Twenty years ago, I had a day tour of Capri on my Italian Bus Tour with the Senior Citizens. I remember waiting for the funicular to ride to the top of the town and skipping my tour of the streets lined with shops to go to the Faraglioni Rocks. That was the picture I wanted from Capri (of course, along with the Blue Grotto). My one day on the island was not enough so when I quickly planned my European sabbatical, I knew I wanted to properly visit Capri and go back to the Faraglioni Rocks.
Capri is (or was to me) a bit of magic on the Amalfi Coast. I now needed a bit of magic in my life, a place to really escape reality. Playing with my lodging options – there are many ranging from rooms, AirBnb rentals, hotels and luxury resorts (think celebrity type places with prices to match), I found an odd hotel sticking out of the list. It was advertised as a four star hotel a few minutes from town (with free shuttle service) but had a killer view, one that I wanted, one that I needed and it was surprisingly reasonable (almost cheap in comparison) to other places so I booked it. There had to be a catch, right? I was willing to gamble and hope for the best.
I booked a room with a view of the water, unlike the cheapest no view rooms of the past. I didn’t splurge for a balcony or patio, I just needed the water view as if it was to magically transform me or something – I was being drawn to it.
So when I checked in, imagine my surprise to not get the room I booked but to be told I was upgraded to a room with a patio. I was intrigued by Room 99 but then when I saw the room had no water view unless you go outside on the patio and if you crane your neck to the left you can see the rocks. This wasn’t what I booked from the website, so I went back to the front desk and became that (American) girl who complains.
It’s about principal. I booked a room with just a view of the water when you open the windows. Room 99 was not that room. Room 99 felt like an afterthought – a small room with slight patio around the air conditioning units. It also had stairs (unsecured) leading to the pool area and outside lift entrance – I was not a fan that anyone could come up onto the patio. This was not the room I booked and paid for, this was a substandard room and one that I didn’t feel safe staying in as I wanted to open the windows for sunlight at a minimum.
Back at the front desk, I asked why I didn’t get the room I booked – with a seating area inside and the larger layout. The first reply which really angered me was “the room you booked is for three people and you are a single”. Doesn’t matter if I booked and paid for a suite for ten people and was there alone, I wanted the room I booked. I asked the front desk guy to show me the room types to understand how I ended up in Room 99 – he showed me the room without the view (which I didn’t book) to compare to the “upgraded room with patio”. I held my ground and said “I want the room I booked on your website”, he said the photos on the hotel website are wrong. “So they are misleading?” I asked and he agreed that the online photos don’t match the room types (when I got the chance to go online to check, I realized that all categories are showing the same photos). This angered me more to feel duped – I just wanted my view, the room I paid for and booked, nothing more or less. I was feeling like a broken record but was standing my ground.
My insistence was a bit much for the poor guy (everyone knew my name after this incident) but I needed my view, I paid for my view and I wasn’t going to open the window to the concrete wall and then get dressed to go outside on the unsecured patio of Room 99.
He said “We are going to your new room now” and brought me to Room 318. The room was slightly bigger than Room 99 but then he opened the shutters with the push button to reveal the WOW factor. As the shutters moved up they slowly revealed the view of the water, I started to calm but was still taken aback. I had a proper balcony patio with lounge chairs and a table with two chairs. It was gorgeous, yes and the views seductive but not what I booked. He said “we are giving you this room category instead – it is an upgrade”.
At first, I told him “it’s really nice, but I only need the room I booked” and he wouldn’t budge. My bags were quickly delivered from Room 99 here and they looked like they wanted to be done with me. I gave in and accepted this room and was quickly in awe of the view and then under its spell. The first impression of the hotel wasn’t great but the magic of the view was quickly melting my East Coast veneer as I sunk into my “vacation/travel sabbatical mode”.
Have you ever had an experience where you felt duped by a hotel website? How did you resolve the issue?