We eventually found this hotel using its postcode, as it is not on Google Maps; it is on the southern edge of St. Ives (Cambridgeshire), across the river from the main town and quite awkward to access. When we finally arrived, the hotel turned out to be scruffy and unkempt, with a car park which was more like a mud bath, even on a dry day (possibly because it is so close to the river).
We had booked this hotel because it was advertised as being dog-friendly, and we needed to bring our little dog with us for the night. However, when we took our dog into the dimly-lit reception area, the lady behind the desk (her name badge said she was Sue) peered fixedly at the dog, and eventually turned to us and told us, with considerable relish, that only executive rooms (!) could be used to take dogs, and that we would therefore need to change our booking from a standard room (£71.60) to one of these (£13.50 extra).
Furthermore, she announced with even more relish, there were “extra charges” for having a dog, even in a supposedly dog-friendly room. When we asked what these might be, she thought for a moment, idly scribbled some figures on a piece of paper, thought some more, and finally told us, with a grin, that these would be £25.00 for having a dog, PLUS a further £50.00 for what she called “deep-cleaning” the room.
The total extra charge, therefore, for having a dog in this purportedly “dog-friendly” hotel was £88.50. This would take the total charge for the night from £71.60 to £160.10: well over double what we had expected, and an absurdly inflated price for this quality of hotel.
We told her that we considered this to be gross misrepresentation on the hotel’s part, and said that we therefore wanted to cancel the booking and get a refund, as the hotel had effectively been mis-sold to us as dog-friendly, when in truth it was no such thing.
Her reaction to this was to chuckle, and say that this wasn’t her problem: we would have to get the money back from the booking site, as we had paid them. Needless to say, the booking site told us later that as our booking was non-cancellable, we would not get a penny back. We therefore lost the entire cost of the booking – and, of course, could find nowhere else to spend the night at such short notice.
What we found disturbing about this whole experience is that we got the unmistakable impression that this was by no means the first time that this person had reeled off all this patter, and that people had either lost the whole cost of their booking, or had to pay more than double what they expected for their night’s stay.
If all these extra charges (which appeared to be scribbled down off the top of this person’s head) really are the hotel’s policy, it is either outright illegal, or at the very least grossly unethical. If they are not the hotel’s policy, we would urge the hotel to look into this matter and ensure that no more people are tricked in this way. less
Managerproperty, Manager at Best Western Dolphin Hotel, responded to this review
Dear Mr. Warwick
We do apologise for your experience. We do advertise as a pet friendly hotel. We have allocated rooms for pets which have patios, have a huge meadow where walks can be had 20 steps from the door of the pet friendly rooms, and have allocated areas in our patio area where customers can sit with their pets and have food/drinks.
Costs do apply however, There is a £25.00 per pet fee per day and a refundable damage deposit of £100.00. Additionally there is a deep cleaning fee which is a one off fee for the duration of the stay. The fees the receptionist stated are not numbers she created but our listed prices. On the booking sites that you used, we do make it clear that guests should contact the hotel for special requests. The room you booked online was only for 2 adults and there was no booking for any pets. Had you put the pets in the booking, it would have directed you to the proper room rather than the standard room and directed you to call the hotel.
I hope that this does explain our pet policy.