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First time visiting Georgia, I have had a few surprises at my first accommodation in Tbilisi, which I would consider red flags, but maybe they are just common practice here. This will help me in choosing the next accommodation. (I tried to google these, but there seems to be nothing relevant.)

For context, I'm staying in an apartment reserved via booking.com.

So question is: which of these is common practice in Georgia? And which are out of place?

  • Asking for payment of the whole stay up-front. (I have been to a few countries/accommodations, and as far as I remember I always payed at the end, or was at least asked which one I prefer.)
  • Refusing to give a receipt. (One-week stay, ~100 EUR price. I was told I'm the first one to ask for a receipt. In the end I wrote the fact of the payment on a piece of paper which was signed by them, but they looked at me like an UFO.)
  • Initially refusing to give me a key and saying that the area is so safe that I need not lock the front door at all (in the end I did get a key though, upon asking again).

I have been at this place for a few days, and so far it seems ok, although not perfect, so I will remain for the remaining time. I ask this question to know what to expect/look for for the next accommodation.

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    It is perfectly alright to mention the booking service name here. AirBnB, Booking.com, Agoda or whatever – Hanky Panky May 13 at 8:53
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    In regards to paying up front at least, that can be standard in many countries, UK for example takes the payment upon booking, or at arrival. The others I'm not so sure of – Uciebila May 13 at 9:23
  • @HankyPanky: thanks, I added it to the question. – Attilio May 13 at 9:24
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My answer is not specific for Georgia, but I wouldn't consider your issues a red flag in any country.

Up-front payment is quite common, especially in smaller or private-run accomodations, which only accept cash. Even in larger hotels in western Europe, I occasionally have to pay when checking in, and even if it is uncommon or odd, I don't see why this is considered a red flag? If you are afraid that the lodging is so poor that you won't stay, then this is probably something you have to take up with booking.com anyway instead of expecting an on-site reduction of pay if you decide to leave early or only use a part of your original reservation.

Refusing to give a receipt for any service or purchase is also quite common in all countries with dodgy fiscal systems. The landlord is very unlikely trying to frame you, but to avoid taxation.

Coming from another country, where it is also uncommon to lock doors, at least in rural areas, I would also not find the missing key very peculiar. I am not sure what kind of accomodation you have booked, but from a safety point of view, there are many types of accomodation (hostels, dormitory-style lodging or private room rentals), where it is not common anywhere to get a key for your 'area'.

  • Thanks for the answer. As to "why I consider it a possible red flag": it could mean that they know their place is so bad, that the customer could leave immediately or in a few days. And it will be easier for them if they already have the money for the whole stay, rather than make an unsatisfied customer pay the whole, including the part he won't be using. (Also, I'm in an apartment, if that matters, as stated in the question "I'm staying in an apartment reserved...".) – Attilio May 13 at 12:28
  • What do you mean exactly by "frame me"? My fear was that he claims I did not pay at all at some point. – Attilio May 13 at 12:29
  • @Attilio Yes, I assumed that you were afraid that the landlord would later claim that you haven't paid, but I doubt that is the reason why he didn't want to give you a receipt. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo May 13 at 13:05
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    @Attilio A renter could skip out early even if accommodations are to a very high standard; that is a major risk to any landlord. And if they wanted to scam you by saying you hadn't paid, they hardly need the lack of a receipt to do it; there are all manner of scams using fake receipts, or bribing the local police (or fake police). And by giving you a key, they incur the risk that you will make duplicates of the key which you could pass on to local criminals. Just as you are allowed to have reasonable suspicions, the managers are allowed to take sensible precautions. – choster May 13 at 16:18
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I just came back from my two week stay in Georgia, so I have some anecdotal evidence (of course, this is not a definitive answer, just some datapoints).

I stayed in these three places:

  1. An apartment in Tbilisi ~ a week, booked via booking.com. Pay up-front in cash, no receipt, had to ask twice for the keys.
  2. A room in a house in a mountain village (Kazbegi), a couple of days, via booking.com. Pay at the end in cash, no receipt, got keys without asking.
  3. An apartment in Tbilisi for a couple of days via AirBNB. Pay in advance by bank card (because of AirBNB), no receipt (maybe can get it through AirBNB?), received the key without having to ask.

I would remark that I use AirBNB very rarely (last time was like 3 years ago), so regarding the last place, probably the payment/receipt is handled according to AirBNB rules. (Booking.com, on the other hand, I use a lot, and until now I always payed at the end, and then got the receipt from the owner of the place.)

So based on this short experience, I would answer my questions as follows, with relation to Georgia:

  1. Payment up-front: happens, but not always (it was 50%/50% in my case -- I guess in AirBNB you have to pay in advance by default, so I would not count that).
  2. Not giving a receipt: common (at least in the first two places I did not get any, again I'm not sure what is the norm for AirBNB).
  3. Not getting a key: weird (in two places I got it without asking, in the first one I had to ask and then got it eventually).

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