For those of you not living in the Silicon Valley area of California you might find these (allegedly true) tales of worlwide hotel gross deficiencies posted by readers of the San Jose Mercury News newpaper amusing and instructive.I can't vouch for the writers' honesty but their descriptions are funny nonetheless:
Here is the story:
Emboldened by the latest list of bad hotels from Trip Advisor.com, we asked for your hotel horror stories, and — bleccch! — did we get them. Imagine the mattress unraveling, spring by spring, while you try to sleep. Lots of, ahem, remnants from previous guests. And the ubiquitous creepy-crawlers. What lesson can we take away from these terrible reader memories? If you walk in and the front-desk clerk is sequestered behind bulletproof glass, you need to pony up for a nicer hotel.
— Linda Zavoral, travel editor
All music, all the time
I stayed in a hotel in Jogjakarta (or Yogyakarta), Indonesia, that advertised "music in all rooms." Thinking that there would be at least a radio or a cassette player (this was before CDs), I checked in — only to be surprised by a single speaker in the middle of the courtyard that blared music to all the rooms at top volume. They certainly delivered on their promise, whether you wanted the music or not!
Lather, rinse, shriek
After college (many years ago), I traveled around the United States with my sister and her boyfriend. We would camp for several days, then stay in a hotel for a night. Our first hotel night was in Albuquerque. I immediately went in the bathroom to take a nice long shower. While raising my head to rinse my hair of shampoo, I
opened my eyes to see a gaping hole in the ceiling of the shower — and a mass of cockroaches in the hole and coming down along the side walls of the shower. I began to scream and ran out of the shower. Needless to say, my sister, her now-husband and I often reminisce about that trip.
Putting the 'vice' in Miami
In 1987, a friend and I were on an adventure, going to watch the filming of the TV show "Miami Vice." We arrived very late because of a flight delay, only to find out that the hotel room we had booked had been given away (there was a dental convention in town). We were tired, hungry and furious! We grabbed the Yellow Pages and started searching for another hotel. We found one, hailed a taxi and were on our way. Turns out this hotel was located in "Sleaze Town," but we didn't know that, of course. The taxi driver dropped us off at the curb and said, "If you need me to come back, call me immediately!" This should have been a red flag!
We approached the "reception" desk only to notice a bar to the left, full of drunks. The guy at the desk asked us to "pay up" before he would let us into the room. We refused and said we would "pay up" when we checked out. We paid a deposit and got into the elevator, barely enough room for one person, and it rattled all the way to the top. We took one look at our room: very dirty. Checked out the bathroom. The tub was orange — it was rust!
As tired as we were, I could not bear to stay one more second in this dump. We called our trusty taxi driver. However, not before we encountered the "reception" guy, who demanded our money — even though we were in this filthy room for two seconds! We refused to pay him, and at that point, he locked the front doors to prevent our exit! Now we were scared to death, and praying that our trusty taxi driver was on his way.
Sure enough, he was waiting for us and helped our "escape"! He then drove us over to the Alexander — one of the most expensive hotels in Miami. We didn't care what it cost. The Alexander Hotel was fantastic. They gave us a penthouse suite for $500 a night — worth every penny!
The next day, we went to our original hotel (remember the dental convention?) and asked them to reimburse us for our hotel, our trauma and inconvenience. They gave us $80!
But the rest of our vacation was fantastic, and we even had a personal encounter with Don Johnson!
Sleeping with one eye open
In August 2004, my husband and I were traveling across the country on our honeymoon from Ohio to California, making a few scheduled stops along the way. We were going to visit friends in a Chicago neighborhood, so we did a Web search ahead of time for a nearby hotel and found only one within 10 miles.
The young man on the phone told me that they did not take reservations, the rate was $50 a night and they took only cash. When we arrived we found a storefront hotel on a busy street with no parking. I was worried about our new car out there all night, but truly that was just one of my worries.
We went inside to a man behind bulletproof glass. The room he wanted to give us hadn't been checked for cleaning, so he asked my husband to go up and check. The elevator did not work, the narrow stairs creaked loudly and the whole place was covered in very old carpeting that smelled. The place has never been remodeled, ever, which is no big deal, except something really, really smelled, and it was attached to everything there.
We got to our room: bare bulb hanging from the ceiling, bricked-in window, non-working air conditioner, television that not only did not work, but had another hotel's name burned into the side of it! The bathroom had three different pieces of broken tile around the toilet, and the sink had hair stuck to it.
We slept in our clothes with the light on all night to deter any critters and left bright and early — never going back to this area. And the hotel is still in existence.
Linda M. Arthurs
Through a glass, darkly
I have never looked at a hotel room beverage glass the same way again. As longtime residents of Rochester, N.Y., we were frequent visitors to Toronto for theater weekends. On this trip, we were staying in a double corner suite of a lovely luxury hotel with friends. They were still dressing, so we gave the maid permission to begin our room as we waited in the sitting area for them. The maid entered with her big yellow rubber gloves and bucket, beginning in the bathroom and proceeding to the wet bar. To our absolute horror she cleaned the bar glasses and coffee pot wearing the same yellow gloves she had just worn to clean our bathroom.
I called the manager immediately, but alas, had to leave a voice-mail message. I explained patiently what I had witnessed. No response during our visit, so I called three days later and reached him. He told me that my message had been cascaded internationally to all properties and to all managers and was the subject of entirely new training. And that the next time I was in Toronto, to please call him personally before registering.
At this point the damage was done, and I knew I would never stay there again. I now thoroughly wash any personal hotel vessels and usually travel with plastic cups from home. It's all too icky to contemplate.
Recoiling in Paris
Many years ago, my husband and I spent one night in an inexpensive hotel in Paris. After an exhausting day of sightseeing, we returned early, looking forward to a good night's sleep to prepare us for the long flight home the next morning.
However, sleep proved impossible. The mattress was so old and worn that the springs were poking through. After some tossing and turning, we decided to take the mattress off the bed and put the blanket on top of the box spring and sleep there. My husband leaned the mattress vertically against the wall, and we returned to our very firm, but at least flat, bed.
When we woke the next morning we found that the old mattress had folded itself in half during the night and the center springs had somehow intertwined themselves, forming it into a "V" shape. We put it back on the bed and spent 20 minutes of precious time attempting to flatten it. We even made small slits in the covering fabric and plunged our arms into its entrails in an attempt to separate the center springs and return it to its original shape.
Eventually, after much hysterical laughter, we spread the sheet and blanket over the bed, which looked as though a body was still in it. We paid our bill quickly while complaining about our poor night's sleep and returned home. For several months we expected to hear from the hotel demanding reimbursement for the ruined mattress, but no such demands ever came!
of last resort
NO VACANCY in big, bold letters greeted us at the motel in Kelsey Bay, British Columbia. After much pleading we were offered a cabin on the now-abandoned section of the motel's property. It was a relic from the days when motels were called auto courts.
As we approached the well-worn, wooden steps, five straggly cats glared as we invaded their private domain. With some reluctance, the arthritic hinges of the weathered door moved and granted entrance. Accompanied by a sense of adventure and four suitcases, we entered through a doorway into the past. The mere weight of our footsteps jarred loose a cloud of dust from the ceiling.
Lumps protruding from the bed springs gave the impression of baseballs playing hide and seek underneath the faded bedspread. Momentarily, I entertained the thought of going elsewhere. Elsewhere? "Elsewhere" meant backtracking 40 miles over roads in which a Volkswagen might have been used to plug up the chuckholes. I dismissed the thought and proceeded with my exploration.
In the adjoining room I found what had once passed for a kitchen. A rust-stained sink stood in the corner supported by a post so old that it would soon be classified as petrified wood. The single, green, corroded faucet dispelled any notion that we might have hot water. I turned the brass handle. My dusty, travel-weary feet were instantly bathed in cool, running water. The drain pipe was connected to ... nothing.
The water made its way to the low side of the slanting floor and stopped in front of the cast-iron, wood-burning stove. The stove stood on four massive feet whose chrome was now curling and eroding into tiny particles on the floor. Beneath its heat-warped lids, gas burners had been installed, but the threadless galvanized pipe jutting at an odd angle from its side was proof that the conversion to gas was never completed.
On the floor an electric hot plate crouched between the feet of the cast-iron monster. Its plugless cord was frayed in as many directions as the hair on the tails of the reception-committee cats.
Underneath brown circular stains, indicating a leaky roof, a plastic bag was taped to the ceiling in a chute-like fashion. Water leaking from the roof was automatically transported down the chute and out through a broken window pane, eliminating the necessity of repairing the roof and replacing the window pane.
Our communal bathroom was located in the back corner of a laundry room that was crowded with the odor of dirty clothes mingling with the eye-stinging fumes of bleach. The toilet should have been equipped with a seat belt; it shook violently whenever a washing machine struggled to spin a wet sleeping bag or a heavy rug. The effect was not unlike that of a mini-earthquake.
Farther back in the room was a tiny, damp cavern disguising itself as a shower stall. It was adequate only for getting oneself wet; any attempt to move the arms resulted in leaving the elbows on the granite walls. Mildew climbed up its walls the way ivy climbs a picket fence. The lack of a dressing area offered two choices: drying and dressing inside the shower or stepping out into the laundry room clad only in "the emperor's new clothes."
Early the next morning we said our goodbyes to the cats and assured them that we would not be back. The conveniences and amenities of many motels have faded from our memory, but this experience will long be remembered.
Years ago, my husband and I went to a hotel at Lake Tahoe. After we settled into our room, I decided to take a nap, so I laid down on the bed and on top of the spread. I kept smelling vomit, but I couldn't see it anywhere. I was determined to find it, and I did. It was on the bedspread and down the side of the bed. Very disgusting. The hotel agreed and quickly moved us to another room.
Needless to say, I have never rested on top of a hotel spread again.
This is supposed to be about non-Marriott experiences, but since I rarely if ever stay at a non-Marriott, and can't recall a tale from any non-Marriotts here or abroad, one of recent memory was worth sharing. So here goes...
On a very recent weekend getaway, my wife and I redeemed points to book a room at a Fairfield Inn on Friday the 13th. Not being suspicious, I didn't care one way or the other - until we checked-in for Fright Night at the Fairfield.
Our first clue was exiting off the Interstate. The Fairfield Inn sign on the side of the building was blinking. The word 'Inn' would blink-off periodically not synchronized with the word 'Fairfield'. Entering the parking lot we notice a large number of DirecTV vans. It was past 7 pm and the lot was lit by 2 very dim lights. We nearly had a coronary when a man abruptly staggered out from between the vans closely parked together with a toobelt and what looked like a hammer.
From the outside it appeared that only 2 rooms in the 4-story structure had lights on. When we entered the lobby, there was no one at the Front Desk. Calling out, we heard sounds from the darkened breakfast room area to the left of the lobby. A man emerged out of the darkness with a Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich in hand. With intensely staring eyes, he smiled and checked us in. We proceeded to drop our luggage in the room before heading out to dinner.
Entering the elevator we immediatly noticed a note taped on the inside panel of the elevator. The handwritten note was from a guest who had experienced a theft and threatened to retailiate by 7am if the item(s) where not returned. Startled, we quickly dropped our luggage off, and immediately left for dinner. When we returned about 10:30 pm, the note was still taped to the elevator, so I grabbed my camera and photographed it.
When we got to the room, I called the Front Desk to report the note. Apparently, the Front Desk 'had heard' it was there but didn't have a chance to contact Loss Prevention. We did not rest easy that night. I would look out to the parking lot periodically to reassure myself that my car was still there. Whenever we heard a noise we got up to check. The following morning we learned of a confrontation between several DirecTV guests and the Front Desk about the theft and note. Apparently, the guest who allegedly had items stolen demanded to review the hotel's videotapes. We did not witness this but spoke with other guests about it.
The following week I wrote to Customer.Care@marriott.com and attached the photo. A few days later, the GM called to apologize for the incident and their failure to deliver a restful and comfortable environment along with a generous offer for compensation. The outdoor sign had been damaged during an ice storm and the lamposts in the parking area were being upgraded as a refurbishment was underway. Apparently, the franchise sales department booked a block of rooms to DirecTV and they proved to be challenging guests. The DirecTV vice president also conveyed apologies. So a combination of factors contributed to an eery fright night at the Fairfield. Happily, we did recover.
-- Edited by TJCNewYork at 10/21/2009 1:14 AM EDT. Corrections plus photo to back-up story.