Where to begin? The journey for the perfect Salt Lake City hotel for our Environmental Law Conference that was also affordable began many months in advance. I stumbled upon what was surely a great deal in the Best Western City Center hotel in downtown Salt Lake. I enthusiastically booked both a room for both pleasure and business because we wanted to get a few days of skiing in before the conference and the hotel offered such an incredible stay and ski package that we couldn’t resist (more to follow). I made the reservation for what I thought would be a simple, carefree process, but boy was I wrong. I decided to call the hotel in advance to double check our reservation, and it’s a good thing I did because apparently we were booked for one night in February instead of a week in March. After my third attempt to have the hotel fax my correct confirmation, my mind was finally put at ease and I was all finished in trip preparation.
Finally the day of arrival had come, and everyone in our group was ecstatic when we finally landed in Salt Lake. I excitedly called the Best Western and asked for them to please dispatch their complimentary hotel shuttle. I was then informed that we actually had to go to “Express Shuttle” and have them deliver us to the hotel. So far everything was okay because was free, but I certainly wasn’t expecting the sardine can I was about to experience. The express shuttle packed all six of us, with luggage, and ski equipment in a Ford Windstar minivan. I have to say this was one van ride that I knew if we happened to encounter a crash that I would simply be unable to move as the result and would escape unscathed.
After the less than comfortable van ride, we arrived at the Best Western. We checked in and everything seemed as it should be, the hotel seemed rather clean and our room was quite comfortable with incredible pillow arrangements. But little did we know what was lurking behind the scenes, especially in regards to our credit score. We all slept rather soundly that evening, dreaming of the epic ski conditions that would surely follow.
We had awoken to an abnormally warm Salt Lake morning and I had decided to travel to the front desk to inquire about the ski package we had bought through BestWestern.com . The clerk informed me that instead they actually make the ski package which seemed rather strange to me because it had purchased months in advance. I was further alarmed when she asked how I was planning to pay for it and again I insisted that it was taken care of already and finally the manager instructed the clerk to just “give them to me.” When I returned to the room and before the first experience with the “luxurious spread,” I was informed that the hotel had been rather busy overnight wreaking havoc on my friend’s credit card. After one night in the hotel, that was already paid for I might add, the Best Western had a $230 “authorization” charge on my friend’s card and that there would be no more to come in the future, but that was far from the truth. We hoped it would all get straightened out and decided to try out the breakfast buffet. However when we emerged from the hallway all we could see was an apparently cumbersome waffle maker (breakfast attendant told us how he wanted to throw it out the window because it was so hard to clean apparently), bowls of canned peaches, frosted flakes and cherrios and juicies. We were certain that there had to be something hot on the buffet and indeed there was, and it was in the form of powdered egg omelets and microwaveable sausage links. There were also several bread and pastry items that looked about as fresh as frosted flakes that were smashed in the carpet fibers.
After such an incredible breakfast which would have been more impressive out of a vending machine, we all returned to our room to get ready for a full day of skiing. We were then informed that instead of the “shuttle service” that we were promised online, we had to take a ski bus that conveniently picked us up right outside our hotel at exactly 9:01am, lucky us. When the ski bus finally came at 9:15am, which was actually a city bus, we thought we were finally in route to a ski resort, but we had no idea of what was to come. We were informed that actually we had to take another bus after we got through with the current bus and by the time we finally got a ski resort, we had spent two hours in transit. We actually didn’t even want to go to Solitude, but we would do anything just to get off the bus and ski.
When we were finished with our first day of skiing, we finally took the bus home, and by bus home I mean two busses and a small train. For some reason the bus line that we took up didn’t exist in the afternoon so we had to take a bus into town to the light rail station and then after a short train ride, walk three blocks back to the hotel carrying all ski equipment. The first day of skiing was okay considering the snow was horrible and the total time in transit was around four hours Not to mention the fact that one of us left our boots on the bus and had to retrieve them from lost and found the next day.. We dined at the delicious Buca de Peppo nearby the hotel and settled in for a well needed slumber from our first full day in Salt Lake.
Wednesday we woke up with high hopes of a second ski day which would be better than the previous day. We had instantly decided that the best course of action would be to rent a vehicle, a Hummer H3 to be exact, in order to shave three hours off our transit time. Now this is where it gets tricky. We actually had two reservations and wanted to check into our “luxury queen suite” because it was already available and we were going to be gone all day skiing and wanted our things to be in our next room. The reason we had two reservations was that the second was for the group and we needed a larger room for everyone to fit into. We decided to go ahead and check in/check out and really we had no idea what was going on at the front desk. My friend had found another $180 charge from the hotel on his card from the morning was concerned that there would be more charges. In fact, the hotel staff made us show proof of our ski package deal and said that we were getting a bargain and that honor it because it was of course from their own website. However, they were the ones getting the deal because they went ahead and charged the full amount of the ski package, $540, on top of the other suspicious charges. Apparently Utah has a 13% luxury tax for hotels, but why it applied to our “luxurious” hotel, well, only Brigham Young himself could tell you.
We filled up on another full helping of “luxurious spread” and by that I mean they had cold biscuits and lukewarm gravy instead of the powdered egg omelets from the day before. All the other “breakfast items” remained the same. We left for a second full day of skiing which turned out to be considerably better than the first and the fact that we had our own transportation and Brighton was much more enjoyable than Solitude. We returned to the hotel later that day and enjoyed the one thing the hotel really had going for it, which was an enormous hot tub which was rather enjoyable, but more to come on the infamous “hot tub night” is to come. We came back to our room to discover yet another $160 charge was on my friend’s credit card and at this point, as you may understand, we were quite frustrated with the plethora of charges. However, we were assured by the hotel staff that they were merely “authorization charges” and that they would come off…eventually. We didn’t think anymore about it and retired to the city for a fun St. Patrick’s day evening and returned later to the hotel.
Is it hot in here to anyone else? Yes it is, and I’ll tell you why. The hotel had no air conditioning, at all! Apparently the hotel’s chillers were off because it was still winter and there was no way to have cool air for the hotel. My god it was hot and uncomfortable. Add to this the fact that the hotel had a giant atrium type entrance which was now essentially a greenhouse and the entire place was just miserable.
Now everyone from our group had assembled at the hotel and we were anxiously awaiting the beginning of our conference at the Grand America Hotel. But if you have been reading, we were not staying at the Grand America, but from all the charges you we could have been staying in their presidential suite. We introduced our fellow conference goers to the “luxurious spread” and to see that same look of disappointment on their faces that we had experienced only two days prior was unforgettable. Not knowing whether to laugh or cry, we took comfort in knowing that there was at least something edible to eat with the cereal and bagels. Surprise surprise another $300 charge was again on my friend’s credit card. You must understand that at this point over $1000 had been charged for our two night ski package hotel room which was originally priced at $490 on Bestwestern.com. What was even more frustrating was the fact that the front desk was absolutely no help at all because they constantly assured us that it was authorization charges and that they would come off, but of course we had already checked out of this particular room so why there were more charges was absolutely baffling.
We thankfully got ready for the conference after a delicious Indian lunch buffet nearby and were just glad to get out of the credit zapping Best Western. The only problem we had Thursday night was one of our rather large conference-goer roommate would be drinking by himself well into the night and keeping all types of lights on in the process, but this wasn’t the hotel’s fault, for once.
Dear god its hot in here! We were told that a maintenance man to fix the problem, but still nothing.
Ah! Finally an “authorization” charge came off my friend’s card, the very first one of course. But, being the Best Western City Center, we weren’t getting off that easy. Another $100+ charge was applied to my friend’s card and again the front desk was absolutely oblivious to the situation. Friday was a full day of law conference and we didn’t have very much time to spend at the hotel, thankfully. However, we did start our day with yet another delicious “luxurious spread” breakfast which at this point was just absolutely disappointing. In fact, when we asked the breakfast attendant what was for breakfast, I could detect a bit of sorrow and emptiness in his voice when he informed us that yet again we would be having “powdered egg omelets and sausage links.” At this point, we were all ready to get out of this hotel from hell.
Why is it still so hot?!
Boy was this an interesting day. We decided to forego the conference and instead to re-rent the H3 and go skiing at Snowbird. Skiing was absolutely wonderful this day and it almost made us sad to leave Salt Lake, but we had to have a few more problems with the hotel first. I’m not even going to say much about the breakfast at this point because I feel like if anyone is still reading they have enough of a visual image of what we were dealing with. However, there was one light at the end of the tunnel, NO MORE CHARGES! Saturday was overall a very successful day, but of course the hotel had to have the last laugh.
We decided to spend our last night in the hotel’s hot tub since it was the only real bright spot of the hotel. Now I will admit that we were in the hot tub until very late at night, but nowhere was any type of hours posted for us to adhere to. At approximately midnight, the hotel clerk was apparently informed that we were being too loud in the hot tub and yelled for us to get out from across the entire property. Well, if anyone was asleep before they certainly weren’t anymore. The clerk very rudely that, “you all have to get our right now” and that if we didn’t want to get out of the hot tub we should have gone to another hotel. My friend, let’s just call him moneybags because of all the charges that he had to pay out so far, casually said “dude you owe me” very jokingly because of all the charges, which were now well over $1,400. The clerk did not take the joke too well apparently and responded with a “sir I don’t owe you anything!” We decided to give in and go back to the room, just being thankful that it was our last night in this trap of a hotel. What a horrible, horrible place.
WE ARE LEAVING THE BEST WESTERN SALT LAKE CITY CENTER/CITY PLAZA! Halleluiah! We all checked out, of course after finishing one last “luxurious spread” and decided it was time to get out of Mormon land. What a trip, what a nightmare!
Tips for anyone considering the Best Western City Center Salt Lake:
1. DO Have a VERY LARGE credit limit on your credit card.
2. DO Plan on eating your breakfasts elsewhere.
3. DO NOT buy the ski package because you WILL end up paying double.
4. DO NOT plan on using the hot tub when it is past sunset.
5. DO NOT plan on getting any assistance from any person at the front desk.
6. DO NOT plan on sleeping in anything but underwear because of no AC.
7. DO yourself a favor and spend the extra and stay at any other downtown hotel.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.