Advantages Offer some outstanding rates, efficient booking by phone, get to stay in some cracking hotels at vastly reduced rates
Disadvantages Difficulties in confirming e-mail bookings, search facility only looks for single rooms making multiple bookings difficult, not always the cheapest
I thought it was time this op had something of an update having now used laterooms on several occasions.I do a fair amount travelling with work, and initially much of my accommodation was booked for me. The rest, I rarely found anything more competitively priced than Britannia and Premier Lodge chains. Particularly as a lot of my travel was to Manchester, the home of cheap accommodation providing it doesn’t clash with Man U playing at home, or some other major event.
My first encounter with laterooms was after reading a couple of ops here on Ciao and needing overnight accommodation in Blackburn in the depths of a cold January. I needed two rooms for one night at an affordable price to ensure I kept my budget down. I didn’t know anyone in the area to recommend, the booklet I was promised arrived two days after I got back, so where to from here? Laterooms.com of course.THE SITE
You can search for accommodation in 100 countries; this includes each of the British Isles constituents as an individual country, still nevertheless comprehensive.Once you have selected your country choice, you simply press Go (or of course aller, ir, vai or start if it takes your fancy), but of course you could be presented with something you don’t understand.
Once you have decided on the country location of your choice, you will be directed to a menu where you will be asked to input more specific information, including:• Town or region
In this arose my first problem, I wanted two rooms to sleep one person for one night, and I don’t think my travelling companion’s fiancé would have been too pleased about us sharing.Once you press the search button, you will be presented with a range of outlets and the price per night. Laterooms special rates are identified in orange.
At the end of each row there is a ‘details’ link – this presents you with more information on what the rate covers and shows you with the rack rate for the room. It is useful to bear in mind at this point, that it is mainly the top of the range and busy hotels who charge the rack rate. This is particularly true at weekends when many hotels offer special offers, especially out of high season, i.e. Jan – March and November and pre-Christmas December and if staying more than one night.
Information on hotel varies considerably, ranging from listing strong points through to a couple of photos and a general description of the accommodation.
• Contacting laterooms.com by phone - 08707 507 107. You will be expected to quote a specific accommodation reference number.
The booking will depend on the accommodation and can vary between:
• By e-mail, you send the e-mail using the dedicated form, and, supposedly the hotel will contact you to discuss your requirements.• On-Line - Laterooms are quick to point out that on-line is not available at every locations, and believe that booking by phone is the preferred option for most travellers. However, they are getting pressure from many hotel chains to offer on-line bookings and have a partnership with Pegasus whereby on-line bookings are being accepted at a growing number of outlets on their database - this could potentially damage laterooms, because internet rates generally tend to be cheaper, and on-line bookings won't be limited to the laterooms rates.
Two days passed with no phone-call, it was time for action. I reverted to more traditional methods and contacted laterooms.com by phone, who confirmed they had received my booking request and that it had been passed to the hotel. They promised they would chase it up for me and someone would call.
Being in work and busy, the latter was my preferred option the first time, and then I just sat back and waited for the hotel to ring, and I waited, and waited and carried on waiting.
I supplied them with all the relevant telephone numbers and waited, and continued to wait, still no word.By this time I started to panic and took the bull by the horns with less than a day to go rang the hotel directly. Surprise, surprise, their computers were ‘down’. This was turning into something of a disaster with the prospect of sharing a car with my friend in the frozen north becoming a distinct possibility. However, true to her word the young lady did call me back and confirmed that they had my booking. They also had my credit card details as confirmation (which is a little worrying as I can’t recall supplying them at any stage. (See what happens when senility sets in?). Had I have not chased up the reservation and booked elsewhere then I could have ended up getting walloped with charges for ‘no-show’. Alternatively, had I arrived with no confirmation we could have ended up sleeping in the car, not a prospect I relished with an important meeting the next day.
I was also assured by the receptionist the rate included breakfast, this was getting better by the minute, as this was not stated on the laterooms.com website.UPDATE 13/05: It is interesting to note that Laterooms now have a note on their website stating that their preferred method for customers to contact them is by phone. I can confirm that this is much more efficient than the e-mail option.
I have now used laterooms to book hotels in Glasgow (over £100 less than rack rate), Sheffield (saved over £60), Coventry, Bromsgrove and Basingstoke, and have phoned each time. Credit card details are taken over the phone to secure the reservation and a confirmation e-mail sent immediately.This has caused me a few headaches, as despite being insistent that I wanted a smoking room, twice, I have received confirmation of ‘non-smoking’ requested. Are they looking after my health, or acting in the same way as my local fish and chip shop who mechanically put salt and vinegar on the chips even when you say you don’t want it.
They have also mucked up multiple bookings, they had the rooms correct, but, when booking to nights for me in Glasgow and one for my colleague, they had me checking out and then checking back in the following day. To be fair, the hotel did manage to resolve the issue, but if I hadn’t taken the paperwork I could have come unstuck.
The hoteliers are responsible for entering the rates on their system, and laterooms are quick to point out that all rates are per room, NOT per person. This is interesting as each time I’ve arrived at the hotel, reception appear to have been expecting 2 guests. This re-enforces the belief through the often extortionate prices in the hotels that they are hoping to make their money through extras such as food and drink.Also, I would advise reading the cancellation policy for your chosen destination VERY CAREFULLY, they can vary from same day to several days, to paying a non-refundable deposit, don’t say you haven’t been warned.
Laterooms.com have the following disclaimer on their site:“The hotel has entered the rate displayed on the LateRooms system. If they fail to offer the rate, please take this up with the hotel directly”.
• Competitive rates at many outlets
• You can get to stay at some fantastic hotels for rock-bottom prices (the Glasgow Milton was the best, I saved £106 on the rack rate)
• Quick booking process
• Friendly staff
• Long opening hours – 8am to 10pm weekdays, and 10am to 6pm at weekends. More and more I am finding that hotels now have reservation departments with limited hours, and reception staff are reluctant to take bookings.
• Usually masses of choice whether booking early or late
• Breakfast is often included in the rate, particularly at weekends
• Unique hotel reference numbers that quickly identify where you want to stay
WOULD I RECOMMEND THEM?
I would pay them a visit every time. However, if your budget is very tight, don’t take what they say as absolute gospel, check all your options first, from other websites, to the hotel websites, to the hotel itself.
Originally written for Ciao February 2003 – Updated: May 2004
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