This is the 'worst hotel view ever' – here's how to ensure you get the best

·6-min read
Do you recall any laughable hotel room views? - Getty
Do you recall any laughable hotel room views? - Getty

Some jump on the bed, some open the minibar. For me, the first thing I do when I enter a hotel room is walk up to the window to see what kind of view awaits.

Occasionally, it is everything I hoped for and more. At AIRE in Almeria, the Juliet balcony offered an exquisite view of the lit-up Alcazaba Fortress. At Kinloch Lodge on the Isle of Skye it was a time-slowing outlook to Loch na Dal, visible from bed. At Chateau Marmont, I could see the balcony where Jim Morrison fell and lived to tell the tale, and in the distance, the establishment on Sunset Boulevard where Hugh Grant fell into a spot of bother in 1995. A view of cultural intrigue, I suppose.

But sometimes a view can be quite underwhelming. This was the case for Sophie Gadd, who this week Tweeted a photograph of a less-than-impressive vista from her hotel room. Namely, a line of cars parked unnervingly close to her (very large) window.

Twitter users swiftly replied with their own photographs of laughable hotel room views, some of which were arguably even worse than Gadd’s. A pile of rubble in Istanbul, a brick wall in London, a skip in Fuerteventura, a hotel called Fallsview in Niagara Falls overlooking an abandoned multi-storey car park. But could they have avoided landing such dreadful rooms?

Sometimes, of course, customers may not have grounds for complaint. Airport hotels and cheap inner-city lodgings aren’t sold for their views. The Basil Fawlty retort comes to mind: “Well may I ask what you expected to see out of a Torquay hotel bedroom window? Sydney Opera House perhaps? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically across the plain?”

So what are your rights? Jo Rhodes, Deputy Editor of Which? Travel, said: “If you book a hotel stay in the UK or with a UK travel company, you have the right to receive the accommodation as it was described to you at the time of booking. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 stipulates that your provider must carry out the service ‘with reasonable care and skill’.

“For example, if you booked a sea view room and end up overlooking the car park instead, you should complain to the front desk immediately. The hotel has a responsibility to rectify the mistake, and if it can’t, you’re entitled to claim money back.”

But if you did not specifically book a sea view, but are simply disappointed with your room, you enter slightly less certain territory.

“If the nature of the view wasn’t specified in the room description, you’re likely to be dependent on the goodwill of the hotel to switch you to a new room if you’re dissatisfied. Make sure you raise any issues as early as possible so that the hotel has the best possible chance of moving you. If they’re unable to do this, they may be prepared to offer a goodwill gesture instead,” said Rhodes.

Clive Wratten, the CEO of the Business Travel Association believes that refunds should be offered in these scenarios: “If the traveller is unhappy with the quality of the room and there are no alternatives, I feel that the hotel should refund any supplement paid for the room type. These policies will differ across hotels and different countries, so it is worth being mindful and checking these policies before you book,” he said.

A spokesperson for Travelodge said that they will always try to accommodate requests for a room change, depending on the occupancy numbers. But she pointed out that their hotels are “often used as a stop-gap” by business travellers and city break tourists on a budget. Naturally, at this price point, desirable views may not be available from any of the rooms.

But if you do find yourself in a hotel room with an abysmal view, and you have a sneaking suspicion that the rooms on the higher floors on the other side of the hotel have outlooks over the sea, you do have options.

1. Do your research

In 2023, there is no excuse for arriving at a hotel and expressing outrage that it is next to a motorway, or that the sea view is obscured by another hotel. Take a virtual recce of your hotel on Google Satellite and Google Street View to ensure you know exactly what to expect from the surroundings. Any decent hotel will have a gallery of photographs available online, and many will have 3D tours available – have a browse and make a note of the room that you like the look of.

2. Book early

With peace of mind that your hotel meets your expectations, it’s time to book. It goes without saying that the earlier you book, the more rooms are available, giving you the widest choice. Every hotel, even the best of the best, has a “worst view” and you are most likely to land it if you book at the last minute.

How to win at hotel room views - Getty
How to win at hotel room views - Getty

3. Book direct

With the exception of high-end boutique options, when booking a hotel online you may not have much of a say on your view. Call or email the hotel direct and have a conversation about the rooms on offer. This is their product, remember, so whoever you are liaising with should be more than happy to talk you through the best that the hotel has. The same applies if you are booking through a tour operator; they will have a relationship with the hotel. Not everyone will bother to make a request, so simply asking the question maximises your chances of a better view.

4. Ask at check-in (and arrive early)

If you failed to do any of the above legwork before you arrived, all is not lost. On check-in, ask about the room that you are being allocated and enquire about the view. Try to arrive as close to check-in time as possible and there should still be a few options up for grabs, if you do wish to change rooms. There is no harm in first asking for an upgrade, of course, particularly if you are celebrating something.

5. Don’t settle for bins

If you do find yourself disappointed with a view, the temptation might be to close the curtains and accept your lot. But before you drown your sorrows with a Gordon’s miniature, pop down to reception and in your friendliest tone possible see if there are any rooms with a superior view. At all stages of the hotel booking process a central maxim applies: don’t ask, don’t get.

Have you ever experienced a room with a particularly dreadful view? Please comment below to join the conversation.