Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Kimpton Hotel Review: Hotel Helix Does not Value Your Safety or Their Word

This is not a review, it is a letter to the public chronicling our experience with a Kimpton Hotel. 

Unfortunately, this is a negative experience that I do feel is valuable to share. As a small business owner, I do not believe in putting out bad press and it truly disheartens me that our experience has to conclude with this letter being put out into the public. The reasoning behind my motive is not to discredit the hotel, but make aware that people’s safety is NOT top priority at Kimpton and they will take back their promises once they know you are keeping quiet. I do not know about you, but integrity means a lot to me when doing business with a hotel. 

Upon entering The Helix at Washington DC we were excited. The hotel is modern, cool, and the staff seemed friendly and welcoming. Our room was larger than most standard rooms with the funky design motif true throughout. We arrived at 6:30pm on a Saturday in August. We had to unwind after our five hour drive from Long Island so we ventured out to find Good Stuff Eatery at about 7:20pm. We asked the front desk for directions, and we did not return until 9:30pm. We got ready for bed, and went to sleep. The next morning after getting ready we realized money was missing from our room. After going through our stuff several times we asked for a door check because we were not getting any verbal answers as to if anyone was in our room (like housekeeping). After door check it was discovered that at 8:30pm somebody left our room. Meaning somebody entered without a key, or was already inside. 

Naturally our skin crawled. This was appalling, scary, and everything in between. Panicked, the assistant manager (who gave us directions the night before and knew we were gone) stated ‘Sometimes our doors do not latch. We have been having trouble with the new system. Did you check your door?’ After that statement registering we said ‘Yes, the door closed behind us. We even pushed on it.’ His response came quickly ‘Well, you are safe, but, well, sometimes people drink too much at the wine bar and drunks could just come into your room if the door was unlatched. So it really could be anybody.’ 

I am going to let that sink in for you...


This obviously played in our heads like a scrolling marquee. 

So our money was gone. The money that we saved up for our anniversary trip was gone. Our room was broken into. Someone was within our personal belongings and took our money. The hotel’s doors don’t latch right. Washington DC is a crime ridden area. We were stolen from. Our doors do not lock right. We could be attacked. We were robbed. A stranger was in our room. Crime ridden. Safety. Unsafe. Robbed. Happy Anniversary

After a long day of a lot of mind clutter we decided we wanted to leave. Not only did we feel unsafe, but we felt unsatisfied with the explanations given to us by Hotel Helix. After expressing such discontent we were offered a suite. To that I pettily scoffed that staying in a suite would attract more crime - so forget it. We understood the hotel’s position and I tearfully packed up knowing my husband put a lot into the trip, and it was just time to go. The manager on duty was quite lovely. She did want to make it right but really could not. We left, ate dinner, and drove five hours home to New York. 

Kimpton did the right thing in refunding us for the trip. We were told that the insurance company would call us and most likely we would get our money back. While we did not expect it, we were happy that the effort was going to be made. 

The next day my Husband was contacted by the manager that was not on duty the day before. After a dozen apologies we were assured that we were going to be refunded in full. On top of that, he said that he did not want to bother with insurance and he would give us our stolen money back on our credit card. “We are happy to do it” he stated “Going through insurance is a pain, and we just want to make it right, so your money will be awarded back on your card.” We were thrilled. He added something else about if we ever stay at a Kimpton again it would be on them. Reassured and content we discussed our feelings of gratitude for the chain. I was contacted personally by another woman, who I sang praises to because we were being awarded our money back and the slate is wiped clean. 

Little did I know, I was putting my foot in my mouth. After a week of not seeing the refund my Husband e-mailed Kimpton. Apparently that ‘Stolen Money Refund’ was a manipulation. The reasoning we got was that ‘We got back the money for the trip, which equaled the stolen money, so we are even.’ This was not what we were told. Annoyed, I called for some further explaining. I got the run around. Please do not get me wrong, when our money was stolen I did not feel like I was owed anything. Whether the hotel was covering an inside job or a drunk wandered into our room I accepted the loss. But then, Hotel Helix told us they were giving us our money back. We were ‘so corporative and kind.’ ‘It was the least they could do.’ ‘Thank you for not calling the cops or making a scene.’ We were idiots to not call the cops and make a scene. 

What Kimpton was playing off as a miscommunication was a bold faced lie that they told us to keep us happy and quiet. When confronting them about the lie they shrugged it off. This dishonesty and lack of integrity now added to the fact that in a drug filled, high alert area their unsafe policies of low security (no cameras in the hallways upstairs) and non-latching doors. The tension heightened when they started to flip the script. ‘The money could have been lost’ she said ‘Someone may have been in your room, but how did they get in?’ she said. The rage rose within me. Everything they said previously swelled inside of me. Now I knew they would lie to save themselves. 

Kimpton believes in blaming the victim. So does their insurance carrier, Liberty Mutual. 

Shortly after I hung up with Kimpton my husband got a phone call from insurance. Their demeanor was extremely irritable. Laura*, at Liberty Mutual pretty much said we were out of luck. Listen, we did not expect insurance to come through. Especially when we heard it was Liberty Mutual on the line. Annoyed with the attitude on the other line, my husband asked Laura what would have happened if the door did not latch and a drunk wandered in and attacked me. She scoffed and said “We would lie about the doors latching and assure the public that it was the fault of the guests, and not the hotel. We accept no responsibility.” Quickly my Husband reminded her that we were TOLD the doors were faulty and ours PROVED to be, she responded “Someone was in your room, but how did they get in? I don’t care what you were told, our statement would read that our doors are fine and you were just looking for attention” “So you would lie?” “Yes, we would lie, because this case is not really worth our time.” 

Now, many of you probably have in your heads a few things. Some of you are upset about staying at hotel that does not value safety. Some of you are thinking it could have been worse and for us to get over it. Our attitude leaving the hotel was that it could have been worse, but we were uncomfortable but appreciated the efforts made by Helix to make it better. We left anyway because it was unsettling, our trip had a cloud over it, and really - our money was gone - what could we do? We were even more relieved when Kimpton told us that we would receive the full refund. We were so grateful for that. When they added the money that was stolen plus telling us they would comp Kimpton rooms for our next trip we were stunned. That was above and beyond. Unfortunately, it was a manipulation, a lie, and the tease of getting our money back hurt just as bad as it being stolen from us. The comped rooms I feel like is a total farce too. At this point would I even want to stay at a Kimpton? I am not sure I would. 

This whole incident got me thinking, is there anyone else out there that this has happened to? People who did not call the police (our BIGGEST mistake) to keep everybody else’s stay quiet and put their trust into the hotel? I hope not. Kimpton did say we could still file a police report, yet they started to tell us that our money was ‘lost’ and it was ‘unlikely’ to prove people we in our room even though there was electronic evidence. Pretty much, Kimpton was prepared to lie on the report to make us look bad. At first they seemed accommodating, but they were just another company hiding behind their suits. To me, they were covering up a potential inside job. 

All in all, Hotel Helix in Washington DC is unsafe. They will likely tell you their doors are on a ‘new system‘ - yes a new system that allows doors to not latch correctly. In an area with a poor reputation for safety, the cool decor matters less than the fact that you can get robbed, lied to, and it is approved by Hotel Helix. They will stand by their faulty locks and roaming drunks, and their insurance will lie for them to make it all go away. Your business is not valued - for the price I would stay elsewhere. Especially since they rob you for parking as well ($100 for two nights, yes everyone, Kimpton does not care about your well being at all).   

We love to praise the cool boutique hotels we stay at for our anniversaries, but Kimpton’s hotels will never be on our lists again. As nice, and as fun as they seem they are a bunch of two faced managers. While I know none of this was personally and it was only business and they need to protect themselves. Well, I need to protect myself too, and warn other young twenty something couples that you are in danger at a Kimpton, especially Helix in Washington DC. They may ignore these reviews, or they may release a statement to discredit us, but they know what really happened and our well being was not their main concern.

I truly wanted this entry to be cluttered with the cool pictures I took of Helix and DC in general. But, why would I advertise a place that I would warn people against. Hotel Helix and Kimpton should not be at the top of your booking lists. 

*Laura said that we could quote her on behalf of Kimpton and Liberty Mutual. She thought my threat was hallow when I said I would be writing something. If you have noticed I have not mentioned the names of the Kimpton employees (sans Jay) because they were nothing but lovely, even if they revoked promises, they always took our calls. I am not interested in putting their jobs in danger, I only want people to know that Kimpton as a company does not value honesty or safety. 

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