Faig Babayev booked a room at the Ritz-Carlton in Tenerife, Spain, for his family. But Booking.com, the site through which he made the reservation, has other plans for him.
Q: I have used Booking.com for several years, and I have always been very satisfied with the service I received. However, my recent experience was truly hurtful.
Six months ago, I made a reservation at the Ritz-Carlton in Tenerife, Spain for two adults, two children and an infant. Booking.com did not give any restrictions, specifically relating to having an extra crib in the room.
According to Booking.com, a crib would be supplied at no additional cost. This was confirmed several times by phone by Booking.com representatives. But I recently received an email from the Ritz-Carlton saying that it “won’t be able to honor this reservation” on the dates I will arrive. “If you incur any additional costs as a result of this situation, please send us your receipts, and we will do our best to offer adequate compensation,” the hotel added.
The same day I was offered two different options by Booking.com: The Terraces of Abama and Villas Fanabe and Bahia Suites. The offered properties were not even hotels, but apartments. Booking.com has tried to offer properties within my budget. I assume these properties were probably much cheaper six months ago than now. So this was also quite inadequate.
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A few days ago, a Booking.com representative wrote to me, saying they were still trying to negotiate with the hotel about a possible solution. I received a phone call and email today from Booking.com, saying that “regarding the baby crib policy, please note that extra bed or baby cots are upon request, and hotel needs to double confirm for them to be valid or to be honored.” The representative also confirmed that the website does not quote any maximum room occupancy to alert guests of restrictions.
I would never have booked this vacation if I’d known it would cause me so much stress and inconvenience. Can you help?
— Faig Babayev, London
A: Booking.com should have informed you about the correct occupancy requirements. When I clicked on Booking.com (at the time I was researching this story) it recommended a “junior suite” for a party of two adults and two children, but there was no mention of an extra crib and no category for “infant.”
Room occupancy rules in Europe are a little different. Sometimes, hotels charge extra for more than two occupants, or even for one. A check with the Ritz-Carlton site suggests the “junior” is its smallest room category, which means that Booking.com is sending other guests like you to the same fate.
But what, exactly, happened? Technically, you were trying to fit three kids into a room meant for two. “Had it been just two children, per the property’s room capacity guidelines, this would not have been an issue,” a Booking.com spokesman told me. “It appears that the reservation did include a third child, and hence the issue of room capacity, needing a crib, and additional costs.”
There’s also an age discrepancy. You referred to your youngest as an “infant” but Booking.com’s records show that the child was 2 years old. It looks as if everyone was a little confused.
Booking.com tried to fix this by offering you alternate accommodations within your budget. I list all the names, numbers and emails of Booking.com’s executives on my consumer advocacy site: elliott.org/company-contacts/booking-com/.
My advocacy team sent you these contacts. You reached out to them and we also contacted Booking.com on your behalf in an effort to get details about your case. The company agreed to upgrade the room to accommodate your entire family and paid the 749 euro price difference, an exceptionally generous resolution.