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Booking.com ‘tells family their five-star holiday fell through – but could use hotel 250 miles away’

Booking.com ‘tells family to ‘have a great day’ after offering them hotel in London suburb of Uxbridge instead of the luxury Cornish resort they’d booked

  • Ian Tomlinson booked a stay at five-star Retallack Resort near Newquay, Cornwall, six months in advance
  • After four-hour drive, he and his family were told there was no record of their booking at the hotel
  • He was unable to reach Booking.com and was forced to return home with his upset children instead
  • Some 11 days later, the website offered an alternate stay at a hotel 250 miles away in Uxbridge, London

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A family was told by an online travel agency to ‘have a great day’ after informing them their luxury staycation had fallen through – before offering an alternate hotel 250 miles away. 

Ian Tomlinson and his family had booked a luxury stay at the five-star Retallack Resort near Newquay, Cornwall, six months in advance.

However, after a four-hour drive, he was told by the hotel that there was no record of the booking they had made through Booking.com, according to The Guardian

Even more distressingly, Mr Tomlinson was told that there was also no chance that his family could be fitted in at the resort.

After being unable to contact a Booking.com representative over the phone or by email, the Tomlinsons were forced to return home. 

Ian Tomlinson and his family had booked a luxury stay at the five-star Retallack Resort (pictured) near Newquay, Cornwall

Ian Tomlinson and his family had booked a luxury stay at the five-star Retallack Resort (pictured) near Newquay, Cornwall

There was no record of the booking at the Retallack Resort (above) that the family had made through Booking.com

There was no record of the booking at the Retallack Resort (above) that the family had made through Booking.com

Mr Tomlinson was told to 'have a great day' after being told his holiday at the Retallack Resort (above) had fallen through

Mr Tomlinson was told to ‘have a great day’ after being told his holiday at the Retallack Resort (above) had fallen through

Some 11 days later, the website sent an email response to the family offering an alternative stay at a hotel in Uxbridge, a London suburb near Slough which is 250 miles away from Cornwall. 

The online travel agency also said in its email to the family it hoped they were having a great day. The new hotel was Denham Grove, which has an 18-metre swimming pool and sauna on site.

Speaking to The Guardian, Mr Tomlinson said: ‘I had two very tired, upset children who were looking forward to all the resort’s attractions including a FlowRider wave machine for surfing, and my wife was in tears. We were not having a great day.’

He added that it was lucky for them that they had not yet paid for their stay at the resort, but had wasted money on the petrol for the journey and on tickets for the Eden Project.

Booking.com later explained to the family that their five-star hotel had overbooked and would consider refunding Ian’s expenses, while the hotel itself blamed Booking.com. 

The 'similar' alternative in Uxbridge was the Denham Grove hotel which has an 18-metre swimming pool and a sauna

The ‘similar’ alternative in Uxbridge was the Denham Grove hotel which has an 18-metre swimming pool and a sauna

The agency said in its email to the family after suggesting Denham Grove (above) that it hoped they were having a great day

The agency said in its email to the family after suggesting Denham Grove (above) that it hoped they were having a great day

The website sent an email response to the family offering an alternative stay at the hotel in Uxbridge

The website sent an email response to the family offering an alternative stay at the hotel in Uxbridge 

The online travel agency refunded the family’s expenses and paid them £700 in compensation.

A spokesman for Booking.com said: ‘In exceptional circumstances where a property is unable to accommodate a guest, we always seek to rectify that immediately and will be working with this partner to ensure all future guests have a good experience.’

MailOnline has approached Booking.com for additional comment. 

It comes as holiday firms are turning the screw on struggling families with sky high charges that make British breaks hundreds of pounds more expensive than foreign trips.

The average costs for private holiday accommodation in the UK have increased by 41 per cent on average since 2019, according to research by Which?

Typically, trips to British destinations currently cost much more than travelling to popular European resort destinations - such as Italy , Spain , France - even when the airfare is factored in

Typically, trips to British destinations currently cost much more than travelling to popular European resort destinations – such as Italy , Spain , France – even when the airfare is factored in 

Typically, trips to British destinations currently cost much more than travelling to popular European resort destinations – such as Italy, Spain, France – even when the airfare is factored in.

In August 2019, booking private accommodation in Brighton would have typically cost an average of £109 per night, but in August this year that cost has increased by 89 per cent to £206 per night. 

Experts at Which? said it is ‘hard to avoid the conclusion that some unscrupulous accommodation providers are charging over the odds’.

The chaos around the constantly changing rules on foreign travel, coupled with a failing and expensive coronavirus testing regime for travellers, means millions of people are holidaying at home.

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