/ Travel & Leisure

Brief cases: getting compensation for sub-standard hotel facilities

bad hotel service

Bad hotel service and sub-standard facilities can ruin a holiday or short break, but you could claim breach of contract if they don’t live up to reasonable expectations…

Which? Legal member Peter Pitham and his wife paid just under £1,000 to stay at a four-star hotel – only to discover the bed in their room was broken and promised spa facilities were closed.

The couple, from Kent, booked a four-day stay in August at a hotel on the South Coast. But when they got there the inside pool and jacuzzi, steam room and outdoor hot tub were closed.

The couple complained but, despite assurances from staff, the facilities were never available during their stay.

This meant that everywhere else was overcrowded. The hotel was also noisy.

Worse followed when they found that their bed was broken – Peter even caught his leg on a piece of wood that was sticking out from it. And the two mattresses on the bed were of different heights, which made for an uncomfortable night’s sleep.

When the couple got home, they wrote to complain, but were offered only one free night’s stay and dinner.

Peter rejected this, as the hotel was six hours from where they live.

Despite escalating his complaint, the hotel didn’t improve its offer, so Peter sought advice from Which? Legal.

Our advice on sub-standard hotel facilities

We advised that, under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, the couple could argue breach of contract in two ways: for promised facilities that hadn’t been provided, and that the accommodation didn’t meet the reasonable expectations of a four-star hotel.

We advised Peter to request compensation to remedy the fact that he didn’t get what he had paid for and for the loss of enjoyment he suffered.

We provided Peter with a template letter to draft his response to the hotel.

He used this letter to ask for £500 compensation, which he received with an apology.

Your rights

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 gives you rights when you buy goods and services. Where services and facilities are to be provided at a hotel, these form part of the contract between you and the hotel. If they aren’t provided, this is a breach of contract and you would be entitled to a remedy.

Possible remedies for breach of a hotel service agreement would include a price reduction, a free stay at the hotel or damages.

This article by the Which? Legal team originally appeared in the January 2017 edition of Which? magazine

Have you ever stayed in a hotel where the service was shocking and the facilities sub-standard? Did you complain or claim compensation?

Claire Rorrison says:
27 January 2017

What action should hotel guests reasonably expect having reported a problem with bed bugs? We have recently returned from Esprit Ski’s Flagship hotel Chalet Hotel Des Deux Domaines in Belle Plagne. Having reported bed bug bites at the beginning of our stay, the hotel’s response was to just change the sheets. We argued this was not sufficient, so they changed the mattresses, pillows & duvets, placing the put up bed our daughter had been bitten in into our room. Again we argued that this was not appropriate and to remove the infected bed. The hotel manager explained that we could not change rooms as the hotel was full and no alternative accommodation was available in the resort. We were given children’s mattresses to sleep on. After 5 days pest control was called out, which confirmed that bed bugs were present in our suite. The suite was chemically treated and Esprit have assured us in writing that all our personal effects were also treated, though I am not convinced as the treatment lasted around 20 minutes. As we were wearing our ski clothes when this took place the hotel offered to wash our ski wear at 60 degrees. We explained that it was contrary to the care labels on our clothes but no appropriate alternative was offered. Esprit have stated that because we refused this offer, we are responsible for any potential bed bug infestation in our home. We have been advised by Esprit to call out pest control at our own expense to ensure that the problem did not come home with us. They also advised that we throw away all of our luggage. Not only was our holiday enjoyment affected by this problem (and various other failings in the hotel) we are now facing losses to protect our home and replace our luggage. Are our rights protected under the Consumer rights act 2015 and what response should we expect from the travel company to put things right? Having given customer services 2 weeks to address this problem, no satisfactory solution has been put forward other than it’s up to us to resolve it ourselves. The hotel manager and guest services have informed us that the bed bugs were 7-14 days old. However, now they are suggesting that we brought them with us….

Any help or suggestions would be gratefully received.

Claire – I suspect, although I am not entirely sure, that you have a claim against Esprit Ski. It is quite a complex problem involving different jurisdictions and it is possible that your rights are conditioned by whether or not it was a package holiday with ES as the operator. It sounds like a very unpleasant experience and I would certainly think you are entitled to compensation for a badly spoiled holiday, replacement clothing and luggage, and any other out of pocket expenses you incurred. I have a feeling it will be difficult for anyone on here to give you definitive advice because the circumstances are unusual and will require a lot of fact-finding to deal with. I would recommend that you contact Citizens Advice and ask for an appointment with a legal adviser. Alternatively you could sign up to Which? Legal. It might be worth checking with your travel insurer whether they could help, and also seeing whether you are eligible for legal advice under your house contents policy

Claire Rorrison says:
31 January 2017

Thank you for taking the time to reply to my post and for your helpful suggestions which I will follow up and act upon.

Hi Claire,

Sorry to hear about your holiday.

As John says, it might be worth checking with your travel insurer to see if your clothes/luggage etc are covered. And if you’ve bought the bugs back with you, you may be able to claim this on your home insurance, so do contact them, too.

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Good luck!

Claire Rorrison says:
31 January 2017

Thank you for taking the time to post and for your helpful suggestions which I will follow up and act upon.