Just a couple of days ago I stayed at the Andaz West Hollywood located on Sunset Boulevard. It was just for a quick one night stay. The rate was quite good and the ANDAZ5 promotion made this too good to turn down, offering 5,000 bonus points and a $50 hotel credit. Add that to the Diamond breakfast credit, 1,500 bonus points through the “G3” promotion the hotel takes part in, along with the 1,000 bonus points I receive as a Diamond amenity, and this is quite a deal.
I arrived at the hotel just before 5PM. Now before I go any further I’d like to point out that this was my second Andaz stay, with my previous stay being at the Andaz Wall Street back in March. To summarize, I loved the hotel as such, but the service was lacking somewhat.
In this case the confusion started as I entered. Andaz employees don’t have uniforms of any sort. Instead they try to dress “hip” in button down shirts and usually jeans with sneakers. Fine in theory, but the issue becomes that you have no clue who works at the hotel and who doesn’t. In this case a “host” was standing at the door and promptly greeted me and asked me to take a seat.
He was very professional and processed my check-in quickly. He explained that as a Diamond member I would receive a $25 breakfast credit and also explained that I had been “upgraded” to a room with views of the Sunset Strip. He escorted me up to my room without asking (to the point that he grabbed my bag and started walking away with it).
Lobby (can you figure out who the hosts are?)
Area where free drinks are served in the evenings
The host walked me to my room on the eight floor, 808.
Entrance to room
I really loved the design of the room. It was spacious, modern, and practical. The host explained to me all the features of the room, including that all the non-alcoholic drinks and snacks in the minibar along with internet were free (which is a nice feature of Andaz hotels).
The king bed was ridiculously comfortable. Almost worthy of the “heavenly bed” title.
The bathroom was functional though a bit on the small side. There was a huge walk-in shower as well.
Snacks (all of which are free)
Mostly complimentary soft drinks
Towards the window was a cool little sitting area with a tiny leather couch and comfortable chair with ottoman. The comfortable chair even had a TV mounted on the wall next to it, which is totally unnecessary given the nice views. There were blinds by the windows and then a thick curtain separating the bedroom and this little room.
Chair and TV
View from room
There was a nice handwritten note from the GM of the hotel on the desk, along with some candied walnuts in a small container. Very nice touch!
Card from GM and walnuts
One of the really nice things about this hotel is the pool and outside area on the “penthouse floor.” While the pool wasn’t huge the views were panoramic and the cabanas were very nice. Unfortunately it was a bit too cold to go swimming.
I was working all evening so at around 7PM decided to order room service, since I had the $50 to blow thanks to the ANDAZ5 promotion. Once in a while I like to do stuff just because I can, and this was one of those cases. I decided I’d use up all the credit, so I ordered shrimp ceviche as an appetizer, an angus burger with bleu cheese as the main course, and chocolate pie for dessert. I of course took the Diet Coke from the minibar.
There were a couple of things that impressed me about room service. First of all, it only took 20 minutes to arrive from the time I placed my order, and more importantly, there’s a flat 18% gratuity. There’s no fixed service charge or anything. So when the waiter came to my room, I didn’t have to sign anything. That’s very nice, especially since there’s usually a delivery fee of a few bucks, plus 20% gratuity already added, plus they usually expect even more. None of that here!
Dinner… and no, I didn’t eat it all!
The appetizer and dessert were phenomenal. The burger was pretty good. I spent most of the evening working so didn’t get to bed until late, though all my worries were forgotten after I fell asleep probably within a minute.
Sounds like a great stay so far, right? I mean, the hotel as such is really, really, really nice.
Unfortunately my stay took a 180 at 6AM. At first I thought a fire alarm or some other sort of alarm was going off, but when it didn’t stop I decided to get up and look at what was going on. Well, there were picketers in front of the hotel for an hour. For an hour straight they used loudspeakers and sirens and banged pots and pans against each other. I had no clue what these people wanted and assumed it had nothing to do with the hotel, which is why I started wondering why the hell they kept making circles around the front of the hotel.
After posting about the situation it was pointed out to me that these were actually hotel employees! So let me make sure I understand this — hotel employees are walking around the front of the hotel for an hour at 6AM to wake up every hotel guest, just to piss them off? Seriously?!
Let me be clear here, I’m not dramatizing this. I was on the eighth floor and all my windows were closed, but it was so loud that I couldn’t even make a phone call due to the background noise. Here’s the short audio clip I took of the picketers. This was actually one of the more mild parts (a part where they weren’t yelling “WHAT DO WE WANT? MORE MONEY! WHEN DO WE WANT IT? NOW!”), and please keep in mind this went on for an hour.
I was furious. There was no way to sleep for that hour, let alone work due to the amount of background noise. Eventually it stopped at 7AM, at which point I went to breakfast. I was looking forward to sleeping in, but I couldn’t fall back asleep at that point.
I went to RH, which is the hotel restaurant. It’s nicely decorated and wasn’t too crowded.
The service was efficient and friendly and the prices were somewhat reasonable given the type of hotel, although $6 for a glass of orange juice ticked me off, since there was nothing “freshly squeezed” about it. Unless you consider Tropicana to be freshly squeezed orange juice.
There were all kinds of items on the menu, from omelets to waffles to pancakes to crepes to fruit to yogurt to cereal. I went with the french toast.
It was some of the most delicious and well presented french toast I’ve had the pleasure of consuming. I went back to my room and kept working for most of the morning, although eventually blogged and tweeted about the “noise” situation in more detail.
About 30 minutes after one of my posts I received a call from the GM to discuss the issue. I expressed my frustration but was happy to hear what he was doing to combat the situation. Apparently this is due to the contract negotiations going on at the hotels for the employees (who are unionized) and this was the second time this has happened in two weeks. He explained that what they did was in violation of a noise ordinance, and despite them calling the cops at 6AM, they only showed up at 7AM. They said they were going to work more closely with the cops in the future.
First of all, politics and pro-union/anti-union sentiments aside, it’s sad when you have to get the police involved on your own employees. Second of all, it’s very sad when the employees choose to express themselves through the guests like this. My biggest regret about the stay was having tipped any of the employees. Why the f^#% would I tip anyone that belongs to the group that chose to wake me up at 6AM and keep me up for an hour? I can certainly understand that they want better contracts, but if this is the approach they take, I have ZERO sympathy for them. Actually, I hope those that took place in the protest are unemployed soon.
I nonetheless appreciated the GM’s candid phone call, and he offered to let me check out late due to the “issue” in the morning. No other compensation was offered, though I was fine with that. Both he and someone else from the hotel followed up with me via email to once again apologize, which I thought was very professional. He even mentioned that he had “ensured [I am] granted a late check out this evening.”
I had a meeting in the afternoon and returned to the hotel at around 3PM. I went up to my room and of course my key wasn’t working, which isn’t really surprising since they have to be reactivated. I went to the front desk, and this is where I really start to get a bit frustrated.
I explained to the agent that my key wasn’t working but I had been granted late check out for room 808. He asked me who granted me late check-out, as he had no record of it. I said the GM had granted me late check out, and he then asked me for the GM’s name. Seriously? I’m kind of disappointed an employee would “quiz” a guest like that and that the GM didn’t actually follow up with the “hosts” to make sure late check out was ensured.
I then explained to the “host” the reason I had been granted late check out — because I was awoken at 6AM and kept up for over an hour because of the employees picketing. Instead of being apologetic, he says “yeah, we’re in contract negotiations right now.” I couldn’t help but respond “great of you to let it out on guests.” What he said just really, really ticked me off, and that alone makes me never want to return to this hotel.
It’s sad when a stay is ruined so easily. I had an almost flawless stay, but being woken up at 6AM and then the rude response after the fact just ruined it for me. I have to say that overall I enjoyed my stay and I’d like to return, but as a matter of principle I don’t think I will. I have about five more reservations booked for the hotel, but I think I’m going to cancel them all. I just fundamentally have a problem with supporting a hotel that has such bad labor relations. I love good customer service just as much as a good hotel, and while the hotel has the latter, the former could be improved upon.
But I really do like the hotel as such, and had they not had the picketing demonstration, I would have likely written a glowing review. So take from this what you will…