I’m no 5 star resort style hotel snob, but I’m not a hostel hopping backpacker either. Booking hotels on at budget of around €50- €60 a night is something like a lucky dip, sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you get a real stinker. I always book online at the last minute, even only hours before arriving. I’ve found 75% off some great hotels trying to fill empty rooms but they don’t make for interesting stories do they? Let me tell you about some stinkers I’ve encountered.
Years ago I had a room in Paris that was really small, “Quelle surprise!” I hear you say, most rooms in Paris are small, “mais non”, this one was so small the door didn’t open fully because it hit the bed. It was like an Olympic event just to get in the room. Firstly I had to hammer throw my suitcase onto the bed, then hurdle over it just to close the door.
In Roses, northern Spain my friend had initially booked the Reich Hotel online, he then had to call them to make a change to the booking only minutes later. When we arrived at around 9pm that night we went to check in. The guy on the front desk cheerfully advised us the hotel was closed for renovation so all guests were being relocated to another hotel down the street. I wanted to say “Are you frigging kidding me! It would have been nice to know this information at the time of booking or even when we called a few hours ago!”, but it was 9pm, we were tired, and I’m too chicken shit, so I said “Gracias” and we dragged our cases 300m down the street.
Hotel Ramblamar hadn’t been touch since the 80’s, which I didn’t mind, I was just hoping it was clean and things worked. The warning signs were there even before I got into my room at the end of the corridor. The lighting was out so I had to fumble in the dark to get the key in the door. I opened it and was immediately hit with a wave of hot air. The thermostat was set to sauna! I opened the balcony door a crack, it was blowing a gale outside which made the door rattled the whole night. Pulling back the bed cover revealed a dead bug and a cigarette burn in the sheet. “It’s only for a night”, I told myself as I brushed the dead bug away and sat on the bed. It made a strange rustling sound and I realised the mattress was wrapped in plastic. It was like sleeping in a packet of potato chips.
I was still trying to order a new credit card after being pick-pocketed in Barcelona and I had to use the hotel phone to call my bank in Australia because for some unknown reason I couldn’t do it online. I guess the phone in my room hadn’t been use for quite some time as it was covered in dust. I felt like Indiana Jones carefully brushing away centuries of detritus to uncover the ancient relic. I called the number for lost and stolen cards and considered which kidney I should sell to pay for the phone call as waited in the queue for about 15 minutes to speak to someone. I knew it was going to be expensive but I didn’t expect the €40 bill I received on check out.
Then there was the one we stayed at in Dijon, France. It looked like a family run operation with mum, dad and an adult son. I assumed grandpa was in the basement on the hamster wheel that operated the elevator which took about 5 minute to reach the third floor where my room was. Everything was dark when the doors opened but I managed to find the button to active the timer light switch. I found my room and turned on the 3 watt globe that lit it. It was small and basic with questionable red satin decor perhaps better suited to a brothel, but it was clean and no dead bugs, which was more important. I wondered if they actually paid the person who painted the room, if they did I was going to suggest they ask for their money back because it was the worst job I’ve ever seen. I don’t know how they even managed to do it, but the carpet had wagon wheel like paint marks radiating from the door jams as if they’d deliberately use the door as a guide to paint stripes on the carpet. The bathroom was an strange triangular shape. The toilet was positioned in a way that to use it you had to sit almost side-saddle because you knees wouldn’t fit. I went to brush my teeth and found hot coming out of the cold water tap. Maybe I’m being harsh but I got the feeling they really didn’t give a crap. I mean, how hard can it be to connect the cold water to the cold tap and the hot water to the hot tap or to plan a bathroom so it’s actually useable?
After driving all day I was too tired to be outraged any more so I decided the best thing to do was go to sleep. I pulled the red satin curtains closed and put a chair up against the door. I reminded myself that it’s just hotel lucky dip and once again I said, “It’s only for a night, I’m sure the next hotel will be better”.