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Be warned re Monastery Stays, the booking agency for this site charges 20% booking fee!!

While I paid 20% upon booking online (as what I thought was a deposit) of our many nights in one of their listed monasteries, it turned out to be a non refundable booking fee with the booking agency.
Upon review of my reservation it was not called a booking fee until my receipt and reservation was completed,
We did however enjoy our stay at the religious institution we stayed at.
We will certainly never use monastery stays again. We will in future try to reach the religious institution directly for a reservation. Please be aware of this if you plan to use monastery stays.

Posted by
3521 posts

Are you upset because the fee didn't go to the monastery? I'm sure they are OK with the fee or they would not participate with the booking site.

Posted by
1599 posts

They are no different than Expedia, and a dozen others that sell reservations.

Posted by
2475 posts

If I understand correctly, at many of these places, the monks or nuns who live there really don't have the time and wherewithal to deal with bookings, so they rely on MonasteryStays or similar sites to do it for them. Conversely, there are a few such places, still listed on MonasteryStays, that have gone over to being more like regular hotels, staffed by (I assume) laypeople, so they are easy to book with directly. Three examples I know of are the Casa Sant Andrea (Venice), the Casa Caburlotto (Venice also), and the Albergo Alma Domus (Siena). Sant Andrea and Alma Domus have 24 hour front desks. I've noticed that the latter type of place appears on my online map, whereas the former does not, so if you see a place on MonasteryStays that appeals to you, give it the 'online map test'. Anyway, I really don't mind going through MonasteryStays as needed - I figure they are providing a useful service both to visitors and to the monasteries and convents.

Posted by
3551 posts

Booking fee was in addition to nightrate.
20 % is excessive for an online service.
I know booking direct with religious group is not always possible.

Posted by
2492 posts

In the UK, it is now illegal for booking sites to have ‘extra charges’ such as taxes, cleaning fees or whatever not included in the headline price. So, the price per night that you see advertised is the actual price that you pay and nothing extra is to be added during the booking process or when you arrive at your accommodation.

Posted by
1311 posts

I used MonasteryStays 2 years ago for 3 locations in Italy and the agency fee was included in the advertised price.
So this might be a new policy for them, and if so, I appreciate the heads up.

Posted by
7720 posts

I guess I am confused. I was just on the site and each option clearly states a nightly rate. If you proceed to booking, the roll up is that rate x number of nights (50 euro per night advertised rate, stay for 2 nights, total is 100 euro, pay 60 euro now to book)

From their FAQ, the "Pay Now" is the booking fee and any deposit that the monastery requires, you pay the rest (40 euro) to the Monastery when you arrive. You can not assume that what you paid on arrival is all the Monastery gets, nor reflects a normal rate I will note, depending on the city, there may be additional fees due on arrival. While the website does not add any fees, if staying in Rome, the Monastery has to collect the Rome Hotel Tax of a few euro per person per night. It varies by level of hotel, but it could easily add 8 euro per night for a couple for most properties like this, maybe a bit less.

The website goes to great lengths to explain their pricing. You saw a nightly rate on the first page, that is what you paid, it really would not matter how the fees are broken up, what the hotel gets, if the total price is acceptable to you, I fail to see your complaint.

I have to call "Not a Scam"

Posted by
33329 posts

why is anything that people don't like a scam?

Posted by
11507 posts do not charge a booking fee , if there is one it’s hidden in rate they advertise for room

Posted by
752 posts

Last time I stayed at a convent, the sisters were saying that they had become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of inquiries/bookings/cancellations/ modifications. A result of the increase in tourism we are seeing in our own travels?

The innkeeping was beginning to threaten the balance in their religious lives, so they viewed Monastery Stays as a valuable service. And they welcomed feedback from their guests on it, to be sure the service was satisfying their guests. I hope you have or will be sharing your thoughts with the monastery / convent where you stayed.

Posted by
89 posts

I find their website to be very transparent. They completely explain what their booking fee is, that you pay it up front, and that it is non-refundable.
Other sites build it into their prices .
If you read the cancellation policy it is very clear that this is a booking fee, so they were not trying to hide it from you. If you thought it was a deposit that is your error.
It is by no means a “scam”.
I am glad that you enjoyed your stay.

Posted by
4174 posts

Nigel, your question, "why is anything that people don't like a scam?" is one I've pondered as well.

It seems like many "scams" are the result of not reading the fine print closely enough (as apparently in this case) or from inadequate research or none at all. And also from assumptions based in the dreaded not knowing what you don't know.

I've certainly had my "that never occurred to me moments." To me they are great learning experiences, but that may not be the case for others.

Posted by
7720 posts

If I could make an "assumption", which is dangerous, the OP may feel "ripped off" that the advertised price that he paid included a "20% Booking Fee", if he would have went right to the Property, he would have saved "20%".

There are a number of points that makes this logic faulty:

  1. The website does not list their booking fee as 20%. It may be that much, not sure. They only state that their booking fee is included in what you pay up front, but that amount also includes any deposit that the property requires. In my sample, the up front (Pay Now) amount was 60% (60 euro on a 100 euro stay), but I assume there is a deposit in there, not all booking fee.
  2. Even if my sample 100 euro for 2 nights stay had a 20% booking fee in it, and the Monastery nets 80 euro; one cannot assume that an individual can show up and get a rate of 80 euro. That is not how booking sites work. Booking sites negotiate low, below rack rates, specifically to allow room for a gross profit. They may even change their "list" price to respond to demand. Often, the price paid on a booking site that includes a booking fee, is still less than what you can get by approaching the hotel directly.
  3. Certainly look at a hotels website directly before booking. Sometimes they have specials that might appeal to you, may offer different payment terms/methods, and if there is no difference, I prefer to book directly. Also, booking sites often will tell you "Only one left" or "sold Out for this room class", but that is usually just the inventory they have options on, hotels often hold rooms back.
  4. Finally, as long as there are no hidden additional charges, if the price advertised appeals to you, and you think it is fair; it does not matter what fees, commissions, and other cost are in there, the price is the price.

For the record, I in no way represent the website in question, I have never used them, I just went on their website, tried out some bookings, read the FAQ, and looked at other info available. As I stated before, no Scam here.

Posted by
1599 posts

" do not charge a booking fee , if there is one it’s hidden in rate they advertise for room"

Excuse me, how do you think they stay in business. Of course they charge the hotel/B&B a fee for making the booking. You and I are just not told how much it is.

Posted by
1078 posts

In many instances, the reason a Monastery uses it is because the staff at the convent or monastary do not speak English; if you are in a major city, you can try to contact one direct, however, our experience is that they really only check their email occasionally.