Summary of the law - hotel (poor service)


Your rights


You are entitled to the services provided by the hotel to carried out  with reasonable care and skill.

What is reasonable will depend on the type or cost of hotel – but is usually a matter of common sense.

You should complain at the time – otherwise it might be difficult to prove that you were unhappy with the service received. Also this gives the hotel a chance to put matters right or offer you a discount on your bill.

You are entitled to compensation if you do not receive reasonable service – perhaps a refund of all or part of your hotel charges. Also you may be able to claim back any additional expenses you have had to pay as a result of the poor service.

Law: You have a contract with the hotel or restaurant. They provide the accommodation and services. In exchange you pay the agreed price.

Consumer Rights Act 2015 says that it is part of that contract that the hotel provides its services with reasonable care and skill. If they do not carry out their part of the deal you’re entitled to receive compensation or money off for their failure.


What do you have to prove to bring a claim?


That the hotel services were not provided with reasonable care and skill.

You should complain at the time – explaining your concerns with the service – why it is not of a reasonable standard and any problems or expenses this may cause you.

Depending on the problem, it may be relevant to take photographs such as of broken items in your room or signs saying a service is not available.

It can be helpful to keep a diary or record of the issue and any complainsts made and any problems or expenses this causes you.

In extreme cases you might also take the names and addresses of other people at the hotel – especially if they are also unhappy because they are suffering from the same problem – to contact them later.

You should keep your bill and also any receipt as proof of how much you were charged and then paid.


What can you claim?


Refund: You can claim a refund (or money off) of all or part of the cost of your stay at the hotel.

How much of a refund is reasonable will depend on the particular circumstances and to extent it ruined all or part of your time at the hotel.

Injury: If some defect in the hotel facilities caused you to suffer an injury then you can also claim injury compensation.  Examples include  tripping on a loose carpet or a cut from broken equipment. Special rules apply which we can explain if you call us for your Free Initial Assessment [2].

Illness: If a hotel facility made you unwell you may be entitled to injury compensation. Perhaps the water in the hotel pool or the food in the restaurant. You may be able to claim for your pain and suffering and additional expenses such as medicine and time off work. For more details on this click here to read about food poisoning.

Expenses: If you had to pay for additional expenses as a direct result of the poor service provided by the hotel, then you are often entitled to get your money back. You will need to show your expenses are reasonable and you’ll usually need to provide receipts to prove the cost to you.

Loss of enjoyment: If the hotel stay was part of a bigger event, such as a family celebration, then it may also be reasonable to claim compensation for spoiling that memorable event.


What is the deadline for starting a claim at court?


This is a complicated area of law where you will need specific advice. But very generally you have 6 years to start a claim for breach of contract in the courts of England and Wales.

However to stand the best  chance of proving your claim you will need to make your complaint as soon as possible.

Injury and illness cases: Here the general deadline for starting court proceedings is generally  reduced to 3 years (but it does vary in some circumstances).



Disclaimer reminder


Please note: To give you general information about your dispute, the information given here is a simplification of a complex area of law and cannot be relied upon. Before taking action please use our Small Claims service to get specialist legal advice on your specific circumstances. See the full terms and conditions of this website


Complaint Letter - hotel poor service


Information to include

Sample letter – hotel poor service


Start of official letter to other side.

[If you know the person’s name]: Dear Mr Smith,

[If you do not know their name]: Dear Sirs,



Any relevant background information:

What was agreed between you?

What happened (in date order)?

Be specific and refer to any written or verbal agreements


On  7 to 9 July 2013 my wife and I  stayed in your hotel for 3 nights.

Our accommodation was booked on bed and breakfast basis.

The reason for our visit was to attend our daughter’s graduation from Leicester University.



Details of any payments requested and any payments made.


I paid for the accommodation in advance through an external website, hotel at £300.



Identify clearly why you are unhappy.

Give any relevant dates

Be clear about why you think the other person is responsible. 


During my stay at your hotel, we had a number of issues:

  • On arrival at 3pm the room was not ready and we had to wait 2 hours before we could go to it. The advertised time is 3pm. I complained at the time to your reception but they advised there was nothing they could do.
  • The room was clearly a smoking room. The smell of stale smoke hung in the air. It got into our noses and into our clothes - despite us leaving the windows open. We booked a non-smoking room. We complained and we were told no rooms were available to allow us to change rooms.
  • On the second day (8 July 2013) we booked an alarm call at 6am. The call was not made and we overslept.
  • Throughout our stay the breakfasts were of poor quality for a 4 star hotel. On 7 and 9 July there was no hot food/cooked breakfast option.
  • The hotel swimming pool was not operational despite it being advertised and a significant reason why we booed your hotel in preference to others.

I believe the service delivered by your company was unsatisfactory, and below the standard I would expect from your hotel.  


Problems caused

Give details of any problems you have suffered as a result.

If relevant refer to photos.

Problems caused

As a result of the poor service, as stated above, my stay was disappointing and substandard.

  • The delayed check in meant we arrived late for a prearranged drinks reception at my daughter’s university. This was embarrassing and distressing.
  • The smell of tobacco is still present in our clothes – I have had to arrange for dry cleaning totalling that would not otherwise have been needed.
  • The missed alarm call meant we missed the start of our coach tour of the city. We had to take a taxi to join the group.
  • The lack of cooked breakfasts and swimming pool reduced our enjoyment of our stay.

Losses and expenses

If the problems have caused you losses or expenses - give details.

Also provide proof of the damage and cost of repairs or replacement wherever possible

Losses and expenses

As a result of the poor service received from you, I have had to pay for the following additional costs and expenses:

  • Cost of dry cleaning that would not otherwise have been needed to rid our clothes of smoke smell – see the attached receipt - £40.
  • Taxi to join coach tour – see receipt - £20
  • Cooked breakfast at Riverview restaurant on 7 and 9 July – see receipts - £45Entrance charge to public swimming pool £5


Be as clear as possible about the remedy you would like.

Say what action you would like them to take (or stop).

Where you are asking for a payment - put a price on the remedy you seek.


Our visit to Leicester for our daughter’s graduation was ruined due to the poor service we received from your hotel resulting in inconvenience, embarrassment and loss of enjoyment of what should have been a memorable family celebration.

I therefore think it reasonable to claim a full refund for my stay to the value of £300.

I also claim repayment of the extra costs and expenses listed above which total £110.



Give your opponent 14 days to reply to the letter – to  either:

agree with your complaint and give you the remedy that you seek


arrange to inspect the problem


set out their detailed response.


Please do not ignore this letter. I would like us to try to resolve our dispute without court proceedings and legal costs.

Please reply in the next 14 days, so that this dispute can be resolved as set out in this letter.

If you do not agree that you are liable and/or do not agree with the remedy sought, then please reply within 14 days with a detailed explanation of why not.



Point out that ignoring your letter will mean you may start legal proceedings for the court to deal with the dispute and that you may refer the judge to your letter.


I am sure it will not prove necessary but if I do not hear from you within 14 days then I reserve the right to start court proceedings without further reference to you. I will ask the court for an order that you pay me £410.

If I do have to issue court proceedings, I will refer the court to this letter and I will also ask the court to order you to pay me interest, court fees and legal costs.

I look forward to hearing from you within the next 14 days.

10 Ending

[If you started with their name]:

Yours sincerely,

Ian Rate

[If you started using Dear Sirs]:

Yours faithfully,

Ian Rate