Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Havana - with no place to stay

From Santa Clara we made our final bus journey back to Havana. We had decided that for these last five nights we would treat ourselves to one of the not too pricey, but nice colonial hotels in the older part of the city.

We arrived on the bus and the driver offered to arrange a taxi to the hotel, which we agreed to. The 'taxi' turned out to be two plastic chairs strapped into the back of the mini van that was taking the post sacks from the bus to the sorting office. It looked like something out of a movie where we would be forced in at gunpoint and gagged until they found somewhere suitable to shoot us and dump our bodies! Thankfully nothing like that happened, and we arrived safely at our hotel.

Though as we were about to find out, it wasn't our hotel at all. We had booked through Hostelbookers, which we had used quite a lot in South America, and though that agency had sent us confirmation and taken our deposit, apparently the hotel itself doesn't work with them, and had no reservation for us. They also had no rooms available, so we couldn't stay there.

Of course by this time the Hostelbookers office was closed, so we couldn't contact them, and had to find somewhere to stay. That was not going to be easy, as we had reached tourist season, and places were full. With hard to find and interminably slow Internet, there was no way we were going to quickly find somewhere else, so after a few phone calls that came to nothing, we turned to the tour agent sat in the lobby.

She didn't look too optimistic either. She first found a very expensive place, which we weren't prepared to pay for. She phoned a few that we said we would be happy with but with no luck. Then she found us a place way out in the Miramar area that could do the first four nights. The price was OK, even though annoyingly we were paying for included dinners which we knew we would not use more than one night, so we agreed.

We left a message at the front desk for the friends that we were supposed to be meeting there later in case we couldn't contact them beforehand, and set off for the new hotel.

The hotel was OK, but is was definitely a resort style hotel, where many people don't really bother to leave the hotel area for the whole of their stay unless it is for an arranged tour. We have nothing against that, but it just doesn't suit us, so we never stay usually at these places.

But it was somewhere to stay, and we left the other guests to their morning poolside dancercise classes and went into town instead. We did eat there one night and the food was fine, but generally we ate in town.

Once we finally got access to Internet, we booked our last night at a hotel along the Malecon. It was quite cheap, and once we got there we knew why. The room was OK and was clean, but the lift took forever (and we were on the eleventh and top floor), the balcony door was held together with a screw and a prayer, and when we arrived the water wasn't working - though by the time we returned that evening it was fine.

The water problem in our room may have had some connection with a water problem in the lobby, where there was rather too much of it! Multiple buckets and other containers were catching the drips - or not. There was water everywhere, and it stayed like that until we left the next day. It wasn't even as if we'd had a lot of rain.

As for Hostelbookers, this is the third time that somewhere we booked through them has been a problem. You can't contact anyone at the time there is a problem and their site doesn't let you access accommodation for the same day, so when it goes wrong you're stuck and all they ever do is say sorry and refund the deposit. So we will in future be using Hostelworld instead, which we have never yet had a problem with.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We like to hear from you too, so please leave us a message here. We are also happy to answer any questions if we can help. Comments are moderated so will not appear straight away and there could be some delay in replying if we are travelling.