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1:30am. There we were in our room at the Standard Downtown LA, avoiding writing the stories that were due bright and early the next morning, and it hit us: a hot chocolate would really hit the spot right now, and maybe even give us the jump start we need to finish our work.
Illogical, maybe. But we're self-professed sugar fiends, and require just the slightest hint of an excuse to indulge.
So we picked up the room service menu, conveniently placed beside the bed, and checked out what was on offer. Ooh, an Irish Hot Chocolate, with Bailey's Irish Cream!—that ought to perk us right up. Sure enough, about twenty minutes later, an attendant showed up at the door, bearing a lukewarm hot chocolate, with the liquids separated, and a bill of $19.34. Jeez.
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Poor Shangri-La Paris. It sure has a ton going for it—horse-drawn carriage rides at Christmas time, gorgeous Eiffel Tower views. But that prestige wasn't enough to stop a Saudi Arabian princess from stiffing the hotel on a six-month bill worth over $7 million.
Yup. After booking the entire seventh floor of the hotel for herself and a 60-person entourage, at a cost of EUR 20,000 per night, and remaining there from Christmas until Thursday of last week, Princess Maha al-Sudari tried sneaking out in the middle of the night without so much as tipping the bellhop.
And the worst part? This wasn't the first time.
We checked in on the recently-opened Cooper Square Hotel back in December when it had only been up and running for a few days. The reviews were glowing, but we weren't quite sure of the authenticity sometimes those TripAdvisor customer reviews are just a little bit too glowing and have "PR person" written all over 'em.
But we received a heads up from reader A. about a comprehensive, detailed review he'd done of a recent stay at CSH that was published over on his blog, The Life Vicarious. It's definitely the most comprehensive, detailed review we've read yet, and his overall impressions were fairly positive: the experience woulda been fab if not for a major, unexplained overcharge.
This week's HotelChatter Question comes from yours truly and it has to do with hotel bills, everyone's favorite topic.
Now, every single time we have checked into and out of a hotel, the hotel has always had the credit card that we used to book the room on file. Once we've checked out, either that card or a different one that we put down at check-in is charged.
This has never not happened. That credit card, whichever one it may be, is always charged. And more often than we like, it is charged with some additional fees on it that we did not order or use. Like getting charged twice to use the internet when we only used it once. (This happens a lot.)
But we are not here to ask you about your favorite bill-reviewing method. Or even what hotels frequently mischarge you for. (Although, that could be a good question later.)
No. Today we want to know how the #$&@!% Raffaello Follieri, Anne Hathaway's dashing ex-boyfriend/con man, managed to stiff the Ritz Hotel in Paris out of 4,551.70 Euros.
Remember when the Blue Moon Hotel accidentally added a zero to a guest's hotel bill and didn't care? We thought that was pretty atrocious, especially that the hotel's general manager never even called the guest to apologize or keep her abreast of the situation.
Now, finally Blue Moon speaks. The hotel's management staff has left a detailed comment under the story explaining their side of the snafu.
Although I was not responsible for the error, I called this guest back immediately after she called, and in the spirit of the best customer service which our hotel is reknown for I listened sympathetically, assured her that the correction had been made, and I called our credit card processor, conferencing her in (NOT "talking to other patrons which I heard over the phone"), in order for her to personally realize that it was now her bank's responsibility.
You can go here to see the full comment and we urge you to do so. Thanks to the Blue Moon staff for taking the time to tell their side of the story. The hotel however has still not gotten in touch with the guest about the incident. Judging from the tone of their letters, we don't think they will be doing that anytime soon.