Thursday, April 14, 2011

We interrupt this holiday blog for a consumer alert.

Picture the scene: after an early start, a Eurostar trip to Paris where we spent day riding the buses, we were at the Gare de Bercy waiting for the overnight trip to Rome when my mobile rings. "Ah Madame I am the agent from Rome Power to tell you that we have a problem with your booking for the apartment in Rome tomorrow. There has been a flood in the apartment and you cannot check in but not to worry, I have a solution for you. I have another beautiful apartment available...."

Now here's a little bit of background: we first booked our accommodation in Rome 3 months ago, knowing it was high season. Just after booking a nice apartment on the Campo Di Fiori with an agency, they emailed me to say sorry but your apartment is not available because we have problems with council permissions, however we have a nice apartment in the Vatican area available. Well we didn't want to be in that area as we decided that schlepping over to the main attractions every day would be a pain. So we said no and began looking for alternatives, except being high season, everything suitable was now booked. We were also frequently reading nightmare stories about people being bumped on arrival, of being told an apartment was no longer available but a nice one was in the Vatican area.

So when, 8 weeks ago Ryan found a nice apartment in the Campo di Fiori on Giverno Vecchio (called Gladiator)through Rome Power booking agency, we were relieved and excited when the booking was confirmed. However a month ago we saw the apartment was showing as vacant for the days we had booked.Concerned, Ryan rang the agency. " Don't worry Mr Guillot" he was told "your booking is here and everything is fine, I will get the agent to call you or email you the details." Ryan rang three more times and was told again the booking was fine.

Then when I got to London from Cornwall I rang the agency and was told they would organize a car to pick us up at the station in Rome and take us to the apartment. So you can imagine my reaction when I got the phone call in Paris. The apartment offered as a replacement was, of course, in St Peters area. It seems clear that the apartment was a 'bait' and that if it even exists, it was already booked. The thing about accommodation in Rome seems to be that everyone wants an apartment in the centre of the main sights, but there are a lot of rentals available in the vicinity of St Peter's to accommodate religious pilgrims. Despite our every effort, we still became victims of dubious business practices.

The upside of the story is that I was able to get a message to Hayley and Ryan who were joining us in Rome and they found us a last minute apartment right off the Campo di Fiore, an absolutely magnificent traditional courtyard style apartment in an 1828 building.

(that's our apartment with brown shutters on the corner of the third floor)

(Pasta dinner on night two):

The view from the apartment

The agent Peter from Rome from Home couldn't have been more helpful allowing us to leave our bags in the apartment early after our marathon journey and sleepless night.

So here we are in Rome,blown away by the beautiful streets and literally awe-some buildings and indulging in all sorts of local foods. Sometimes things happen for the best, but I wouldn't wish what happened to us on anyone, thus the consumer alert: be VERY careful who you deal with when booking an apartment in Rome. I can certainly recommend Rome from Home, but not Rome Power.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Via dei Banchi Vecchi,Rome,Italy

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