Traveling non-stop for over 5 years (that’s almost 2,000 nights on the road in hotels and AirBnBs) comes with surprises. We can still be thrilled with the rare, truly great place to stay – as well as annoyed that on occasion we find ourselves staying at a pretty inferior place. The ups and downs of life on the road offer another nightmare story with a happy ending.
Most people think that the better the on-line reviews are for a place to stay, the happier you’ll be. It doesn’t always work that way for us.
But here’s where the story takes a twist – a plunge into regret and despair.
We had planned a long stay of 22 nights in Siem Reap to visit the Angkor Archaeological Sites. The visit was so long we decided to stay in two hotels: Khmer Mansion for our first 10 nights with our friends, Cliff and Ruth; then we would move to a slightly less expensive hotel nearby for our last 12 nights. Both hotels had great reviews at on-line sites, and we assumed the modest price difference was due to the less expensive hotel not having a pool.
Oh, regret washed over us as we climbed the 8 flights of steps to our 4th floor room at the less expensive hotel. When we opened the door to our room, we saw a shabby room with a broken faucet in the bathroom and under-functioning air-conditioner. The next day we were moved to another “deluxe” room that was better – except for all the mosquitoes that welcomed us to that room.
How did we deal with the situation? We walked over to Khmer Mansion and asked if we could come back. They were fully booked the next 4 nights, but they would reserve a room for us to stay our last 7 nights. That left us 4 more nights at the less expensive hotel.
What to do now? It was unlikely we’d be able to break the non-refundable reservation at the less expensive hotel. That would mean paying for both hotels. When we looked online at booking.com to understand our options, we noted that our less expensive hotel had dropped its rate by 50% since we had initially reserved the room. So, now we were paying double the going rate for a very inferior hotel with a nonrefundable reservation.
What happened next seemed quite unbelievable to us. The manager at the less expensive hotel understood our problem and was willing to help. We called booking.com from Cambodia using Skype and directly spoke to an agent, Patricia, who listened to the problem and was sympathetic. She agreed to directly call the hotel manager to see what could be done while she placed us on hold. Five minutes later she returned with a new booking confirmation, allowing us to pay only for the nights we were staying until we moved back to Khmer Mansion.
Initially, the problem seemed to have no solution that we could see. Who would have expected such generosity from the manager of the less expensive hotel? And who would have expected such great service from one of the online travel booking companies? Thanks so much, booking.com!