NY's Union Street Guest House Threatens to Fine Guests $500 For Posting Bad Yelp Reviews

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A word of advice: If you’re planning on visiting Upstate New York anytime soon, don’t stay at the Union Street Guest House — and definitely don’t plan your wedding there. It emerged yesterday that this boutique hotel in the Hudson River Valley has a few questionable policies in place, including this little gem: If you book your wedding there, and any of your guests leaves bad reviews about the place on the Internet, they will allegedly charge you $500 per review.

Cue the outraged cries of the entire Internet.

The New York Post’s Page Six broke the story first, pointing out the crazy fine as seen on the Events & Weddings page of the hotel’s website. Here are the relevant sections; prepare to have your mind blown:

“Please know that despite the fact that wedding couples love Hudson and our Inn, your friends and families may not. This is due to the fact that your guests may not understand what we offer - therefore we expect you to explain that to them. USGH & Hudson are historic. The buildings here are old (but restored). Our bathrooms and kitchens are designed to look old in an artistic "vintage" way. Our furniture is mostly hip, period furniture that you would see in many design magazines. (although comfortable and functional - obviously all beds are brand new) If your guests are looking for a Marriott type hotel they may not like it here.

“If you have booked the Inn for a wedding or other type of event anywhere in the region and given us a deposit of any kind for guests to stay at USGH there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review of USGH placed on any internet site by anyone in your party and/or attending your wedding or event. If you stay here to attend a wedding anywhere in the area and leave us a negative review on any internet site you agree to a $500 fine for each negative review.”

The section about the $500 fee has since been removed from the USGH’s Events & Weddings page, although, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, it has now been preserved for all time in the form of the many, many articles on the scads of media outlets that have covered the story. Also, everything else — including the whole thing about the hotel being “vintage” with “hip, period furniture” such that “guests… looking for a Marriott type hotel may not like it” — was taken verbatim from the USGH website.

According to Gothamist, the inn later posted on Facebook that the whole thing was a joke:

Although that post, too, seems to have vanished. And let’s face it: It probably wasn’t a joke, Also, the damage has already been done — which, of course, has resulted in people flocking to the Union Street Guest House’s Yelp page and submitting bad review after bad review. Most of them are fake, but they’re all laugh-out-loud hilarious. Let’s take a look at the best of the bunch, shall we?

This one is short and sweet:

While this lengthier one gives us a little bit of a history lesson, bolstering the belief that the fine was never, ever a joke:

Others highlight additional terrible policies they experienced during their stay:

A quick look at the inn’s Rates and Policies page confirms this as real. I can safely say that I’ve never seen a cancellation policy this impossible before. Yikes.

It's worth noting that a few of the "additional policies" cited are made up, but this one gets points for style:

A few have flown under the radar, so to speak:

It’s a five-star review, so technically they can’t be fined for it, right?

Of course there was a bodily functions joke:

Which may not be everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to humor — but I have to give this one credit for the term “excess waste fee.”

Speaking of, there do seem to be a few, ahem, cleanliness issues:

This person raises a valid point, especially in light of the above problem:

As does this person:

You guys! This guy figured it out! Anyone who stays here automatically finds themselves transported into an episode of Fawlty Towers!:

All in all, this one sums it up nicely:

Welcome to the Internet, indeed.

Anyone else curious about what the Union Street Guest House might do if you lose your room key?

Images: Union Street Guest House/Yelp