The Hotel Inspector

How to compliment, and how to complain

If you enjoy your stay, leave a tip. But when your hotel falls short, master the art of complaining.

The Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi

What on earth do you do if you’ve booked into your dream hotel only to find you hate the room and the service? My advice is to complain – but for heaven’s sake do it properly. We’re all aware nowadays that we can complain, but it’s something we tend to do poorly in the UK. It’s not in our culture so we tend to get in a tizz about it, which doesn’t help anyone. Rudeness, shouting and belligerence are most certainly out, but complaining itself can be a good thing if you master the art.

The trick is to be fair, keep your cool and complain immediately – the minute you’re unhappy. Don’t let things build up; it’s far better to express your displeasure while you’re still calm. If you hate your room at first sight but don’t say anything, by day three you might also have discovered you don’t enjoy the food and the sheets are over-starched. By this point you’ll be seething.

Get each problem solved as it arises, but do be fair. You do get what you pay for and if you book into a budget hotel you can’t expect six-star service.

So what exactly should you expect? Any establishment offering hospitality should provide a warm welcome, take pride in cleanliness, be concerned for its guests’ happiness and offer a level of service in keeping with its charges. If yours isn’t up to scratch, speak up. But get your facts right. I once faced a situation where a couple arrived late at night and we couldn’t find their booking. They were quite rightly furious, but luckily we had one room left. In the morning they stormed down, brandishing their confirmation letter and insisting they had reserved a room with a view and were incensed with the one they’d been given. A quick scan of the letter revealed they had booked into our sister hotel. Not surprisingly, they were mortified.

On the flipside, when you do enjoy your stay, please recognise that. It goes down terribly well (and bodes favourably for return trips) if you leave a decent tip, particularly if you’re staying somewhere pricey and getting a professional service. And do give yourself every chance to enjoy your stay.

My advice is to leave the car at home. If you take the train you relax the minute you pull out of the station. Order a glass of wine and your holiday starts there. It really does make the world of difference if you start as you mean to go on.