Tag Archives: bad hotels

Hotel misadventures

OK, last week I got you with my imaginary worst hotel ever. I must admit I did get a bit convinced by this myself – it almost became real as I was writing it and yes I was inspired somewhat by Fawlty Towers. But the sad thing is that I was also inspired by real experiences and we all have memories of THAT hotel – especially when you are feeling a bit out of your depth in a foreign country, far from home and late at night. Our bedrooms are our safe places and perhaps something tries to convince us that we are the only people who have used this room. We know that doesn’t make any sense logically but I think this is why it freaks us out if we come across evidence of someone else’s stay.

You know what I mean. That stray hair in the shower, the chocolate wrapper under the bed, the lipstick mark on the coffee cup. Eewwww. You mean someone else has used this room in this mega hotel in the heart of downtown. I can’t sleep in a stranger’s bed.

That’s why the anonymity of a hotel room is so important. I once checked into a hotel for a conference. After a couple of flights to get there I wasn’t in any hurry to unpack so I arrived and immediately threw myself on the bed, switched on the tv, made a couple of phone calls. Eventually I thought I should at least unpack. Imagine my face when I opened the drawer and found it packed full of someone else’s undies! How the hell did someone leave behind their underwear. But … the other drawers were full of clothing as well. Then I went to the bathroom to check and yes – toothbrush, moisturizer – the works. I felt so uncomfortable. Called down to reception and found out that they had given me the wrong room by mistake and yes there was someone booked into that room.

So yes we have all had those nightmare hotels and thank you for sharing your experiences. Here are a few real nightmare hotel stays – some personal and some collected through the years from clients.

MIAMI – we were new to North America and did not know the hotel chains or areas. Ended up in a dodgy hotel in a dodgy area – what stuck out in my mind was that the remote control was CHAINED to the bedside table. That kinda gave me a clue that maybe this wasn’t the best choice.

LOS ANGELES – a family going down to Disneyland had a problem in their hotel room. It was an army of ants. There was a little hole along the skirting board and this was their free entry to swarm over anything that looked interesting – and you know when you travel with kids how they seem to scatter crumbs wherever they go – a bit like Hansel and Gretel. They did complain to reception who kept going up to the room and doing a clean but the ants kept coming back. The hotel was full so no chance of another room. They were quite proud when they told me that they had put paid to the ants’ excursions by plugging up the hole with toothpaste.

FIJI – now bugs can be something that freak you out – or not. And if they do freak you out then maybe tropical areas like Fiji should be avoided. I had a couple staying at a hotel in Fiji who said that they were being terrorised by bugs (not sure what type). Of course I contacted the hotel directly who told me that they had been in communication with the guest but that the bugs were just the natural bugs of the area such as lizards, beetles and mosquitoes. This was one query I picked up in Trip Advisor –

“Would anyone be willing to provide their thoughts on the bug/insect/reptile/etc. situation in Fiji, particularly in nicer resorts as mentioned above (if there is a difference). I don’t see a lot of discussion about this topic, but here and there I read reviews of people waking up with huge scary bugs in their room, or worse yet, on them. Is this the norm? A reality of life that might happen? A rarity? We are from NYC and don’t really know what to expect or how we’d react. We are both absolutely terrified of snakes. We don’t expect a pristine environment devoid of nature and life. But neither are we sure we are suited to deal with sharing our bure with bugs crawling around at night (or day).”

I totally understand the fear of insects – it’s a real thing. The hotel was very understanding too – but nature is nature.

UMNGAZI RIVER BUNGALOWS, SOUTH AFRICA – as a relative newcomer to South Africa I too was not used to the more exotic creepy crawlies. Coming from England I had no problem with spiders, frogs, slugs and snails (or even puppy dog tails – get it?). What I wasn’t prepared for were geckoes. These little lizard type creatures are very common in warmer climates like Natal in South Africa and they do a great job of cleaning up insects like mozzies and midges – but I was terrified of them and spent my first night lying in bed with the torch shining on them in case …. what? I don’t know. I just didn’t want them running all over me with their horrible little feet. Believe me – they didn’t want that either and stayed well away from me. But I understand the fear.

CAPE TOWN BED AND BREAKFAST – I am not a big bed and breakfast fan – probably because I just prefer being in a hotel and not feeling like somebody’s personal guest but I do understand how sometimes a B&B can be cute and original. And yes I have stayed in “cute and original” in a room with the toilet perched up on top of a flight of stairs. I kid you not. The room had a bathroom en suite but when you entered the bathroom you had the bath on one side and then a steep flight of stairs on top of which was perched the toilet. Gave a whole new meaning to the phrase “on the throne”.

The worst hotel ever

I honestly can say this was the worst hotel I have ever stayed at. I could not believe it. I had read reports on TripAdvisor – real horror show reports about gungy hotels and bad service but this took the cake. I could not believe how I, with 25 years of travel experience, could end up in a dump like this. How did this happen?

I should have known when we had to drive up the twisty drive way which was full of leaves – nobody had bothered to sweep them. When the hotel itself came into sight – well that was a disappointment with a capital D. The website had described it as “cozy”. I should have known right away – a ephemism for old and decrepit. And yes it was.

Who in their right minds today still has shag carpet? In the reception area? It was tacky and grubby and looked like someone had taken a shag on it – ‘scuse my French. I should have turned on my heel right then but it was late. Behind the reception desk stood a tall man with glasses who was busy punching numbers into an adding machine – one of those old ones with the paper roll sticking out the end. We stood there patiently while he ignored us. Finally I coughed politely to get his attention.

His head whipped up. “Oh” he said with a sneer “You have a cough. Well maybe you shouldn’t be out in public. Are you sure you don’t have COVID?”

“I don’t have COVID or anything else” I said, annoyed. “Just trying to get some service here if it is not too much trouble”.

“Oh I beg your pardon madam” he said, his voice rich with sarcasm. He pushed away all the books and the adding machine and stood there with a false smile on his face. “What can I do to help?” It went downhill from there. I told him we had a booking for the night and he took 15 minutes to search down a list of names in his book. Where the hell was the computer? Finally he found our names and with a flourish checked them off the list and then passed over the key to the room – a massive heavy old fashioned key attached to a miniature bucket and spade adorned with the words “I love Bogstown by the Sea”. It was so large and cumbersome I could not even fit it into my purse. He sniggered. “You would be surprised how many people go home with the key by mistake and it costs us a fortune to get the locksmith in.”

I was committed now – for better or worse. And how much more worse could it get. Oh Lesley – don’t tempt the fates.

The bedroom was awful! Who uses candlewick bedspreads any more? And where was the bathroom? What the hell? A shared bathroom down the hall. Bloody hell. This was just getting worse and worse. We had to have something to eat as it was too far to get back into town and we were starving. Silly fools.

We made our way to the dining room and found that there was only one other couple having dinner and they must have been 110 in the shade. And lo and behold the waiter was the same man who checked us in. By all accounts he was a Jack of All Trades (and master of none). He passed us a menu and then proceeded to tell us that they were out of everything on the menu with the exception of Tripe and Onions. Seriously? Who eats tripe and onions these days? Yuck. So we settled for the soup of the day which was a strangely coloured slightly lumpy liquid with an indistinguishable taste. I couldn’t do it anymore. Just needed to go to bed and get out of this dump as soon as possible in the morning.

Good luck sleeping in this bed I thought as I sat on the side of the bed and then instantly fell into the sagging hole in the middle of the very old mattress. “Oh I don’t think I can do this” I said. But it was too late to go anywhere else. So I lay down in the hollow and then started to look at the ceiling. In each corner there was a cobweb filled with the spider’s dinner. A motley array of little creepy crawlies. There were also odd shaped coloured blobs on the ceiling which seemed to indicate a leak of some sort from the room above. The mind boggles.

Then I noticed the mice …. cheeky little buggers running around the room, darting out from under the dresser. I hate mice. What kind of place was this? But it got worse … because then I spotted the cockroaches and that was it! I absolutely could not stay here. I started to panic and I could feel the scream climbing up my throat. I couldn’t contain it any more and just opened my mouth and let out a blood curdling yell while ripping off the disgusting bedspread at the same time. I just had to get away.

I sat up and looked around the room. I was at home, in my bed. It was all just a dream. A horrible COVID dream. A horrible COVID nightmare that is. You see – this pandemic is driving me round the bend!