booking.com. However, I think this story warrants more coverage, and suitable outrage.
***Update*** As of this evening, and following complaints from Julie’s group today, booking.com has removed that particular rental from its website. So, it pays to complain, if only for the benefit of others.
So, be warned. Be very careful with any choices from both Air bnb, and booking.com. You might end up travelling a long way to stay in somewhere different to the place you booked, and find it filthy on arrival. Even worse, you might find it doesn’t exist. If you know anyone who is considering doing this, then please make them aware of this post.
***I can only talk about our own experience. I am sure that most Air bnb owners are genuine, and many dealings with booking.com are trouble free.***