Almost ruined our long waited trip to see Andrea bocelli in concert in Lajatico, his home village, where each year he presents to the world an opportunity to see him sing in his home village. A trip that due to Covid had been put off, so to have the opportunity to go once more was special, but was almost ruined by the antics and lack of professionalism of the hotel Bologna.
Prior to arriving at the hotel my wife in several occasions requested the help from the hotel to arrange a taxi to take us the 40 minute drive to lajatico, a journey we had made with the help of other hotels we stayed in, in Pisa. Nothing was too much trouble, until the Bologna became our chosen hotel this time, we explained and it is well documented that we were leaving the U.K. in the early hours and if possible would it be ok to have our room ready, that question met with a positive yes.
We then explained the reason of our visit, to attend the bocelli concert, and that it was very important that we had transport from the hotel to lajatico, and lajatico to the hotel, again no problem, this was reiterated by my wife several times and several times the hotel staff replied, please do not worry, there are plenty of taxis in Pisa. My wife obviously right up to a couple of days before we arrived again asked the question, and stated quite clearly the importance of transport, at 5 pm to get us to the concert, indeed my wife had made a table reservation in lajatico so that we could eat before the concert, so 5 pm was vital to that departure time, as our table was for 7 pm.
Again the reply, do not worry there are plenty of taxis in Pisa, we will make sure you get to the concert. So, we left the U.K., assured of this.
When we arrived after a very difficult trip, it was disappointing to hear from the receptionist say “NO” nothing had been arranged and getting a taxi at such a last minute would be almost impossible, we explained that we had asked and we were promised, she replied that she had no idea what we were talking about, my wife as well as myself were tired, and very distressed, clearly it that it looked as if our journey was in vain, as no hope of getting to the concert was likely. I asked again if there was any way they could get us transport, she looked at her colleague and they whispered to each other and said why don’t we go and get something to eat and they would see what they could do, again my wife said “but this was pre arranged” “we were assured that transport was sorted” “look at the emails I said” which I believe they did and could see that we were indeed promised transport, and that they would also do their best to try to get our room ready as requested, mindful that we needed to rest before the journey to lajatico.
Clearly we had been mislead, and right now very upset.
So we left our luggage in a room there, and went out for a bite to eat and a drink.
Whilst out, approximately one hour later, the hotel telephoned to say that they had found a taxi for us and it would pick us up outside the hotel at 5pm as requested, the fare would be 350€?!
We were taken aback at this, as we had used in previous years a private limo to take us to the concert and I knew what it cost then, mindful the last time we were there a couple of years earlier the fare was 200€ so we expected an increase, but did not expect it to be 350€, but we had no choice at such a late hour to refuse, so we had no choice, it annoyed me very much as I felt they were taking advantage of the situation, and a taxi would have been less than a private limo. But as said we either paid and went, or refused and were stuck, so we agreed, the hotel person said the amount would be added to our bill and would be collected on check out.
So far the day was not as happy as it should have been, half an hour later the hotel called us again to say that we must pay the driver directly in cash! ?
This was very odd! And as we did not have that amount of cash with us, he informed us to go to a cash machine and withdraw the cash, as the driver would only accept cash.
Even more disappointed.
But we went to the cash machine and withdrew the cash.
We returned to the hotel, I jokingly said after all the upset, it was hoped that we would at least have a very nice room, quiet room, sunny room, we were informed we had one of the nicest rooms in the hotel.
So we went up to our room and I can assure you that if this room was the nicest room in the hotel, I would hate to see their worst room.
It was dull, the decor was dull, the furnishing tired, clearly the room had seen much better times, the bed linen was, let’s say smelling of vinegar, or something not pleasant, the bed not comfortable, the only window in the room was small and overlooking a side street, the noise emanating from the street made it impossible to have the window open, this made the room very uncomfortable, there was no water in the room, a complimentary bottle or jug of water to quench our thirst, something g we had grown used to in hotels of this calibre. The bed was small and the pillows flat, the bathroom was bleak,and the bathroom accessories were bare, the towels a bit threadbare.
No shaving mirror, the shower was limp.
So it was what it was, and my wife was far too distressed to complain, I suggested we ask for another room, but all she wanted to do was go to the concert and maybe think about it tomorrow.
So 4.45 we went down to reception to ready ourselves for the transport to the concert, and were informed that the hotel was waiting for a guest to come down as she was being taken to the airport, and two other guests were joining us in our taxi. ????
What’s going on I thought, but again way to tired to complain, we just accepted it. Though it was softened by the thought that well at least the fare will reflect this, so we thought, but was not to be.
So we eventually left the hotel at almost 6pm thanks to the delays caused by the other traveler’s and the taxi driver, well I say taxi driver, not! He was one of the hotel staff, and the taxi was the hotel shuttle bus? By now though I just wanted to get this over with. The driver asked if we had the cash, we confirmed that we had.
So off we went, we got to the airport, dropped off the hotel guest, and then made our way at prime time traffic to lajatico, it was a terrible journey, and the driver I am convinced who thought he was formula one driver.
We arrived, just about after the scary somewhat dangerous driving of this “Taxi” driver.
Too late for the restaurant, we missed our booking, so, we arrived at the concert hungry and thirsty, and I can tell you, it was 40 degrees! And very little in the way of refreshments this year at the concert, so hungry tired and thirsty I stood in a line for over an hour to get a drink, a small plastic cup of warm lager.
Not a good day, but made better by the incredible and truly fantastic concert in the arms of Andrea Bocelli.
It finished after midnight, and we made our way back to the place where our “Taxi” was to collect us.
Our journey back was the most terrifying ride I have ever had, a shuttle bus is not designed to take corners as this driver did, the speed was excessive and the ride rough.
We arrived in one piece physically but emotionally drained.
As soon as we enter hotel reception the driver bid goodnight to the other two passengers and came straight us for the cash.
The full amount of 350€!!!?
Clearly there was a bit of skullduggery going on,we had been let’s say, taken for a ride.
So we paid and we went to our room, hungry exhausted, thirsty and got into bed, and the night was a very very poor night indeed, the bed uncomfortable, the room boiling hot, the air conditioning was noisey, we opened the window, that didn’t help very much and besides we had windows opposite looking directly into our room, so we closed the curtains and we jus tried to sleep, which sleep did find us at last. But not for long, the footsteps in the room above, loud, the movements in that room invasive, the toilet was equally noisy, the walls thin, you could hear much of what was going on around you. Then dawn came, and the hotel personal were changing shifts and the cleaners doing their rounds, it was noisy, and as we were almost above reception the voices of people coming and going were such that sleep, was not an option.
We could not do anything g but get up and go out, too tired to argue or fuss, too upset to deal with anything, other than the wish that we could go home now!
We took time out to try the lovely images presented of the outside terrace, which on the wen site looks lovely, but I dare anyone to challenge what I’m about to say, it was not lovely it was a mess, it was mucky, untidy dirty, and the tables occupied by previous guests had been left cluttered and not cleaned, so much for the web site image.
We went elsewhere.
So the night again was a sleepless one, worse than the night before.
But at least we were going away from this awful place.
We settled up with reception, nothing was said about the journey to lajatico, no mention as to why my wife and I had paid 350 € ? I had hoped an honest person would have said that the “taxi: was shared as such it was 175€ each couple, but no? I would have thought that they would have said we could have put your mind at ease and said we could take you to the concert in the hotel shuttle bus, but they didn’t, they could have said that right from the start, my questions I put to them regarding was met with a price list for a taxi to and from Pisa to lajatico, which was not the price I received when I asked the taxi driver who took us to the marina Pisa, he quoted a lower rate? !
And they went on to say that the hotel does not operate as a tour operator, or travel agent, and that their hotel shuttle bus was mainly to serve the pick up and drop off at the airport, something which I challenged, as the couple sharing had booked this trip months before, as a birthday gift, as such it invites the question we’re they charged a fee, if so how much, and if anything at all, or did they pay at reception or pay cash, something g the revenue services of Italy should want to know about, and if we were both charged 350€ then that is disgustingly overcharging and dishonest. And obviously aimed at extracting cash, from a guest who trusted them to honour the promise of arranging transport, transport that was integral to the reason of the visit to Pisa.
And they went on to say that usually public taxi services in Pisa works well, but due to exceptional circumstances, the whole city and surroundings were completely overbooked. So being there and familiar with this event, that takes place each year, why didn’t they reserve for us as requested a taxi, to take into consideration this fact. They also said their staff tried to help in an ad-hoc situation, applying general market conditions, available at this moment, which one could take as, taking advantage of someone knowing that there was no other choice, other than ripping them off by telling untruths, and failing to mention that they have transport available that we could have used, and a fair agreed.
They went on to say, that private shuttle service are far more expensive than public taxi service, even in high season, another way of saying we can’t be blamed for taking advantage of our guests who trusted us to deliver a promise that they failed to deliver. As said they also in their email directed me to a taxi web site where prices are shown, I informed them that the taxi that took us to marina Pisa informed in person the rate he would charge and it was much less than this web site price guide. Also that there excuse does not avoid the fact that they took advantage and acted dishonestly.
All in all, to cut a very long story short this hotel Bologna should be ashamed of its behaviour, it reflects badly on the hospitality of Pisa, a city that we live, and it’s people and other tourists who come to Italy to enjoy the Italian hospitality, clearly the response I have had from the person name Martin at this hotel is a poor one, and show total disrespect and lack of care, they went on begrudgingly offer a small discount on my next years trip, and an offer of a suite, which declined, my complaint was about overcharging and blatant lack of customer care, stress caused and failure to honour the pre arrival confirmation made by email and telephone that there would be transport to and from the concert, and do not worry, we took his word, and we looked very much forward to this trip, confident that we were in good hands, and like other hotels in the city, would not disappoint us.
All we asked for was that in all fairness if the rate they wanted was indeed 350€ ok! Under the circumstances ok, asking in cash ok, though very questionable, but 350 € for four seemed fair, at 175€ each couple, but not so, using the hotel shuttle ? !? None the less one bus four people, a fair fare, shared, but no explanation only a refusal to issue us with a refund of half the amount we paid.
Dispute the promise which I’m dealing with regarding informing the local authorities of our experience to see if this is typical behaviour, which I doubt of hotels in this city. So as said my final attempt to seek fairness was met with curt reply, and I quote….
Dear mr and mrs …..thanks a lot for your email and for staying in our hotel, I am sorry to hear that your journey didn’t meet your expectation. Martin hotel Bologna.
I truly do not enjoy writing a negative, I am a very loyal client to most places I choose to visit, returning time and time again, I treat people kind,y, respectfully and I like to think I am always welcome and my custom appreciated. I have made my review and it represents in my opinion a facet of behaviour I personally experienced whilst in the hands of a hotel we chose for a change, rather than go back to the hotel we normally go to, just to see another side of the city, and it’s closeness to the train station, it’s revealed that our trip to Pisa was dulled by the behaviour of personnel in a hotel that clearly do not respect the client. And the negative impact this has on the hotel that employs them. I shall of course continue to expose this to the authorise in an attempt bring light on the exorbitant charge made to my wife and I, and in cash and were the other two passengers charged the same, if not did we pay for their journey?