Sometimes you book a supposedly grand hotel, but once you actually enter the property or the guest room itself, reality sets in, and you discover that it’s actually just an old, smelly shoe box.
It doesn’t happen all too often but this week I had just that experience at the Westin Excelsior Rome where the room (and to a large part the whole property) is just not up to the task anymore.
I’m really a sucker for hotels in old historic buildings as long as the actual guest rooms have been kept up well and are up to the standards of the respective brand.
For my trip to Italy this week I booked the Westin Excelsior Rome using a Free Night Certificate plus 9,000 points (total 59,000 points) for a one-night stay. I arrived in the morning following an early arrival with Qatar Airways and was given a room that must have just exited a time machine.
The Westin Excelsior has a great location (right next to the palatial U.S. Embassy in Rome), and the price they were charging guests when booking a standard rate was 985 Euro per night. Now, it’s well known that popular cities in Europe have gone completely crazy with their rates, but this is “up there”.
Some things in this room just felt out of place or could simply use a refit, such as the 20-year-old phones that had already turned yellow, but the most disgusting thing was the filthy carpet.
The photo above shows the entranceway, but here are some more impressions:
Walk in Closet
Aside from the stains, there is also chipped-off paint. How filthy can it be? It’s almost like they have to offer antibiotics as part of the minibar.
More stains in the room and what looked like burn marks on the carpet. I really wonder if there is no housekeeping director who tells the management that this is unacceptable to offer to a guest.
Oh and don’t even think about taking a bath:
There wasn’t a water stop anywhere to be found and this is basically how the tub/shower functions now.
Let’s keep in mind that this is a Westin Hotel, previously downgraded from the Luxury Collection brand a few years ago that is now charging upwards of 59,000 points per night (or close to 1000 Euro) for staying. The word crazy doesn’t even describe it.
Travelers often like to complain about dirty or old hotel rooms, but I think we have to keep some things in perspective and manage expectations. It’s one thing if you stay at a roadside motel for $49.99 or at a five start hotel under the umbrella of an international brand that charges you close to four figures per night. At the latter I’m expecting the cleanliness level top notch and the room interior as well.
I have to give the hotel credit that their front desk staff was very professional and courteous. It’s not their fault the property is in such disrepair. In fact, after I emailed the GM, they offered me a suite with 2 Beds (I reserved a King) in the morning, but after seeing it and smelling the musty air, I had enough and decided to leave the property immediately.
I looked around and found a nice hotel available to book through World of Hyatt, The Tribune by JdV, which is only 5 min walk away from the Westin and cost me 15,000 WOH points. The daily rate there would have been 615 Euro, so I’d say that was an excellent redemption value and my saving grace on that day.
Sometimes hotels have to realize that being historic doesn’t mean being old and filthy, especially when carrying the flag of an international chain and charging the guests a fortune. I’d compare the Westin Excelsior Rome with the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco in terms of architecture, age and history but the Westin St. Francis is clean, and the rooms are generally in decent shape, unlike the Excelsior which is a wreck. The hotel needs to close for an extended period to get a complete refresh of the guest rooms and public areas.
How hard is it to update some basic fixtures and appliances? Then the most obvious thing is the dirty, filthy carpets that are in urgent need of replacement. Even after being offered another room (actually a suite), it was still smelling strange and musty, though the carpet was in slightly better shape. I decided to cut it off and just ask the hotel to refund my points as soon as I found the Hyatt alternative nearby, where I had an excellent stay.
What was the shoddiest hotel you ever stayed at?