Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Update on our first night in Rome when we were homeless

Our original apartment in Rome was the Basilica S.Maria Maggiore View, also seen around the web as Alice's House Santa Maria Maggiore.

I'm writing this as both an update on what happened to us and a warning to anyone else who stumbles on this post from a search engine. This is a great looking apartment and gets good reviews on booking.com, but the exact apartment can't be found on trip advisor. Looking around in trip advisor however, it is in the same apartment block as "Alice's House" which gets shocking reviews in Trip Advisor, and after searching around booking.com, the following appears start appear on various pages, so it would appear the two apartments are somewhat related, possibly managed by the same group.

So in summary, this is what happened to us :-

  1. Booked this apartment through booking.com in September 2015 for a stay in March 2016
  2. Got confirmation emails that guaranteed the booking.
  3. I was asked by Marco (the apartment manager) via email if I wanted a transfer from the Airport, which I accepted for a cost of €70 
  4. I last contacted Marco in Feb 2015 regarding a later checkin as we would be arriving close to 8pm, which Marco accepted as OK.
  5. We flew to Rome from Australia.
  6. The transfer car picked us up, dropped us at the apartment and said someone would be there in 5 minutes to check us in.
  7. No one showed up so after 30min waiting, so I called Marco, No one answered the phone or any other contact number they had given me.
  8. I called booking.com and after an eternity on hold, I spoke to someone. They couldn't get onto the owner either and started looking for an alternative apartment for me
  9. It was now past 9pm Rome time, and I had a very tired family. I found a close hotel that had one room that could fit in 3 people. I booked in Sue, Sharon & Emma whilst Paul and I sorted this accomodation debacle. It turned out to be an awesome hotel. I'd use it again anytime.
  10. Booking.com found something, so we scooted to the other side of Rome to look at it. It was great, so we took it.
  11. Moved everyone into the new apartment the next day
  12. Started the claim process for the cost of the additional hotel against booking.com and a few terse emails to Marco to try to find out what the hell happened to our booking.
  13. It would seem that the apartment was closed by the police for some reason, but I never found out exactly why. Given the reviews of the other apartments in the same block with trip advisor, I'm not really surprised.
  14. We enjoyed the rest of our holiday in a awesome apartment that booking.com found for 
  15. Booking.com refunded the cost of the hotel we had to book on the first night, plus a few extra euro for the inconvenience which covered the extra cab fare in Rome.
The manager claims he told booking.com about the closure a few days earlier, but booking.com deny this. Personally I tend to believe booking.com in this instance, as the airport pickup Marco booked for us still showed up and took us to the original apartment. Marco showed an absolute zero duty of care to us in this instance. Even if he did tell booking.com, he should have told me via email or phone since he had all my details and I'd already communicated with him on multiple occasions.


I guess the fact the owner wanted cash on check-in should have thrown up red flags immediately, but it had such a great rating on booking.com I over looked this. The manager says this was all an honest mistake and that he had informed booking.com, however they new nothing about it, and I would have thought he would have contacted me since I'd also had a transfer car arranged by him that still picked us up. It was also dodgy that he didn't answer any calls the night we arrived in Rome, yet responded to my email once I'd been settled into accomodation elsewhere.

So if you are looking at this apartment, book it at your own risk. As an alternative I'd suggest booking this apartment group instead. We got a far better apartment in a much nicer and quieter spot in Rome for the same price. (Click the link to see it)