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Hampton Inn 1, Best Western 0

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Word to the wise:

When you reserve a room at the Best Western Airport Inn in Albany, you have to explicitly tell them if you want a nonsmoking room. There wasn't any option for nonsmoking during the online room reservation process, and it somehow didn't occur to me to make a special request for one. [Added later: It may be that this was because there were no nonsmoking rooms available when I made my reservation; I'm not sure. See comments for more discussion.]

Got to the Best Western tonight around 12:45 Eastern time. The surly front desk clerk took roughly ten minutes to check me in, even though I'd used an online reservation process that had already billed my card.

I walked all the way through the hotel to get to my room. The first sign of trouble was that the whole hallway smelled smoky.

Sure enough, when I opened the door to my room, I was assaulted by a miasma of smoke-smell.

I called the front desk. The guy there told me that there were no other rooms available. I asked if he knew of any at other hotels. He said there weren't any open rooms between here and downtown.

I considered trying to stay in that room. I took a breath and almost choked.

Went outside to the parking lot and started calling local hotels.

The first two I called, within a block of the BW, were also full, and also said there were no openings at any local hotels.

The next one I called was the Hampton Inn, also within a block. The polite and friendly and cheerful front-desk guy told me they had one nonsmoking room available.

I reserved it by phone, then went to check out at the BW.

The BW guy told me, surlily, “I'm gonna have to charge you for this.”

I figured he would. It's kind of ridiculous, since there's obviously a lot of demand for rooms tonight; just after I checked in at the BW, he took a call apparently from a friend in the business, who appeared to be looking for a room for someone. So I suspect they could easily re-sell the room.

But whatever. I dislike the idea of wasting the money, but I dislike the idea of trying to sleep in that room even more. Privileged people problems.

I just checked my emailed receipt from my BW reservation, and sure enough, the system did tell me it was a smoking room; I don't know how I missed that. I think I must have somehow misread it as nonsmoking. I guess I have nobody to blame but myself for this one, much to my chagrin.

Anyway. Walked the block or so to the Hampton Inn. Walked into their cheerful and welcoming lobby. Front desk guy was friendly and welcoming. There's a big sign at the front desk saying that if you're not 100% satisfied, they'll refund your money.

I had been becoming a fan of Best Westerns. But I've had various problems with the last three that I've stayed at. And they sure don't have a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

My room here is an ordinary hotel room, but it looks nice. The air conditioner is on. The about-the-hotel binder is crisply printed. I had a momentary problem accessing the Internet, but the front desk guy told me the new access code by phone.

So . . . it's a pricey lesson, but next time, I'll know.

5 Comments

Hmmm...considering the whole smoke-thing is a health concern, I'm guessing if you write/e-mail call Best Western they will refund your money. It might be worth your while. If you don't want to do it, if you send me the information I will be happy to assist. Practicing how I deal with this sort of confrontation is fun for me, sort of like a peculiar sort of people-oriented "video" game-- there are better ways to use time, but I enjoy this sort of stuff.


When you reserve a room at the Best Western Airport Inn in Albany, you have to explicitly tell them if you want a nonsmoking room. There wasn't any option for nonsmoking during the online room reservation process, and it somehow didn't occur to me to make a special request for one.

No, that isn't true. If there are both kinds of rooms available it gives you a choice of smoking and nonsmoking options. If there isn't, it just gives you a choice of what's available. But it most definitely tells you that's what you are picking.


I think what must have happened is that they were out of nonsmoking rooms. I'm certain that I was not offered an explicit choice of smoking vs nonsmoking, because I would have chosen nonsmoking. But it's possible that I was offered a choice of smoking rooms and didn't realize that they were all smoking rooms.

At any rate, for whatever reason—possibly merely my own inattention—it was not clear to me that I had selected a smoking room.

However, I did in fact (apparently) select a smoking room, however unintentionally, so I'm dubious about the likelihood of a refund. But I may look into it. Thanks for the offer, CJ!


If you have the funds to do so, it is *never* a mistake to just pay some money to turn a misadventure and a sleepless night into a good and restful evening. I'm so glad you found an alternative.

There were so many times I put up with expensive mistakes because I had no option. I am truly grateful when there's a mistake that's expensive but not so costly I can't afford to improve it.

Smoking rooms. Yuck. Half the travel sites I use don't even offer the option of smoking vs non-smoking anymore because so many hotels just ban smoking outright these days, and there isn't a way to specify in their computer.


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[Three copies of this spam comment were posted to this entry. I was amused enough to allow the first part through, though I've deleted the spammy content. Since the copies were posted under three different names with identical wording, I'm assuming the names were fake too.]