After the last two months I consider myself to be an expert in booking accomodation. I know, I know, I call myself an expert in many fields… none of them are particularly useful so I think it’s okay to apply that label without sounding too boastful.
Two months ago work told me I needed to attend a 3 day course in Sydney. Fly down on the Monday and fly back Thursday night. Of course this threw me in to all sorts of pandemonium as I had already booked a meet and greet ticket with Bill Bryson for Brisbane on the Wednesday night of that week. Thankfully, I was able to switch my ticket to see him in Sydney on Friday night prior to my week of work and was left with a full 3 days in Sydney to do as I pleased before work began.
My work graciously pay for meals and accomodation whilst I am “working” but unfortunately did not cover the part of my trip where I was meeting Bill Bryson, seeing Muriels wedding or shopping with friends. So I began looking for reasonable accomodation on all the major booking sites.
I like to feel that I am getting a really good deal or “batting above my average” (is that the term????) so I turned to all the big sites that show you a range of accomodation options and you can filter by “best deal”, “rating” etc. I selected an apartment, due to the booking site in question saying that if I booked today I would receive “37% off”. I was thrilled. Keen to see more pictures of the hotel I had just booked, I moseyed on over to their website. It was then, to my horror, that I discovered that not only was the price I paid NOT 37% off their standard rate it was actually more expensive.
I immediately contacted the booking company who made up some lame excuse about it being 37% off the average for that time period or some such bullshit. I was livid. If there is one thing I hate more than polyester, cold mornings and over cooked zucchini – it’s false advertising and bad customer service. I took my complaint with this booking company as far as I could. Unfortunately, this wasn’t very far as they are based overseas and I am but a small fish in a HUGE ocean of fishy’s being blinded by their trickery. They could not have cared less when I started quoting legislation from the ACCC website about rules and regulations in regards to false and misleading advertising.
To be honest, neither could the ACCC when I took my complaint to them. I don’t understand how the ACCC deemed that the booking company hadn’t breeched legislation when they certainly had (I had picture evidence and email evidence) but they wiped their hands of my case in the most polite way ever.
Luckily I was entitled to free cancellation so I cancelled my booking and immediately deleted all apps that pertain to bookings with 3rd parties. Instead I did my research and started looking at the actual websites of hotels/apartments in Sydney.
My work required me to in the CBD but my play (or should I say meet & greetings) required me to be on the other side of Darling Harbour to the CBD. So I decided somewhere in the middle would be best. I wanted to be able to cook my own food, so I could give off the illusion to Ben that I was trying to save money by not eating out every night, and therefore began hunting in that area for well priced, well rated apartments.
I stumbled across Adina Apartments, at Darling Harbour, and their website was offering 35% off!! I was super excited!!! They had great reviews (most of which detailed how clean they were – super important) and it was well within my budget. What’s more, they are right on the harbour, next to the Aquarium, and are a short walk to all parts of Sydney.
I quickly booked and then sent an email to the original booking agency telling them that I had cancelled my booking and was going to use my wildly popular blog (I left out the wildly popular ONLY amongst close family and friends bit) to bring them down and expose the wool they think they are pulling over unsuspecting Aussie’s eyes. Given the way Australian’s are portrayed in Muriel’s wedding and the Castle, it’s no wonder they think they can wool pull over a nation of people who seem to lack any common sense.
Adina at Darling Harbour could not have been more perfect. The beds are comfortable, the rooms are impeccably clean, I have a balcony with harbour views and they even gave me a bottle of champagne for my 40th birthday (despite having my DOB and knowing that my birthday is in Feb). They politely ignored that fact and went along with my “this is my year and everyday is my birthday” plan.
In Brisbane, a lot of my work is done at home and the rest of my day is eaten up with driving kids around to various activities. If ever I manage to run a brush through my hair and go out in something that could not be viewed as pyjamas, then I feel like a total glamour puss.
In Sydney CBD, no matter how nicely dressed you are, no one pays you a spec of attention. No one smiles or says hello or asks how your day is. I feel like I am wearing an invisibility cloak and the fact that I have bothered to get out of my pyjamas and put a bit of lippie on is not appreciated by anyone. So it’s super nice to come back to the apartment at the end of the day and be greeted at the hotel foyer by the staff, who make me feel special and seem happy to see me.
Walking around in a city where you are invisible, unimportant to anyone and everyone grossly obsessed with themselves and their smartphones, is really unnerving. I could literally walk around in my pyjamas and no one would batt an eyelid. I reckon I could walk around in a wedding dress and the only acknowledgement I would receive is grunts of frustration from people who have to dodge my 3 metre lace train. I am a mother of 4 children. If I manage to get out of my pyjamas for a whole day then I like to feel special, if only in the form of a flitting nod of good morning from another passer by who has also managed to get out of bed & dressed for the day.
Anyway back to my review of accomodation options. Would I book Air B’n’B? No. Air B’n’B people can cancel you at the last minute for any number of reasons (cracks appearing in their building, they changed their mind etc) and you have no leg to stand on. Would I book through a booking company? No. They are shit and do not adhere to the Australian Consumer Commission’s rules and regulations regarding false and misleading advertising.
Go directly to your hotel of choice’s website or phone them directly. Use those 3rd party sites to get an idea of what’s out there if you need, but then contact the hotel and say “this is what ***insert name of 3rd party booking company*** is offering. Can you match it or do better? Or perhaps match it and provide a free upgrade?” 9 times out of 10 they are more than happy to do so.
I can’t speak highly enough of Adina at Darling Harbour and I only wish it was because they were compensating me for my review. Alas, being a wildly popular blogger ONLY amongst close family and friends, does not entitle you to any special treatment or free stuff. That is saved for all the ‘influencers’ willing to pose scantily clad around the pool so their million followers will think that if it’s a good enough pool for an influencer to be photographed in, then it’s a good enough pool for them. Besides, I don’t think Adina would need to pay influencers to stay here. Good old fashioned customer service, excellent location and being impeccably clean is all you need to get my attention.
Anyway, I’d better get going. I have actual work to do today and since no one seems to mind what I wear, I am dressing up in an evening dress for work. To be fair we are going out to dinner straight from work tonight. My problem is that I hardly bought any clothes with me so I would have an excuse to buy clothes. Unfortunately for me, the stuff I bought is not suitable for work and more suitable for going on nights out, to weddings or christenings – activities I rarely partake in.
Thanks for reading!! Hope my tips help someone out there!!
P.S. I wish they would bring back “The Checkout” on ABC. They totally would have jumped all over my story about booking sites providing false and misleading advertising.