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DO YOU HAVE RESERVATIONS?
Member Name: sue.51
Date: 09/05/03, updated on 15/05/03 (3149 review reads)
Advantages: They do have some good offers, Site is easy to use
Disadvantages: I have heard from others that rates do not always exist, Problematic booking process
As someone who has recently been doing a fair bit of work related travel, I became something of a regular visit to 'laterooms.com'. However, a large proportion of my travel has either been booked on my behalf, or located in central Manchester, from my experience the home of cheap and plentiful accommodation (except when Man U are playing at Old Trafford) I had major difficulties finding anything that beat the rates offered by the Britannia and Premier Lodge chains.
However, an overnight trip to Blackburn in the middle of a cold January changed all that. I needed two rooms for one night at an affordable price to ensure I kept my budget down. I didn't know anyone in the area to recommend, and the booklet I had requested arrived on my desk two days after I got back, so where to from here? 'laterooms.com' of course.
The first thing you see when you visit the site is a welcome in 5 languages;
You can search for accommodation in 100 countries; this includes each of the British Isles constituents as an individual country, still nevertheless very comprehensive.
Once you have selected your country choice, you simply press Go (or of course aller, ir, vai or start if it takes your fancy), but of course you could be presented with something you don't understand.
Once you have decided on the country location of your choice, you will then be directed to a menu where you will be requested to input more specific information, including:
* Town or region
* Arrival date (this can be any time in the next 3 weeks)
* No of nights you are staying
* No of people the room is required for.
Herein arose my first problem, I wanted two rooms to sleep one person for a single night, I don?t think my travelling companion?s fiancé would have been too pleased about us sharing.
Once you press the search button, you w
ill be p
resented with a range of outlets and the price per night, laterooms special rates are identified in orange.
At the end of each row there is a 'details' link - this presents you with more information on what the rate covers and also shows you with the rack rate for the room - it is useful to bear in mind at this point, that primarily it is only the top of the range and very busy hotels who actually charge the rack rate, particularly at weekends when many hotels have lots of special offers, particularly out of high season, i.e. Jan - March and November and pre-Christmas December and if staying more than one night.
Information on the actual hotel is very sketchy, ranging from listing strong points through to a couple of photos and a general description of the accommodation.
From my search of Blackburn, I identified a 4* outlet where they were offering a room for £40 for the night. This seemed extraordinarily cheap, so following a visit to the company's website which established that the same room booked with them would cost me some £95 room only (ouch) sadly out of my subsistence rate, so it was back to laterooms.com to ensure that the room was still available (I say room because at that stage I could not confirm they actually had two rooms available).
The actual booking will depend on the accommodation and can vary between:
* Contacting laterooms.com on the telephone - 0161 831 3800 - you will be expected to quote an accommodation specific reference number
* By e-mail, you submit the e-mail on the dedicated form and rumour has it the hotel will contact you to discuss your requirements.
Being in work and very busy, the latter was my preferred option and then I just sat back and waited for the hotel to ring me, and I waited, and waited and carried on waiting.
Two days passed still with no phone-call, it was time for action, so I reverted to more tra
nal methods and contacted laterooms.com on the phone, who confirmed they had received my booking request and that it had been passed to the relevant outlet, they promised they would chase it up for me and someone would call.
I furnished them with all the relevant telephone numbers and waited, and continued to wait, still no word.
By this time I started to panic and really took the bull by the horns so to speak, and with less than a day to go rang the hotel directly, surprise, surprise, this was turning into something of a disaster with the prospect of sharing a car with my friend in the frozen north becoming a distinct possibility. However, true to her word the young lady did call me back and confirmed that they had my booking, they also apparently had my credit card details as confirmation (which is a little worrying as I can't recall supplying them at any stage - see what happens when senility sets in?) and had I have not chased up the reservation and booked elsewhere then I could have ended up getting walloped with charges for no-show?. Alternatively, had I arrived with no confirmation we could have ended up sleeping in the car, not a prospect I relished with an important meeting the next day.
I was also assured by the receptionist that the rate included breakfast, this was getting better by the minute, as this was not stated on the laterooms.com website.
It is worth noting also that laterooms.com have a disclaimer on their site:
* The hotel has entered the rate displayed on the LateRooms system. If they fail to offer the rate, please take this up with the hotel directly?.
So evidently they are like a central portal for hotels to advertise on.
Well, I have to say that despite the hassle with confirming the booking, laterooms.com certainly came up trumps for us this time around; we arrived at this stunning hotel to be advised that our accommodation was being upgraded
to a suit
e free of charge. The hotel
had a full complement of leisure facilities that sadly, this time, I didn?t get to try out, a very nice and popular restaurant, which sadly wasn't a la carte and would have cost me my whole days subsistence allowance, though they did reluctantly admit to having a bar menu which served superb and really good value for money food, (we felt like the poor relations) and upon arrival we discovered that brekkie wasn't included, but as it was the hotels mistake, they included it for free anyway.
The hotel was full the night we stayed, not sure if everyone booked through laterooms.com but I must admit I was just more than a little bit surprised that they needed to advertise through the site in the first place.
WOULD I USE THE SITE AGAIN?
As I have historically, I will continue to check their site and if they offered something that looked too good to be true, then I would certainly give the site a second chance, although I would ensure next time that the entire process would be completed the same day.
WOULD I RECOMMEND THEM?
I would certainly say pay them a visit, but if you are on a budget, don't take what they say as absolute gospel, check all your options first, from other websites, to the hotel websites, to the hotel itself. Then after all that 'laterooms.com's' rate looks too good to be true and they can accommodate you then it probably isn't TGTBT - so book it, we certainly came up trumps.