Clever-hotels website goes bust, leaving hotel room bookings invalid

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Not so clever. Thousands of British travellers may find their hotel bookings are worthless after booking website Clever-hotels.com went bust. Payments for bookings had not been made to the hotels, meaning guests will be turned away or will have to pay again.

Clever-hotels.com is owned by a Hamburg company called Navelar, which issued a statement: "The companies, through which Navelar has booked hotel rooms for its customers, have announced this afternoon that they will cancel all bookings of Navelar".

The company's failure comes as a warning to travellers who use third-party websites to find the cheapest rates and book through them rather than with hotels directly. Clever-hotels promised to book "worldwide hotel rates at the best possible price", although closer investigation indicated that this, like other promises by the company, was not accurate. The Independent reported that often the best rates are found through booking direct rather than using the middle-man websites.

Another German website, Trivago, is one of the main players in this field, with extensive TV advertising in the UK. Many of the travellers affected by the Clever-hotels failure booked through Trivago. Although Trivago is a high-profile and well-financed company, the small print on the Trivago site makes it clear they take no responsibility.

Its terms state: "Offers, in particular those related to the booking of hotels and trips or services or products related to them, are based on the databases and websites of external contracting parties. Trivago takes no liability for the degree of completion and accuracy of these offers."

Twitter users have already expressed alarm at being scammed by a German company after using Trivago. Credit and debit card-users are likely to be able to reclaim their losses, but will now be wary of using the online hotel booking sites unless more satisfactory assurances are offered.

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