Grimly Funny: Trip Advisor Caracas

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So, a spell of weekend procrastination took me to Trip Advisor’s Caracas Hotel pages and… well, it really is an excellent way to waste half an hour.

Behold the gringos utterly baffled by multiple exchange rates and the resulting, batshit crazy room rates!

Guffaw at the outright ripoffs!

Marvel at a Brit’s first encounter with chiripas! – “There was no hot water (hardly any water at all) and the bathroom was in a very poor state. We tried complaining however at midnight there was nothing they could do… The worst was still the come: when we turned off the lights out came the tiny cockroaches, they were everywhere!!!!. We hardly slept.”

Keep a running tally of phrases like “this is the worst hotel I’ve ever stayed in”!

Chuckle at the reviewers reaching for dramatic emphasis in their warnings! “Avoid [Residencia Anauco] like you would a wounded rino!!!”

Shudder at the thought of the poor gringo who paid $250 a night (with his gringo credit card!) to stay at Hotel Alba Caracas and soon realized that, on top of the shabby rooms, drab cheap paint, faulty plumbing, old tatty furniture from the sixtys, and poor (expensive) food, he couldn’t actually walk outside after dark!

Quiver in horror at the miserable sods who thought the word “Hilton” or “Intercontinental” on the wall would actually shield them from good old atrocious Caracas-standard service!

A shockingly small number of Hotels acquit themselves honorably from this catalogue of woes. Hotel Avila does ok in the Faded Old Gem category (“A Quiet Oasis in the Middle of Hell”), Altamira Suites has some actual admirers as does Hotel Paseo Las Mercedes, and the shiny new Pestana seems a favorite with the Expense Account crowd. For the most part, though, the city seems over-run with $400 a night 5-star ranchos in the sky.

I suppose a lot of you must have spent some time in Caracas Hotels. Got a favorite horror story? Do share!

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1 COMMENT

  1. In 1992, we stayed at El Circulo Military Hotel. The general facilities were nice with several fancy receptions going on. The pool was great. However, the rooms had not changed since the 1950s. The metal beds were old and squeaky, the bath was run down, the ashpalt shingle floor had worn through, the paint was very old, no real service, and we ate elsewhere. It was shameful.

    Now that Chavez is spending big on the military, I wonder if things have improved.

    The Caracas Hilton was acceptable back then, but nothing special. It did not have to go down far to get to where it is today.

  2. Why would anyone sane pay these kinds of prices for a stay in a dangerous city like Caracas? Insanity no matter how nice the Hotel.

    This is so sad to see.I only have wonderful memories of our family staying in the Macuto Sheraton ‘cabanias’…and I adored the old charm of Hotel Avila.

    For years( back in the 80’s) we spent most weekends in Macuto Sheraton for only 1,000 Bs weekend rental.Excellent food, clean rooms, great service, paradise landscaping, safe for kids, and located close to some small charming towns on the coast.

    The worst part of these reviews is how people describe their fears when stepping out of their hotels.Crime is why I got my kids out of Venezuela.I can take most anything but that.

    What has shocked me when I have researched travel to Venezuela is that most tourism companies do not tell people how dangerous it is.Instead they rave on and on about what a great place to visit it is.So I imagine that some people are convinced only to end up paying a fortune for an unpleasant and dangerous vacation.

    This is insane stuff.Why they charge so much is beyond me.I guess Bolivarian socialism means unrestrained capitalism and speculation.

    • The crazy pricing is 100% down to the crazy exchange rate regime. If you pay for your Bs.900 room with a foreign credit card, they’ll charge it to you at the official rate – $210 – even though you can buy Bs.900 for a hundred bucks in Maiquetía. Back when the official rate was at 2.15-2.60 (when many reviews were written) it was twice as bad.

      No sane Venezuelan would pay this way…but “Adventure Tourists” without the street-smarts to crack the crazy currency regime just get absolutely murdered by it.

  3. Hey, even if the hotel was fine and dandy they’d still be in Caracas. Then they’d probably not want to leave the building. So having atrocious hotels ensures the tourists will actually go out into the city!

  4. Has anybody been to the Colonia tovar lately?
    I wanna go there with my girl, but i don’t know what’s like in there.
    Some info 😉

    By the way,firepigette is right, who’d want to stay in Caracas?
    I was reading some backpacker’s blog and the guy only stood here 3 days and his comments were “Caracas should be nuked”. Corrupt cops robbing you,robbers robbing you,hotels robbing you,and you may also lose your very life.
    I wouldn’t go to Caracas even if i was paid,really. And by the way, most hotels are crappy and overpriced because people is “mojoneada”.
    It’s this luxury consumerist lifestyle that’s destroying the society,and it’s not only the wealthy,i’ve seen more than enough people who can’t pay their phone bill(abnormally high) or electric and water bill but can afford to have an almighty Blackberry,wich is expensive plus the monthly plan,wich is the same as getting internet in your home.

    • bueno, I don’t think most people travelling in Caracas are there for pleasure – somebody has to administer the pillaging of our Natural Resources under socialist cover, y’know! (The few idjits who do think Caracas is a nice place for a City Break deserve all the shit they get and then some…)

      Take yer girl to Canaima, though. Absolutely delightful. My wife left there convinced that the only properly civilized people in Venezuela are the Pemón.

    • Metodex,
      You can ask Regina and even check out some of her pictures. She is a German living in Venezuela and her husband was in Colonia Tovar recently. It is a particularly curious experience for a German and specially if she has the unlikely chance to talk to one of those who still speak the dialect. Listening to Tovareño is like getting into a time machine, as dialects from the original area have “moved on”. Otherwise, it is nice but not extraordinary. And it is expensive.
      Here her site and if you scroll back you will see some pictures from C.T.
      http://regina-g.blog.de/

      Francisco is right about Canaima. You can also go elsewhere in the Gran Sabana that is less touristic (but then by car, sometimes jeeps, and praying the woods across the river do not crumble while you drive and also minding the snakes). Delta Amacuro may be another option for excursions, but mosquitos are different from those of Gran Sabana. Some villages in Mérida are still quite nice and there is trekking possibility there, but the roads are as usual.

  5. Thank you Kepler and Francisco, for the responses.The website is in german!! Ich spreche kein deutsche!! Although i went to the Colegio Aleman de Maracaibo for 3 years.I should know a bit.

    Yes i am quite curious about Colonia Tovar and the dialect and stuff. Im hoping it’s quite the experience,being all culturaly different and stuff.
    But i’m not much of a “rustiquero”,and well,we are fat so we won’t hike,not much.
    I was just looking for a little town-village to go for a few days,mountain preferably,and i’ve been way too many times to Merida and Timotes and all those towns.
    I think i’ll stick to the Tovar,although in their website they only talk about hotels,jeeps and hiking :S

    By the way, it was very depressing, the backpacker’s website. He did a trip from the caribbean islands to latinamerica. When he got to Venezuela,all words were bad, and i don’t blame him.

    • Here you can see some pictures:

      http://regina-g.blog.de/page/3/

      You can write to Regina in Spanish or write me questions and I forward them to her. I hadn’t been there since 2007.

      You have never been to Colonia Tovar? I mean: the place is cute, but it is small and most people are NOT lugareños running around in Black Forest custom and speaking in the language but people like you, eating sausages and drinking beer as if there is no tomorrow. Only a tiny fraction still speaking in that German dialect, in case you want to be sure to have the “ethnic experience”.
      Check this out, you will see some of the last speakers:

      Something else: Tovar beer and Tovar Wurst are cheaper at a supermarket in Valencia than in Tovar proper.

    • If interested in villages I would recommend Sucre, all of it. Rio Caribe is specially nice (though boring at night so bring a book)

      You can visit cocoa farms, track down cigar rollers and rum haciendas, bathe in thermal waters and eat some delicious fish. There’s a kiwi family who set up shop out there to farm cocoa, look em up, kiwis are even nicer than Canadians so I am sure you could arrange a tour! Plus the beaches are non too shabby either. Chaguarama is of note, though a 4×4 is needed.

      Also, if in need of information stick to Valentina Quintero’s excellent guide (Spanish only) and skip the horrible Venezuela Lonely Planet (and, it goes without saying, trip advisor).

      Further, anyone who stays in hotels in Venezuela is looking for trouble. Posadas is where it’s at (on which Valentina’s guide acts as an encyclopedia)

      However, if you haven’t been to Canaima then there’s no question about where you must go. Even if you are not fit you can arrange canoe tours and all sorts of activities that would suit the more sedentary minded.

      • Don’t suggest canoes until you know how much weight they have to carry. Remember native Americans are small and usually fit 🙂

        But Sucre is indeed a good option. As a preparation he can read Humboldt’s account to his trips in Araya, Cariaco and other places around.

  6. “we were in fact warned not to venture outside of the hotel gates” – great commant about the Hotel Avila in San Bernardino. There is one samll barrio near there in Av. Los proceres and I enver seen any trouble there. Just paranoia.

    But it does not happen in Caracas. years ago I was at a hotel on Lakeshore Drive in Chcago and was told “not to leave the hotel” by the staff.

    Generally, hotels are shit and overpriced in Caracas as are most things. Service is terrible and the staff rude in many cases. Nothing has changed in over 30 years at least.

    • Arturo,

      ” Just paranoia.” ?????????????”Nothing has changed in over 30 years at least”?????????????????

      Things have changed quite a bit.As someone who lived there from the late 60’s until the early years of 2000, I can attest to that fact.I find it strange that you would make this comment because everything changes everywhere in 30 years time, so I really don’t know where you are coming from with this comment.But Venezuela has changed quite drastically, for the worst.

      At one time it was reasonably priced, and not that dangerous in the better neighborhoods.After Chavez came into power it rapidly began to get more and more dangerous.When I left in 2002 it was so bad that on my only day of rest, Sunday, we would stay home because I was just too afraid to go out, even to a nearby restaurant.Friends were visiting less and less.There was an atmosphere of tension and depression, something that I never felt before there.My daughter’s friends were being killed on the streets, and at least one of my coworkers was car-jacked weekly.

      To be honest, I am too afraid to even go see my family and friends there now.A sister- in- law of mine from Valencia, was told by her parents never to return.They are afraid something could happen to her.

      Why you make these comments is beyond me… I can only speculate.

    • Arturo, do you believe what you are writing?
      Geeez…
      I am told in some places in Berlin or Brussels to “watch out, watch out” or even “don’t go”. There is something a Chavista apparently cannot grasp. It is called rate. Rate is not a feeling, it is not an attitude, it is not a matriz de opinión, as your bosses tell you.
      The murder rate in Caracas is huge. The crime rate in general in the most dangerous place in the USA cannot be compared to that of Venezuela.
      You can always find very dangerous places anywhere, but the probability (another concept that apparently is not comprehended by Chavista) of you getting mobbed and robbed in the bloodiest Chicago or Los Angeles ghetto cannot be compared to Caracas.

    • I have stayed at hotels in downtown Chicago and you can walk anywhere and be perfectly at ease. It is a wonderful vibrant city.

      I was in Caracas in the 80s and 90s many times and it was wonderful. The people were friendly and night life was a blast. I was there in 2006 and it was DANGEROUS! Have not been there since; but I have heard that it has gotten worse.

    • I was bicycling on Saturday when I got a flat tire and didn’t have a tube of glue to patch my tube. I sat by the trail for a bit thinking of swapping tubes (for one less leaky) when a young kid, maybe 16 years old stopped to see if I needed help (got to love the cycling community). I explained what I needed. He didn’t have any glue but one of his buddies did, so he chased down his friends and brought them back. One loaned me his tube of glue so I could patch my tube…while I worked, these boys were asking me all sorts of questions, about my bike; why no suspension, why this, why that…anyway I used my bad Spanish the best I could to answer them. They asked how long I’d been in Venezuela and I told them (a pretty long time…long enough to see what it was before and to see what it is now), and explained to them that I kind of liked it here. They agreed except for the LACK OF SECURITY! So if 16 year old boys can figure that out…

  7. Una de las peores cosas como tu bien lo dices, no es el estado del hotel, sino el servicio que se presta.

    En Enero estaba indeciso si usar el “getaway de mi resort” en Cancún o en Margarita. Para finales de este mes, todos estaban entre $800 y $2000 en el uso de la opción gateaway. Pero había un resort que estaba muy bien, el Dunes en Margarita. $250 !

    Sin embargo, preferimos no ir al Dunes porque mi esposa fue hace 6 años y fue un desastre. Ahora bien, con problemas adicionales de agua y luz que padece Margarita iba a ser mucho peor.

    Decidimos irnos a Cancún en un “todo-incluído” y le comentaba a mi esposa luego de varios días en el resort, quién es el demente que se va a ir a Venezuela con un servicio tan cordial y excelente como se presta aquí. Esta gente está entrenada para el turismo ! En Venezuela, no hay entrenamiento, no hay cultura de turismo, no hay educación y además existe la imágen de que “yo no soy esclavo tuyo”…, cuando lo que uno quiere es simplemente un buen servicio por lo cual ya tu has pagado.

    Desastre.

    • Ahí está la clave: Esta gente (la de Cancún) está entrenada para el turismo ! En Venezuela, no hay entrenamiento, no hay cultura de turismo, no hay educación y además existe la imágen de que “yo no soy esclavo tuyo”…, cuando lo que uno quiere es simplemente un buen servicio por lo cual ya tu has pagado.”

  8. Just an idea…

    Since Chavez obviously need to pad his war chest for next year, and since tourism seems to be incompatible with 21st Century Socialism, I think he should sell Margarita Island to another country. Ridiculous? The U.S. bought Alaska from Russia, when Russia needed money and couldn’t afford to invest enough to develop Alaska. I am sure Canada should be interested. They don’t have the crushing debt that the U.S. does, and this would be a natural market for their “snow birds”. Of course, we would have to learn to say, “Buenos dias, hey?” Still, on balance, I think it should be a win-win.

    • They’re all oppos there right now, so there would be a political temptation as well. The downside, though, is this: where would all the loyal boliburgeouis be able to go for vacation? Foreign lands aren’t good options when you’re trying to show your nationalism.

      • Well, we could trade say, Newfoundland for Margarita, even up.

        That way our boliburgueses can go “esnoborrdin” and still support “turismo local”, the Canadian snowbirds get their time in the sun “at home” and a certain innkeeper gets the best of both worlds.

        Listo!

        Next!

    • Reliable sources confirm that military advisers from Grand Fenwick are meeting with Nueva Esparta rebels to plan an invasion of Canada. Margarita Hilton officials vehemently deny that Peter Sellers was seen at the hotel.

  9. The first and only time I stayed in a hotel in Caracas was in July 2009.
    I looked at some reviews on hotels.com and was astonished at the REALLY HIGH prices!! And I had heard that the regular standard was not high at all, and that I should stay in one of the more recommended/upscale hotels like Gran Melía, Pestana, Altamira Suites etc.

    But the only one i really could cough up money for was Melía.. at 3200 USD for 7 nights.. Altamira cost TWICE that for 7 nights….

    The only thing that came up in my brain was: Maaaan. Venezuelans can’t like tourists to much 😛
    But this was, ofcourse, before i knew much about Hugito and his cr3w of mongols.

    So I stayed there for 7 days. Went to Salto Ángel, Colonial Tovar etc. And when i got back for my last week in Caracas I stayed at my then to be girl friends familys house. No sane person would ever stay at those prices…

    I can get the suite in Stockholms finest hotel for the same price tag as the standard room in Altamira.

    I had of course by then exchanged money at a more favorable rate. But i never touch fire again if I have been burnt 😛

    But to sum up the hotel experience. It was a pretty pleasant stay.
    Nice and tidy rooms. Maybe not the most modern decore.. But at least classy. A nice pool + bar and a really good taxi services.

    I pretty soon realized that I had chosen a hotel that was “a little bit of safe haven in hell” … Sabana Grande-area in Caracas was horrible at night. The few times i walked alone from the station at night to the hotel i was afraid! And I’m not used to having that feeling. Garbage cans on fire… Suspicious people/alcoholics following you. It’s only later I have come to realize how lucky i was to not get mugged… or worse.

  10. I went to Venezuela in December, and, as my flight was shceduled to arrive in Caracas at 9:00 pm, and my final destination was Puerto Ordaz, I neded to stay overnight in Caracas. Fearing of being robbed, kidnapped, or even killed (yes, call it paranoia), I decided to stay near the airport and the best option was the Eurobuilding Express. I’m still keeping a Venezuelan credit card so I was trying to use it to pay in bolivares, but that hotel website kept saying that it was fully booked, but using expedia.com, oh surprise!, there were available rooms at a nice rate of 180 US dollars, so, I paid it. It’s not a bad hotel, it was confortable but very over priced, but I considered it was the best option to have “peace of mind” and avoid the risk of taking a taxi to Caracas

  11. Asesinan en Margarita a turista que debía volver hoy a Francia

    El director del CICPC de la entidad Luis Carabín, confirmó la muerte del turista frances, Lebras Ivesen, de 53 años, en la isla de Margarita, tras ser tiroteado en el hotel Laguna Mar, antes de robarle su cadena.
    UNION RADIO
    Lebras Ivesen fue herido en las piernas y murió durante su traslado al Hospital Militar. La Policía Científica abrió la investigación del hecho, pues al parecer se identificaron los responsables.

    Sólo en Marzo 122 personas han sido detenidas, 38 vehículos retenidos, se han abierto más de 36 procedimientos de microtráfico y se han desmantelado 19 bandas en Nueva Esparta.

    La víctima y su esposa tenían previsto regresar a su país este martes.

    http://www.unionradio.net/actualidadur/nota/visornota.aspx?id=70730&tpCont=1&idSec=3

  12. The irony is that Venezuela could be one of the world’s leading tourist destinations – friendly people, great natural wonders, beautiful beaches, stunning mountains, Amazon rain forest and a sprinkling of some great city art (Soto).

    It takes a ‘special’ kind of leadership to squander the natural assets of the country and turn it in to one of the most feared destinations in the atlas.

    • As an operator & owner of a tourism business in Margarita I can only watch with horror as this idiot destroys one of the few remaining sources of hard currency income.

      According to local newspapers visitors from outside Venezuela have fallen 80% from 2 years ago. I can tell from my website visitors that interest in Margarita has fallen to an all time low. Searches for common phrases that drew thousands of monthly searches just a few years ago barely get out of the hundreds now.

      There are thousands of hotel, posada & apartment rooms sitting idle for most of the year. The only time we really get busy is during national temporadas which amount to about 7 or 8 weeks a year, hardly enough to survive the year.
      I personally don’t understand how the larger hotels are surviving. I suspect that at least 1 or 2 will close this year. Just have a look at the TripAdvisor ratings to see which ones.

      The government’s solution to the problem – bring in visitors from China. Give me a break! Does anyone really believe that this is a viable tourism market? Or Iran?

      What we need is some intelligent person to realize that we have a huge, rich market with hundreds of millions of people just a few hours away. The problem is that there are no direct flights & the people have to go through Caracas to get to Margarita. Most won’t. Every island close to us has direct flights from the US, Canada & Europe. Why not Margarita? (a rhetorical question)

      Also try to explain to a Seniat agent how you have hundreds of dollars monthly in expenses for advertising on Google, Yahoo & MSN that have to be paid in $$. Try getting CADIVI to reimburse you at the official rate for these expenses. Forget it!

      Sorry for the rant!

  13. One thing is sure though… This year the plane tickets to Venezuela are cheap! really cheap in fact.

    Should be a sign that almost no one is going? Both Venezuelans going on vacation abroad and tourist going to Venezuela?

  14. yo!!!…wow……well a thousand ways to die…..i am going to L:os Roques in sept….my problem is my flight …should i buy my ticket at desk…considering its low season..exchange is 8-1 unaficially?…4-1 officaially…do i use dollars..or bs?…i want to hustle the ticket at desk..i have a good friend there already…who said they would exchange..but they have no experiance with los Roques.or the trasportation ..going fishing Yo!!!…Bonefishing best in hemisphere…who could help it..LOL… so book early,pay 4.35..or…exchange and pay at desk 8-1?…help

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