Shut out of my inn in Montreal


When Paul Nahass’ son is locked out of a bed-and-breakfast in Montreal, he’s forced to find alternate accommodations. Can he get a refund for his new hotel?
Question: My son, Luke, stayed at Gite Maam Bolduc, a bed and breakfast in Montreal recently and was locked out of the building when he returned late at night. There was a digital lock but he was given no code for it.

After calling the bed and breakfast with no answer, I obtained another room for him at a hotel, albeit much more expensive (it was 3 a.m. when I started calling Montreal). My son spoke with someone at the hotel the next morning and they provided an email; they haven’t responded after two attempts.

I’d like a refund for the more expensive hotel, as their error caused this issue. The room was booked with Hotels.com. I suppose they could refund the price of the Gite Maam Bolduc ($79), though we spent $300 extra on the replacement hotel (Delta Marriott), as they were the only ones to pick up the phone at that hour. Can you help? — Paul Nahass, Glastonbury, Conn.

Answer: Bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) offer a more inclusive product, with hors d’oeuvres in the afternoon and a hot breakfast in the morning. But one thing they don’t have to advertise — because guests expect it — is a way to get into the property. But B&Bs can be a little tricky, because they’re often large homes in residential neighborhoods. There’s no front desk on call 24 hours. If you don’t make arrangements to access the property after hours, you could be out of luck.

Related story:   Too many dollars for my rental

You’re a good father to try to fix this for your son. You helped him at 3 a.m., by finding a new hotel and becoming his advocate. I know many parents who would use this as a teachable moment for their adult kids, telling them to fend for themselves.

You reached out to both the hotel and Hotels.com. By the way, you can find executive contact information for Hotels.com parent company Expedia on my consumer advocacy website. Contact information for Gite Maam Bolduc is on its website.

It appears that repeated efforts to contact both Hotels.com and the B&B amounted to nothing. That’s really unfortunate; both those businesses should have been sympathetic to a young man shut out of the inn.

I think he could have resolved this problem while he was in Montreal instead of waiting until his trip ended. An in-person visit to the B&B might have resulted in a positive, and more timely, resolution. Even though you were good enough to come to your son’s rescue, I think he might have been more successful if he’d first tried to fix this himself.

I contacted Hotels.com on your behalf and it refunded your son’s $79 room rate. My efforts to reach the B&B, like yours, were met with silence.


Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org.

  • SirWIred

    Yeah, it’s easier for Dad to find a replacement room in the heat of the proverbial moment, but the (presumably adult) son should have taken over his own case after he woke up in the morning.

    And the son surely already made a personal visit to the B&B, since he would have needed to retrieve his stuff in the morning. Did he ask for a refund then? What was the response? Definitely both the agent and the B&B are more likely to talk to the person whose name is actually on the reservation.

  • Dan

    According to the Tripadvisor review:

    “Came back in the morning and server at the restaurant felt bad and gave me the owner’s email and telephone.”

    Seem the son did return but everyone there eschewed responsibility.

  • finance_tony

    “You’re a good father to try to fix this for your son.”

    No you’re not.

  • Bill___A

    The Delta Marriott was the “Only hotel in Montreal” to answer the phone at that hour? I thought parents asking for help on behalf of their kids wasn’t going to be acceptable…..

  • Bill___A

    Because the son was the responsible one….I wouldn’t have given him his money back.

  • LeeAnneClark

    I have mixed feelings about this.

    I can’t help but feel icky about this dad doing all this for his presumably adult son. I have to assume he’s an adult…why would a child be traveling away from home alone in a big city, and returning to his accommodations at 3 in the morning? So if this is an adult, why is Daddy doing all the work for him? Can you say “helicopter parenting”? Perhaps there’s a valid reason why the dad is doing everything…if so, that’s not mentioned.

    But setting that aside for a moment to focus on the case itself – Yes, I fully agree that the B&B, if it’s going to lock its doors at night, needs to expressly ensure that all guests know how to get in. I’ve stayed at B&Bs (as well as private homes through AirBnb) that do lock their doors at night, but they have always made sure at check-in that I knew how to access my room after hours. If they did not do that, shame on them.

    On the other hand – do we really know what the B&B does offer in terms of notification? Perhaps the code was provided in some manner, maybe on a list of “house rules”, but this (seemingly rather irresponsible) son didn’t remember, or didn’t pay attention?

    Anyone who’s ever stayed at a B&B knows that they are not run like hotels or motels. As pointed out in the article, they are often private homes that let out rooms. Anyone staying in such accommodations shouldn’t assume that the front door will be left wide open, and if they plan on coming back to their room after dark, should ensure they know how to access the building. Seems kinda basic to me. B&Bs often have different rules than chain hotels, and if you choose to stay in one, you need to read them. I would venture to guess that after-hours access is disclosed somewhere for guests, and he just didn’t bother to read it.

    In the end it seems as if the right thing happened. The man was unable to access his room, so clearly after-hours access wasn’t disclosed well enough, in a (ahem) fool-proof manner. Thus, they owed him a refund for that night. I’ll bet they’ll work harder at disclosing the code in the future.

    The sunk cost of the more expensive hotel room is the price of the lesson: when staying at a B&B, know the rules, including those of after-hours access.

  • BubbaJoe123

    Why should the son have had to check? If the B&B requires you to do something to get in after hours, it’s incumbent on the B&B to inform the visitor of that.

  • I’m not sure I agree. People that have only stayed in hotels might not know about any special arrangements needed to get in to a B&B after hours. It’s up to the B&B to tell them at check in.
    I’ve had friends get locked out even when the B&B knew that they would be arriving late.

  • Harvey-6-3.5

    This is one reason why I prefer reasonably priced hotels to B&Bs. The terms of service are much clearer, and I know if I arrive late, there will be someone there.

  • LeeAnneClark

    I’m the exact opposite. I much prefer quaint, historic B&Bs that have some character, as opposed to sterile, cookie-cutter, characterless hotel rooms. Yeah you gotta deal with the various quirks, such as house rules, after-hours access issues, antiques, older plumbing, etc…but it’s really not that hard to be proactive and figure it all out. It’s certainly in the B&B’s best interest to ensure their guests have the info they need to have a comfortable stay, so it’s usually pretty easy to obtain. :)

  • pauletteb

    I like inns that offer a bit of both, without the forced socializing inherent in small B&Bs.

  • Bill___A

    Because if you don’t do it, you end up out on the street unable to get in. A B and B isn’t like a hotel, it is often someone’s home, and it isn’t reasonable to automatically expect to go in and out 24 hours a day. He was obviously in there, and left without knowing the way back in. Did he think he can just wake them up at 3 am? Did he think that they would leave the door unlocked all night? He thought wrong. I do concede that the B&B should have told him, but I would have held the B&B responsible if he was trying to get in at 9 PM and him responsible if he’s trying to return at 3 AM.

  • Bill___A

    In the case of the B&B knowing, that’s different. And as far as “people not knowing” the onus is on them to know. It is pretty apparent when you arrive it isn’t like a hotel generally speaking.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    Totally agree with you…how is this young adult going to learn to solve problems when his father is always fixing things.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    “On the other hand – do we really know what the B&B does offer in terms of notification? Perhaps the code was provided in some manner, maybe on a list of “house rules”, but this (seemingly rather irresponsible) son didn’t remember, or didn’t pay attention?”

    Another possible reason: An long evening of adult beverages could impair someone ability to remember the code. This could be the reason why the father was calling to find a hotel.

  • The onus is on you to know about something you’ve never experienced before? Really?

  • Fishplate

    His father didn’t tell him when the front door locked – how was he supposed to know?

    I’ve never stayed at a B&B that didn’t post, or otherwise provide notice, of when the front door locked. I’m guessing he didn’t know because he didn’t pay attention.

  • MarieTD

    Who says his father is Always fixing things? This comment board is once again veering towards blaming the OP for too much and it’s not helpful enough. It’s good to offer alternatives, and should-haves, but have a heart please.

  • Rob Kane

    I’ve found my stays at smaller non 24 hr properties like this B&B usually give you the door code with the key. But like me I usually leave the little key envelop in the room thus not having important info contained within on hand when most needed! There has been times, like at 3 am, where even my room # would have been helpful. Then again at 3 am I am lucky if I can even find my key!

  • joycexyz

    Disclosed in a fool-proof manner? I hope you’re joking! (You can lead a horse to water…) I’m guessing he didn’t pay attention or read the info. I’m also guessing that since Daddy is his advocate, paying attention to rules and fending for himself have never been necessary. Another case of personal responsibility MIA.

  • joycexyz

    Yes, it’s Daddy’s job to make sure he knows the rules. But if he doesn’t pay attention or forgets, Daddy will take care of everything.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    Yes…it is called 1) research (i.e. Google; Library; etc.); 2) talking to a professional travel agent; 3) talking to other travelers.

    Never been on a cruise…what are you going to do? Just show up and expect the best? Or are you going to research, talk to a professional travel agent; talk with other travelers?

    Never stayed at a B&B before? Just typed “the difference between a b&b and hotel” into a Google search.

    When we take a trip, we research the lodging where we will be staying; the attractions that we will be visiting; the road constructions reports (if we are driving); the airline flight (i.e. the on-time percentage); the airline seats (i.e. Seatguru); locations for breaks (if we are driving); gas prices; the weather reports (i.e. what to wear; bring extra water; bring rain gear; etc); etc. We research 1) to set our expectations correctly before the trip; 2) to maximize our time and 3) to maximize our enjoyment.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    I have a heart…I love my son and that is why I am not a helicopter parent because I do not want to hurt him by doing everything for him making less resilient and less able to cope with failure.

    There is person at my church that has three sons (one high school; one college and one post-graduate). They can’t get up in the morning. He wakes them up (he calls his son in college). He has been doing this since they were freshmen in high school. I told him that he needs to let them be late to school and accept the consequences of being late (i.e. missing tests; turning in homework; etc.)…what is going to happen in the real world.

    Is he going to wake them up for the rest of their lives? In the real world, if you are late to the airport, you are going to miss your flight and probably lose the full credit of your ticket. If you are late to work, you are going to get fired (I used to work for a company that the majority of the employees were under the age of 30…the number one reason for firings were late to work).

    In general, this generation of young people are not self-reliant (i.e. the term of ‘snowflakes’). They do not know how to solve problems. They can’t handle differences (i.e. the lack of free speech on colleges). They can’t resolve conflicts peacefully. Many are lacking social skills since they communicated via digital media (i.e. Facebook, texts, Twitter, etc.) instead of talking with people. This is based upon my volunteer work with children and young people.

    Read this article about a Catholic high school in Arkansas:
    www_dot_washingtonpost_dot_com/news/education/wp/2016/08/19/your-son-will-learn-to-problem-solve-arkansas-school-puts-helicopter-parents-on-notice

    Or do a Google search on “catholic school in Arkansas that prevents parents from dropping off”

  • LeeAnneClark

    Trust me, I don’t disagree with you. (As evidenced by my “ahem”.) I would truly love to know how other guests find out about the code, and I strongly suspect it ain’t so hard. LOL!

  • LeeAnneClark

    Yeah, that thought crossed my mind too. ;-) As I mentioned in another comment, I feel a key part of this story is missing – how DOES the B&B disclose the code? I’d be willing to bet it’s pretty easy to find. And that, to me, is the key to determining if they really did need to refund the cost of the missed night.

  • greg watson

    the fact that he wasn’t given the code for the digital lock is on the B&B……turns your comment into water………….or sand…………slips right through your fingers

  • BubbaJoe123

    “Did he think he can just wake them up at 3 am?”

    Unless the B&B supplied me with a way to get in, I’d think exactly this.

    If they gave him the code for the door, and he lost it, that’s on him. It sounds like they didn’t give him the code in the first place, though.

  • jsn55

    Why should the kid make an effort to solve the situation when Daddy will take care of it? There’s no mention anywhere about the rules of this B&B. What were they? How were they communicated? Why didn’t the son have the entry code? If the kid returned at 3am, what did he expect? An unlocked door in the middle of the night? A uniformed doorman to let him in? Pay attention, travellers, it will make your travelling life much more enjoyable.

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