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Istanbul Hotel California Booking.com Warning

If you are on your way or thinking of coming to Istanbul and are looking at hotels Do not under any circumstance book the Hotel California in Sultahnamet.

We came to Istanbul on short notice and booked this because it was very close to everything and had 5 nights available. Price was not our initial issue. We booked it through Booking.com.

We got our confirmation fro B.com and felt ok about the deal.

When we arrived the young man behind the desk was evasive and would not answer my questions. It was clear from his actions, he made a call immediately and had a long conversation, that there was an issue. Then he informs me that our reservation has been Cancelled...because my credit card did not clear when they ran it for a pre authorization.

I new immediately he was lying to me or that they had run the wrong number. It became clear later he was simply lying.

My well known credit card sends me an instant message ANY time there is ANY type of transaction on my card. Those messages arrive so fast I usually haven’t signed the slip yet. And of course I had gotten no such message about this hotel running my card.

Nor did this hotel follow the usual procedure with Booking.com when a preauthorization fails which is to notify B.com. B.com then sends the guest a message saying to try another card, contact the property etc.

So when I politely but firmly confronted the man with these facts, he just continued to lie to me.

Now I used to own a hotel in a well known resort area so I know pretty much all the machinations hotels can use and this is my educated opinion of what really took place:

This hotel got a Full Rack Rate Walk in for an extended period and dumped my lower rate B.com reservation. And of course they did not want to notify B.com or me as it would mean a chance for me to give them a different card or have them re-run the original and put them in a very awkward position.

Now it is customary when a hotel has to “Walk” a guest due to reservation problems that they have already contacted a different hotel and arranged a room before the guest arrives. This hotel made no attempt to do anything to help me.

This is indicative of the problems I have had with Booking.com this trip. And while it is not B.coms fault their responses so far to this issue have been a series of canned messages completely irrelevant to the problem.

Any hotel that treats their reservations in this fashion should be avoided. Problems always arise in reservations and good hotels, honest hotels try hard to honor their reservations and never dump a guest. This hotel has no such conscience.

Posted by
1022 posts

I agree with you. We are currently in Inverness at Moyness HouseB&B. Everything is fine for us, but the place is full and when a guest arrived last night the host informed him that there was a plumbing issue with his room that the plumber had not been able to fix that day. The host said he had secured other lodging across the street for them and then escorted them over to the other B&B. That’s how you do it!

Posted by
4853 posts

You have some seriously bad luck, but I've gotta ask....given how cheap hotels are in Istanbul right now, why pick one with such a low rating (6.3 out of 10)? There are literally thousands of other hotels to choose from (many of which would be nicer and probably just as inexpensive) in every direction (ok maybe more, but still a bargain). Try the Raymond Blue Hotel or Empress Theodora (or look outside Sultanahmet, there are lots of less touristy neighborhoods out there).

For what it's worth, I've had several oddball things happen in Istanbul, with lodging and otherwise. I just shrugged it off, it was a minor inconvenience in the grander scheme of things. One hotel had issues with my credit card so I had to get cash out of the ATM. I thought it was bogus but the man tried his best and showed me something in Turkish that looked like a cancel transaction slip. In another suite-type apartment, I got shuffled around from one apartment to another in the course of two days which was a bit of a pain and seemed both odd and unprofessional...but oh well. When in Istanbul...

Posted by
20665 posts

Agnes

I'm wondering if they decided they didn't like a arthur and traveling friend having a canine friend along (Jake). I wonder if the hotels you list like dogs?

Posted by
4853 posts

I think a dog would be a really hard sell in Istanbul, in any hotel. You won't see but a few stray dogs around (I saw a really sweet tagged mutt), it's a cat city all the way. If you have a dog with you, I think your "nice hotel" options are probably limited.

Posted by
1028 posts

Well, I'm a cat person so I look forward to my stay in Istanbul this October! Seriously, aarthur, I'm sorry for your hotel trouble and hope it has been resolved to your satisfaction by now.

I will have almost 4 days in Istanbul prior to the start of my RS tour of Turkey. Could you suggest places and activities I and my friend, who are first-time visitors, might enjoy? We are staying the tour hotel in Sultahnahmet near the Blue Mosque. We would like to do a Bosphorus cruise on a ferry. We have heard the most interesting one is the half day tour, stop in Kadikoy, go to a teahouse or cafe. What neighborhoods would be interesting & safe for 2 women? We want to see the Chora Church and it looks like there are interesting walks around that area. Also, the Underground Cistern. Mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent, the Archaeological Museum. Is the Dolmabahce Palace worthwhile seeing?

A number of places will be covered on the tour.

Posted by
523 posts

We've had great stays in Turkey but have always booked highly rated hotels. If the OP had a dog with them, then I can see how this might have been a cause(indirectly). While younger Turks seem to have dogs as pets, dogs especially are still considered "unclean" in many Muslim countries and are not indoor pets.

However, I'm surprised Booking.com hasn't done more for you. We contacted Booking.com for an issue with our hotel and were able to get it resolved straight away.

As for where to stay, I always tell people to stay in the Sirecki neighborhood which is close to the trams but not in the very heart of the old town.

Posted by
1990 posts

Sorry you had this problem. Your opinion that a customer willing to pay more got your room is speculation, right? No actual evidence of that. Just as likely that there was some problem with authorizing your credit card and you just did not get the normal communication about the problem for some reason.
About Booking.com, I have recently returned from a lengthy trip to Turkey and Spain, where I booked rooms at about a dozen different hotels, B & Bs and apartments, all through Booking.com. Not one problem along the way, every lodging was ready for my arrival, with just the type of room I had reserved. Toward the end of the trip, I commented to one hotel reception person the good experience I had had with Booking.com. She said the hotel dealt with many booking services, with various problems occurring, but never a problem with Booking.com, they were the best.

Posted by
4853 posts

I know that booking.com takes a "don't worry, you're confirmed" attitude, but I always communicate directly with the hotel and confirm the reservation that I booked via booking.com. That way I have an electronic trail. It costs me less than 5 minutes of my time, which is a negligible investment to save potential trouble later. I don't do this with domestic hotels (especially business hotels that have a lot of experience with third party platforms), but I always do it with international ones (especially smaller type of hotels). I've never had an issue in 50+ bookings at least. One time booking.com refunded me a charge that the hotel imposed on me which was clearly an add-on that was not properly advertised at time of booking.

I think your educated guess about what happened may be correct...but who knows? Sometimes hotels get into contractual tiffs/battles with booking.com or other third-party platforms, or they're using booking.com to funnel people to their hotel (but don't want to honor the terms of their own contracts, so they do a bait and switch). Who knows what's really going on behind the scenes...you can be sure there will be finger-pointing though about who did what. And people are known to not be truthful. But in all, you didn't suffer any real damages (your credit card wasn't charged) except for inconvenience.

What I would do next time is confirm with the hotel separately when using a third-party platform and use the filter to book hotels that have a higher rating for the same price as a lower-rated one (in Istanbul that should not be an issue, there is a huge competitive hotel market and lots of empty rooms due to decreased tourism).

Posted by
5160 posts

I tried to look at the Hotel California, Istanbul on booking.com just out of curiosity and got the message "the Hotel California Istanbul is not taking reservations on booking.com right now" and then they listed all the other hotels in Istanbul. So, apparently booking.com is looking into the situation regarding this hotel. That, at least, is good to know.

And I agree with the previous poster wondering why the OP booked a hotel with such a mediocre rating - I'm sure there must have been a reason. I use booking.com a lot but never even look at hotels with ratings less than an 8. Once in an emergency situation I booked one with a 7.6 and it was a very nice surprise. But I would never book one with only a 6.x.

Posted by
1990 posts

Hmmm, did I read something about having a dog along ...

Posted by
546 posts

First of all, yes this is not the kind of hotel I would normally book. However those of you speculating about all sorts of things that could have caused this would be right. But I am neither new to traveling with a dog around the world nor am I stupid enough to have booked a hotel without definite confirmation that they agree to the dog. The dog was not the problem. And as for picking this hotel I had several factors that played into it...short notice, the dog, I needed 5 nights and two separate beds in a specific part of town. These factors narrowed my choices.

I almost always contact the hotel directly because I usually use the aggregators like b.com to find the hotel and then go directly to the hotel and almost always get a better price. I always communicate directly with the hotel. It didnt matter in this case.

My “guess” about the hotels motives is based on my 7 years as a hotel owner myself and knowledge of the business and Booking.com. And how different hotels use the b.com system. The fact that B.Com is going to ask the hotel for proof of the decline tells me they think the same as I.

As for my CC failing to notify me...well that would be a Human type error not a computer one and it has never ever failed to notify me in seconds of any type of transaction since I have had it. So I have much more confidence in my Credit Cards’ system than I do in the word of that desk clerk at the hotel.

I am admittedly not a fan of B.com having worked both sides of that system. And here is a reason: When I had a problem with an Airbnb booking ( a very BIG problem, you can read about it here in the forum) I had a case manager assigned and in regular contact with me in 24 hours. At B.com I sent off my issue and had to wade through several canned messages about me having to contact the property directly and then THREE “customer Service” folks who clearly did not read what I wrote and answered with completely inappropriate responses beforeI finally got to a person who actually read what I wrote and understood it and acted on it.

And I really do not consider myself as having any kind of bad luck on this trip at all. In fact the opposite. A 4 month trip as complex as this one with a dog, 9 countries, about 9 AirBnb’s many hotels, 4 rental cars and transport by Plane, Train, Ferry and car over an area that stretches from Paris to Istanbul and the Greek Islands has gone very smoothly. 99% of all of the arrangements worked as they should have and were as advertised or better. I feel really good about that. And I remain optimistic and happy with the results.

But what tends to get the most attention here on the forum are the mishaps.