2005 Thistle Euston Hotel Warning, London, England

I have subscribed to International Travel News (ITN) for about 20 years. I like it and find it to be full of useful travel information. Their website is http://intltravelnews.com/

A letter to the editor in the December 2005 issue of ITN, regarding the hotel Thistle Euston (Cardington St.) in London, caught my eye and really got my dander up. The letter describes some very steep communication charges padded onto a guest's bill, so I think a summary here is warranted to caution folks who might consider a stay there. Note that I am not the author of the letter, I do not know him, and I don't think I have ever stayed at the Thistle Euston. I cannot vouch for the authenticity of the letter, but it certainly "reads" as if it is true.

The guest reserved a room for about US$200 per night. He found the room to be OK.

But when he sat down and read the in-room documents he was surprised to find that high-speed internet cost 50 pence (90 cents US) per minute, maximum 15 pounds ($25) per day. Further, this charge was based upon number of minutes the ethernet cable was connected to his computer, not the time he was on-line or the megabytes transferred.

So, in the interest of economy he decided to use dial-up to contact the AOL Freephone number in London. This turned out to be impossible because of three distinct actions the hotel had taken: 1) They reversed the line 1 / line 2 signals to the wall phone jack, so his computer modem would not work with a standard adapter plug, 2) They glued the phone cord into the phone socket, so he could not unplug it and plug into his computer, and 3) the front desk confirmed that they blocked outgoing access to all Freephone numbers (in which the called party pays). The only way to make a local call was to pay the hotel's 50 pence per minute fee.

The guest's biggest surprise was waiting when he checked out. During his stay he had made one local call (slightly over 4 minutes) to the British Library in London, which charged the hotel 50 pence per minute. The hotel padded this to 10 pounds per minute as a "premium call," so the guest had to pay $75 for the one phone local call. His complaints to the hotel management were unsuccessful, but his later request to American Express for help did get the $75 refunded.

The International Travel News editorial staff contacted the Thistle Euston management for comment, but received none.

There are a lot of hotels in London, and based upon what happened to this traveler I would recommend that anyone planning to use the phone or Internet be careful when selecting one.

-- Several London Euston Hilton Hotel experiences can be found here.

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