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Seeing as lastminute.com have recently announced they are making profits for the first time since their shares were floated on the stock market a couple of years ago, it seems like a good time to write a review.
I’ve been visiting the site for about three years now. When I first started using it, it was one of the only sites offering cut-price last minute holiday deals. Now they not only offer holidays, but flights, hotel rooms, restaurant bookings, gifts and all manner of other things. It’s a good site to explore. Just visit the site, click on the categories on the left hand side of the screen and follow your nose. However, you might have to be patient as the site can be frustratingly slow at times.
Over the past couple of years, numerous other companies have emerged that also offer good deals on last minute bookings, many of which seem to undercut lastminute.com’s prices. However lastminute’s slogan is “the first place to look at the last minute” and that is still what I do.
I can’t comment on most of the service’s they offer as I’ve not used them. However, I have booked two weekend breaks through them and so I will share my experiences of these. From what I can gather, lastminute act as brokers for other agents when it comes to flogging holidays. This means that you place your booking through lastminute but from then on, you have to deal with the holiday company in question.
Both breaks that I have booked were being organised by a company called Short Breaks. The first that I booked was a weekend in Brussels. For a bargain of £129 I got Eurostar tickets from Waterloo to Brussels and two night B&B accommodation in a rather swanky 4 star hotel. I simply followed the prompts, entered my credit card details and a confirmatory email was sent to me with a booking reference. I then received a phone call from Short Breaks to say that my booking was confirmed. All I had to do was turn up at Waterloo with my tickets, my passport and my bags. I had a brilliant weekend. The hotel was superb (see my review for the Hotel Jolly if you’re interested). All in all it was a very satisfactory experience and I was keen to book through lastminute again.
My second dealing wasn’t quite so good. This time we were looking for a weekend break in Dublin. There was nothing listed on the site which was quite as cheap as our previous trip to Brussels but we did find a listing for a flights and a two night stay in a 3 star city centre hotel at £165. I booked this, received my confirmation email and awaited my confirmatory phone call from Short Breaks. Well, they phoned a day later only to tell me that the break I had booked was no longer available – the hotel was full. If I wanted to stay in a city centre hotel I would have to upgrade to a stay for £199 in total. Now this may not seem much, but I was booking for both myself and my partner and so the price increase did add a considerable amount to the overall cost of the break – especially when it was only for a weekend. I pointed out that I had booked a holiday for £165 and expected to pay that much and that much only – if the deals was no longer available then it should not be listed on the website. I pointed out that I believed that I should be able to stay at the alternative hotel for the price I had originally agreed to pay. Unfortunately this got me nowhere and I ended up paying the increased price to stay in what turned out to be a rather shabby hotel. All in all, not the best experience I’ve ever had.
Now I must point out that here the fault lies with Short Breaks and not with lastminute, but it is something to bear in mind when booking through the site – lastminute are only a booking agent and so can not guarantee the cost or availability of the breaks listed on their site.
I’ve since done a little research and have found that if I had organised the break to Dublin myself I could have done so for considerably less money than if I had gone through lastminute.
So, to summarise, I want to say that I find it useful service. I’ve had a brilliant break and a not so brilliant break when booking through them. I would probably use them again but would definitely shop around in the future before committing myself to booking a holiday through them.