Now LateRooms.com offer late deals on kitchens, too
I'm not going to lie to you - if I pay buttons for a hotel room near Paddington, I don't expect marble floors and chandeliers. If I check in at a 3 star hotel, however, I might expect some modest extras beyond a bed and bathroom facilities; a desk and a chair maybe, perhaps somewhere to hang clothes. So after booking a room at the 3 star Ascot Hyde Park Hotel through LateRooms.com, that's what I expected. Sort of. So it came as a mild surprise to discover I was staying here:
Yes. That's a kitchen. No chair, no desk, no wardrobe, but a fully integrated kitchen in my room. Perhaps they'd given me a suite by mistake? That would have been the bargain of the century, except... well, it was a little tight in terms of room:
You'll notice the electric heater in the nine inch gap between the kitchen cupboard and the bed. A deathtrap in the making, but as Andy pointed out as I recounted the tale, it was an overly generous offering by the manager - if the room got too cold, I could have turned on the oven. The washing machine would have been a bonus, too, if there'd been enough room to open the door.
I was in an annex to the hotel. It seems that up until recently, the building comprised of individual apartments - the management had simply removed the front door from each apartment and fitted an en suite to each room to create individual guest rooms. In my room, they hadn't been arsed enough to take the kitchen out before putting the bed in.
It wasn't just the room, its broken furniture and the safety hazards that were a concern. As an annex building there was no reception, but neither was there a lock on the front door - anybody could walk into the building at any time, without a key. The doors of the rooms weren't fire doors, which seems to be a fashionable extra in hotels these days, if not a mandatory one. At least I could identify my room by the number on the door:
In short, there is in no way in almighty hellfire the Ascot Hyde Park Hotel is a 3 star hotel, as advertised on LateRooms.com:
It's only when you click through to its listing that you might notice that rating has a caveat:
The rating is self-classifed - in other words, the hotel hasn't bothered securing an official rating from the likes of the AA or Visit Britain, and instead has made up a rating themselves. A foolproof system that certainly won't be abused to increase custom, I'm sure you'll agree. But does the addition of small print justify LateRooms.com palming off such apocalyptic visions on customers? If self-classified ratings are likely to bear no resemblance to customer expectations, they only serve to harm LateRooms.com's credibility. Adding small print to distance themselves from the claims isn't good enough - if a hotel can't guarantee a particular standard of facilities then perhaps third parties should think twice about fobbing them off on customers.
If I pay peanuts for a room I don't expect the height of luxury. But if I pay peanuts for what is advertised as a 3* room by a website that makes its business from offering late bookings at bargain prices, it's not unreasonable to expect a basic 3* room no matter how much I pay, what with being a bargain and all. It seems hotels can invent ratings entirely detached from reality, and the likes of LateRooms.com are only too happy to blindly support them.