Wish I could forget about the Hideaway Inn


From time to time, a case flutters across my desk with so many red flags that I have to sit down for a few minutes to catch my breath. Martin Collins’ complaint against the Hideaway Country Inn in Bucyrus, Ohio, is one of those times.

I’m not even sure if I should run away from this one or run toward it with my consumer advocacy guns blazing. For now, I feel frozen in place, caught between the claims of an innkeeper and those of the unhappy guest.

Maybe you can help me figure out what to do next.

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Let’s start with what happened to Collins, who works for an insurance company in Willoughby, Ohio. He and his wife made reservations at the Hideaway Inn for their honeymoon. They checked in for a three-night stay but checked out an hour later.

(Let me also add a special note to the correspondence I’m about to share. I have a policy against changing direct quotes. Some of the emails are a little hard to read, from a grammar and punctuation point of view. My editors and I tried to tighten them up, where possible.)

Here’s Collins’ initial note:

We were not happy with the accommodations, as they did not match the website, reviews online, or the lobby’s photographs.

The landscaping was full of weeds. The hammocks were dry rotted. The photos of the life-size chessboard and other landmarks advertised online and in the lobby must have been taken years ago.

The room was mostly clean, but there were a few issues, and for $270 a night, there should be some major updating for that price.

The mattress was old and worn out, and did not have a box spring, but was on plywood. The bedspread was a faux animal hair blanket that was matted from washing too many times. The sheets also had hair on them from either the blanket, or something else.

Another issue was you had to bend over to lift up the rug to close the bathroom door, which was frayed from other guests trying to close the door. Not something I want to do after having major back surgery in December 2013.

We tried to absorb the room and go with it, but we decided it wasn’t up to our standards and decided to check out and go home.

Well, that’s not exactly the perfect honeymoon. Collins told an employee that he and his wife had an “emergency” and needed to check out.

“We were told we would owe about $580,” he says.”We just wanted to leave.”

Here’s where things get a little complicated. Collins says the hotel charged him not only for the rest of his stay but also for services he ordered, but never received. In all, the Inn billed his credit card $1,020 — three nights at $269, plus amenities.

I reviewed the emails between Collins and the Inn’s owner, in which they each parsed the hotel’s refund policy to their own ends. I thought it would be best to hear the Hideaway’s position on this guest.

Here’s how the property’s owner, Debbie Miller, responded:

Mr and Mrs Collins

RE – Booked their stay within our cancellation period from February. We TRIED to help them out ! by moving their reservation FROM February without any penalty. They Cancelled the original reservation the day before. Said they had an EMERGENCY THEN.

They knew the cancellation policy before staying. Several Email Confirmations, including a confirmation 3 days prior to staying.

Thus they came early over 2 hours before check in (without any extra early check in fees) and stayed over 1 hour, then checked out. ONLY after calling the front desk repeated asking about the cancellation policy. AT NO time did they share what the EMERGENCY was.

They told the Chef that they knew of an emergency in a phone call after the day they were here.. but what they did not do, was ACT like it was a TRUE emergency. We have been in business for over 24 years, actually 25 years as of February, 2015.

Here’s the thing, ANYONE that has a truthful emergency show signs physically. They share lots of details. Voice usually quivers.


They called the Office and asked the cancellation policy BEFORE telling us they had to leave. Several times per emails. ONLY once per employees on staff at the night.

Here’s the DEAL, they went through a LOT of effort to try to get their money back.

They KNEW AHEAD of time. They signed an agreement UPON check in.

WE could NOT re-rent the SUITE. PLUS they had a huge package, with people schedule to execute everything they ordered.

So there’s a backstory here that the Collins’ didn’t tell me about? I handed the mike back to Collins for an explanation. Was he leaving out a few details?

We never booked in February, cancelled with an emergency, and then rebooked. I had my spine fused December 4, 2013, so I would have been unable to go anywhere.

My wife Katie booked a stay here for our honeymoon under her maiden name, as we got married September 6, 2014 and booked at the Hideaway Inn on September 7, 2014. My last name is Collins, and I’m not sure if she is mixing us up with someone else.

We actually received a call the night before from their chef, canceling our dinner because he had a family emergency. We didn’t ask the chef’s emergency and hoped all went well. He was to call us back to reschedule. We did call to ask if we could check in early, which a hotel would honor if they could. The staff very polite, said they would try.

We did check in to the room for at least an hour deciding on whether to leave or not. We decided to say we had an emergency because we didn’t want to tell the new guy we weren’t happy with the property on his 4th day. It wasn’t his fault.

So I told him over the phone we needed to check out, and we had an emergency. The emergency was we were not happy.

Honestly, if it was raining and we didn’t want to camp, this place may have been OK, but for $270 per night honeymoon stay, we felt cheated.

My thinking is, I didn’t want to come down on a property that someone has pride in. The staff was very friendly and prideful. Like I said it was clean, but not up to standards of that price tag compared to other places of that price. That is our fault, right? Except online and lobby photos show a pristine property.

At the moment, things are on “hold” with both parties. The innkeeper has suggested that the Collins’ may be trying to extort her by taking their case to the media. The Collins’, on the other hand, say they’re dealing with an unethical innkeeper. They found a blog post (see comments) and several user-generated reviews that attack other guests who have been critical of the Inn, which they claim were authored by Miller.

My first instinct is to slowly back away. I feel as if either the Collins’ or Miller are about to sue each other, and I don’t want to be caught in the middle.

Should I encourage Collins to accept the loss? Should I ask Miller to work with the guest to find a more acceptable resolution? Is there middle ground? Or should I politely bow out of this one?

Should I mediate Martin Collins' case with the Hideaway Inn?

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149 thoughts on “Wish I could forget about the Hideaway Inn

  1. Even after reading both sides there seems to be something missing here.
    Skip this one because I do not think either party will ever be completely honest with you.

    1. I believe her more after reading the blog comments. See my comment above… Same thing happened to a friend (nasty comments and such). And it sounds as thought hey we’re willing to pay for the room but it was the other stuff they were charged for but never received. I’d like to know what those things were. Massages? Chocolate strawberries? Etc.

      1. Beyond Valrhona!

        Chocolate Lovers’ Weekend- This decadent package includes two chocolate scented FIZZMOS for your Jacuzzi, EAT CHOCOLATE NAKED fondue with melted chocolate, dipping treats and two mini paintbrushes for your creative enjoyment, assorted DIPPED CHOCOLATES, a relaxing one hour COUPLES MASSAGE with chocolate scented massage oil, a PICNIC BASKET delivered to your suite the first night of your stay and a 5 COURSE CANDLELIGHT DINNER on the last night of your stay! Of course there will be Chocolate for Dessert

      2. I do not believe either one. An unspecified emergency to keep from upsetting an employee? Why not simply go downstairs and in a calm voice ask for a different room and explain the problems with the room? And I read no blogs/ Trip Adviser/Other reviews as I know absolutely nothing about the people posting the reviews. They may indeed be friends of the proprietor or they may be regular customers who love the place or they may be competitors wanting to give a property a bad name.

        1. When I look at a particularly bad review (or a good one), I like to see what other properties they have stayed at and check their story. Are they grouchy folks who just seem to find things to complain about? Are they from the local area and therefore unlikely to stay at the hotel and therefore possibly friends of the owner?

  2. Revealing after-the-fact that your “emergency” is that you aren’t happy with the accommodations means, at best, both parties have “unlean hands”.

    1. I agree they should have just been honest but the result is the same. You really think they’d have done better saying they hated the place? They paid for the room….I want to know what other incidentals couldn’t be stopped when they left. I looked at their website and the grammar is horrible but the gist of it is they have candles to light, strawberries to eat, massages, what could possible have cost that much more than the room? Was the chef working 24 hours to make them a ten tier cake? If yes,then I understand the cost. But if it was something the hotel could cancel, then no, otherwise I’d be demanding my strawberries. The room is one thing….the incidentals need to be looked at separately. The innkeeper still has a duty to mitigate damages. And it seems to be a pattern from the other blog post. If I hadn’t seen a smear campaign against my friend for the needle incident I posted earlier, I’d be skeptical too.

      1. They should have been asked to be moved to another room. And I also see no pictures as evidence of what LW claims. You have to let the hotel try to resolve your problem before leaving.The way he made it sound is that if the room weren’t $270 but $99 it would have been acceptable.

          1. The only reason I’m disagreeing this time is because this place has a BAD reputation online. Just look at all the complaints people have found? You really think moving them to another room would have cut it? I don’t. It would have been shabbier probably. They wanted a honeymoon room, not a cheapo room. If this was a comfort inn or something I’d be agreeing more with you, but the comments the owner has made just show she doesn’t care. She just doesn’t. And it’s not the room that is the issue anyway. They paid for the room. It’s the incidentals. Like the massages they didn’t get. Well… you can usually cancel massages 2 days in advance (I suspect they weren’t getting them that day). How about chocolate strawberries? Just don’t make them.

            The bottom line is that they expected something beautiful and got shabby. And since it’s a B&B, nothing could really solve that problem. If the $270 room was only worth $100, then what is the $100 room worth?

          2. I think your assessment is close to the truth.

            My take is that the place is a dump, and was advertised as an upscale place. Maybe they honeymooners went about it the wrong way, but maybe the place was so atrocious that they pondered for an hour before running out. After all, it’s a honeymoon, and I can understand reluctance to up and run from the honeymoon hotel. However, if the place was soooooooo bad that they had to depart, it just might have taken them an hour to discus it and finally decide to leave.

            Absent photos, it’s difficult to discern what is happening. However, SEVERAL other reports on the place say it’s a dumpo, and I can’t believe that ALL of the reports are incorrect, or have been done by someone(s) out to hurt the owners of the hotel, either severally or jointly.
            I think that the hotel owner is probably maintaining a sub-standard dumpo, advertised as a higher-standard place. Owner doesn’t address the main issues: is the place a dump, or isn’t it? Why doesn’t owner provide photos? The couple should have, but maybe weren’t thinking coldly and logically since their wonderful honeymoon has crashed down around them with their checking into a dump.

          3. This is exaclty the situation and how we felt. Damage was done just wanted to cut or losses and leave. Also my back was so bad, the bed was too high and hard to get into, there wasn’t a spot in the room I could get comfortable in, and I definitely could not bend over to move a rug to close the door to the bathroom. Not to mention the creepy feeling the place gave us. We only asked for the amenites to be refunded. Even though the gentleman we checked out with told me 3 different amounts on what was refunded, I knew per the receipt room rates would not be refunded. We picked the wrong place. We swallowed the loss and never did we argue a full refund. If I had complained about the property, then maybe a full refund would have been just.

          4. You gotta speak up for yourself. Me, I’d have turned on the charm, and told ’em I saw better accommodations at Dachau. Ha ha.

  3. Wooooooow! The comments on that blog post.., I seriously question their validity (the bad ones). Probably friends of the owners… A smear campaign happened to a friend whose daughter was stuck by a needle under a hotel bed (hadn’t cleaned under the bed), so it was tests for six months (she’s fine of course). But she also went public (fb) bc she wasn’t getting anywhere with them after months. Mostly she wanted an apology… Her daughter was 1 so that six months of testing were super hard. But she got attacked in the same way. By friends and employees of the hotel who claimed to just be regular people off the street.

    1. Show me what site the parents are getting harassed on and I’ll get some interwebb white knights on it. Name the property, and I’ll have some fun…

      1. It’s over now thank god… but basically I met her in Japan and they were moving home and stopped in Montana to visit his family. Her husband is full Native American, so it was a hotel (chain hotel) on the reservation, I believe.

        People in the town were literally threatening her. I gave them a huge piece of my mind for hours. They implied she was lying about the needle or that she shouldn’t have let the one year be on the floor (WHAT?) or even that she should have checked under the bed. Ummmm… no. I expect my room to be clean of things like needles before I rent one. I shouldn’t have to inspect a hotel room. But let me tell you, that one got ugly. REALLY ugly.

  4. See also: http://www . tripadvisor . com/Restaurant_Review-g50143-d1974049-Reviews-HideAway_Country_Inn-Bucyrus_Ohio . html

    These are a mixed bag, but look legitimate to me …

        1. I have seen the pics a looong time ago and decided it was too much for me. That place has long been forgotten. Does anyone still go there?

          1. We actually did a tour of some of those resorts two years ago and yes, people still go there. And the places look exactly as they did back then, right down to the shag rugs. Nasty

    1. Did you see this one?!? :-/

      www . tripadvisor . com/ShowUserReviews-g50143-d1974049-r161728853-HideAway_Country_Inn-Bucyrus_Ohio.html#CHECK_RATES_CONT

      1. How about this response?
        “We are sorry you did not have a good experience. We tried very hard to
        help your husband plan a great escape. We wished you would have told the
        server to have the intern recook your dinner.

        He said he had attempted to plan other escapes for you but it came down to the money he spent.

        We are sorry he planned a great weekend and it did not fit into your budget.

        Maybe his next attempt will work if you give him a budget to spend maybe suggestions as to where you would like to go.

        We hope you have great trips. Please be sure to visit other bed and breakfast.”

  5. Anyone checked out the packages yet? This one might be helpful in explaining this bizarre story …

    50 Shades of Grey Exquisite -Your Lady has read the book, now it’s up to you to be her Mr. Grey. Start the evening with BOLLINGER CHAMPAGNE on ice with an ARTISAN CHEESE PLATE waiting upon your arrival. BATH OIL, GREY SILK TIE, MASK, RIDING CROP, FEATHER TICKLER, and fuzzy adjustable HANDCUFFS will be beautifully wrapped and waiting on your bed for your lover to find and enjoy. We expect you to want to stay longer in your suite, so we have added a LATE CHECK OUT with BREAKFAST DELIVERED at the time of your choosing. This package is all about pampering, pleasure, and a night to remember!

    1. Yet the owner responded to a review with this:

      “I am sorry the internet in your suite did not work. Still not sure why a PRIVATE AREA in the manor house unless they wanted to watch not the most upstanding in family programming?”

      In one review on TripAdvisor, the reviewer wanted to watch a pay per view fight via the Internet and the internet was down in their suite. The owner told them that they could stay in the dinning room of the main house if they want to have Internet access.

    2. 50 Shades of Grey is Twilight Fanfic that exemplifies an abusive relationship . The fact that the owner has read it and is offering packages for it tells me to stay away.

          1. There was no S&M in Twilight. Twilight is a supernatural love story, 50 shades is literary erotica wrapped around a love story. They are not the same literary style.

            Okay same type of fans yes, and yes they are older. I know of no tweens that have read 50 shades, or at least none that would admit it.

          2. OMG. We’re not comparing the content, Psyguy, we’re comparing the writing styles and types of fans. In other words, poor writing and fans who wouldn’t know good writing if it bit them on the arse.

          3. Oh, honey…you are so naive. Check out Tumblr and Archive of Our Own to see what tweens are into.
            DO NOT DO THIS AT WORK.

          4. Tumblr is a blogging website, bro. Yahoo paid a lot of money for it, but its mostly porn and stupid social justice nonsense.

        1. It was originally written as FANFICTION of Twilight. No joke. There’s Sesame Street Pr0n out there if you’re crazy enough to look for it…

          1. I just backed you up… sadly I knew this… I read the first book to see what it was like (bad doesn’t describe), kinda skipped around in the second one, and didn’t finish the third one…. just skipped to the end where somehow she’s managed to have a baby and he’s happy about it……….

          2. No Twilight is a supernatural fairy tale romance love story, their love is real 50 Shades is just porn for bored housewives. Their no intimacy or closeness in 50 shades.

        2. But no… it LITERALLY is Twilight FanFic. She even named them Edward and Bella. Once she got a publisher, the names were changed. Raven is correct. 50 Shades is fan fic.

          1. Basically, is not the same as equal too. Just because you can’t appreciate literary nuance, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    3. I woke up early today and was reading their site around 3am and I stopped when I got to this one. No way, lol. Just… no.

  6. In my opinion, the takeaways from today’s articles are:

    Do Your Research: 33% or 1/3 of the reviews of this bed and breakfast are ‘poor’ or ‘terrible’ on TripAdvisor. You can’t please every body but a hotelmotelinnbed & breakfast should be able to please 80% of their customers, Only 58% of the reviews were ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ review and only 60% of their guests recommended this place.

    To me, this is a red flag that something is NOT right about the property. If the room rate was $ 50 per night and was there for one night then I might take a chance on a property. If I was paying $ 270 per night and was there for a special occasion like the OP then I won’t take a chance on a property.

    Professional: Reading the owner’s responses to the review on TripAdvisor, it made me wonder about the professionalism of the owner, the staff, etc. In one review, the reviewer wanted to watch a pay per view fight via the Internet and the internet was down in their suite. The owner told them that they could stay in the dinning room of the main house if they want to have Internet access. The response to their review was: “I am sorry the internet in your suite did not work. Still not sure why a PRIVATE AREA in the manor house unless they wanted to watch not the most upstanding in family programming?”

    Basically the owner is stating that they want to watch adult movies or porn in their room exposed to skills like customer service and etc. Read the responses to the reviews especially the negative reviews. This is a big red flag to me.

    1. I’m reminded of Hotel Impossible where Anthony deals with some owners who get into flame wars on tripadvisor with previous customers. Not a good idea.

      1. What’s really, really funny is that there is a picture of Anthony Bourdain and Debbie Miller floating around out there.

        See: http://www dot tripadvisor dot com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g50143-i62839193-Bucyrus_Ohio.html#last

          1. Sorry, my post should have said “Anthony Bourdain” in quotes. It would have been funnier, because that’s not him. Wanted to point out without coming right out and saying it that Ms. Miller seems to be confused in more ways than just her “command” of the English language.

        1. Hahahaha! Oh, that _IS_ funny but for this reason: That is NOT, repeat, NOT Anthony Bourdain! That’s Andrew Zimmerman, another travel food show host, but he hosts “Weird Foods” on the Food Network (and my wife loves his show but I run out of the room when he’s on.)

          Bourdain would laugh his head off about this photo. Maybe. I posted the link to his facebook page. I wonder if he’ll respond. I said he put on some weight.

          (Correction, it’s Bizarre Foods on Travel Channel. I’m to be forgiven for this ignorance since, as I said, when my wife turns that show on I am OUT of that room!)

  7. In my opinion, the takeaways from today’s articles are:

    Do Your Research: 33% or 1/3 of the reviews of this bed and breakfast are ‘poor’ or ‘terrible’ on TripAdvisor. You can’t please every body but a hotelmotelinnbed & breakfast should be able to please 80% of their customers, Only 58% of the reviews were ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ review and only 60% of their guests recommended this place.

    To me, this is a red flag that something is NOT right about the property. If the room rate was $ 50 per night and was there for one night then I might take a chance on a property. If I was paying $ 270 per night and was there for a special occasion like the OP then I won’t take a chance on a property.

    Professional: Reading the owner’s responses to the review on TripAdvisor, it made me wonder about the professionalism of the owner, the staff, etc. In one review, the reviewer wanted to watch a pay per view fight via the Internet and the internet was down in their suite. The owner told them that they could stay in the dinning room of the main house if they want to have Internet access. The response to their review was: “I am sorry the internet in your suite did not work. Still not sure why a PRIVATE AREA in the manor house unless they wanted to watch not the most upstanding in family programming?”

    Basically the owner is stating that they want to watch adult movies or porn in their room exposed to skills like customer service and etc. Read the responses to the reviews especially the negative reviews. This is a big red flag to me.

  8. After reading this story, I think I need to take another shower…. I don’t think either part is completely clean but I can guarantee that this B&B will not get a reservation from me.

    In my best Monty Python … “Run Away… Run Away”

  9. When I looked at the story this morning, it said that I had already voted. Sure hope I voted “NO!!!!”.

    Reading the reviews of this place, I don’t see how you, CE, will be effective. The owner seems to be, well, (struggling to find a polite phrase), less than rational. Credit card dispute or a call to the Ohio State Attorney General’s consumer division folks for advice for how to proceed seems to be the best route. Public shaming and BBB complaints don’t seem to faze this business.

  10. If the reviews were that mixed, why boher booking a room there? For a honeymoon? All parties to this one deserve an equal measure of blame. Let them work it out and you spend your time helping someone else.

  11. I notice from the owners response that their claim is focused solely on the cancelation policy as it seems the owners defense is a technical one. No where do they even attempt to dispute the quality of the room, or provide any justification of the cost of these extra amenities. This is the same kind of cash grab as a rental agency charging you for “damage” without an estimate, an invoice or anything.

    Yeah the LW lied to the innkeeper, but it’s a little white lie of courtesy, the same type of lie you say when your significant other asks you if they look fat, or if they’re as beautiful as when you met them. There is also a safety issue here. If you start attacking the quality of their inn and their room, you don’t know what an owner is going to do. You could get shot.

    What really help is if the LW took pictures of the room and property. Sadly, I don’t think you will get anywhere with the owner. A credit card dispute is the best option to begin with.

    1. If the OP decided to eat the charges, (white) lie all he wants. But if he’s hoping to recover some, then why lie? You’re not helping the clerk by hiding that the property often displeases people. Better he know up front and learns to deal with it if he plans on staying…

      1. Concerned for his safety for one thing. This isn’t a Marriot where everyone on the other side of the desk is just an employee, this is an owner.

    2. Spoken by the man who proudly states that he blatantly lies to get what he wants and gain advantage over other (presumably honest) travelers.

      So, the lie was not okay. Lying is not okay. And lying about the reason you are leaving a hotel is NOT the same thing as not telling your wife she looks fat. It’s not a “white” lie. It’s just a lie.

      Safety issue? Give me a break. It’s not “attacking the quality”. It’s simply stating that you do not feel you are getting what you paid for, and therefore are going to leave. Simple as that.

      1. “Everyone lies” – Gregory House, M.D.
        So you’ve NEVER lied in your entire life, there is a guy in Greece, Diogenes I think who was looking for 10 honest people for a movie or something, from what i hear he’s still looking.

        People get shot over honesty, some people can’t handle the truth.

        1. Seriously? You are going to quote a TV character…one who happened to also be a (fictional) drug addict, as your moral compass?

          1. I never claimed it was the basis of my moral compass, only that the observation regardless of the source is still true.

  12. Charge back on a credit card might be the only way to deal with this insane innkeep. Good Lord, I read her “answers” to the reviews in barely-understandable English.

    She needs to be shut down.

  13. LW stayed one hour at the hotel. It seems he didn’t research the hotel prior his stay, after arriving he disliked his room, he didn’t ask to change it and lied to get out. He never gave a chance to the hotel staff to try to improve his stay.

    If LW had be honest, with the hotel staff and with Chris, I might side with him. But in this case, no. I do believe LW could have grounds for some refund, if he had be true about the reason of his departure.

    We are asking for a hotel be compassionate with someone who lied to them. Even if we are talking about the worst hotel in the world, LW asked for some services and amenities, and it has costs associated. Maybe not everything, but some anyway.

    EDIT: I didn’t realized LW agreed to pay $580, and the inn is charging him extra $440.

    In this case, if the staff promised the $580 bill was right, and later they decided to charge the extra, then I side with LW. Not strongly, because I still believe there are more stuff under the carpet.

    1. I agree that the “white lie” hurt the LW’s case because it didn’t give the hotel operator a chance to make things right.

      The operator could have arranged for the couple to stay at another property or even to offer a discount or to upgrade the room.

      When I checked into my non-smoking dual bed room in NYC a month ago, the room was smelly and looked a million years old. I went down to the front desk and said I couldn’t handle a smoking room and they upgraded me (not a big upgrade) to a non-smoking room which included a free breakfast. Problem solved.

      If it was the honeymoon suite and the top level room, then the operator may not have been able to arrange an upgrade if the rooms are simply not that good in which case, a negotiated cancellation fee may have been negotiated.

      But simply walking out on a lie? That sets them up big time and may hurt them in court if they want to get it that far.

      1. In defense of LW, he isn’t claiming the full amount, only the $440 he was charged later.

        I’m with the impression he paid 2 nights plus tax, and the inn is asking for the last night and amenities.

  14. I’m going to have to go with no on this one. The fact that they lied to the inn about why they were leaving and didn’t give them an opportunity to correct it, makes me think they lost their chance. Not liking the accommodations isn’t an emergency, and they should have addressed it. If the inn wasn’t willing to work with them, I might have votes yes, but the inn never had that chance.

    Also the omissions in the story make me question the truthfulness of the OP.

    1. I was leaning that way and then I followed the blog post where this inn refused to return $$ to a family who had a child admitted to the ICU. The attitude of the innkeeper (there calling herself “Sally”) is appalling.

      1. I wrote my message before I saw the blog posts. It still bothers me that the OP didn’t even try to work it out. But the inn keeper sounds pure evil, so perhaps a charge-back is in order.

  15. This was handled wrong by the LW. You don’t say you have an emergency when you aren’t happy with your accommodations, you document it (any pics of the problems?) and talk to Management and ask to have your room changed. He didn’t give the Manager the opportunity to fix the problem, he made up a ridiculous story. It sounds more like buyers remorse because of the cost. If the room had been $99 maybe he would have stayed because that is what it sounds like. Or perhaps they should have read the reviews on TripAdvisor being booking – the obviously didn’t do their homework.

    I hate to say it, but I am with the Innkeeper here, although one thing I see that I do not like is that their cancellation policy is not listed anywhere on their site. As far as the one complaint LW found on a blog, that story was a legit complaint, as it appears that woman tried to cancel several days before they were to arrive. And as one person mentioned, I don’t see the Innkeeper disputing the condition of the room or even attempting to fix the complaints on TripAdvisor if they are continually going on.

    The LW should have made every effort to resolve this at the b & b before lying and stomping off. That is the right way to handle this.

    Chris, leave it alone. Let LW do a chargeback on his credit card.

  16. We readers need you sane and composed, Mr. Elliott. Trying to mediate in this situation threatens your sanity and composure. You risk taking on the role of the ball in a ping pong match, which is certainly no fun.

  17. Of course I just noticed a brand new review post on TA from brand new reviewer about how the place rocks. So don’t believe everything you read on TA either.

  18. I was laughing at this complaint I found on tripadvisor:

    “Also when I booked the room, I ordered the “chilled champagne” package. What was waiting for us was “sparkling wine.” Her response: “I am a trained Sommelier. Champagne Only comes from the champagne region of France. True Champagne would have been the same price as your room.” Well then don’t offer “chilled champagne” as a package!!!”

    It’s true. The “champagne” region of most stores has only, gasp, “sparking wine.”

    Unless you go to a Russian/Ukrainian specialty store and buy Odessa Champagne which is labeled as, champagne. Maybe the French lawyers can’t read Cyrillic. 🙂

    1. I just refer to it all as bubbly 🙂

      Actually, I do always tease my wife and tell her its “Sparkling White” when she calls it Champagne. Though we have had some good actual Champagne from time to time.

      1. I was just imaginging someone suing the hotel claiming they “paid for champagne and I got this sparkling wine stuff!” 🙂

        Seriously though: Go to a Russian/Ukrainian/Polish store and buy some “champagne”. It’s fun to see it on the label. 🙂

  19. First I want to Thank Mr. Elliott for his time he took in writing this story, and thank you all so
    far for being kind and constructive to two complete strangers’ stories.

    A lot of you are correct in that some minor details are missing from this story, but in respect
    to Mr. Elliot, I think he did a great job of getting the “meat” of the story, although
    our intent in the article was not clear as few of other things.

    Had we researched more, more red flags would have come up, and I wish we had looked a bit more. This place was highly recommended by Bed and Breakfast sites, so we didn’t look too much further. As Mr. Elliott stated I had major back surgery in December and complications down the road. We weren’t planning on a big honeymoon due to my condition, and Katie, my wife wanted at least to do something small for us. We needed a nice quiet break. My wife planned everything, arranged almost all of the wedding, as well as kept our household together while I was down. I want to commend what an amazing
    woman she is first off.

    I would like to point out that I tried to reach the owner on the phone after we checked out for a week before contacting Mr. Elliot. Also that last thing we wanted was confrontation the day after our wedding. That is why I sought to contact the owner and work it out at a later date. We were told on the phone before checking out by the new employee we would be subject to half the first night’s rate, after checking out at the desk it changed to $580, and after a follow-up call with another employee I was told there would be no refund. This correspondence was missing from the article.

    The hideaway Inn discloses 2 refund polices. For an early cancellation there is no refund, and if you check out early you are subject to only the room rates. The owner was not
    going to refund the amenities like chocolate, massage packages, etc. They were only willing to rebook the stay, and we were not. I only asked for the amenities to be refunded since I considered our stay an early checkout, and we were bound to our agreement. Our emergency for leaving was our own, we conveyed this, and we were willing to be subject to their policy. Even though we did believe evrything that was advertised online was not matching the property description.

    I don’t think this story conveyed our intent. Mr. Elliot asked me what we would like to do. I stated at this point we don’t even care about the money; we would just like to inform
    others of our story, so we could prevent another experience like ours. If we did get refunded in the process, well that is great.

    I would like to point out we are not trying to sue Hideaway Inn. We are trying to do what is right. Yes, we should have just explained our disapproval at checkout, but we just wanted to leave. We were upset. After reading reviews, it seems even if I did voice my concern it would go unnoticed. After reading Trip advisor reviews I am glad we never actually met the owner, especially after checking local public court records. At this point like the previous poster said, we did what we could and we did file a dispute with our credit card company. If all goes well we will get refunded. Lesson learned on this one. So I will make it clear. We would like to move on. I don’t think any other action is necessary other than to expose our experience as well as others like I stated before. I hope in time others will come forward with similar experiences and post them.

  20. As some others did, I checked Trip Advisor, and many recent reviews look a bit fishy from Both sides. My advise is to quietly run away.

  21. This case has a number of issues to address, but I can’t get over paying $270 a night for a hotel room in a small town in OH. Really?

  22. I agree with those telling Chris to run. There’s no good solution here. They’re both wrong.

    The LW had no valid reason to lie about an emergency. Frankly I can’t help but think that there may have been some reason other than their dissatisfaction with the place to leave that quickly…and they are now claiming dissatisfaction in order to get their money back. The explanation that they didn’t want to “hurt the feelings” of some stranger they had just met is, well, nonsensical. If that really WAS their reason for lying, well I hope that protecting that guy’s “feelings” was worth a thousand bucks to them, because they lost their option to ask for their money back when they lied.

    As for the hotel owner…that lady is bat-poop insane! I think she too is blatantly lying. The stuff about the guests changing the date…either a lie, or she (as the LW suggests) has them confused with someone else. The rest is just, well, nuts.

    Liars lie.


    1. Everyone lies. Seriously though, I would lie to “bat poop insane” people considering the truth (which she may not be able to handle) could get you killed.

  23. I don’t see what you can offer in this case, Christopher. If the innkeeper isn’t open to working with you and/or not afraid of being publicly shamed (and the reviews, blogs, etc. suggest they’re not) then there is nothing you can do to help.

    Plus, the LW didn’t do themselves any favors by failing to address any of the problems upfront. Leaving in an hour saying they had an emergency? They say they don’t mind paying for the room without the added incidentals, which would be fair, but their laundry list of mostly minor issues makes me question if they’re being entirely truthful about that part. It’s hard for me to imagine myself bailing in an hour knowing full well I was going to forfeit all the money. Why wouldn’t I stick it out for a while longer or at least the first night if there wasn’t anything super-terrible? (And worn bedding and the bathroom rug doesn’t qualify.)

      1. Letter says they went home, which also strikes me as a bit odd. I know people handle situations differently but I’d probably have stuck it out for a while just for the pure humor of having a good story, particularly if I knew my money was already gone.

        Also worth noting this is only a 2-hour drive from where they live. Relying totally on online reviews for a place for your honeymoon that is that close to home is pretty risky. Nobody they knew had anyplace to recommend?

  24. They entered into a contract. They should have been honest with the hotel and given the hotel the opportunity to try to rectify the situation. If the hotel was unable to handle the complaints, at least both parties would know what the problem was. By saying they had an “emergency” the hotel had no opportunity to try to make things right. The OP basically lied and did not keep up his end of the contract IMHO.

          1. So, I make a distinction between an error (which can be remediated) and a way of doing things.

            Any property can have a bad day: no hot water, poorly cleaned, etc. A stand-up property will apologize, etc.

            Then there is a bad attitude that pervades a property. When something is so far beneath what is accidental or reasonable, that I don’t want to have anything further to do with that property.

            At $270/nt, a shabby/crappy room is a big F-U to guests. I think the owner’s online responses further bolster that contention. That’s not a recoverable situation.

            I stayed at the Sheraton Suites in Philadelphia. The carpet was ripped, the blinds were off the rod, etc. I made a big stink and got another so-so room. But I checked out after day 1 of my 2 day stay.

          2. I continue agreeing with you, but at that point, LW didn’t know yet about the property owner bad attitude. Remember, he didn’t perform an online check prior booking the room.
            I’m trying to put myself at LW shoes – I checked in, disliked he room, and instead of asking for another room and allowing the hotel to maybe solve my problem, I decided I didn’t want to stay there anymore and, instead of complain, I lied in order to get out as fast as possible. I agree with the partial charge, and I depart. I didn’t give a chance for the property to try to solve my unhappiness.

            Later, when it charges the balance of my original bill, which I was assured at the counter that it won’t be charged, I finally research and I find out the bad reviews. Only at this point.

            This case problem: LW lied to go out and maybe to receive a discount at his bill, and later, when the owner found out about it the lie, he probably became upset and decides to charge the full bill.

            (I believe I completely misused the verbs tenses, sorry…)

  25. Definition of emergency is “an unforeseen combination of circumstances or the resulting state that calls for immediate action.”

    Stating that we had emergency was very accurate. Being vague is by no means a lie. We could have easily made up something like a relative died, etc. That would be lying, and unethical. We did not lie and we did not try to worm out of her policy. Our intent was to abide by their contract, and to recover the amenities we never used, not the room fees. Pretty honest if you ask me.
    To answer the other questions we did book a stay at the Weston in Cleveland after we got home, and also stayed at Red Maple Inn for 2 days. It was really nice and we were very happy with our stays.

    1. Sorry, you are playing with words, using a dictionary. According to Chris, you wrote to him:

      So I told him over the phone we needed to check out, and we had an emergency. The emergency was we were not happy.

      Unhappiness isn’t an emergency. It might be a reason to give up and go out, but I believe nobody here will agree with you about your “extended” definition of emergency.

      1. Ah, but what if the emergency is that we are on our honeymoon and if I don’t get my new wife out of this crap hole, I will either end up dead or divorced?
        I don’t think there is value in pursuing this further. The hotel isn’t going to budge or they would have all ready.

        1. I agree and that is what I was getting at. “Unforeseen combination of circumstances ” concerning the property and the happiness of our new marriage.
          I also agree. We are going to let the Credit Dispute finish, and no matter what happens chock it off as a bad experiece. Lesson learned.

          1. Speaking of lessons learned, I’m curious why you didn’t ask for recommendations from friends before booking a place? Sometimes people have little choice, but this was within a couple hours of where you lived so I’d guess friends and family could have given you firsthand recommendations of a number of places. What was so appealing about this place?

      2. Keep in mind he had back surgery and said he couldn’t move the rug out of the way every time he needed to go into the bathroom and shut the door.

        Yes. That’s a weak argument. But an attorney could argue it counted. (We like to make bad arguments… but this one is kinda colorable). And then opposing counsel (where is Carver????? I need him to play devil’s advocate with me on this, lol) would say “but they could have moved him to another room and then he wouldn’t have needed to move the rug. Oh… and they have an ADA room, so he could have gone there, if it was free.

        I’m just saying…. arguably he “could” say his back was the emergency… bad bed, bad room, just bad for his back. I am NOT saying this is a correct argument. I’m saying it’s the argument I would make if I represented him.

        1. Lol. Sorry, not touching this one. Besides, that wordplay nonsense a few posts up about this being an emergency really turned me off.

    2. You just greatly hurt your credibility.. Playing with words (and not doing a particularly good job of it) is a poor way to engender good will.

  26. Liar Liar Pants on Fire! That all I can say to the Collins family. Couldn’t they have at least been asked to move to a different room?

  27. You know, I voted against mediation, and I still feel that way, but I am glad to know about this place and will steer far clear of it should I be in their area (not that I plan on it anytime soon, but I do like B&Bs a lot and try to stay in them when the situation permits it). I read some of the TripAdvisor reviews and it seems like the owner needs a SERIOUS attitude adjustment. Every time she gets a negative review, all she does is provide excuses, inform the guest how difficult and costly it is to run her business and in some cases, directly attack the guests (never any kind of apology). Ms. Miller, if you’re reading this, you should know that there is a way to professionally respond to complaints, regardless of how ridiculous they may be. Yes, there are a lot of unreasonable people out there who expect you to provide them with a five-star royal suite at one-star budget room prices, but at the end of the day, you are the business owner and it is not any guest’s problem as to how stressful it is running a B&B. If it weren’t for the great unwashed masses you seem to detest so much, you wouldn’t have any business. You are only hurting yourself over the long-term by acting the way you do and I don’t care if you’ve been in business for 25 years – there is a right way and wrong way to respond to every complaint. You are just downright unprofessional and rude. Look around on TripAdvisor to some manager/owner responses to negative reviews at other properties – you’ll get the point eventually. Until then, I hope a lot of bad publicity gets generated for your place.

  28. So I don’t have to respond to a bunch of people, I’ll just put one thought out here. Yes, lying is bad. They probably should have been honest about why they were leaving. HOWEVER, I don’t think it would have done any good in this case. It’s pretty clear there is something wrong with this B&B. That blog post has crazy responses on it (link in article) and others have found trip advisor reviews that are bad as well. I don’t believe anything could have been resolved by this place. They wouldn’t walk them anywhere… the lady is crazy, clearly. I understand needing to make money but the way she phrases things is just off. And the LW commented that he doesn’t want anything from Chris… he just wants this info out there. So basically, stay away from this place because it sounds like only about 50% of the people who stay there like it.

  29. I voted no only because I think it would be a waste of Chris’ time and energy. It doesn’t sound like this Innkeeper gives a flying F and will keep the money regardless.

  30. Buyer’s regret? I do believe so! Back out of this one. There is no reason to debate the cost, the value received, or the whether the Collins’ deserve a refund. They appear to have had poor research. The hotel deserves its money!

    1. The issue is whether they deserve it for incidentals that were never delivered. For example, let’s say they dipped a bunch of strawberries in chocolate and they were ready to be handed over. But they left and no one gave them their strawberries. Well… if the hotel is going to charge them for those strawberries or bottles of wine that were never opened, then NO, it does NOT deserve that money. Give me my strawberries and wine, or don’t charge me. Now it’s true, we don’t know what the incidentals were (I’m making them up here). But the fact is that we do know that there WERE incidentals and probably SOME of them could have been cancelled. I seriously doubt there was $440 of completely perishable incidentals (food, wine, missed massage appointments, etc). I mean, when you make an appointment for a massage, usually you can cancel it at least a day in advance. They’re not airlines…. they don’t usually charge you full price. It’s a nominal fee, if any, to cancel. Same with doctors. So it’s the incidentals that I think most of us are having issues with. Not the room cost.

      1. Now, I know there was a duplicate key to those strawberries, but they all conspired against me to hide it! They were all disloyal!

      2. I went to the web site and opened up their terms and conditions. It’s what I refer to as a “F-U contract.” And it almost says it like that. Read this and ponder:

        “If you decide to check out early after your arrival, you will be charged for all dates reserved, at current lodging rates as well as any add-ons, packages or spa services.”

        And there’a button at the bottom of the page “I Agree”.


        If you try to check out even a day early, you could be hit with a maximum rate (discounts and promotions removed) for the ENTIRE stay.

        Don’t know if guests are required to click on this when making their reservation (brings to mind the South Park episode: “Cent-IPad”) but if they did, they may be shafted if it goes to court. If not, and this is just on the website, then it’s simply a hotel policy and not necessarily a binding contract (although, again, it could have been hidden in 8 point font at check-in and the OP signed off on it.)

        If I saw this while making a reservation, I’d run fast out of matter of principle and to protect myself.

  31. That blog was awesome. 🙂 “Sally” is definitely Debbie Miller. I wish Debbie Miller would show up here and comment. I’d go make the popcorn. Katie and Marty Collins, I’m sorry this happened to you and was an expensive lesson. I’ve inadvertently booked a really crappy hotel that was also pretty expensive. It was much worse than this place sounds, actually. I’ve learned to research, research, research before I commit to a hotel. Since I started being more diligent about the reputation of the hotel, I’ve had very happy travels.

  32. i’ve visited the inn, and wrote about it (I’m a travel writer). I did not stay there, but the annex had a nice accessible room (I cover accessible travel). The manor house had some tired rooms — the annex was newer. IMHO it’s overpriced and that is why the OP decided to bail. FWIW, they should have told the innkeeper why they were leaving and given them a chance to make it right. I’m just saying, if you have an issue, man up and give the property a chance to make it right. Don’t go scurrying off with your tail between your legs claiming “an emergency”. totally unfair.

  33. You should mediate it – if just to tell them to go ahead and get to court already. It clearly seems like they’re not going to budge on either end.

    Also, this is a pretty good example of the effect of solid writing skills. I found the OP more credible based on their ability to write concisely and properly vs. the B&B owner who decided that SOMETIMES you have to ACCENTUATE your writing by CAPITALIZING words for EMPHASIS – which comes across as being less about the facts and more about emotions.

    You tried but just tell them to go to court.

  34. What ?? I have yet to see in all of the “This is how I would have handled it” comments that factor in THEY WERE ON THEIR HONEYMOON!!! Gee the options are go down and hassle about the quality of the room/grounds or keep everything on a happy note claim a emergency and head home to savor the fact that they just got married. That to me weighs in much more in their favor.

  35. Yup, don’t touch this one, Chris. It looks like both sides have terrible communication skills … you will never be comfortable that you have the correct story. The OP did not check reviews; if you just book blindly you have to take what you get … or check out and get billed anyway. Maybe if the guest had not lied about why he was checking out … that was just dumb. Perhaps you should send the Hotel Impossible guy over to do an episode on this place.

  36. If the place has a bad reputation online, why did Collins and his wife book it? Something’s definitely off. Keep out of this one, Chris.

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