What is a trip without a little hotel drama? Even before we left, it had started to go south. I called to confirm our room reservation at the Chicago Doubletree. I had booked this room when I registered for the conference, and thought everything was all set. And then I called and they had no record of my reservation. This was two days before the conference. They asked for my confirmation number, I opened up my registration packet to look for it, and wouldn’t you know it – it wasn’t there. My reservation had disappeared into the the ether. So I kindly asked the gentleman to book us a room (this is for me and two friends from my program), and he just as kindly told me they were sold out.
“Lucky” for us, the Doubletree is part of the Hilton family, so he said he would gladly book us a room at a sister hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn, just .6 miles from the Doubletree. Not the best – we’d have to walk over in the morning to catch the shuttle, but fine – better than sleeping on a park bench, right? So I specifically told him that we would need two beds and a roll-away. Great. Booked. Fabulous.
Until we got there. This was after a long day of volunteering, then going to the late afternoon conference activities, then taking the shuttle to the Doubletree and walking over half a mile with all of our luggage to the Garden Inn. We go to check in, and we have a King bed with a rollaway.
“That’s not going to work. We have three people, none of us are related to one another. I specifically asked for three beds.”
“You asked for ‘Room Select’, which means whatever is available when you check in.”
“No. I would never have asked for that, because it’s not acceptable. I asked for two double beds and a roll-away.”
“Well, I could cancel the reservation for you. I’ll be extra super nice and only charge you one night rather than all three.”
“No, you can cancel the room and only charge us zero nights. You guys screwed up our reservation – twice! I’m really angry about this.”
“You’re really angry? Why are you angry?”
“Hello? Have you been listening to this conversation at all?”
“Well, I’ll tell you what. Since you’re angry, I’ll pull a double beds room from someone else and let you have it.”
“So now there is a room magically available?”
“Yes, when that person checks in, they’ll just have to make do with a king room.”
Sigh. “OK, that’s fine.” I hand over my credit card.
He’s about to run it through the machine when he says, “You know, we can’t fit a roll-away in a double bed room.” I put my hand right back out and say, “Give it back.” He hands me back my card.
Eventually, we stepped aside and used their wifi to get online and try to find something else. Turns out, we found a cheaper hotel, closer to the shuttle, with an available room with two beds and a roll-away. I went back up to the counter to argue some more. I told him we had found a suitable room, and that I wasn’t going to pay a cancellation fee.
“Oh, yeah? Where did you find a room?”
“The Congress Plaza Hotel, on Michigan Avenue.”
“Well, that place probably isn’t rated very highly. Let me just check that for you.” Tippy tappy on the keyboard. “Oh, well, that looks pretty nice. Well, I’m sure they can’t fit a roll-away in their double bed rooms. Let me just call for you.” Phone dialing. “Hi, this is [a butthead] from the Hilton Garden Inn. I have a customer here who is looking for a room with two double beds that will fit a roll-away. You guys can’t do that, can you? [Pause] Oh, I see. Thank you.” He hangs up. “So I’m just going to refund your entire deposit. Thanks for your patience.”
Hilton family hotels – you’re on my list.
The Congress Plaza was actually really nice. It’s a very old hotel, looks a little run-down, a little down and out, but it has a lot of character. The doors are really thick, old wood. The windows actually open. It was very quiet because the construction is so old and solid – we never heard anyone clunking around above us or flushing toilets beside us. And – we were only two blocks from the regular Hilton – another (closer to the Convention Center!) shuttle stop.
Lovely room, with PLENTY of space for a roll-away! Thanks, Hilton people, for leading us to a great, non-Hilton, hotel!