Friday, September 11, 2009

Misleading Hotel Description? You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet...

I recently had the misfortune of staying at an Expedia property using one of my vouchers. I chose the "Beijing Botaihotel" in Beijing, China. I made the huge mistake of booking this property for three nights, and you'll soon see why. On Expedia, the hotel was described as a three-star property, but the stated amenities blew me away. Private Beach? Casino? On-site Health Club? Complimentary Area Shuttle? Fireplaces, Balconies, HDTV's, and kitchenettes in guestrooms? These were all supposedly to greet me upon arrival. Well, I arrived to find a dingy motel in a side alley on a busy road. None of those amenities existed.

Expedia showed a small drawing of the hotel exterior: a modern, comfortable looking building on a tree-lined street. The rooms looked of your typical Chinese variety, like a standard Super 8 or Days Inn. There were no reviews, and I was in a rush to book something, and it sounded nice enough. So, I booked it. Biggest mistake of my trip, so far. Had I read Tripadvisor, I'd have learned that this hotel had an overwhelming 84% unapproval rating, with unabashedly negative comments like "What an Experience!", "Reception Staff are a Complete Waste of Space!". Not surprisingly, the Chinese reviewers were much less harsh. There are definitely different standards overseas, but this - this was purely misleading.

I took a closer look at the amenities page upon my arrival. What I saw was horror - clearly someone trying to bring in some unsuspecting tourists. Poolside Bar, Hair Salon, Complimentary Newspapers (in China? hah!), Children's Swimming Pool, DVD Player in Room, Washer/Dryer, Satellite Television, Ergonomic Chairs, Cordless Phones, and the list goes on and on. What the hotel actually had: dirty lobby, rude check-in staff, a rusty old elevator, a tea kettle in the room, and a television circa 1983. The pool? None. Admittedly, the hotel I arrived to was pretty much what I would have expected from any mid-range hotel in China, but given the description on Expedia, I was completely aghast at the dishonesty here. Don't they check these things out? Vet the hotels whatsoever before posting the hotel-provided description? I'm still in shock.

To have a chuckle at my expense, please check out the Expedia description that I, the seasoned international traveller, fell for. This was beyond crazy, and I hope Expedia pulls this hotel from their inventory soon (or updates their description to reflect the cesspool that it actually is).

My dream of lounging by the poolside bar (in Beijing, no less) was crushed. C'est la vie. Thailand awaits...

2 comments:

Chris said...

I followed the link to Expedia. I can't believe that happened to you. Did you file a claim with Expedia? Also, I couldn't help but notice that there are still no reviews on Expedia for that Hotel. Is there a reason that you didn't relate your experience there as well?

Dave said...

At the time that this post was drafted, I was still checked in to the hotel, and didn't want to cause any problems until after my check-out. I will likely contact Expedia, but considering I obtained the hotel for free, I doubt they will be very understanding. Hopefully, they'll update the hotel description for the sake of other travelers, if not myself. I do plan on reviewing the hotel on Expedia, though, sometime here in the near future.