I had an experience this last Friday which I would like to share.
I flew in with a late British Airways flight and arrived at T5 around 22. This was an impulse trip so I had not made any plans in advance, e.g. no hotel reservation. Knowing the time of year and it being a weekend I expected to be able to land a good deal at the airport.
Once I was out of customs/immigration I walked over to the British Hotel Reservation Center. On my way there I saw an advert for Sofitel including a phone number, so I decided to call the hotel directly.
At Sofitel Heathrow they told me that I could have a room for the night for £123. Which I thought was a fair deal, considering the standard of the hotel. However, I was confident there could be a better deal, so I decided to go on and try the Hotel desk.
At the desk, the agent made a call, I overheard the conversation, where it was stated that Sofitel was full… Upon returning to me after hanging up on the call, he said he could get me a room at Marriot for £270 for the night…
I admit I got annoyed. I told him that I had just spoken to Sofitel and they had offered me a room for less than half that Marriot price. To which the clerk responded I should go and get it.
Considering this, I decided to check out Radisson Edvardian as well (thank God for internet enabled mobile phones), where I landed a night for £60 + taxes.
So, the morale is clear. Always get some numbers for local hotels and call them directly.
Nevertheless, my disappointment with the Hotel reservation centre persist. I thought they were there to provide service, not to throw the most expensive offer from a select few at you.