Our long-term NYC hotel just canceled on us
April 19, 2011 9:58 AM   Subscribe

We're moving to New York City in 8 days. Our extended-stay hotel, where we made a reservation weeks ago, just told us they won't be open by then. What do we do now?

Me, the wife, and the cat are leaving Southern California for NYC. I'm starting a job there on Monday, May 2. Our flight gets into JFK next Wednesday night, the 27th.

We made a reservation with the Hotel Vetiver, whose upper floors are for vacation rentals and long-term stays. We knew the hotel was new -- the Google Street View shows it still under construction -- but we were never told that the hotel wasn't actually open for business.

This morning, we received an email from Scott, our contact there, that reads:

The expected opening date was April 25th. Due to delays in obtaining the necessary signoffs it looks as if we must push that date out.
Obviously we hope to hope as soon as possbile but to be safe we
suggest u make a backup reservation and any days that have been
charged will be refunded. Sorry for inconvenience.

That's the entire letter, with the misspelling and everything.

This leaves us with only eight days to find a place that allows cats and won't bankrupt us while we only have one income. An email to Scott was sent just moments ago. Phone calls to the hotel get either either busy signals or "We're sorry, all circuits are busy."

This completely destroys all our plans and even puts my new job in jeopardy. We've both quit our previous jobs and just sold most of our furniture.

Can any NYC MeFites recommend a similar place? At the Vetiver, we were going to pay $2218 for 28 days. It was in Long Island City, though my job is near Penn Station so the location isn't important. Is anybody in Queens who might want to stop by the hotel and see what in the world is going on over there?

You're not just helping us. You're also helping our cat.
posted by Flying Saucer to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (30 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What about a sublet?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:00 AM on April 19, 2011

Response by poster: Sublets can be risky and it's hard to judge places and people without being there. Half the listings on Craigslist are obvious scams. Also, the cat is an issue.

We have no family or friends in New York and even if we did, our stay is open-ended because my wife doesn't yet have a job. We need a "home base" for six weeks while she looks for a job and we look for another place to live.

Unless you have a specific sublet in mind?
posted by Flying Saucer at 10:05 AM on April 19, 2011

1. Comb the hell out of craigslist.

2. Check availability at the Penington and Seafarer's. They also may have additional suggestions for you. (Not sure about kitty, but they might be ok with it.)

3. You new office may have advice/assistance for you.

Sorry this is happening. Keep breathing!!
posted by hansbrough at 10:06 AM on April 19, 2011

Try Airbnb. You can find some lodging for much cheaper than a hotel. Many Mefites have had positive experiences with it.

Keep looking into sublets. The cat could be "an issue" anywhere, whether it's a hotel, couch surfing, or a sublet. If you search for "purrr" on CraigsList you'll only see places that are OK with cats.
posted by John Cohen at 10:09 AM on April 19, 2011 [6 favorites]

Also, I just searched for 4/27-5/27 on Hotwire and found a 3-star hotel "near Newark Airport" for $66 per night. Not sure if this link will work, but here you go.

They might have a shuttle to the airport, then you can easily train it into Penn Station for work.

Hotwire only lets you make reservations for 30 days, but you can regroup after that, I assume.
posted by hansbrough at 10:11 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've been living in new york for five years, and i've had to move at the drop of a hat three times.

Don't worry too much. you'll be fine. things work out. I would actually start looking at other options that will make it easier on you. You could board the cat, and take that out of the mix for a few weeks so you have time to get your head on straight. I'm also backing up the sublet option or short-term rentals. Lots of people rent out their extra rooms for short periods just to gain some quick cash.
posted by Blisterlips at 10:12 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

OMG. Sorry to post a billion times. I just wanted to add that as soon as you secure another arrangement, I would certainly back out of this Hotel Vetvier situation because it seems kind of dubious to me.

Another route: you could call Scott, explain the situation, and let him know he'll lose your business unless he finds a way to help you.
posted by hansbrough at 10:13 AM on April 19, 2011

Again, not sure about the cat, but Toshi Apartments offers short-term rentals.
posted by xo at 10:13 AM on April 19, 2011

The pet sitting place I've used does cat boarding. Not in a kennel type situation but individually in the pet sitters home.

i know you'd miss him but it might make finding somewhere for the two of you easier.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 10:15 AM on April 19, 2011

Memail me if you need to and I can put a call out on Facebook for you, as well.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:22 AM on April 19, 2011

My vet's office does cat boarding too, which might not be the ideal situation, but could help for a few days while you go look at sublets.

I searched for pet-friendly hotels on hotels.com and found the SpringHill Suites at Newark airport for 89/night. Again, not ideal, but it gives you an idea that there are places available. There's also an Extended Stay America property at the Meadowlands in NJ, which isn't a bad commute, but it's a little pricier - you might be able to get the rate down if you have AAA or something like that, though.
posted by bedhead at 10:24 AM on April 19, 2011

VRBO is (imo) the most trustworthy place to find a sublet, and you could always start by making a 2 week reservation then seeing if your hotel is open by the end of that.
Yes, do be up-front about the cat in case owners have allergies.
posted by rmless at 10:25 AM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

Take a look at corporate housing agencies, who are used to dealing with this sort of thing.
posted by evoque at 10:26 AM on April 19, 2011

Search New York Penn Station at http://www.extendedstayhotels.com. They have listings for homestead studio suites and extended stay america, probably not as nice as vetiver but they do accept pets (at least dogs). The closet listing was in Secaucus, but getting to Penn Station from there should not be difficult - i'm sure someone could chime in on that one.
posted by doorsfan at 10:27 AM on April 19, 2011

Yes, because your work is close to Penn Station, it opens up all the NJ Transit lines to you. You should be able to find someplace that takes cats pretty easily if you expand your search out into New Jersey.

And as doorsfan suggests, Secaucus is just a couple of minutes away from Penn Station on the train. That might actually be a great solution.
posted by yellowcandy at 10:31 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Can you ask a CA-side friend to catsit until you are on your feet in a stable home in NY? Then you can sublet or lease wherever, without worrying about your cat.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:56 AM on April 19, 2011

Craigslist - choose someone with proper spelling and grammar, who writes in complete sentences, who doesn't use all caps. Avoid apartments that sound too good to be true. I have rented five apartments this way and have looked at a lot more and none of them were scams. Just keep your bullshit detector on and don't get too attached to any one apartment. Quantity. Send out a ton of emails today. Respond only to ones who meet the above criteria.

Calm down. This seems like the end of the world, but you are capable and you will find a solution. You will not end up homeless and jobless and catless, I promise.
posted by valeries at 10:57 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Air BnB sounds exactly right -- and you can probably find someone who will let you bring the cat!
posted by caoimhe at 11:03 AM on April 19, 2011

I don't know how this will turn out for you, but I live in NY-city and would be okay with cat-sitting/cat-hosting for a while until you get on your feet (my apartment is okay with pets). Feel free to memail me. If you find other options, that's okay too, but this may help you if you are panicking about the cat right now.
posted by Wolfster at 11:18 AM on April 19, 2011

Response by poster: All right. Crisis averted. Thanks for all your advice -- we never even thought about New Jersey until you guys mentioned it.

We found a hotel in Jersey City that will charge us for two weeks about what we were paying the Hotel Vetiver for five weeks. So it's not a net loss and we'll have two weeks to explore Craigslist sublets in person.

Boarding the cat would cost as much as staying in a hotel that allows cats, so we decided to keep our little furball with us (for her sake and ours).

We also had to change our flight because JFK is so far from Jersey City. Now we're flying into Newark. I'd like to mention that American Airlines was very nice about the change and didn't charge us anything.

So it looks like we'll be moving to New York after all. The three of us look forward to meeting all you generous NY MeFites at the next meetup.

Oh, and under no circumstances ever stay at the Hotel Vetiver -- if it ever opens!
posted by Flying Saucer at 11:50 AM on April 19, 2011

Good to hear. There is plenty of transportation from Jersey City to Manhattan. Lots of people who work in the city live there, also Hoboken. Your kitty is beautiful, glad she can stay with you.
posted by mermayd at 12:26 PM on April 19, 2011

I don't want to freak you out, but take a look at jclist.com, specifically the crime sub-forum, and be sure you're not in a prime mugging area. I lived near the Exchange Place PATH station in Jersey City for two miserable years, and it is almost impossible to be too paranoid there. There are relatively safe areas, but there are a lot more relatively dangerous areas, and the police are astonishingly apathetic, so the odds are against you. (We had three attempted break-ins, and I was assaulted by a "neighbor.")
posted by Lizzle at 12:28 PM on April 19, 2011

The Vetiver people should have found you a place.
posted by rhizome at 12:31 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

FWIW, if you're looking to rent an apartment in NYC, you should be able to find something easily with a week of searching. Places are listed close to the date they're and they move quickly. Obviously, I don't know all the logistics of your move, but if it's possible and convenient, it would probably be more economical to try to sign a lease beginning on or around May 1, than to spend 2, 3, 4 weeks in a hotel.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 1:04 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you end up need a short-term accommodation for your cat, I live in the L.A. area and like cats. We have cats ourself and have a sunny cat-free space with birds and skunks outside your cat could visit in. Feel free to me-mail if you want to leave him/her with us for a bit.

Amusingly enough, the specials page on the Vetiver website shows that you can get a great deal if you book by 3/3/11 and "stay by 4/3/11". They're really trying to make the website look like that of an already-open hotel!
posted by arnicae at 1:34 PM on April 19, 2011

I am another person with a cat-friendly apartment if you need a place to stow the furball. We recently had our first foster cat recently and rather enjoyed hanging out with her.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:12 PM on April 19, 2011

Response by poster: Two more phone calls and two Facebook page postings (which were deleted!) later, we finally got a response. Again, this is a cut and paste, verbatim:

Not being able to take your reservation is a financial inconvenience to us as well as you. I know that probably does not make you feel better but all we can do is offer you our sincerely apology. We were honest will everyone that made reservations in april & may that the hotel opening date is tentative. I hope you understand this is out of our control. And i hope you will consider you for your future travel plans.

That middle sentence is untrue: we were never told the hotel wasn't already open and the word "tentative" doesn't appear anywhere in our email chain with them, and certainly not in their original confirmation of our reservation.

Again, no assistance was offered beyond an apology. One would think that any other hotel in a similar situation would provide a list of nearby hotels with similar rates, or links to corporate housing websites (since our stay was long-term), or even perhaps a Visa gift card that could be used to pay for change fees and more expensive lodgings.

I mean, is there anything worse than a hotel writing to you a week before you arrive and basically saying, "You can't stay here. You're on your own"? At least they told us before we got out of the cab in Queens.

Anyway, just wanted to keep you posted. Replies, ideas, and strategies are still welcome.
posted by Flying Saucer at 11:45 AM on April 21, 2011

Well, aside from the horrendous grammar they appear to be complete flakes. I'd just take a FIAMO attitude and leave some comments on Yelp or wherever you can (google "link:www.theirwebsite.com" to see who links to them).

My cynical side says they're just falling back on the NYC gruff-stereotype thing, so you might also call them out on that. "They appear to think that because they're in NYC they can treat people like shit." Something like that, but then again I'm kind of a grump.
posted by rhizome at 12:23 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: We wrote again to the Hotel Vetiver telling them that we were never told that the hotel wasn't open. We also asked for some kind of assistance, as their cancellation is affecting our flight, our hotel, and my new job.

Here's the response:

Daniel was told to contact everyone with an April/May reservation to let them know. I'm very sorry. To express our apologies, we can offer you 15% off the rate quoted on our website for any future stay (when we do open).

Which is interesting, because his second letter said "all we can do is offer you our sincerely apology." So I guess the apology wasn't all they could do; they could also offer a discount.

Fifteen percent. Think we should hold out for 75?
posted by Flying Saucer at 4:21 PM on April 21, 2011

No, you simply do not ever give them money at all. "Too little, too late, ya schmuck...and quit passing the buck to 'Daniel' like a weasel." Don't get hung up on the 15%, 15% off of $0 is what they deserve.

If you want to be nice, you tell them they should have found a place for you without you having to ask. I am under the impression that this is standard in hotel management, though I think it's certainly reasonable to expect it as a standard of professionalism yourself even if it isn't.
posted by rhizome at 1:08 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

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