Top secret Hilton hotel - poor quality and no customer service

6 April 2009

The old addage you get what you pay for doesn't strictly apply if you don't know what it is you're buying. Such is the way with's Top Secret Hotel deals - you choose a hotel by its location and star rating for a generously reduced price, and you only discover its name once booked. It's a fun way to provide the buyer with a taste of Bond-esque uncertainty and excitement, or the feeling they're off to meet a lady to see her tuppence for cash.

Unless the hotel happens to be the Hilton on Grosvenor Street in Edinburgh, in which case not only will your hotel room represent an establishment that charges by the hour, but you'll be completely ignored by customer services despite continued assurances your problem is being dealt with.

Reader Anthony Burns contacted Bitterwallet after three weeks of inaction from Hilton, with regards to a night he spent at the four star hotel at the beginning of March, booked through Lastminute's Top Secret Hotel deals.

"The the price was less than I'd expect to pay for a room at a Hilton hotel, but I felt sure the experience would not reflect the price. Unfortunately, that turned out not to be the case," said Burns on a website he created for Hilton management, since their own complaints form allows no more than 2000 characters or the inclusion of images.

As you'll see on the website, there's a long list of very reasonable complaints that include a room with no working radiator, a very scummy bathroom, broken window frames and exposed grip-rods:

Despite contacting the Hilton and been told to expect a reply with seven working days, then within three working days when he complained a second time, Burns hasn't heard a peep from the hotel chain. Since it's both a 4-star experience FAIL and customer service FAIL from Hilton, Bitterwallet has contacted on Burns' behalf, to see if somebody wants to right this wrong for the customer.

TOPICS:   Consumer Advice   Travel


  • dave
    Heh, cool. I walk past that hotel on the way to and from work almost every day. What d'you reckon, should I address a printout of this article to the manager and drop it off on the way home later to let him know that people with interweb access really aren't people whose complaints are to be ignored? 'Cos I can count at least three sales this article has lost them.
  • Al N.
    I've found Hilton customer service to regularly employ the 'ignore the customer' tactic. Any time I had a problem, they'd initially give me a response (saying they'd look into it) and then just ignore any further communication from me (email, phone or by post). In the end, I decided to lose my Hilton 'Gold' status and go elsewhere. I still stay at Hiltons ... lots of them are great ... but if I have a choice, I'll go somewhere where customers matter.
  • Moseby
    i recommend the tipton
  • The B.
    I've never dealt with Hilton but Thistle hotels are equally shite, although they did write back and tell me I was lying when I complained that their staff were rude and next to useless when I’d spent about a grand putting up wedding guests with them, needless to say I’d never recommend them and never stay there again.
  • Alan
    I just looked at the top secret hotels website for hotels in my area. A bit of local knowledge and it's pretty easy to guess which hotel it will be from the description.
  • Joff
    @Alan, the problem is you rarely stay in a local hotel (unless you really are using it by the hour) so for unfamiliar areas or cities with a high number of hotels, then you're at the mercy of the hotelier.
  • vinylandtrinkets
    I used to work for Hilton and if any of our rooms looked like that the HR or the general manager would have sacked us, We used to pride ourselves in our customer service skills and nothing was left to chance. If there was a problem that the guest was unhappy with we'd always sorted it out before they left the hotel. I will say this though when Hilton took over from stakis in 98 it was the worst thing that could have happened to a hotel chain, throughout the company you could see things changing and not always for the better. But at my hotel with our HR manager and the same team that worked for Stakis we stayed the same. I left in 2000 so have no idea what its like there now
  • Angry S.
    I've now stayed at the Hilton in Gatwick and on the Isle Of Man. Whilst neither of these sound anywhere near as bad as what's described here, for the price that these places charge, I was very disapointed. I paid a premium for the name, but didn'tseem to get the level of service I'd expect.
  • chrisg.
    Stayed there before at that specific hotel (bizarrely we only spoke about this very incident this morning)... it was shocking. Person next to me had their phone stolen from their room as they slept (sash windows + no locks = easy pickings). I had my clothes SOAKED by a leaking roof on the first night. That was excellent to wake up to, I'll tell you.
  • John
    LoL pWned :D I bet paris hilton is laughin...... I mean cackling at you.
  • ex f.
    Ive been to that very hotel and although there is two seperate buildings , i was put in the 'good' section, ihad the junior king suite, supposedly the best room in there but the wall paper was rotten in places, other than that it was a nice room, the cleaner strolled in in the morning while i was in bed and the bloke who did took the food orders was a snotty nosed prick but it wasnt as bad as i was expecting after the reviews.
  • Scott
    Amazing! I've had the same kind of response from the Hilton in Basingstoke. I complained that I paid more in the Basinstoke Hilton and was treated with a smaller bed and a smaller TV with broken remote - compared to the larger and more sophisticated Bracknell room which was around £10 cheaper. Not to mention poor customer service from hotel manager Paul Michael who doesn't reply to my emails.
  • Mike H.
    I love it when the cleaner walks in, boxxers down, tissue in 1 hand and the remote in the other frantically trying to change the porn channel. But usually they are Polish, so they don't understand...
  • tits
    I've complained to Hilton about getting food poisoning from one of their restaurants. Guess what? No reply. However, I have recently stayed in a Hilton, abroad, and it was fantastic. I even complained there and got a box of chocolates to say sorry from the manager. I prefer beer, but hey.
  • SHare
    I've stayed in two Hiltons and its been the same. I'm sure there is a handful that live up to their reputation but the rest are glorified travellodges. Awful.
  • Sasto
    I recently stayed at the Hilton DoubleTree in Cambridge which I bought by one of the top secret deals on Last Minute. It was in the most part a very nice hotel. The room was again like a glorified travel lodge. In the two days we were there we noticed a rip in the net curtain, and the toilet roll holder fell off the wall. But the real sting in the tail was the fact we had to pay £14 for breakfast (per person, per day) and a whopping £15 per day for parking.
  • Ten B.
    [...] Omegle – talk jibber jabber with complete strangers. Make it weird and see how long you can string it out for. Now including nuts, sluts and perverts, which means it’s more or less over. The Hilton at Grosvenor Street in Edinburgh – worst hotel ever? (Note to Charlotte at lastminute
  • B.
    [...] experience of Anthony Burns, who contacted Bitterwallet after three weeks of inaction from the Hilton on Grosvenor Street in Edinburgh, with regards to a night he spent at the four star hotel, booked through’s Top [...]
  • rose
    I have an ongoing complaint with Hilton Coylumbridge since October 2009. Some 20 itens of coreespondence later they just choose to ignore me. I have had to repeat the same complaint to many different departments (one in Dallas) still nothing gets resolved.
  • tomas h.
    what action to be taken to avoid similar prombles in the hotel
  • CDM
    After a fabulous 5-month stay at Staybridge in Augusta GA, I insisted that the corporation make reservations to stay at Staybridge in Savannah…and it was two weeks from Hades (July 15-28, 2012)! A platinum member and the “perk” was a free bottle of water. Upon arrival, the receptionist had a cordial attitude. However, by the next afternoon, her undue smugness was deplorable. We had breakfast a couple of times in the main dining room. The excellent breakfast selections were vast; waffles, fruit, yogurt, hot selections, coffee bar and more. Although there was lots of food, I was chastised for taking too much bacon. They were slow to clear dirty plates. The third day of our stay, 7 housekeepers were cleaning the front tile with spray cleaner, mops and grout brushes. As I left the elevator, I slipped on the wet floor and fell hitting my left knee, elbow and folding my thumb under my hand. As I made my way to the front desk to report the incident, I noticed several of the maids “skiing” their way across the floor in tennis shoes. The desk clerk was more interested in taking pictures of the Slippery Floor signs than my soreness. She took a few notes and a lot of pictures. When I requested a copy of the report, she retorted, “The report is for internal use only.” She refused to give me a copy of my account of the incident. The housekeeping staff was extremely unprofessional. Each time I complained about their lack of professionalism, the desk staff made excuses. We were told that this was a pet friendly hotel…HA! The staff was scared of our dogs and ran for cover each time we were in the hall. They refused to clean the room “because of the dogs” When we arrived, we told the desk staff to call the room and we would remove the dogs from the room so that they could service the room. We received one call on the 26th. Every other time, we called the front desk (around 2:45pm) for service. During our 14 day stay, housekeeping lightly cleaned our room 4 times. We had to empty our own trash, had to trade out towels, and had to retrieve supplies like dishwashing soap. Oddly enough, on our last day, we were awakened at 9:00am for housekeeping. The second week of our stay was met with resurfacing/construction to the pool. Who schedules pool construction during July?? And, why weren’t we informed about this when corporate made our reservations?? The daytime front desk clerk, Megan, was extremely argumentative. Her manner was trite and not terribly courteous. The nighttime desk clerks were usually gracious but misinformed or not informed at all. If I heard one lie and/or excuse I heard 100!! It was never a staff’s fault for a problematic situation. Whether it be the reception desk personnel, housekeeping, or the cook staff, “barely adequate” is the best description that comes to mind and the Airport/Staybridge somehow is very consistent with this impression – mediocrity masquerading as excellence. Do not stay at the Airport Staybridge in Savannah. The surly staff does not care about the guests. We would not recommend it to anyone unless and until the hotel gives some tips to their employees on how to behave with their guests. I’ve complained to Staybridge, LLC. Guess what? More excuses! The hotel is owned by West Chatham Hospitality, LLC.; however, the only number to contact them is Staybridge, LLC.
  • Jaffa
    My nephew works at the hilton in the kitchen, They have messed him about many times and have also ripped him off a few grand apparently they lost the paperwork never mentioned again. He does 12hr+ shifts 6 days a week and most weeks he is called back in on his day off to cover others. Promised days off on certain dates for holiday or like the last one he booked tickets to go to a match on a date he booked off over 6 months before hand when that week came they told him he cant have it off even tho they new he had already bought the tickets 6 months before...Lost money! He was off for one day last week because he wasn't well and unfortunately his nan who has brought him up and is also his legal guardian on paper has been taken ill and is in hospital. Latest news is that we been told she may only live the next few days and he has told his work all that and they made him go to work tonight regardless if he didn't they won't pay him his wages or holiday pay and so on because he is due to finish on Friday. For no apparent reason they don't believe him as they think it is strange to be ill for one day one week and we have this bad news this week. It is a disgrace that a company this well known and apparently stands up to the name and quality they lack of can sit back and treat not just a member of staff but anyone in this low degrading and disrespectful way.
  • Wedding C.
    I do not even know the way I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I don't recognise who you are however certainly you're going to a famous blogger if you are not already. Cheers!
  • Sara
    We have booked a hotel with them in June 2013 for a stay in August. The confirmation email states that if we cancel 24 hours in advance there is no charge. We cancelled 12 days in advance by calling the phone number they told us to call. We were assured that the booking had been cancelled. Not will be cancelled, but has been cancelled. “Don’t worry it has been done. I can now see on our system that your booking has been cancelled.” A month later the bank statement arrives and we find that we were charged for the room. We tried to call customer services only to be put through ten (yes, ten!) different people, some of them not even related to this company. I think the name of the game was Pass the Parcel. Great fun for the staff members not so much for you if you are a customer. For example at one point I was talking to reservations of Holiday Inn, which we didn't book with and I didn't ask to speak to. Another time we also put through to the accounts.(?) An hour and a half later, when they got fed up with playing this game with us, the employees just started putting the phone down and I could hear some giggling going on the background. Out of ten people I have spoken to, four (!) have refused to give me their names. (Brings up the questions, doesn’t it?) One person in reservations, I will not mention her name, because she was one of the nicer people I spoken to, had offered to refund us half of the amount as a good will gesture. (Are you kidding me? It says in your email that if the booking has been cancelled less than 24 hours before it due to commence there is no charge. Zero.) Very conveniently my cancellation call has not been registered on their system. Luckily it is on my itemised phone bill, if I can find somebody in the right department and no, I don’t want to speak to Tesco’s along the way or to be put on hold for another forty minutes. At the moment we are waiting to hear from the front house manager, the closest we got to contacting customer care team and the only person who didn’t try to pass us on to somebody else. Will she be able to find somebody within the organisation who still cares about customers? It remains to be seen.

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