Guests Shows Up At Hotel, But It’s Now A Homeless Shelter And No One Told Them

Last month I wrote about a reader who made a booking at the Holiday Inn LaGuardia Airport to stay during the U.S. Open. This was booked on the IHG website – they booked direct – but when they arrived at the hotel, it was… no longer open as a hotel. The reservation was still active in their IHG One Rewards account.

The hotel had been in foreclosure. It was rebranded. But nothing indicated it was entirely closed. And I wrote that I had never seen an instance where a hotel just closed, reservations remained active, and nobody said anything.

Yet it’s happened again! A pregnant woman showed up at her hotel reserved at to find it was no longer a hotel – it had been converted to a homeless shelter. And the online travel agency’s customer service had no hoots to give.

I booked a room at the Queens County Inn and Suites in Long Island City via, not far from LaGuardia, where I would catch a 6 a.m. flight Sunday morning. But when I arrived at the hotel around 11:30 p.m., I found it had been converted into a homeless shelter.

Alone and nearly five months pregnant, I felt very unsafe in the neighborhood and finally got an Uber so that I could wait at the airport as I contacted The representative did not seem to appreciate the gravity of the situation, and told me she needed to email the hotel and give them 30 minutes to respond before she could help. Over an hour later, the representative, who told me no supervisors were available, said I would receive an email with new lodging arrangements. I never did

The property’s website is still live, and it’s still listed across numerous online booking sites, however it no longer shows inventory for future reservations. The woman may have been lucky the hotel no longer honored reservations, and that she spent the night outside LaGuardia airport waiting for it to open, since reviews of the property had been “worse than all but one hotel in Manhattan” (“dirty,” “creepy” and “funky” with “more bedbug reports in the 2010s than any other hotel in the city”). says they’re not responsible when a hotel doesn’t update them that they’ve closed, even though guest reviews on the website already reported the property was no longer open.

“We don’t own the properties,” he said. “We have some options to guide them, but at the end all the information has to be provided by them.”

…Mr. Herran Muro acknowledged that the system is imperfect, and “creates some pain points” in cases like yours, especially because of the 30-minute wait time the company needs to confirm the hotel cannot accept your reservation.

According to the site, the guest “should have been passed along to a ‘second-line’ representative who might have then elevated it to a supervisor.” This is insane and underscores what’s wrong with booking hotels via an online travel agency website.

  • The site takes zero responsibility that the hotel they sell you even exists
  • If a hotel closes, they do not tell you
  • And when you call for help, the best case scenario is after a wait on hold you convince the first agent to transfer you to another agent who “might” transfer you to a supervisor

The New York Times ‘Tripped Up’ column says you should do your research about hotels – comparing options and prices – using an online travel agency site like Expedia or, but then actually make the reservation directly with the hotel chain to avoid this from happening. Except the Holiday Inn LaGuardia Airport shows even that may not help you! It may be a good idea to phone the front desk of your hotel directly before arrival.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I had a reservation at the JFK Residence Inn for tomorrow. They cancelled it on me 2 days before the stay because hotel is not ready. No help rebooking, nothing. Just here is a refund, fend for yourself with last minute costs….

  2. The takeaway is that in New York, LA, San Fran, Boston or any other city with a big homeless program is to book thru the hotel. And use a credit card with fraud protection. This is why fewer and fewer people will use OTA’s for booking travel.

    The only thing that seems to make sense is booking rental cars on Expedia, because the Auto insurance is $10-$15 a day.

    Unless you have plenty of time to kill. And have a landline with a speakerphone…

  3. I love the drama that folks always like to emphasize in their cry “…11:30pm, alone, pregnant, bad neighborhood…”.

    Yea, sucks that you got played by, shame on them but the theatrics isn’t necessary and only makes them look foolish.

    Lesson to be learned – don’t use 3rd party websites and more importantly, due diligence is necessary to try and avoid bad neighborhoods. Time of day, gender, and being without or without a child doesn’t negate the first 2 points that one should adhere to!

  4. OTAs should be called booking engines. They are nothing more. The OTA designation creates a false service expectation. For those of us who know what a travel agency represented in the past or is today, when one pays for services, this is all laughable. Why is anyone surprised?? It’s like Ben Baldanza said, people will always seek to save the last dollar. It’s price not value. Service providers have responded.

  5. I love homeless shelters are they giving a special rate?
    Still get your points? 😉
    And does it come with a complimentary soup kitchen buffet? Or other perks

  6. I booked my wife a night at an IHG property in Long Island City in September. I booked on the IHG app. I was out of the country and got woken in the middle of the night by my frantic wife who discovered a building site where the hotel was supposed to be.
    After rebooking something I checked the app again and they were still selling rooms for a hotel that wasn’t built yet.

  7. Democrat lunacy.
    Everything the left touches fails.
    It’s time to elect reactionary people to fix the decay

  8. @Chad – You’re not supposed to drink the bong water. Impressively enough, that’s the worst non sequitur I’ve read this year.

  9. Christian, “Chad” might well be infantile “Alan,” whose irrelevant mantra is “Another failure of the Biden regime.” B-O-R-I-N-G.

  10. Also your lefties have to police your own. One of your Berkeley crackheads attacked pelosi husband today lol.

  11. I suppose there will always ben huge numbers of people with no common sense. How hard is it to figure out that an online booking service is a faceless entity on the internet, therefore probably not a good source for booking travel? (As for IHG, the mind boggles.) But thousands (millions?) of people just reel off their personal information and their CC number to this faceless entity (William Shatner doesn’t count.) … PLUS, they just leave it like that … no confirming directly with the hotel, no reading the reviews. To add to the situation, they show up at midnight to check in. There’s just no hope … but the more you tell us about it all, the less likely we are to make thoughtless plans. So I think you.

  12. What do people have against homeless people? In our town, the city staff hates the town residents and wants to punish them. The city staffer said the town must change its municipal code and allow homeless shelters. The city staffer lied but the town council was fooled and accepted those lies.

    Some NYC hotels permanently offers some rooms to the homeless because of a city contract, I believe.

    I twice stayed at an illegal Upper West Side hotel, the Park 79. It was an illegal hotel. It was supposed to be low income housing but it was 100% hotel. After several years, they were caught and it shut down.

  13. @Kroggerj – Perhaps when you grow up you’ll stop being a troll. Then again, you’re the author of the “I know you are but what am I?” school of debate, so it seems unlikely. Interesting that you never have any actual retorts that address issues, just childish taunts. That says a lot.

  14. is a profitable company that should vet and carefully monitor who they book for their customers. I’m shocked. (Is this happening on or Expedia??)

  15. I directly booked via the IHG website a hotel in Manhattan for this past summer. Two days before checking in I was looking at reviews and noticed no current ones. Decided to call the hotel (no answer) but researched and realized it was a covid quarantine hotel. IHG says we should have received an email, never did, and of course the reservation was never canceled. IHG was no help in booking with the same points I had used to a new more points IHG hotel. Feel very lucky to have found this out before we arrived. Now I feel the need to double check future reservations with them which is a hassle I should not have to do.

  16. The Patels, the hotel owners, turned their hotel over to the city for a homeless shelter and never notified or cancelled any existing reservations. The Patels are the ones at fault.

  17. Ummmm…..this is happening even through GOOGLE. So I booked the new AC Hotel/Le Meridian dual brand DT Denver through Marriott directly. Beforehand I had searched nearby properties and an ALOFT DT Denver came up that was literally half a block over from my hotel. When I get there, all of the branding is covered up with “Be Kind”, fights happening on the corner/surrounding area at all hours of the day, open drug use and drug deals, lots of loitering. On Google the ALOFT was still bookable my entire stay, even though it had been a homeless den for over a year. Will never stay near one of those ever again. Too much “activity”.

  18. This experience demonstrates why you should always book directly through the hotel’s website rather than use a third party like

  19. This is still happening! We booked through and showed up there May 26, 2023 and almost got mugged!

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