We try to be very positive here at We Are Life Travels. Even when things don’t quite work out, we tend to think “Hey ho, onwards & upwards!” But our experience of Hotel Valemare in Tropea, in Calabria was so AWFUL, that it’s taken me a long time to add it to this blog. I am not in the business of slating other businesses, and so have thought long and hard about including the review we sent the hotel. But I keep seeing terrible reviews and so just in case you are ever in Calabria, here’s a word of warning…
Tropea is an absolute jewel on the Calabrian coast and we couldn’t recommend highly enough, a stay in this beautiful town. However, if you are looking for accommodation, we couldn’t recommend highly enough that you steer completely clear of Hotel Residence Valemare. We made the error of arriving in Tropea & making a booking over the internet for 4 nights. The hotel we had wanted – Rocca Della Sena – was fully booked and we had seen good reviews for Valemare so we booked there & then. Had we not been on the road for a week, we might have investigated a little more, but we were just glad to be settled for four days.
We were greeted by Francesco – very pleasant guy, but with hindsight, the ONLY pleasant experience we had. We were shown to our apartment, having been advised by Francesco we’d been given an upgrade. I shudder to think what the original room must have been like.
We had a sea view – plus point. We had a balcony. Sort of a plus point but dirty plastic furniture and plastic foliage separating us from people on either side. Still, we weren’t so unhappy at this point. Francesco led us in, so it was only later, that we realised how utterly disgusting the door handle was – a sticky, black substance had been painted over the knackered door handle. See photo below.
The apartment was large – a good size kitchen/diner, a small bathroom and quite a large double bedroom. So, if size is your only criteria, you might like this kind of apartment. However, a cursory glance around showed how utterly filthy and decrepit this accommodation actually was. The only lighting on the living/kitchen area was an overhead light, so you were either in darkness or fully illuminated. The bed settee had a blue cover which was covered in white stains. See photo below & make up your mind as to origin of stains. The hob did not appear to be working – not such a problem as the greasy, dirty, filthy condition had made any kind of cooking a complete non-starter. The sink was filthy, as were the cupboard doors – greasy finger/hand prints. Door handles were missing & the cutlery drawers had clearly not been cleaned in a long while. There was a remote for the air-con, but this did not appear to be working, as we later discovered.
The bathroom was very small – don’t have a problem at all with this. But I do have a problem with a small, filthy bathroom. See photos below of shower, taps etc. It was so dirty, I would not use the shower. There was gunk engrained in the folding shower door and the base of the shower had not been cleaned for some time.
The bedroom furniture was very functional. Again, not a problem with this – as long as the furniture is clean and does what it should do. One of the bedside lamps wasn’t working, meaning that in the whole apartment we had one working lamp. The bed cover was taken off immediately as again, it was stained, very old and looked distinctly beyond its best.
The walls are literally paper thin – the occupants next door were playing some kind of computer game and we could literally hear every beep. The flushing toilet was very audible, as was any moving of furniture – ie pulling a chair in & out.
Because we had booked this late, we did get a cheaper rate through Booking.com, but the overall dirtiness was horrible. I asked at reception if we could see another room as we weren’t very happy -Francesco advised that they were fully booked. It was past 9pm so we decided to stay for the evening and leave in the morning. I went to bed, fully clothed…
We spoke to the receptionist the next morning, advising we would be leaving. We acknowledged that Booking.com has a no refund policy, but we requested that given the circumstances, we would pay for one night and would be obliged to have a refund on the three subsequent nights. By this time, we had already looked into other accommodation options in Tropea – both internet searches & walking into town and having a look around – and we were very fortunate that one room at Rocco della Sena was available. We booked it immediately.
The receptionist was GENUINELY perplexed by us stating we were leaving. She came up to the apartment – we showed her what we felt was lacking. She did show us that the air con was indeed working. We had not been told the previous evening that you first of all had to locate the switch behind the curtains before using the remote. Not a huge problem, and one that out of necessity we would have worked out as it was very hot, but quite a fundamental thing not to tell guests. The same with the hob – the ignition switch wasn’t working, so you had to use one of the lighters in the cutlery drawer. Again, we could have worked that out but possibly having a working ignition might have been the best solution. Upon seeing how dirty the bathroom was, and the bedding, she offered us a complimentary breakfast. We refused. She insisted. We refused. She insisted. She also offered to speak to her director to see what could be done. We decided to check out the dining area. The cracked plates and lack of food covers (therefore flies on the food) was enough for me and we walked out. (The dining area does have a lovely view over the sea – plus point). We took our already packed luggage to reception to check out. We weren’t holding out much hope for a refund, but we thought we’d try.
The receptionist was nothing if not very keen to get us to stay – I had to explain that we were so dissatisfied, we had actually made a booking elsewhere. She offered to show us another room. We refused. She said if she had been working on the previous evening, things would have been different and would we look at another room and stay? Again, NO. We asked to speak to the manager to register our complaint – unfortunately, we couldn’t as the director was at hospital with a “bad head”. There is an office, just outside of the main reception area, and this is clearly where the “director” was – the receptionist had frequent audible, animated conversations with someone who despite language barriers, was refusing to budge. Booking.com was called by the receptionist – although they wouldn’t budge in terms of a refund, they were extremely helpful. The receptionist kept reiterating the offer of another room – eventually we had to show her the photos we had taken. She was on the phone immediately, to her director, and we understood her to be mentioning photos/publicity etc etc. Booking.com were called again & we were put on to them – knowing that the “director” was in the office next to reception, we conducted our conversation with the booking company right outside the office & knocked on the door when the call was finished to return the phone. A call came through to reception as we were knocking – from the person inside. The Director…
As we were going to get nowhere with speaking to anyone with any kind of authority we left, thankful we were going to another hotel. At the car we realised we still had the room keys and I returned them to reception – just at the right time to meet the “Director” coming out of the office.
This hotel still has our money. In the grand scheme of things, if we don’t get it back, we’ll get over it. But, we would like to advise people that if you want to stay in accommodation that is, at the very least clean, please do NOT make a booking here. It is truly the most awful place and clearly run by someone who is utterly inflexible and yet prepared to have their reception staff face guests who are very unhappy.
We have since spent three idyllic nights since in Hotel Rocca della Sena – if you can, spend a little bit extra here. We cannot tell you how different our experience has been here. Stunning. As is Tropea. And soon, Hotel Valemare, will be put down to a very bad decision.
We did eventually get a refund through sheer and utter persistence – although from Booking.com, NOT Valemare. AVOID. It is the worst hotel we have ever experienced with some of the rudest staff we’ve ever experienced.