When we arrived in Laoag City at around 10:00 in the morning, we contacted Hotel Viven to ask if it was possible to check in early.
“What’s the worst that could happen? If they are busy and with a high occupancy from the day before, they would simply say no,” we thought.
So, we asked… and we were certainly not expecting a reply like this:
“You may check-in early if you agree to pay ₱1,000 extra.”
In all our travels and experiences with hotels and resorts, this is the FIRST time we have an encountered a hotel that is actively trying to profit from an early check-in request!
With this, we just knew this hotel was going to be a really bad experience.
We had booked (and paid for) an Executive Superior room in Viven Hotel, San Nicolas, through a popular hotel booking web site around 10 days earlier.
We walked into a room much MUCH smaller than we had imagined we’d be getting. The room didn’t look anything like the photo on the hotel booking web site for Viven Hotel’s Executive Superior room.
Confused, I walked towards the only window in the room and peeked outside and it was the view of a common area inside the hotel.
I remembered that “Street view” was listed as one of the features of the Executive Superior room on the hotel booking site.
“Where is my Street view?” I asked the Bellman accompanying us. He looked equally confused.
“What category of room is this room?” again I asked the Bellman, realising that he may just tell me the truth because chances are very high he would not know the details of my booking or reservation.
I could see he was hesitating to say anything that could get him in trouble. Yet, he blurted out that it was a “Double room,” eventually.
Just as we turned around to get back to the front door of the room and walk down to the Reception to complain, I looked for the floor plan that was displayed on the wall inside the room. We were in room no. 314 and this is what it showed:
Just as we had suspected, room no. 314 is just a Standard Double room.
You would think, by now, that all I had to do was to go downstairs and mention all these obvious mistakes and they would definitely move me into the correct room. Nothing could be farther than the truth! The front desk staff kept insisting room 314 was an Executive Superior room and as such they have no reason to move me.
Only when I kept asking them where is my promised Street view, they finally fell silent and they resigned themselves to fix the matter.
We had an appointment outside the hotel, so we just asked them to move us when we got back and we left the hotel right away.
Wrong Room (again!)
A couple of hours later, after a hefty lunch with some family and friends, we returned to the hotel and looked forward to moving our stuff into — what we hoped to be — the correct room.
Yet, I was not so sure.
Between trying to profit from our early check-in request, and then trying to hoodwink us into accepting an inferior room to the one we actually booked and paid for, we knew we were dealing with an unscrupulous hotel operator.
When the Bellman opened the door to our new room, room no. 414, I knew that we were, once again, in the wrong room!
The only thing different in this room was the “Street view”. Room no. 414 had a window with a street view. That’s it.
Nevermind that room no. 414 is still missing 4 other features and/or amenities for the Executive Superior room, as per the hotel booking web site!
The following 4 items are supposed to be in an Executive Superior room of the Viven Hotel but they were not available in room no. 414:
- Mini Bar
- In-room Safe Box
I know. By now, you’re also probably thinking, “what does the Fire Escape plan inside the room for this floor show?”
Room 414, just as I had suspected, is just a Standard Double room as well, albeit one with a street view!
We decided we will no longer direct our complaints to the hotel management, and instead we reached out to the hotel booking web site where we booked this hotel room.
We will write about the hotel booking web site’s response to this matter another day because this issue with them is still on-going.
Breakfast at Viven Hotel
One last thing I want to talk about is the breakfast served by Viven Hotel during our stay.
At the time we stayed there (November 2019), they were serving breakfast off a menu. On the menu, you have options of breakfast dishes, which you can choose (but only 1 per person). Also at the time we were there, nearly half the items on the breakfast menu were not available, they claimed, because there was an on-going ban on pork items in the area.
We are not really unhappy with that, although we could not understand why they didn’t simply update, replace with non-pork items and print out new menus, if they genuinely wanted their hotel guests to have a good experience with the first meal of the day!
We only had the opportunity to have breakfast 2 times during our entire stay, but the difference is so glaring!
On the first day (notice the fruits in the background).
On the second day. The same dish/order. We found out how toasted bread soaked in watermelon juice tastes like.
No wonder Watermelon over Toasted Bread is not a popular breakfast item anywhere else in the world!
Of course we looked around the restaurant to see if we were the only “special” ones being served our breakfast this way – alas, we were not. Everyone else was also served watermelon over their bread/rice, just like us.
For our Executive Superior room, we paid approximately ₱5,200, or roughly ₱2,600 per night, for the 3D/2N stay. The price includes breakfast for 2 everyday, 12% tax and 10% service charge.
We think that if you are a corporate client, or a government employee attending some seminar or conference in the place, chances are everything will work out fine for you with this Hotel.
But, if you are thinking of staying at this Hotel as a tourist, you might want to tread carefully, VERY carefully.
Viven Hotel has demonstrated (to me, at least) that they have no qualms trying to get away with selling a regular room as a premium one to unsuspecting tourists.