Hotel scam in Peru and how to avoid it

Hotel scam in Peru and how to avoid it

I have always been a budget traveler. So I don’t mind destinations that are further away from the city center, as long as I get a good price. I have never had issues with hotel scams so I didn’t expect to happen in Peru. So I’m writing this here as a warning, and how to avoid these situations. I feel like as a solo traveler I was more vulnerable to this. Anyway, enough of moaning here is my experience with hotel scam in Peru.

Hotel scam in Peru: what happened

Huacachina oasis in Peru
The first hotel scam in Peru experienced in Ica, so I decided to stay in Huacachina instead

I was on my way from Paracas to Ica, where I wanted to spend two days, visiting both Ica and Huacachina. Not a lot to do, just chill and enjoy. On the bus station in Ica, I asked for a taxi driver from the bus company. I’m always using these, so I don’t run into more taxi scams. I got him the address, he started driving. Everything was fine until we get to the address. That is where I find out that my hotel is not on the address.

The taxi driver was super nice, so he decided to keep trying and hopefully we will find this hotel. We went around the whole town, asking people if they know about the hotel. Nobody knew anything. The taxi driver even went to the police station to ask them about the hotel. They just said that they don’t know that such a hotel ever existed.

Cool. So basically I was a solo traveler in Peru, not speaking Spanish, and not knowing anyone around. Since I didn’t have too many options, I just asked the taxi driver to get me to any hotel in Huacachina. I was so annoyed that this hotel scam met me in Peru, where I have heard that in the main season is really hard to get a hotel on the last minute.

Turns out, the taxi driver knows a decent hotel in Huacachina, where they had a free room.

Different city, same scenario

Hotel scam in Peru, Arequipa
Unfortunately, I met another hotel scam in Arequipa

I thought that this is going to be a problem just in Ica. Turns out, the same scenario happened in next town, in Arequipa. Got a taxi, the taxi driver got me to the address, the hotel was nowhere to find. This time, when we meet the people on the address, they even said that this hotel never existed on this nor on this address, neither on the street or the neighborhood.

So I did the same thing. I asked the driver to get me to the hotel where he knows they will have a spare room. He did, it was great. The staff at that hotel was even nice, once they couldn’t get me their taxi driver on my way to another adventure, they even check up on me on facebook (which is a little creepy, but still nicer, I guess).

Solving hotel scam in Peru with Booking

In both scenarios, I got myself a different room at a different place. Which was great. But my issue was that Booking still didn’t know about these scams and I wanted my money back.

I wrote a big complaint on both of the hotels, explaining my situation, basically telling the whole story. I got a call from someone from Booking in two days. Unfortunately, during that time, I was high in the mountains on a tour, where they cannot reach me on the phone. So I got mail, saying that they will try to contact the owners of the hotels and ask their part of the story.

I don’t know who did they call, or what did the people on the other end tell them, but the truth is, that I never got the money back and one of the hotels that I complain about is still there, so be careful if you want to book accommodation in Ica, don’t go here.

How to avoid a hotel scam in Peru

I guess I can say that in some ways, this scam made me smarter. You will probably never be 100% sure when you are booking if the hotel really exist. But you can look for signs.

Is there a lot of reviews from different nationalities? Well, that is a good sign.

Did you get any message from the hotel? If so, you can be sure, that this place is up and running.

However, if you didn’t, don’t panic. Try to contact your accommodation, ask them if they can pick you up at the station or at least send their known taxi driver that would drive you there. If you get a message back, you can be sure, that this place is safe to go. If not, I would probably think about booking some other place.

Lastly…

Please know that these scams are mainly issues of small hotels for backpackers. If you are going for luxury accommodation, you probably don’t need to think about things like this.

Also, I wrote this post mainly because I’m usually traveling alone and I kind of want to know other female solo travelers, how risky this could be. But hey, you might have luck. I did, and I managed to find decent places to stay after.

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13 Replies to “Hotel scam in Peru and how to avoid it”

  1. A good read – i always trust my gut feeling when on holiday! I have a colleague going to Peru soon so I will link this to her.

  2. This is a really crappy experience. I used Booking.com for my travels in Ica and Arequipa and it was fine, but you must have come across some bad apples. They should be immediately removed from the website. Maybe also mention which ones they were so other people visiting don’t end up booking with them. I’m glad it all worked out for you though!

  3. Argh what a nightmare! I’m sorry this happened but grateful you decided to share your experience and tips! I’m always getting lost, especially when I’m travelling alone, so I can totally picture this happening to me. It’s sad that scams like this are a part of travel in many places. Of course it could have been a lot worse, though. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Oh my gosh!! I am so sorry this happened to you. What a great taxi driver for putting in all of that extra effort to try and help. Thanks for sharing your story so others don’t have to experience what you did.

  5. What a terrible experience! Looking at the hotel you linked to, I wouldn’t think it was a scam – it has so many great reviews and seems legit, if a little run down. At least you had great taxi drivers who could take you somewhere else!

  6. Wow! That sounds horrible! I’m glad the taxi drivers in both places were helpful and kind to take you to real accommodations. It’s really great you wrote about this, so people will be extra careful!

  7. This is so scary and stressful! I was really hoping you booked through a random place directly and didn’t use booking. I hate knowing that they didn’t do anything about it and that it is still on their site. I clicked the link & I don’t get how they can have so many good reviews???

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