Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 5129: Rent In Italy, Apartment Piazza Spagna B
1bed/2bath apartment near Barbarini Metro, Rome
September 10, 2011 (but was unable to stay), 1 week (but was unable to stay)
We reserved this vacation apartment several weeks ahead and only had to pay a 10% deposit to hold the reservation. The agency was extremely prompt in answering all emails and questions and made it easy for us to reserve (which can't be said for many other agencies based in Italy and that is why we decided on this apartment).
We arrived at 8:00pm as planned on our first night in Rome and our hearts sunk when we saw the outside of the building and location. It was on a very busy street. We knew this, but were assured by the agency that as long as we kept the windows closed, we would not hear anything. The agency also assured us that the unit had a very good air conditioning system and that there would never be a need to open the windows.
The entry hall of the building was dark, dirty and gloomy and had one locked door and one locked gate to get through. There were several stairs up to the apartment. All these obstacles made it a challenge to get our luggage to the front door. Our greeter did carry our smallest bag for us. He was very polite, but his English was not the best and we had to repeat things several times.
Once inside the apartment, we got our first big shock. It was very hot and stuffy inside and some of the windows were open. The street noise was very loud. We saw only two small air conditioning units mounted over doorways, both of which had extremely poor output. The greeter said that the apartment had been closed up and had not had time to air out or cool off. As we could not feel cold air coming out of the air conditioning units, we did not believe this was the case.
Then we got our second shock. The apartment had not been cleaned and by the looks of it, it had not been cleaned for a very long time. In bathroom number 1, the bathtub was ringed by mold; the grouting completely black. There were dirt smudges in the tub everywhere. The greeter said that these were just stains and couldn't be helped. And then I saw the unflushed toilet, black with excrement lining the inside walls and stones sitting the bottom of the yellow water in the bowl. The bedroom windows were closed and the shutters were closed outside the windows and it was very dark and like an oven in there. The kitchenette area displayed a few utensils hung over the sink. These were caked with dried food. The refrigerator had not been turned on and the stove area was filthy. The living room couch was dusty and there was dust and dirt all over the rest of the furnishings and floor. What looked like dried ketchup was caked all over the dining table. The decorative mirror in the living room was smeared with some sort of gel-like grease. The second bathroom had clumps of dried toothpaste lining the sink and the toilet contained similar contents as the first toilet.
Besides the filth, there were no bath or kitchen towels, which were to be provided. Sheets were also to be provided and there were some folded on top of the bed.
After surveying the scene, I explained to the greeter that the apartment was in an unacceptable condition. I asked him to please call the agency to ask what could be done. He said that we'd have to use our phone because he got no phone reception in the building. So we used our phone to call the agency number and a woman answered the phone and spoke only Italian, no English. Up to this point, we had never had an issue with language. I put the greeter on the phone and asked him to speak to the agency and explain the situation. He said that the person on the phone told him that nothing would be done that evening. No cleaner would come, no towels. Perhaps they would maybe put us in a different apartment, but they didn't say when or where. I asked where we were supposed to sleep that evening and the greeter just shrugged his shoulders and told us to try the hotel around the corner.
Then came our final shock. The greeter left us with our luggage in the middle of the street at 8:30pm on a Saturday night in Rome, a strange city to us, with no knowledge of where to go and no hotel reservation at the height of the tourist season. We saw some people passing and heard them speaking English and asked them if they had a good hotel. We wheeled our luggage through throngs of revelers up and down several busy streets and eventually found a hotel that had a vacancy and that was within out budget.
The following day, we emailed the agency and told them what happened. We did not get an answer until noon of the following day (Monday). This was their answer: "We truly apologise about the whole situation, there was a terrible mistake with the cleaning and maintenance staff. I have no words to describe how I feel sorry for this. If you could pass by our office in Via Ottaviano 73, apt. no. 8, 4th floor (when you enter you find the elevator on the left hand side), we will give the refund cash. If you would like to move back to the apartment for the remaining days, we will be at your complete disposal. Of course we would offer the apartment half price with our apologies."
We did not want to spend any more of our precious vacation time looking for their office to collect a refund, but when asked, they did promptly refund our deposit to our PayPal account, which is how we had paid it to them. We also did not accept their offer of going back to the apartment and do not intend on ever using on their services in the future.
We wrote this review because we would like to help others avoid this extremely stressful situation, which could have had an even worse outcome. We were actually pretty lucky. We found other accommodations (on our own) and got a full refund of our deposit. When using an agency, suggest there are assurances that someone will be available to right the situation if something goes wrong. Our huge lesson learned was to "always have a Plan B!"
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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