I and my wife were booked into Hilton Brisbane Australia, 16 Feb 2010 check-in and 21 Feb 2010 check-out. We were utmost disappointed with the way we were treated at check-in and the subsequent services we received from the front desk in an attempt to resolve issue.
Our first encounter with Hilton Brisbane was unpleasant. As we arrived at the ground level entrance of Hilton Brisbane on 16 Feb 2010 at around 3:40 pm, one of the concierge staff was chatting to someone at the entrance. We then patiently waited for his attention to help with our luggage but the chatting continued and no help was offered with our luggage in the back of our taxi. We didn’t expect this from a 5 star hotel. My wife had to go into the concierge desk and asked for service. This was a big contrast with the excellent prompt services from the Shangri La in Cairns in our previous stop-over before coming into Brisbane.
The worst experience was yet to come. We then proceeded to the front desk for check-in. The front desk staff retrieved our booking from the system pretty efficiently, took my credit card details to cover the accidentals efficiently in no time. We then tried to seek confirmation that our rate was inclusive of breakfast but received a negative reply and the record was only put straight when we requested the front desk staff to double check our booking. Here comes the worst part next, the same front desk staff then told us (it was already 4 pm) that our room (we booked an executive room on the executive floor) was not available yet. No explanation was given as to why the room was not available. When we asked “when would it be available ?”, we did not expect the answer “We don’t know but we are trying all the best we can. We’ll offer you a complimentary drink because it was past our guarantee check in time of 2 pm”. The front desk staff completely missed the point, we wanted a room not a drink. This was also the response from the assistant manager as he happened to drop by the front desk at that moment. We found it rather amusing that they have used the word “guarantee” as in “past our guarantee check in time of 2 pm”. The word “guarantee” means a promise or assurance. If you could not deliver your promise, then the use of the word “guarantee would not be rather conflicting.
We persisted and repeatedly refuse to accept this over a series of an exchange with the front desk staff and all of a sudden a room was available literally (I really mean literally) within 10 seconds after the front desk staff popped over a few steps to talk to the assistant manager who has since returned to his desk after our first encounter.
That made us even more puzzled as to why the front desk staff and the assistant manager wouldn’t let us have the room in the first place (realizing it was already 4 pm) when there was obviously one available and told us a big lie that none was available.
This is totally unacceptable and not the way to treat customers. Does it mean that we have paid for a room but the room we have paid for is currently used by another guest ? Or they have overbooked the hotel, the remaining available rooms at the time were reserved for higher-tier members ?
The story doesn’t end here. When we eventually got to the room on the 19/F, the room was contemporary and nice but not the bathroom which was, in my opinion, grossly dated and must have been in its form for over 20 years. We had expected a bathroom with a separate shower cubicle with a movable (hand held) shower head as this was confirmed via email with Hilton customer service (that was prior to making the reservation). To the contrary, the bathroom only had a bathtub with a fixed shower head to the wall and a shower curtain which get stuck (due the difference in air pressure on either side of the curtain) to your body whilst taking a shower. You could hardly freely turnaround and take a comfortable shower. The room and the bathroom just do not fit in with each other and certainly for an executive room at that rate, we would not expect such dated bathroom facility.
We managed to get hold of the HHonors Guest Relation Manager who referred the matter (the check-in incident as well as the issue with bathroom) to same the assistant manager who called back with an apology and sent in a bottle of wine to our room. Although it was a good gesture, we turned down the offer as a bottle of wine doesn’t help to ease off our frustration and distress during check-in nor does it help to resolve the problem with the bathroom. We wanted a room we expected not a bottle of wine. We have wasted more than 2 hours on trying to resolve these issues rather than dropped our luggage and then shoot down to explore the Brisbane city (it was our first time in the city) as we originally planned. I explained to the assistant manager about having email confirmation on the shower configuration in the bathroom with Hilton customer service. He asked was for a copy of the email confirmation which really annoyed us as we got a very strong feeling that our words were not to be trusted by virtue of his request. Anyhow, I passed a copy of the email to him who then expressed that all rooms were occupied and the earliest he can move us to another room with shower cubicle with movable (hand held) shower head would be the next day.
As we went passed the front desk later on the day, we politely waited for him to finish his conversation with other guests (I was trying to see if the room change arrangement was confirmed and when it will take place), I was surprised that he turned his back on us and walked away from us when his conversation was finished. We were pretty sure that he got us in his sight whilst we were waiting.
There was no follow up since and we have to proactive called up the front desk the next morning (breakfast time) on when we could move. As usual, front desk could not confirm the time. Later on at around 11:30 am when we dropped by the front desk as we were going out to the main street, I asked again and front desk responded that “you can move now”. Why didn’t front desk call and inform us that the room is ready and we can move ? Or why didn’t they arrange the bell boys to make the move as promised (as we didn’t know the time when we could move, we were told to pack our belongings and they would send someone in to make the move for us while we were out). We were disappointed with the lack of proactive follow up from the front desk in this regard.
We eventually moved to another room on the top floor (25/F). We liked the room and the shower configuration. This was the time when we felt we have settled down in the hotel.
I think the assistant manager must have thought that we were very difficult customers as he took no notice of us at all in subsequent encounter with him. He was chatting and saying hello to every guest in the Executive Lounge almost every evening during cocktail time but both I and my wife must have been making ourselves invisible at the time such that he didn’t see us at all as he walked straight passed into us.
There was no follow up from anyone to ensure we have settled in and the issues we encountered have been resolved.
The service we received at breakfast and housekeeping was fine. The Executive Lounge was excellent. The ladies serving in the lounge were attentive and remembered our choice of drinks. But this doesn’t make up for the bad experience we had. The first two days of our vacation in Brisbane were ruined. We would avoid staying in Hilton again as far as possible. We originally planned to stay in Hilton Nagoya in Japan end for our next vacation in a couple of months time but we have changed our mind to stay in Marriott as we didn’t want another bad experience to spoil our vacation.
However, the manager of the hotel did email to follow up to try to understand the situation after we filed a feedback to Hilton Customer Survey when we returned to our home country. But we thought that he should already have all the details of the incident and the follow up was just a follow up mfor the sake fo follow up. He should know their practices on why they would want to hold onto available rooms. The damage is done, is done and nothing could have help to reverse the situation. The last thing visitors taking a vacation want is paying for 5-star services with expectation of a 5 star services to relax/enjoy their hard earned vacation from their busy work-life but only to find that everything fall short of what they should be entitled to.
Avoid this hotel.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.