Advice on hotel overbooking

Hotel overbooking is when a hotel has taken bookings for more guests than it can accommodate. They can often get away with this as there is usually a number of cancellations and no shows. However you may be the unlucky person who turns up to be told that there’s no room at the inn.

Hotel overbooking tips

1 Try to check in and claim your room as early as possible after check in time, especially during peak periods. I know this is not always possible. It just seems unfortunate that it’s the guests who arive latest who suffer the hassle caused by overbooking.

2 Know your rights in the case of overbooking by reading the terms and conditions when making your booking and be ready to insist that your rights are honoured.

3 If you are the unlucky victim of hotel overbooking do complain and you may receive compensation.

My recent experience with hotel overbooking

I arrived at the Edinburgh Dreghorn Travelodge, just off the Edinburgh city bypass, at 21.45 on 6 April 2009 after a long, busy day ready for a bath and cup of tea. As soon as I arrived at the car park I was amazed at how full it was and thought this is the busiest I’d ever seen it but it was the start of the Easter school holidays.


My heart sank when I went to check in and the receptionist told me that the hotel was full and there wasn’t a room for me. He was on the telephone to Travelodge head office desperately trying to find out what to do with me but his call wasn’t being answered. I thought I was as well go to my car and have lukewarm cup of tea from my flask and use the toilet facilites at the adjacent service station.

I returned to reception at 22.15 to be informed that I had a room a the Edinburgh Haymarket Travelodge. Now it would have taken me around half an hour to drive there, as there are road works all around Edinburgh city centre due to laying of tram tracks. It’s hard to find a parking space around Haymarket and it costs £2 an hour to park and I wasn’t planning on leaving my room until midday. I also reckoned it could take me around half an hour to find a space and walk to the hotel.

As it would take me 75 minutes to drive home, which I estimated to be 15 minutes more than it would take to get my room in Haymarket, I decided to cut my losses and just drive home.

Now I do understand why hotels overbook and I’d booked my £9 at Dreghorn in a Travelodge sale at the end of 2008. Sometimes I find that I have to forgo my £9 rooms as my plans can change over the course of a few months. I rationalise that it’s such a good deal that I will take that chance.

My issue was that Travelodge should have contacted me earlier to inform me to proceed directly to Haymarket to avoid all that wasted time. I complained to Travelodge and give them their due they apologised, refunded my £9 and gave me a Travelodge e-voucher worth £50.

I’ve since read the booking terms and conditions, Travelodge will either

“provide a room in another Travelodge hotel and pay the reasonable cost of transport to that alternative hotel or any applicable car park charges and provide you with breakfast at no additional charge; OR

at your request, or, if in our reasonable opinion there is no suitable alternative hotel accommodation available, cancel your Booking and refund you the money you have paid for the unavailable room(s) including related extras”

However I was not informed that my transport costs to Haymarket and car parking charges would be covered and I would be given a complimentary breakfast, so you really should read the terms and conditions so you know your entitlements if something does go wrong.

I’d be extremely unhappy if Travelodge claimed there were no suitable alternative accommodation available and just offered me a refund of my £9. So I suppose I should be grateful that they did find me another room. What if you were further from home and offered no alternative, would there be any option but to sleep in your car?

Sleeping in car

Sleeping in car by jofus


I stay at UK Travelodges frequently, often in the £9 sale rooms. This over booking experience was extremely annoying but I was offered alternative accommodation and I have received £50 in compensation, a refund of the £9 I paid for the room and an apology. However it’s an issue to bear mind when Europe travel planning.

Have you any experience of hotel overbooking? What was your reaction and the outcome of the overbooking?