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This is a question Hotel Splendido

Enzyme writes, "what about awful hotels, B&Bs, or friends' houses where you've had no choice but to stay the night?"

What, the place in Oxford that had the mattresses encased in plastic (crinkly noises all night), the place in Blackpool where the night manager would drum to the music on his ipod on the corridor walls as he did his rounds, or the place in Lancaster where the two single beds(!) collapsed through metal fatigue?

Add your crappy hotel experiences to our list.

(, Thu 17 Jan 2008, 16:05)
Pages: Latest, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, ... 1

This question is now closed.

A long long time ago in a city far far away (manchester) I was visiting my sister who was at uni there. Me and my mum are staying in this B&B .

Shoddy little place, your typical crappy floral wall paper, flaking gold paint, badly fitted radiators for the obligatory extension to cram the most possible rooms into the space between the fork in the road etc. But then it's a B&B in Manchester, what do you expect?

What really took the biscuit was at breakfast. We get there and are asked what we want, eggs, bacon, sausage etc. My mum asks for a poached egg. The landlords face goes completly blank. Err alright then, scrambled egg. Blank. Apparently he'd never heard of the words 'scrambled' and 'egg' together in the same sentance.

At this point my mum, bless her cotton socks, proceeds to explain to him how to make scrambled egg, and to his credit he listens and takes notes.

So now some other customers walk in so he goes over and asks for their orders.

"Would you like some eggs? We can do fried or scrambled..."
(, Tue 22 Jan 2008, 13:18, 3 replies)
I stayed in a hotel in Norfolk on a business trip. The hotel was lovely and the guy running it was Basil Fawlty to a tee. The best Fawlty moment was over breakfast. I had the full english, when he brought it out I asked for ketchup our conversation went something like this (he shouted like Basil too in that unhinged, loosing it kind of way)

"Thank you can I have some ketchup please"

"those are proper sausages you know none of your crappy walls stuff"

"They look lovely but I like a bit of ketchup with my sausages"

"you've got a bloody tomato have that"

"It's a nice tomato but I really want some ketchup"

"oh for FUCK SAKE!!"

He stomps off. Everyone is looking at me like the ketchup loving pikey I am.

He stomps back in with a tiny bottle of unopened ketchup (I feel I may have been the first not to back down or perhaps he throws out the offending bottle once it's opened) and slammed it down on the table in front of me with such ferocity I thought it might shatter.

"your fucking ketchup sir"

stomp stomp stomp

I ate the delicious sausages with ketchup with tears of mirth streaming down my face

Length short, Girth fat ....nicely grilled
(, Tue 22 Jan 2008, 13:07, 2 replies)
Victoria - think it was the Arden
O sweet Jesus.
It was mid July in the hottest summer this country has ever known. And Siouxfan was off to London to see her beloved Sioux at Shep Bush.
I figures it didnt really matter where I stayed as long as it was cheap and safe. So I cranked up the demon machine to find a cheap hotel room in London. Well after about 2 hours I found one that looked OK but like I say I thought I will be in it for so little time it matters not. How wrong can you be.
After a wicked night, hailed a 'taxi' outside Shep Bush Empire. If this was a proper taxi, I am Darth Vader. The lining of the roof of the car was coming away and I drove to the hotel under what I can only describe as a Jewish wedding canopy, as it was so low I had to duck.
When I got to the hotel and woke up the guy on the security desk I was taken to my room...
I had noticed the hotel was pretty hot, but it was a very hot night so no wonder really. However when he opened the door to my room, the heat hit me like a breeze block nailed to a cricket bat. It was like an effing furnace. Nervously I turned to him and said, "erm its very hot in here.." He smiled, not knowing what I had said saying, "Good yes good yes". I told him using a mixture of mime and sad faces that the room was too hot, he went off and came back moments later explaining once the water was hot the heating would go off.....all the radiators were on and on full. It being very late I decided this would have to do, so thought open the windows and have a shower then lie naked near the window, that should do it... yeah? Yeah right.
No cold control on the shower, so nice hot shower. Open the window to....a wall, three of them in fact, about 2 feet from my 'window'. Basically a priest hole.
It was like a scene from Mind Your Language when I walked into the 'Dining Room'..everyone stopped and stared at me. I thought this would stop after a few moments but it didnt. It went on right through me, fiddling with the toaster, through me trying to open a milk carton, through me trying to move my chair which appeared to nailed down, right through me scorching my mouth on the tea which presumably was made using some of the hot water from the previous night.
Went passed reception to check out. Guy was asleep again, sadly I had prepaid.

The packed commuter train home to Brum never looked so inviting, nor did the shoulder of the poor guy I sat next to. I think he was a designer of some kind and seem to recall him being called Simon, if you are reading this Simon, I am really sorry and I hope I didnt dribble on your nice jacket.
(, Tue 22 Jan 2008, 13:01, Reply)
The Kursk
The hotel looked fantastic as I approached it. The Leicestershire village was a real picture postcard place and as I drove into the area I passed along a daffodil-lined avenue with a large country park on my left, then over on my right a large stately home behind a moat dominated the scene. This was the place I was staying, and it looked fantastic.

I had stayed there a few times before and never really liked it. From the outside it looked stunning, but inside it was rather old-fashioned and in need of redecoration – the corridors were lined with flock wallpaper and the restaurant was a migraine-inducing mixture of seriously floral wallpaper with red gloss paint on all exposed woodwork. In addition, the building seemed to be built out of an old Faraday cage as no matter where you were you could not get a signal on your mobile phone and all of the corridors were very, very long, floored with some kind of weird springy boarding, and all of the doors opened in different directions. Truly, it was a strange place.

On this occasion I checked in and was handed my room key. I set off on my long walk to my room down endless creaky corridors and eventually found my door. Once inside I was overwhelmed by the strong smell of smoke in the room and, being a non-smoker, I phoned the reception to ask for a different room. However, there was no answer and so I had no choice but to walk back to the desk and speak to somebody in person. After an apology I was handed a different key and set off on my way to my new room which was somehow even further away than the first one.

I opened the door and instantly I felt cold. The room hadn’t been used for quite some time and there appeared to be dog hairs on the carpet. Unwilling to trudge all the way back to the reception I unpacked, then went into the bathroom to use the toilet, which was where I saw something I’ve never seen before. There, at the bottom of the toilet bowl, was a human poo, lying in the depths like the stranded Russian submarine the Kursk, much of its colour drained away and staining a large oval area of the toilet bowl like an evil halo. I confess that I screamed.

(See also this one by me)
(, Tue 22 Jan 2008, 12:13, 1 reply)
He woke up drooling on a tramp's shoulder
The story so far. Myself and some friends were in London for a stag night. We had just been robbed in a soho clip joint, so were understandably in the mood for mucho drinko.

We preceded to Leicester Square and got very, very drunk on cheap(?!) cocktails.


We eventually stumbled out of a very dodgy nightclub at 4am. Problem. We had, in our youthfull folly, not booked anywhere to stay. Our train home was at 8. Bugger.

So we walked back to Euston Station, which was closed. Natch. So we bunked down for a few hours amid the concrete pillars. I can genuinely say it was the longest few hours of my life. I can see how sleeping rough could get very uncomfortable very quickly. I can also see why so many homeless people turn to drink and drugs - just to take the edge off the cold and misery.

After what seemed like days the station opened at 6am. With only a couple of hours left til we caught the train, we gratefully slumped down on the benches inside. It was warm! It was sheltered! I have never been so grateful for such meagre accomodations.

So the drool, and the tramp? My friend Ade was so spark out he hadn't realised he was sleeping next to a tramp. As the morning went on his head fell further and further over until he was sleeping on the tramp's shoulder.

The tramp didn't seem to mind.
(, Tue 22 Jan 2008, 11:47, 2 replies)
Greece again
Arrived in the town of Pylos during a national holiday and couldn't find anywhere to stay. Finally, I was collared by an old beggar woman in the street, who led me up through twisty lanes to the last available room in the town.

Perhaps 'room' is a little ambitious, in the sense that a room normally has such luxuries as a ceiling or walls. Nor did it have the traditional facilities of a basin, carpet, furniture, door and lighting.

It was a saggy and dust-covered mattress tossed into the concrete shell of an incomplete building. And she wanted me to pay the standard room rate for an actual room. I turned her down and eventually spent the night in a cellar that stank of fish and vibrated with every passing car.

Travelling was fun for a while. Now I'd really rather stay at home with a paper and a cuppa.
(, Tue 22 Jan 2008, 11:34, 3 replies)
A couple of people have mentioned Tripadvisor, and as I travel a lot I occasionally post reviews of hotels on there. This is my review for the Days Hotel, Birmingham East. The title says it all, really.

I stayed in nicer places when I was homeless

Many years ago I found myself with all my possessions in a binbag, having arrived home to find my landlord had changed the locks and hoofed everything I owned out. If someone had said "Stay at the Day's Inn Birmingham East!", I'd've headed to a nice cosy underpass with some cardboard. It would have been nicer, and a great deal cheaper.

The room: The room I stayed in was about 30 ft long and 10 ft wide, with the radiator at one end (under the window), and the thermostat at the other. This meant that the room was either massively overheated or very chilly and noisy (from having the window open over a busy junction). The bedding is made of the finest polyeurethane fibres and so you can have the thrill of building up a static charge as you sleep! The shower might run hot, but then again it might not. Alternatively it might stop running at all. This is all part of the fun.

The restaurant: I suppose that I should have been warned by the furnishings in the restaurant. A good rule of life says that any eaterie which uses stackable conferenece furnishings is one to avoid.
There's an episode of the Simpsons in which Mo opens a diner and describes his food: "We use the best part of the chicken - the neck!" I can only assume that Mo is now making the curry at this hotel.

All this fun for the low, low price of seventy quid a night, and the best part of a tenner for a curry made from something which may have once been chicken.
When my payment went through, I could have sworn I heard a distant laughter. I suspect it was the owner.
(, Tue 22 Jan 2008, 10:13, 4 replies)
i didnt think I had any really bad stories for this...
...but I was wrong.

During my gap year I travelled around Chile with my best mate, encountering the whole spectrum of dodgy accommodation and restaurants, to the point at which anywhere that didn't smell of mould seemed downright suspicious. But nothing could have prepared me for this.

The place we ended up one night, with glorious views over to a gobsmackingly beautiful waterfall in the distance, was a collection of small cabins around a small restaurant/admin centre. It was grubby, shoddy, but quaint, and they had gone to legnths to make the restaurant look quite posh despite the shabbiness of the rest of the place.
Since we were tight bastards, we asked if rather than order a meal we could just cook our own food in the kitchen; after all they had no other customers so we reasoned it would save them hassle.

It wouldn't have, believe me.

Having cooked a basic meal, we searched furtively around the cupboards we had been forbidden to look in, just to see if there was any cutlery we could liberate.

No cutlery.

But the cupboards were stacked with about ten plated meals. Which looked like they had been cooked several days ago. And were sitting, slowly festering, in dank, rotten cupboards. In the humid, 30'C weather.

My god, we were so happy that we hadnt ordered from the restaurant.

Apologies for... everything.
(, Tue 22 Jan 2008, 0:04, Reply)
Swaythling - Blood Sphincter of the South
During my time at Southampton University, I lived in a suburb called Swaythling, without doubt one of the most rancid hamlets in the whole of the UK. Here are some choice details about the "house" (loosest sense of the word) rented to me and my five mates by kind old Mr Singh:

- Neither us nor the previous tenants had ever put the rubbish out. Instead it was "stored" in the garage. Imagine the foulness of four years worth of rubbish from a house containing six adults. You could smell it from a fair distance away.

- Aforementioned rubbish had attracted a large number of rats to take up residence under the house. Not happy with munching on our rubbish, they had clawed several holes in the floor boards giving them unfettered access to the kitchen. If you left a loaf of bread out for more than a couple of hours, you would return to find only the plastic clip and some shredded polythene.

- The place stank. This was self-inflicted after a particularly sophisticated game of "hide the turd". One house mate had frozen his log, and then "hidden" it by grating it into tiny pieces using the cheese grater and sprinkling it throughout the house. Because we did not own a vacuum cleaner, you can imagine how ripe the carpet got on a hot day as a result.

- Due to the poor living conditions and the fact that we all smoked, chest disorders and bronchial complaints were common. One house mate kept a "skronky pot" under his bed for coughing up his lung cheese into. It was particularly nasty when this pint of phlegm got knocked over and left on the carpet. Once the water element had evaporated we were left with a nasty gelatinous cube. I suspect that this eventually became self aware and started a ship science degree.

- The pest control man (when we eventually called him) discovered that electricity wires were holding up one of the top stairs.

- Only one room was habitable and kept under lock and key by the only tidy member of the household, who went home every weekend. We rewarded him by finding his spare key and using his room as a "wanking chamber" due to the pleasant conditions within. Also, one member of the team would ejaculate over the previous month's page of his Madonna calendar. Imagine how pleased he was in January when he went back to peruse the year and found porridge gun cartridges throughout.

Ahhh...those were the days.
(, Mon 21 Jan 2008, 23:21, 11 replies)
I've just come back from a week in NY renting an apartment
which was GORGEOUS, beautifully decorated, clean, and a block from an express subway to downtown from its location in Harlem.
... and on a block with not one but TWO 'liquor stores'.
From about 11pm all night through to around 5am, under our corner window, crazy tramps and drunks gathered. Many had trolleys and talked about 'codes' in the newspapers. Or tried to make sure some poor commuter took home their "beee-ooo-tiful glove" which was an old knitted rag melted into the gutter they had found. Conversations shouted all night ran along these lines.
"You BITCH! It's a set-up! You get AWAY from mah MAN, BITCH!!"
"Gonna KILL YOU"
"Just give me the bottle, you ASSHOLE"
You get the idea.
I bought earplugs.
(, Mon 21 Jan 2008, 23:03, Reply)
You don't have to go to Siberia
Last year Mrs Jannie, Miss Jannie and I went to la belle France with car and caravan. On the way back the last day of the hol was to be at Parc Asterix so, being cheapskates, we decided to stop at the nearest lorry park for the night. We stopped long enough to work out that the eye-watering smell was caused by the fact that not one lorry driver could be arsed to walk to the bogs. They just flopped it out against the nearest wheel and let fly so everyone was driving through and paddling in it. We drove North to the next "services".

It was getting late and, to save a walk to the facilities, Mrs Jannie decided to have a tinkle in the caravan bog - only to find it was full. I asked her to wait until it was dark then I'd take the tank to the bogs and empty it. This I did, to find that it was a stand and deliver French bog and some dirty sod had laid two enormous logs on the footrests. With true British resourcefulness and presence of mind I flushed them away with the contents of our tinkle tank and left the place smelling a bloody sight better than it did when I arrived.
(, Mon 21 Jan 2008, 21:38, 3 replies)
I give you...
Pontins, Camber Sands. A veritable oasis of sand. And shite.

Before you, dear reader, clap your hands to your mouth in horror, raise a cynical eyebrow and think "Well, what did you expect?" I would like to elaborate.

I never went to a holiday camp on holiday as a child. We went to Jersey and roamed around the zoo and stuff. So Butlins and Haven remained an unknown entity to me. I was an innocent.

A while ago I became slightly obsessed with exercise. I spent between 8 - 12 hours a week at the gym, mainly doing classes, and I met some strange and interesting people. I had a willing accomplice, a good friend of mine was eager to drop some weight, so she joined me in my obsession. It wasn’t long before I found a whole sub-culture. Did you know that you can go on weekends just packed with exercise? I didn’t, but once I knew I was intrigued. The warning words “Pontins”, “Camber Sands”, “£80 p/p for 2 nights” escaped my poor endorphin soaked brain. All I read was “4 exercise classes every hour”, “Hey Mickey! Dance class - Dance like a cheerleader!” and “ Step - Level 3”. I was agog. I signed us up.

I drove to Camber Sands. It was lovely - pretty little houses lined the country roads. Pubs welcomed us in with blackboards promising Sunday roasts. My boot groaned with the bags of supplies (my friend had brought), and our cases full of workout gear and deodorant.

We arrived. All I can remember of the reception area was an enormous pink cement octopus. We were given a map and sent on our way.

I want to tell you that the place resembled a concentration camp, but I’m trying to avoid clichés and so will restrain myself. It made the Hi-de-Hi set look modernistic and avant garde. It was horrible. I looked at my friend, jaw agape. She smiled and said “It’s quite nice, eh?” It was at that point I knew our friendship lived on borrowed time.

Our apartment smelt bad. It smelt like a whore’s tampon, wrapped in hair which had been burnt on a barbeque. (I apologise for this mental image) The perfume I spritzed about made it worse, so we kept the door open. In March. On the South coast. The mad winds blew, but the smell remained. The sofa resembled something which a poor old man may have died in while watching Family Fortunes. He may have shit himself - that’s how it smelled anyway. Like dead man’s shit. The bathroom would have made a maggot retch. It was bad.

The food my mate had brought consisted of bread, cheese, butter, pasta and alcohol. Not a great combo for a “Fitness weekend”. Her explanation? “Carb Loading”. I got drunk. We went out to an exercise class - I, rather predictably, hurt myself. That night I struggled to release her from a huge rugby player who appeared to be discovering what she’d had for tea by tongue. I dragged her home and fell into a miserable stupor. Until our neighbours decided to inform the entire block that her boyfriend was a “Naughty Boy - you like to fuck me in the arse don’t you?” and “Harder, Harder, Oohhhh” until 5 in the morning.

The second day consisted of me gamely limping through classes, and when we arrived back at the “apartment” it was a relief. Until the electricity blew out. I walked a half mile to the octopus reception. It was empty and desolate. Like me. I walked the half mile back to the security office and reported the problem. 2 Hours later, I answered the door, blue of lip and hard of heart. “Silly girls!” the caretaker laughed, “You can’t have the shower on and the oven at the same time”. Oh silly me.

When we finally left I felt joy. Until I felt itching. Terrible terrible itching, followed by strange red lines running up my arms. I went to the Dr. and discovered I’d caught scabies.

Length? 2 nights. The scars may haunt me for ever.
(, Mon 21 Jan 2008, 21:15, 4 replies)
Washington DC
We had a room with baby c0ckroaches which emerged from the shower plughole - aww, Our friend had big fat Mummy and Daddy roaches all over the floor, ceiling and walls.
DC was very cheap for clothes at the time, the exchange rate being what it was, so I was struggling back to the hotel each night with huge bags of shopping. However I couldn't take the lift as one member of staff insisted on travelling with me and pressing the buttons (like I can't press the friggin buttons myself!) and demanding a tip. So thereafter I struggled up 3 flights of stairs with my shopping instead, much to lift girl's dismay.
Carpets and sheets were fun - all nylon, and we couldn't touch any of the metal door handles without getting hefty static shocks.
Best beer range in the world in the bar though apparently*

(, Mon 21 Jan 2008, 20:50, 1 reply)
Pikmin porn
A couple of years ago my company, either as a reward or punishment, relocated me to Canada. While I tried to find somewhere to live, they paid for me to stay in a very average hotel out by the airport.

It was miles away from anything, and I had nothing to do in the evenings except read and watch telly, which got boring pretty quickly. Salvation came in the form of the in-room Gamecube, which cost about 5 bucks to play for half an hour; I got hooked by the game Pikmin and eventually racked up about $120 of room service charges.

Upon checking out, I sent the bill off to expenses, not realizing one thing; every single half-hour session of innocent Gamecube playing was itemized as "In-room entertainment charge." Or, to put it another way, exactly what it would have looked like if I'd been ordering new porno every half-hour.

This led to an 'interesting' conversation in which I had to try and convince the nice lady from HR that I'd actually been trying to help the spaceman get back to his home planet with the help of some magical flowers, rather than masturbating myself into a frenzy. I ended up paying the bill.
(, Mon 21 Jan 2008, 20:47, 2 replies)
Hotel Orfeo, Amsterdamned.
It was cheap, so I didn't expect much. However, I figured that a pricetag over 100 quid would have guaranteed some health and safety standards.

The sheets reeked of semen, sweat and crap (THEY NEVER CHANGE THEM), I woke up each morning with delightful flea bites all over me, and at night, I was kept awake to the sound of rats running across the floor.

Oh! And the orderly tried on two occasions to rape me--but I got the fucker fired, so I can't blame that on the hotel.

Avoid at all costs.
(, Mon 21 Jan 2008, 20:26, Reply)
Sent to Coventry
Me and my mum went to Coventry for a geeky day away at a sci fi convention (i am normal really).

We had booked a cheap B&B in town, we found out it was out of town. Down a lane. Under the pass. In askanky dead end hole.

The door was answered by a barking dog, which we were told was a massive alsation. Then we went to the rooms.

Stank of stale smoke. No toilet, only half way down the corridor, up some stairs. The corridor had no light. The shower was in a tiny store cupboard, so small i couldn't fit my left breat in there.

Plastic sheets that made you sweat like a beast. I desperatly needed a pee in the night and there was no light at all, so ended up peeing in the tiny shower.

We had to leave early with no breakfast, sweaty, deperate for the looand more tired than when we got there. And evn though we had to leave a day early cause of a family emergency, the bint chraged us another £80 quid!
(, Mon 21 Jan 2008, 20:22, Reply)
Another tale my ex mother in law related to me. Probably tenuously linked to this week’s question, but I’m struggling for ideas this week. Like rachelswipe, I have tended to gravitate towards higher-end accommodation in the past. Mostly.

Anyway, she and the ex had gone to France with her brother in law, who was a continental trucker. They travelled in his cab, and stayed where he stayed – essentially French road side truck stops. Basic, but comfortable, apparently.

One evening, as tiredness took hold and she started to drift off to sleep, she was jolted awake by a feeling that she wasn’t alone in the room. Not wishing to make any sudden movements that would cause alarm, she slowly opened her eyes and as they became gradually accustomed to the gloom she could make out the shape of a man, dressed in overalls and carrying what looked like a lamp.

She stared. He stared back, before moving silently off to the door. Sensing no threat, the outlaw put her head back down and drifted off to an undisturbed sleep.

The next day she was recounting the tale over breakfast. Her brother in law, speaking a bit of French, had a word with the receptionist and asked if anyone had reported similar goings on.

“All the time, monsieur”, came the slightly unexpected reply.

Turns out that the owners of the truck stop used to employ a guy to indicate parking spots to truckers, who was instantly recognisable due to his sartorial distinctiveness - usually to be found in overalls and carrying a lamp. (Who said the French were fashion icons)? Apparently, he’d been killed a few years ago when a truck reversed over him…
(, Mon 21 Jan 2008, 17:57, 1 reply)
Dear God don't make me remember the Korean guesthouse
I taught English in Japan a couple of years ago and had to go to Korea to get my visa sorted. So I went from Fukuoka (where I lived) to Busan (big port city on the toe of Korea) by boat. Fine. The boat was great and I spent loads of my cash on a giant bento box.

When I got to Busan, I took a taxi to the the Japanese embassy. I had thoughtfully, and with rare insight on my part, prepared a piece of paper with a map of the embassy and the address on it to give to the cab driver. Unfortunately for me, most Korean cab drivers don't speak or read Japanese (my bad) so we had to rely on this map which I had found on the internet.

Anyway, I digress. We found the embassy, and I gave my passport for it to be stamped, and was told that I would have to wait for the morning. OK, fine.

So I wondered around the place and decided to stay at the first hotel/motel type place that I saw with the reasoning that I needed to be close to the embassy.

It was late at this point, dark, and extremely cold (put it this way, I was near the Russian quarter of Busan and I saw dozens of fellow caucasians with massive bushy hats and frozen rictus grins).

So I find this hotel which I identify as a hotel by way of the sign 'Hoter'. Check in, hey i am in luck! its only 5 pound for the night!

The features of the room were as follows:-

- No door

- a giant grate in the middle of the tiled room. Emanations were dispelled from this.

- an ensuite bathroom! Minus a toilet seat, toilet roll, shower, bath, and er... a toilet. Basically it was a hole in the ground with a shower nozzle above it that spat rusty liquid ice. Oh it did have a massive and well used toilet brush though, that was a very pronounced beige colour. Some might use the word 'Khakhi' to describe it.

- Burnt curtains

- A decidely sloppy bed (This is where I had intimate relations with the bedbugs that left me with scabs for weeks)

- A pot of hairgel(?)

- A used comb

- a little platter of condoms on a plate.

With the above features and amenities at my disposal, I cried myself to sleep and wished I were in Swansea. I should have gone to another place but I lacked the werewithal.

However days later it all seemed like a dream, and ironically enough, I went to live in Korea for a few years afterwards and met my wife there.

Yay for a happy ending.
(, Mon 21 Jan 2008, 17:02, 2 replies)
Kind of essential really
6 of us needed a holiday apartment in cornwall for a week of beer and surfing. Left it all up to Jack, and he came back saying he'd scored a blinder, with free breakfasts, big TV, right near the beach. What could go wrong?

Well, our first problem with the grotty establishment was the complete lack of a toilet door. You had to take a shit facing everyone else in the room. Needless to say, curry had been consumed. The manager when showing us the room said "oh, the toilet door hasn't been fitted yet. is that ok?" OK!?

The TV was in some communal room somewhere, but then to really rub it in, the wood on the outside staircase had rotted, so somebody went through it, resulting in a trip to A&E. Wish I could remember the name of the place to warn others.
(, Mon 21 Jan 2008, 16:52, Reply)
I've managed to avoid everything too bad
so far, partially because I don't really do the whole travelling thing too much.

When I was young the family often went on camping trips, and for a few years running went to the same campsite in Germany, quite a nice place.

Except for the owner's (Herr Hugoschmidt, as I recall) insistance on wheeling out a fucking barrel organ every evening and playing it for the "enjoyment" of the entire campsite. For fucks sake. I'm not to opposed to people's little hobbys, but I draw the line at some bloody german playing his barrel organ to me every fucking day.

May I also say: students in London, especially Imperial College (or otherwise in the south west) looking for student renting landlords: James Goury. Just don't.
(, Mon 21 Jan 2008, 16:34, Reply)
Greek delicacy
Some of the stories this week are, um, interesting, to say the least. I know that service industry shoddiness is common, but to be quite so extreme..?

You know that old Scottish tradition where they used to pour porridge into an old wooden drawer, then let it set and cut it into slices for the menfolk to take to the shipyards for their mid-morning snack? (No? Trust me, they did – I read it in a Broons annual once, so it must be true).

My ex mother in law (RIP) went to Greece one year, and found that someone had applied the same principle to one of the drawers in her room. Only instead of porridge, they’d liberally filled the shoddily constructed item of furniture with a concoction of diced carrot, bile and assorted bits of partially-digested kebab. Apparently the smell made her eyes water.

Mmm, Tasty.

(, Mon 21 Jan 2008, 15:56, 10 replies)
Tortoise racing
...was the highlight of our stay.

Morocco, 2001, over new year, we booked ten days too many. The first five days were in a villa/complex, which looked fantastic on the website.

From the airport to the villa was an arduous 8 hours. The driver, who spoke no english, stopped down dark alleys and picked up shady passengers, only to stop, leave the car again, and leave us sitting in the car like a load of lemons from time to time.

The villa was in miles of arid flat scrub land, small bushes and goats the only features. Access was by a road so bumpy it took 30mins to get to the main road, scraping the sump all the way, past a bedouin settlement (concrete lego).

We'd booked it expecting to go with a full house of mates, but for various reasons there were only now four of us.

The villa looked beautiful when we arrived. Bedecked with candles, lights twinkling, unusual shaped rooms, very quaint.

It slept ten in five double rooms. The bedrooms looked fab - goatskins on pebbles, designer baths. Unfortunately, the goatskins were exceedingly manky, like cardboard, and still had clagnuts attached. The pebbles were sharp. The designer bath was heated by a small propane canister, which spat out steam when working and ice cold water when on a break - we both managed to burn ourselves whilst trying to shower (the activity was affectionately known by the end of the 'holiday' as "going for a wet shout"). The plug didn't fit so the water drained away at about the same rate it was filling, unless blocked by testicles.

We asked about aquiring some of Morocco's finest and were charged £10 for a pea sized piece. Oh hello. It's fleece the tourist time!

I can do squalor and inconvenience, but the real issue was this.

Once it became apparent that we were only four, the bedouin kitchen help slowly, surreptitiously, let in her mates, her mate's kids, grandmothers, pets etc to live in the empty rooms. They sat, gathered round small fires, scowling as we passed, as if we were in their space. No manner of smiles or waves would get their acknowledgement.

There was a swimming pond, but it was full of leaves, and empty anyway. It was only 18 degrees. The sky was grey. The nearest town had a couple of food shops selling bags of lentils and tins, but was totally dry. There was no electricity, and they'd not bothered with candles since the day of our arrival. The food was the same every day, some flat bread for breakfast and a watery suspect flavourless tagine in the evening.

Fuck. We'd gone on holiday by mistake!

A few days of this - there's only so many books you can read by torch light, and under duress - and we gagging to get home - then - salvation - a lovely French lady who had a guest house a mile away invited us as fellow lost souls for New Years Eve - yay!

Got there to be immediately stuck €30 (!) each (to cover food and drink and musicians) and spent the next couple of hours listening to some smug Germans who'd camel trekked in from somewhere or other. We'd already eaten, and had to hide the excess food.

Then - the finale! - the musicians! Don't get me wrong, I like world music, Tuvan throat singers rock my world. But never have I heard such a cacophony. Atonal plink plonk, dreadful instruments, no rhythm at all. We clapped politely after what seemed an age. They came round with a hat for contributions. They looked strangely familiar. They were. They were staying in our house!

P.S. Tortoise races, even with giant wild tortoises, are less interesting and zany than you might first imagine. And slower.
(, Mon 21 Jan 2008, 15:44, 3 replies)
Conference in an Indian City Hotel
Around 10 years ago I was stationed in Hyderabad, India whilst I did interesting (yawn) things with agriculture. I was based at ICRISAT, a research station. At the time my colleagues and I would poke fun at the mis-haps that would frequently happen. Little was I to know that ICRISAT was the pinnacle of efficiency compared to the rest of India.
About ten of us were due to attend a conference in Bangalore. I arrived first and checked in. Next to me was an American lady was was also attending the conference, patiently waiting. Not sure how it happened but the the receptionist just presumed that the lady next to me was my wife. Thus about 20 minutes later as I step out of the shower she walks into my room and screams (somewhat theatrically I've always thought).
But my favourite bit of this tale comes from my boss, his name was Andy Whitman. He arrived later than the rest of us. When he tried to book in (he had made a reservation) he was told there was no vacancies due to the conference. Fifteen minutes of sighing and eye-rolling later.
"We are full to bursting sir" said the desk jockey "the only room left is reserved for a Mr Andy". It's quite common to juxtapose surnames and first names in India.
So my boss shouts "AHA! Thats mine, I'm A. Whitman, I'm A. Whitman"
The receptionist says (and I always smile when I relate this bit) "You may be a whiteman sir but you still cannot have Mr Andy's Room"

(, Mon 21 Jan 2008, 15:32, 5 replies)
All the talk of Halls of Residence
reminds me of my arrival at High Hall, Birmingham Uni in the autumn of 1985.
When I went to the Uni for my interview, there was a guided walk round campus given by some well-meaning chinless wonder. Someone asked him about accommodation.
"Oh, try and get into xxx Hall, or at a push yyy. But don't got to High Hall, it's full of the dregs".
Thinking to myself that the sort of person who was happy and willing to sacrifice his time showing prospective would-be students round the campus was not the role model I wanted to emulate during my time studying (I was thinking more along the lines of John Belushi myself), I put High Hall down at the top of my list and unsurprisingly got in - as everyone else seemed to have been shunted there after failing to get into the more salubrious halls. Of course, I didn't do anything sensible like visit the hall of residence first...

...so come arrivals day, I turn up at a 25 storey block of flats. This is High Hall, hence the imaginative nomenclature.
First shock: when my name is located on a list of all the new arrivals, I'm told - "11-10 - that's a shared room".

Ah. I have to share a room. Oh well.

Then I get to the room. It's not that big. The door opens onto a wall which houses the sink. There's enough room for two beds, two desks, two wardrobes, two shelves. There's about 3 foot of space between the beds. It's a small shared room. Whoever I'm rooming with, we're going to be intimate.

I've got there first though - so I pick the "best" bed (not that there's anything in it) and unpack what stuff I have, then head off to the campus to sign up for loads of societies I end up never attending.

I come back to the room a few hours later, open the door, and a larger than life Freddy Mercury is staring at me.

This is 1985, and Monsieur Freddy, as Julian Cope called him, had a successful solo album out called "Mr Bad Guy". This pictured Freddy, resplendent in 'tache and mirrored shades, looking gayer than a window. I basically opened the door onto a four foot poster of Mr Mercury that had been pinned up on the wall by my room mate.

Who appeared in view, sporting a similar 'tache to his idol's.

And a cravat. In purple if memory serves me.

And said "Hello, my name's Jeremy".

My room mate for the next year.

Actually, he wasn't of the homosexual persuasion, not that I think it would have freaked me out if he had have been - it was just quite a way to get introduced to the room mate I didn't know I was going to have. I wonder where he is now ?
(, Mon 21 Jan 2008, 15:29, 7 replies)
Since this QOTW is starting to resemble a guide book, here is my top tip for accommodation in Siberia.

First, don't write off a bus in car crash that is your fault (well, your co-driver's fault). This is time consuming and you will have to wait about four hours for the Russian police to arrive. They will laugh at you and ask for money. This will all be done in Russian (obviously). Smile and nod. Give it to them along with every bit of paperwork you own, some of which should be that insurance you bought at the border from the dodgy man in a high viz vest. Then help the bus driver push his wrecked vehicle off the road before pulling out the dent in your wheel arch and driving off.

Next, try every single hotel in the guidebook, including those that don't actually exist as they are still being built. Mentally compose a lambasting letter to Lonely Planet on their inadequate coverage of Siberian cities.

Since it is now dark and cold it is time to befriend some locals. It helps if they can phone their parents who will also get in on the hotel-locating. Accept their offer of an army barracks: why the hell not?

Once at the army barracks/Ministry of Foreign Affairs, pay your $4 per person and follow the man in camouflage with his pointy stick who is marching you across the car park. Befriend the lovely housekeeper. Walk past the passed-out squaddies on the sofas, get an eyeful of the group sex with hookers going on next door, find a dorm with beetles crawling up the walls and a cold shower, cook noodles on a camping stove on the floor, and be very, very pleased you're not in jail for writing off a bus.
(, Mon 21 Jan 2008, 15:17, Reply)
Oh where to start.....
Many many crappy hotels and hostels over my time...

Childrens Bunk beds in a hostel in Cairns, which when lying flat on my back my nose was about 6 inches beneath the top bunk,scary prospect!

Bed Bugs galore....could see the mattress writhing with them...sadly only noticed that in the morning after I'd passed out for the night.

Hostels that charge a fortune and dont' even give you a blanket, then shut reception at 6pm so you can'ty get one later that night...Trust me, Adelaide in the middle of winter with no blankets is bloody cold!

Not myself, but a friend had the worst EVER experience in a hostel, when he was woken by the guy on the top bunk having a piss. In the bed, urine seeping through and out the otherside of the matteress, striaght onto said friend....oh how I laughed!
(, Mon 21 Jan 2008, 15:14, Reply)

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