How to complain about a hotel (in 12 easy steps)

We look forward to having time to relax and rejuvenate on our holidays. But what if you don’t get what you’re expecting? Or there’s a problem like excessive noise or your bathroom has not been cleaned? Whether there’s a language barrier to get over or you don’t want to make a fuss, we don’t always complain when we should. But complaining the right way could turn your holiday nightmare back into a dream.

Whether you want to complain about a hotel or any other part of your holiday, here are our top 12 tips to get your voice heard.

First steps to complain about a hotel

1) Take time and think about what you’re going to say first

If you’re feeling really angry, take a little while to calm down. Calmly stating the problem is likely to be much more effective than shouting your complaint. It’s also worth planning precisely what you say. If there is more than one issue, it could be worth jotting down some bullet points first, so you don’t forget about anything,

2) Do make your complaint known to the appropriate person as soon as possible

If you experience a problem but don’t complain to the hotel or tour operator right away, you don’t give them the chance to put it right. And that may mean that any claim for compensation that you make when you get back home is rejected. It’s also essential that you allow the hotel or tour operator to try to put right the situation. For example, you’ll need to allow them access to your room if there is a problem inside.

3) Don’t be tempted to exaggerate

Exaggerating a problem or suggesting it has impacted on your enjoyment more than it really has, won’t help your case.

4) Avoid being emotional or digressing

When you’re making a complaint about your hotel or something to do with your holiday try to be concise. Just state the facts and try not to over complicate the situation by bringing emotional feelings into the discussion. For example, it’s better to explicitly state that the bathroom has not been satisfactorily cleaned before your stay rather than go into great detail about how grime and rubbish from a previous occupant have left you feeling sick.

5) You should think what would solve the problem and tell the manager what you want them to do

It’s worth considering first what could resolve the issue and telling the manager or tour representative that. For example, if the room is noisy, ask them if they have an alternative room that may be quieter.

6) Keep on checking in with the manager/tour rep

If your complaint isn’t resolved straight away, don’t be afraid to go to see the manager or tour rep again. Continue to follow all the steps above as getting angry, and shouting is unlikely to help. If possible put your complaint into writing, so you have evidence that you made a complaint on the spot. If you need to follow up the complaint when you get home, you’ll have this as evidence you gave the hotel/tour rep opportunity to put the problem right.

7) Take photos

Gather together evidence that backs up your complaint. For example, if your room was dirty, take pictures of it to back up your case.

8) Keep evidence of any extra costs you’ve incurred

If the problem involved you shelling out for additional expenses, make sure you keep any receipts. For example, if a booked transfer didn’t turn up, make sure you keep the receipt from any taxi you had to use to get you to/from the airport.

If the problem isn’t resolved to your satisfaction while you’re away, you can carry on your complaint on your return.

9) Make your complaint in writing

When you’re back home, make a formal complaint to the hotel manager or tour operator in writing. This could be in a letter or by email. Just make sure you outline the facts and send any evidence. If you’re posting a letter, it’s a good idea to take a copy of any evidence, such as receipts, just in case.

10) Be realistic about what you want

If you’re complaining once you’ve got back home, it’s likely you’ll be asking for financial compensation as it’s too late to put the issue right. If you’re asking for financial compensation for any money you spent to put the problem right, make sure you include receipts.

You should tell the hotel or tour operator what compensation you want. Make sure you’re realistic about what you are asking for though. You’re unlikely to receive a full refund for your whole holiday just because your bathroom was dirty. But you are right to claim for the amount it cost to use a taxi if your hotel transfer didn’t arrive.

11) Give them time to respond

Generally, you should allow at least two weeks for a response to your written complaint. In some cases, you may be notified that it will take even longer to get a response. Try to be patient.

12) Taking it further

If you still don’t get a satisfactory response when you complain about a hotel, be prepared to take your complaint higher. If your holiday was booked as a package through the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), you can take your complaint to their dispute resolution service. The initial stages of this advice are free, though there is a fee if you decide to take it beyond stage 5. If your complaint is about a flight delay, you’ll need to take it to The Civil Aviation Authority.

Peace of mind you’re covered when something goes wrong on holiday

We hope you won’t need to follow any of this advice next time you’re away. For even more peace of mind on your travels, don’t forget to buy travel insurance. From lost passports to delayed flights, trust family-run Park Insurance to find you travel insurance you can rely on at a great price. Call our friendly team on 0117 9556835 or get a free quote