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How do these guys stay in business?
Bastion Amsterdam Centrum (Amsterdam)
Member Name: koshkha
Bastion Amsterdam Centrum (Amsterdam)
Date: 15/02/12, updated on 16/02/12 (50 review reads)
Advantages: They had a room when others didn't
Disadvantages: Too many to count
~The lowest of the low~
Sometimes you just know instinctively that a hotel is going to be awful. If it's a Dutch hotel chain I will have already preset my expectations to be quite low before I even get there. If it's the only place in Amsterdam with any availability because there's a trade show in town and even the places you'd normally only consider 'at a pinch' are already full, then it's a fair guess you're booking in at the 'Last Chance Hotel'. The Bastion Centrum Zuidwest is that hotel. It's spectacularly annoying and its staff all need training, although perhaps reprogramming in the 'water-boarding and pulling out fingernails' direction might well be too good for them. I sat on the bed in my room the second night wondering whether to write and post this immediately or to wait for the morning to see whether they could manage any more utterly disgraceful behaviour before I eventually escaped. I was fairly confident they'd have more up their sleeves. On my first night a colleague and I stayed there and on the second night three more colleagues joined us.
Normally we stay at the Novotel on Europa Boulevard. Our company has a corporate rate of Euro125 a night including breakfast. I consider it expensive but not bad value because I can save Euro40 on a taxi by taking the train from the airport and if I'm organised enough I can take the train to the office and save another Euro20 in the morning. Thus paying Euro125 can be justified by other savings. Paying almost Euro150 for the Bastion is daylight robbery. If they charged me Euro60 I'd be miffed so Euro150 is a joke. I'm gobsmacked at the idea that anyone who wasn't certifiably insane would think it reasonable to pay that sort of money to be in the middle of 'nowhere in particular', in an area that made our secretary shudder with distaste when she described it, to have a room that looks like it was designed by someone with colour-blindness and no taste and - worst of all - to be treated like you're educationally sub-normal by a receptionist who sets new lows for customer service. Yes, you should have got the message. I LOATHE this hotel.
You will need a Tom Tom to find this place even though it appears to be easy to get to. The taxi driver stopped at traffic lights right beside the hotel and then took another five minutes to negotiate the bizarre road system to get off the highway and round to the hotel. At first I thought it was just another of the typical money-making techniques of Amsterdam's taxi drivers but he showed me on the Sat Nav that the route was complicated.
First let's take issue with the name. Centrum Zuidwest (or centre southwest for those who can't guess the Dutch words) implies it's in the south west of the city centre. It's not. That's not just misleading it's actually a lie. It's a couple of miles towards the city off the Ring, Amsterdam's equivalent of the M25. The city centre is about 3 miles away which - considering how small the Amsterdam city centre is, is too far to be calling it central. The hotel sits beneath the junction of two big roads, on a road called Nachtwachtlaan (or Night Watch Lane) which consists only of other hotels and office buildings. There is NOTHING to see or do and the area is so dodgy that their 'secure' car park looks like a high security prison. If you want to be reminded of just how unlucky you are to be at the Bastion, there's a beautiful style hotel right opposite just to rub your nose in your misfortune.
~Arrival and Check In~
I will admit that I didn't arrive in a good mood. I'd got stuck in a jam on the way to Birmingham airport, had to run like a fool around the airport, had a long wait for my bag and then get conned by another typical Amsterdam taxi driver. A word of warning - just because you asked at the airport if the taxi accepts credit cards, don't be surprised to find that when you get to your destination the machine 'isn't working' or 'can't get a signal' and the driver wants your cash. Considering that we all get ripped off by the banks when buying Euros I really get annoyed that these taxi drivers make me incur more expense because they don't want to lose a couple of percent to the credit card charges. If you don't want my card, tell me - and I'll get in a taxi that does want my money. I've only had one airport taxi accept a credit card in the last 20 times I've used them - despite nearly all claiming they took them. This is why I now try to take the trains. Unfortunately there's no train station within a kilometre of this place and I didn't know where it was so taxi was the only option. I'm glad I took it because I wouldn't have walked around this area at night on my own.
Entering the hotel I was hit by the smell of stale tobacco smoke. They have a smoking room which sits right next to the front door and nobody closes the door. The blonde lady on reception was the antithesis of charm. She handed over a registration form and said "Fill this". The "please" must have been silent. I asked with some dismay "What? All of it?" - yes she wanted all of it. Passport details, date of birth, date of passport issue, inside leg measurement, blood group, great grandmother's maiden name...... you name it, it was on the list. Then she asked me if I'd like to pay for both nights - not that it was really a question. She wanted payment upfront. I asked her what happened if I wanted to eat or buy a drink. "Then we have your credit card details" she said in a slightly threatening way. I asked why it was necessary to pay up front when the room was already guaranteed with the company's credit card. "That's normal with us, you pay in advance". I felt like saying that "normal with us" isn't the same as "normal" and doesn't make it right but I shut up and paid up. The signal was clear - your room will be so horrible that by the time you see it you will probably want to check out immediately and go and sleep under the railway arches with the tramps and winos.
Having fleeced me for a shade under Euro300 she handed me a pass card, told me to go to the third floor and muttered that the password for the wi-fi was "bastionhotel". I asked if it was upper or lower case, if there was a gap and she looked at me like I was stupid. "Normal letters" she said - yeah, that's the Bastion hotel use of the word normal again.
~Room with no Charm~
Into the lift, up the stairs, opening the corridor door with my passcard and eventually into my room where I couldn't find the light switch. It turns out that the light switch only actually activates one tiny strip light in a corner of the room. All the other lights - a small table lamp on the desk and two down-lighters, one above each bed, have switches on the lights.
My room had a red carpet with grey or black dots on it. The carpets were striped in shades of red that kind of go with the carpet. So which designer imagined that shiny browny-gold striped satin bedspreads went with the red? Since the room was really cold, I tried to pull up the bedspread for extra warmth, thinking that it was folded down. No, it was only two feet long and looked like a pop sock on a leg. I almost removed the duvet from the second bed in search of warmth but due to there being nowhere else to put my suitcase other than on the bed, I couldn't face moving everything. There was an arm chair underneath the television which was placed at a height that you really couldn't have sat in the chair and obviously you couldn't have watched the television from it. The small desk was cluttered up with all sorts of junk - kettle, alarm clock, telephone (with no numbers on it to actually identify how to ring reception and moan at them, a large heavy file with information about all sorts of things but nothing on how to ring reception or to identify which TV channels were available. One of the few great things about staying in Holland is that every hotel I've ever been in before has the BBC on the television - usually BBC1 and BBC2. This had only one of the BBC news channels, offering exactly the same news as the American news channel which was also available. There was an empty fridge which wasn't plugged in though that was a good thing - my colleague's was plugged in and made suck a racket that he couldn't sleep
My usual number two gripe about Dutch hotels is the bed. (The first is the receptionist so that was in line with expectation). Dutch hotels have beds that are soft and often quite short and can leave me with back pain for days after using them. One hotel I used to use a few years ago used to keep a bed board in one of the rooms and that was 'my room'. At the Bastion I had twin beds (which always annoy me - yep, this place was pushing all my grumpy guest buttons) and the one I slept in was soft as expected but I slept surprisingly well. What else do you get? Two wall mirrors, neither close to any adequate light, a silly little pseudo cupboard / hanging space, a mini-safe and a bathroom. The sink was of a good size with a shelf to put your toiletries on, the loo was just a standard loo and the sink looked like it escaped from a cheap holiday apartment in a one-star Turkish resort. There was no shower tray, no cabinet, just a couple of curtains and a slight indentation in the floor. The toiletries provided were two tiny tubes of combi showergel-shampoo and that was all. There was nowhere to put your shampoo and showergel whilst taking a shower and the water pressure was pitiful.
I did much better than my colleague Dominique who went to her room and found it stank of smoke, was filthy and had an unflushed toilet with pee and cigarette butts in it. Luckily they had another room and she was able to move but it's completely unacceptable to give someone a dirty smelly room.
~Food and Drink~
On the first evening my colleague Joep and I ate in the restaurant - though I use the term lightly. The waiter was polite and attentive but the food was pretty dire and the choices were very limited. The next morning I lost my sense of humour at the breakfast buffet. The food was laid out and all looked pretty fair for a hotel breakfast - though not quite the "wonderful breakfast buffet" referred to by the hotel. Then I realised that there were no glasses for the juice, no plates and no bowls. I looked around thinking that they must be somewhere and perhaps I was still half asleep. I found nothing. I watched a Japanese gentleman attempt to spoon fruit salad onto the plate he'd just eaten scrambled egg from because he couldn't find a bowl. Eventually, when I realised that there wasn't a hidden camera and this wasn't a joke, I tracked down a member of staff who was replenishing stock and pointed out that there was no point giving us more food when there were no glasses, no plates and no bowls. She shrugged and went to get some. I suggested when she returned that it was a pretty serious omission.
A smiley lady in an apron offered to fry me an egg - I declined - and then brought me some coffee which tasted as if it had been stewing for a few weeks. The only member of staff that I would want to praise was the fried egg lady who was cheery, pleasant and polite. The food I ate was OK. I had my eye on reception waiting for someone to turn up so I could enquire how it could be that I'd paid for two nights and received a 'fast checkout' invoice under my door so I wondered if they were expecting me to leave early. Nobody came and eventually when they did there was quite a queue so we went to get our bags and Joep reconfirmed that we were staying another night. When we returned that night they had inactivated our cards.
~More of the Charmless Receptionist~
With no way into our rooms, we went back to reception where the same blonde receptionist who'd been such a cow the night before refused to speak to us because she was checking in our friends. That might have been admirable if she'd not refused to check me in the night before until she'd finished a long phone conversation with her friend. Eventually she reprogrammed the card key and said not to put it near a phone or any keys or it 'goes flat'. What an utterly ridiculous stupid way to cover up that you'd deactivated our keys. I spend around 100 nights a year in hotels that use keycards and I've never heard anything so stupid in my life. I also went to Tripadvisor to see what other people had written about the hotel and several reported deactivated cards and even more had plenty to say about the receptionist.
Joep had his car in the hotel car park and when we went to get it we couldn't get through the security barrier. A car on the inside of the car park couldn't get out. On both sides we were pushing the buttons and getting no answer. Eventually Joep stomped back to reception where the receptionist - after probably refusing to speak to him until she'd finished filing her nails or tidying her paperclips - eventually opened the door for just long enough for the car inside to get out but not long enough for us to get in. He went back again for another session begging to be let in and eventually - about 10 minutes after originally leaving reception, we were in the car. It was minus 7 degrees outside whilst we waited to get out.
It's hard to find anything good to say about this place. The location is pointless, the rooms are dowdy, the breakfast showed a complete lack of thought about the customers and how they were supposed to eat it, and the receptionist annoyed me even more than the old bag at our head office who always refuses to let me have a security pass. There is nothing good about this place and I can only say that you need your head examining if you choose to stay here. There is no price at which I could accept the rudeness of the staff and the Fawlty Towers approach to customer service. If anyone suggests going back here - which I think is very unlikely - I will refuse.
I don't consider myself particularly picky (though you're probably finding that hard to believe on the basis of this review). I stay in hotels in India where everything that ever could go wrong does go wrong but if the staff are nice I'd still come away and find something good to say about them. The Bastion Amsterdam South West hits a new low in Amsterdam hotels and I urge you to stay somewhere else - in fact anywhere else.
Summary: This place is a complete disgrace.
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