I am in the middle of drafting a blog post about picking the right hotel and wanted to include my worst hotel experience. I decided it would have been digressing for too long, so I thought I’d write a separate blog post. As you will soon see if you choose to read on, in the end my personal experience is not actually much to write about and many people have horror stories which will no doubt make this seem like the perfect stay in comparison.
Anyway, the scene was a Travelodge just off an A road in an unnamed English town. I am not a big fan of the Travelodge chain, but it would be unfair to say they are all bad. Although it is reasonable to say they are usually very basic. It was business travel that took me to this particular Travelodge, booked through my employers HR department.
I arrived early one November evening, so it was dark. The hotel was situated just off the main road in what can best be described as a dimly lit car park next to a petrol station. It is hard to describe in words, but it had a cheap motel feel to it in both location and style. The nearest town was a 10-15 minute walk away, the pubs in the town are a story themselves and for another blog post.
The room was basic as expected, a bed and an old a chair in the corner. No table, the cheap kettle was balancing on a thin shelf like ledge and the toiletries limited to a bar of soap, if you don’t count the clumps of hair in the bath. The bed looked clean, but I didn’t really want to guess what the stains on the floor and walls could be.
Now I have stayed in hostels and hotels in many countries, there has to be more to my experience than a run down, unkept building in a rather miserable location. There is more.
The first clue was the congregation of men outside the front door, mostly wearing light clothes and certainly not what one would wear on a cold November evening. For example, one man was wearing flip-flops, shorts and a string vest. The men were mostly smoking, a couple with a can of beer in hand. They were not causing any trouble, but not what you typically see outside a hotel reception area.
The second clue was the noise and disturbances throughout the night, the type you would usually associate with a stag party coming home at 3am. This definitely was not a place stag parties would typically visit. Fortunately this has stopped by the morning, but I think I would have been very hesitant to leave my room if this was still going on, regardless of where I was.
The hotel was used by the local housing authority as temporary accommodation. Now I must stress this is not a slight against people who are placed in temporary accommodation, unforeseen circumstances could easily see this being you or me. However it also transpired that the hotel is only used when no other temporary accommodation provider will accept a person, there are usually good reasons for this.
There is great irony in this story and why talking about the experience is a little different to my actual experience. I work in a local housing authority elsewhere in the UK and I am responsible for the provision of temporary accommodation.
Given the number of hotels and hostels I have stayed in over the years, I have actually been very lucky. My worst experience is more a result of a situation being too close to ‘home’ rather than what happened or did not happen during the actual stay. I would however be very interested to hear your stories that pale mine in comparison.