We’ve all heard that the customer is always right, but not everyone follows this dictate. For example, stay at a B&B in Europe and if it’s a family home, you just might find that you are upsetting the hosts’ football-dance-polo schedule.
It may seem counterintuitive, but not every host believes he or she should treat you like the paying customer you are, let alone kiss your fanny. Perhaps it’s a sense of entitlement – from the stuffiest American hotels to the outskirts of Ireland – but thankfully, it’s the exception and not the norm.
That said, how does one unlucky traveller deal with such nonsense? What if she’s locked in a lodge in the woods with only a creepy, self-absorbed hostess who thinks scaring guests with threats of throwing her out to the wolves or keeping the thermostat at 50 is just peachy? What if you are stuck there because there is a blinding snowstorm outside, or you’ve spent your last hundred bucks on this dump?
First of all – relax. In this modern day, every proprietor should know better than to treat guests like you-know-what. From Yelp to Trip Advisor, every guest’s a critic, and you do not want to be the host who wakes up to read that your broken waffle maker was one thing, but it was the all night disco party under Room 121 and your subsequent ignorance of the guest’s complaints that gave you only one, very reluctant, star.
These reviews can kill a business! The truth is on our side, travellers!
But before you resort to the poison pen, try this: Charm your host. If she is whining because you asked for a hot water bottle (you’re freezing), tell her, “You know how it is for us Americans. We just aren’t used to the London fog or the delightful cold of an English autumn.”
If charm doesn’t work, try calling whatever agency is responsible for your happiness. They can put you in a different B&B or hotel that very night, oftentimes; or at the very least, refund your money.
Third, this may sound very cynical, but it’s always good to expect the worst. Always travel with a backup plan, especially when it comes to staying at other people’s homes. The sad truth is that a lot of people rent out their homes for the money, but really resent the guests who come to stay there. Do you think they want another set of eyes at their breakfast table? No, poor things just want to pay the electric bill.
To weed out the hosts who actually seem to welcome guests, look for five-star reviews. Find someone friendly but not too in-your-face. Beware of even the one-off compaints (“Miss Linsock told me I could only use the hot water for three minutes”) and beware of a low number of guests over a long period of time.
If you are truly stuck in a miserable room for a day or even longer, make sure to bring a good book, your iPad/iPod/laptop, and a sense of humor.