This May my wife and I spent 11 days in Benelux (more precisely, in Be and Ne but not in Lux). For us, Americans, Europe now is pretty expensive because the current exchange rate between dollar and Euro definitely benefits the Old World. And the most expensive part of the trip was accommodation in Amsterdam. People love Amsterdam – it is beautiful and exciting, and is rightfully called the most tolerant capital in the world. But this universal love has a side-effect: in high season it is next to impossible to find a decent hotel room for a reasonable price. While planning the trip, I spent tons of time on various expedias, orbitzes, bookings, tripadvisors and similar, and realized that you can get either decent room or reasonable price, but not both. And suddenly somewhere on the web I found the following link: http://www.absoluteamsterdam.com/bed-and-breakfast/arty-amsterdam.htm
This bed and breakfast had a great location, looked OK and the price was, well, more or less reasonable. Of course, 125 Euros/night (~US $170) for a B&B was not in any way cheap, but at least it was less than other comparable options. I emailed them a reservation request and soon received confirmation containing, in particular, the link http://www.xavierahollander.com to the website of Xaviera Hollander, the person in charge of this B&B. From pure curiosity I clicked on the link and … here it became really interesting.
I learned that Xaviera Hollander is “the most famous madame of ‘the world’s oldest profession,’ author, Penthouse columnist, legend, performer, raconteur and theatrical entrepreneur”. I learned that “In 1968, she left her job as the secretary of the Dutch consulate in Manhattan to become a call girl, where she made $1,000 a night. A year later she opened her own brothel called Xaviera’s Happy House and soon became New York City’s leading madam. In 1971, she … was arrested on several occasions for prostitution by New York police.” I also learned that she published a lot of books and other stuff, of which the most famous is “The Happy Hooker”:
Exciting, isn’t it? I especially liked the word “legend”. Maybe I should call myself a legend on my website as well?
Anyway, needless to say that I read all of this with certain reservations. Needless to say that my wife was strongly against my dealing with hookers in general and the happy hooker in particular. But after clarifying a few details I decided: let’s go for it! After all, I am an open-minded person (at least this is what I like to think about myself), so why should I care what this 70+ years old woman did many years ago? Thus, we finalized all details and made reservation for May 22, 23 and 24, but I still had certain concerns. The style of Ms. XH’s emails was a bit weird. Plus she wanted to get initial deposit immediately. And the rest preferably in cash, not with credit card. Etc, etc. But here I decided to listen to my wife (thanks god) and insisted that everything should be on credit card.
On May 21, as planned, we sent an email to XH about the time of our arrival next day. The response was bizarre: she completely messed up everything and expected us to arrive on May 20, not 22. And since we did not arrive, she already charged my credit card for the whole 3 nights. And, as a very caring person, she found for us another place for which she was going to charge us the full price as well. This is how you must do business!
Fortunately, we had her emails (I still keep them as a souvenir :)) confirming the reservation, whose subject line was literally “Arty Amsterdam Central may 22,23,24“. For me it was enough. I forwarded these emails back to XH, demanded a total refund of our money, and strongly recommended to quit B&B business. After that I went online and reserved another room, which was quite modest but insanely expensive (what else can you expect if you need to get a room in Amsterdam one day in advance?). On returning home I found out that the happy hooker indeed charged my credit card to a full extent but did not refund the money. Fortunately, my credit cards trust me unconditionally and all charges were promptly removed.
Conclusions: (a) listen to your wife; (b) when you deal with hookers (happy or not), be ready to get screwed.
P.S. But Amsterdam is still a great city and we had a very good time there!