In Soho I stayed at the Sanctum hotel, which is ridiculous. My ‘crashpad’ room (below), a compact room designed for single travellers, had an amazing king sized bed. When I first lay on it I felt like I was floating and, after a few seconds delay, I slowly sank into it. After a 24 hour flight and having been awake for about 36 hours straight, it was heaven.
The rest of the room was not so fabulous. The enormous bathroom, designed for disabled guests, had no towel rail suited to the enormous fluffy bath sheets. The only towel rail was low to the ground in between the toilet and the wall. Bizarre. I had to hang it on one of the disabled hand rails.
The ‘New York style wet room’ (in other words a bathroom with a shower in the corner without a screen, below) was fine but the floor was not slanted towards the drain, meaning that water pooled near the toilet on the opposite side of the room and didn’t evaporate. I had to sit at an angle on the toilet to avoid getting my feet wet.
The bathroom was fitted with red emergency pull cords hanging from the ceiling for disabled people who need assistance. They’re not labelled for other room users and, having touched it while wondering what it was, I set off the alarm. The staff member who came to investigate did not know what the alarm was for or how to turn it off. Fortunately I was not a wheelchair bound person who had fallen to the floor. They had obviously not been trained to deal with the situation, and that sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen.
The remote control for the double blinds had buttons with no labels, made no sense and was impossible to operate. The ‘state of the art entertainment system’ turned out to be an iPod dock attached to the flat screen TV. Once you had tuned the TV to the dock to listen to music, the dock seemed to take over the TV and it was difficult to turn it back into a TV. The instructions on how to do this were written for a different brand TV to the one in my room.
The worst part of the experience was how my booking was handled. I booked online in November. In December my credit card was billed for one night. I was not concerned as I thought they would bill a deposit. When I arrived and tried to check in I was told I did not have a reservation.
I discovered that a staff member had incorrectly entered my booking for December 2009, not January 2010. Fortunately a room was available, and I was told I was lucky that this was the case after I had changed the dates of my booking. No I hadn’t, I replied. I did not book for December 2009, only January 2010. Therefore, I had not changed my booking. There was no response and no apology.
I explained that my credit card had already been debited for one night’s accommodation, as I suddenly realised that this may have been a no-show fee for the incorrect December booking, and they denied billing me anything. I promptly went up to my room, logged into my internet banking, made a screen grab of the account showing the payment and emailed it to them along with our previous correspondence showing I had requested the correct dates. No response.
When I tried to check out, they had not even read the message, and tried to make me pay the full amount. I refused. They eventually relented when I asked for the manager. I paid for the other night, told them I have received better customer service from backpacker places and left.
This experience ws an absolute customer service failure. My expectation is simple: don’t assume the customer is wrong or telling lies. I’m sure many customers get things wrong, but the role of staff in this situation is to examine the issue and find a solution, not attribute blame while ignorant about the facts. The Sanctum is definitely not worth £200 a night (inc VAT). They’ve been open about six months, and will be bankrupt in another six months if they treat all their customers like they treated me.