Sunday, September 21, 2008

We interrupt your regular programming...

For a bit of a hotel review. You see, after having spent nearly two weeks in the wilderness that is Western Mongolia, I was quite inclined to stay at a nice hotel when finally arriving in UlaanBaatar. We settled on the Chinggis Khan hotel, a 4 star affair near the center of the city. And now I'm here to report that anyone - future ralliers or just the occasional traveler having taken the wrong turn in Beijing, should avoid the Chinggis Khan if ever looking for accomodation in UlaanBaatar.

It's not that the hotel is bad, it's just that they charge for their rooms like they actually are a 4 star hotel, but being Mongolian, they have not at all figured out that 4 star really refers to service, and they surely don't provide much service. In fact, the only thing they are quite good at is responding with a 'No' to most of your requests. I'd been collecting the list of my issues as the four nights we spent there went on. By the end, I had the following list:

- the first night, we arrived at 4am, but were still charged a full day's rate for the eight hours we were there.
- hotel has a pool... so says the ticker in the lobby (among other things). The pool is closed
- the air conditioning does not work
- the restaurant wouldn't let us come in for a drink at 9:45 even though they close at 10... supposedly
- the bar, open till midnight, was closed altogether, in preparation for a wedding that was to take place the next day
- internet access stopped working on the last day
- TV reception was crap.

My first clue that the service wasn't quite up to the par I may have expected was when I started getting excuses, instead of a simple 'I'm sorry' in response to my issues. The second clue was the excuses themsleves:
- air conditioning: we've turned the A/C system off because it is not hot in UlaanBaatar anymore
- wedding: September is wedding season in Mongolia
- pool: we should probably remove the signs in the lobby that advertise the pool...
- internet: it's totally not our fault! It's all the city's fault, in fact the internet is out all over the city (it isn't). Or you can use our business center. Will the hotel pay for me to use the business center? No.

After all that, I finally suggested that I felt I needed the room rate to be reduced. I figured I was certainly annoyed by what happened, but a discount of some 15-20% would make me feel better. Instead, the hotel offers and insists upon a discount of all of 5%. I'm not sure what actually annoyed me more - the fact that they bothered to offer me a useless discount of a meaningless five percent, or the fact that they wouldn't budge from it when I pointed out that I found this so-called discount to be insulting and would not be satisfied by it... The end result, however, is simple - until this so-called 4-star hotel can figure out how to provide anything resembling 4-star sevice, I would strongly urge anyone coming to UlaanBaatar to stay away from the place.

1 comment:

b mathew said...

You know, Lonely Planet or someone like them would probably be really interested in your reviews and experiences. When I was in college I wrote a few reviews for them and they'd sent me a free guide of my choice, which was amazingly cool of them (I thought anyway).