I’m going to go a little off topic from what I normally share here on Budget101. I recently traveled over a holiday weekend, and as a Diamond member with the Hilton properties chain, I opted to book a room using their app.
Obviously, as a Diamond member, I’m not new to traveling, nor am I new to staying on various Hilton properties. What I am new at, however, is dealing with facilities and properties that are using Covid-19 as an excuse for filthy conditions and horrid customer service.
For starters, I did what any seasoned traveler would do, I searched various sites to read the reviews of the hotels in the area that I wanted to stay. In this case, I picked a Hampton Inn property. They had decent reviews and I was able to use my accumulated points to book the room.
This is my go-to hotel chain when I’m just passing through because generally speaking all I need is a shower and a bed. They offer a grab and go breakfast/snack bag in the morning and they have fresh coffee available 24 hours a day at most, if not all locations.
I was actually planning on just staying a single night and then continuing through Erie Pennsylvania, after having been on the road all day already. I booked the Hampton via my Hilton honors app in my phone and about an hour before I was scheduled to reach my destination I received a phone call from the Diamond desk.
They regretted to inform me that the hotel was overbooked and the king suite I had booked was actually not available, but, no worries, she assured me, there was another Hilton property available just down the road, a Home2Suites.
She checked to confirm if I still wanted a king suite (I did, when you’ve been in a car for 12 hours elbows to assholes with everyone else, you want a little space to stretch out), and moments later she confirmed my new reservation.
Now, I went with the flow, had no idea where this new hotel was, we had dinner reservations already somewhere downtown, but that’s fine, I’m sure I’ll still have time to shower, change and make it to our reservation. So, we sat, on the side of the road waiting 10 minutes for the email confirmation to arrive so we could have the new hotel location and we were on our way.
Upon our arrival the hotel was clearly slammed as an entire busload of University soccer players were dining on Olive garden take-out in the lobby. A lone lady was running the counter and an irate man was demanding to see a manager. I felt bad for her, genuinely.
After fifteen minutes or so, we finally had room keys and headed to our King “suite”. The elevator doors opened and my nostrils were greeted by an overwhelming odor of sweat, urine, and regret.
I walked to the room, carefully avoiding the walls and the piles of trash and dirty linens that lined it, occasionally sticking to the carpeting.
Once in the room, I was immediately frustrated by the small bed, apparently we’d been downsized to Queen bed without being told or asked. So… we used more points for a smaller room with less amenities.. interesting business model.
I started looking around at the room and got more disgusted by the minute. The room offered a small kitchenette- with a dishwasher, which happened to have dirty dishes inside, caked with dried food.
The office chair offered a seat complete with sticky armrest and stains that couldn’t be identified.
I stepped into the bathroom and immediately noticed a smattering of white stains on the walls… were they toothpaste splatters.. shampoo gobs, or emissions of another kind?
The shower walls and floor weren’t much better, both with stains and dried gobs of what appeared to be bath products.
Even the bathroom fan had months, if not years of accumulated dust and grime. I called the front desk and asked if another room was available, and she told me no, the hotel was fully booked to capacity.
We opted to forgo the shower and try to make the dinner reservation. Upon returning, I attempted to speak to the manager, none was available. I asked if they could send someone to clean the room, again, no one was available.
So I walked back to my car and grabbed some Lysol wipes and gloves and proceeded to clean the counter areas of the room and nightstand so we could at least set a bottle of water on them without being grossed out.
I am borderline losing my cool at this point. I’ve been in a car for over 12 hours, I’m tired, I’m grossed out, it’s a holiday weekend and everything is booked, and now I’ve got to sleep in my clothes and hope my travel bag doesn’t pick up unwanted guests in the night.
The air conditioning rattled throughout the night and very early the next morning I hit the road, stopping by the desk just once more to inquire to speak to a manager about the appalling conditions of the hotel. No one was available to speak with me. I left my phone number and asked that someone call me. (They never did!).
As a Diamond member there are a few perks that are supposed to come with the service, such as, waters and a snack upon arrival, free high-speed wifi- which is usually provided on a slip of paper inserted in the folio with the room keys.
Hilton chain properties offer a complimentary breakfast, this location offered nothing of the sort. No greeting as a diamond member, no perks, no breakfast, nothing. Just a filthy hallway, layers of grime, and a reminder of why make it a point to read reviews from MULTIPLE sites before booking a room.
Interestingly, when I went onto Booking.com to add a review, I wasn’t able- and was shocked to find multiple 5 star reviews. I wondered how many of them were legitimate guests of the hotel. Trip advisor and Google reviews both had the most up to date reviews and allowed photographs to be shared.
Priceline did not allow me to add a review, and I noticed that they had the most 5 star reviews with very generic wording. In the future, when trying to determine where to stay, I won’t rely on reviews from Priceline or Booking.com!!
How not to Lose your Shit when you get stuck in a Roach Motel
There are a lot of reasons people stay in roach motels. Maybe you’re traveling last minute and didn’t have time to book a room, or didn’t know how far you’d be traveling, maybe it was late at night and you realize you’re too tired to drive any further. Maybe you’re just broke and don’t have a couple of hundred dollars to throw at a decent hotel.
Now that you have a pretty good idea of what my recent hotel experience was like, here are some handy tips to help keep you from losing your shit if you ever get stuck in a similar situation.
1 First and foremost, remain as calm as possible. Call or stop at the front desk to try to remedy the issue you’re experiencing. If they are less than helpful, document your experience with multiple photos and notes. You’ll likely need to reach out to the corporate headquarters to get anywhere.
2 Do not set your bag on the bedding or carpeted floor. This increases your chance of picking up unwanted guests (aka bedbugs!). Instead, place your bag in the bathtub or shower.
If the shower is scuzzy, place your bag in a trash bag and tie it shut. It also helps to wipe down the exterior with a Clorox or Lysol wipe once you’ve closed it.
3 Do not be tempted to use the coffee pot if the room itself isn’t sparkling clean. You’d be surprised at the nasty things that lurk in warm moist areas of hotel rooms. While you’re at it, avoid the following hotel room filth hot spots:
1 Remote Controls – this is by far the dirtiest item in the room!
2 Light switches
3 The Toilet Seat & Shower
4 The Bathroom Floor
5 The Bathroom Sink
In fact, don’t remove your shoes while you’re in the room, keep them on if possible.
4 If you have brought snacks or food items with you, make sure they are sealed tightly to ensure they aren’t nibbled on by vermin and other pests.
5 Pull back the sheets and check the bedding edges and headboard for blood droplets, or bug feces. If you find signs of bug infestation, LEAVE. It’s better to sleep in your car than to bring home an infestation of critters that can cost you thousands of dollars to eradicate.
6 Don’t forget to give them your feedback in the management review section at checkout so other travelers will know what to expect if they ever stay there too!
Like these tips for dealing with a Roach Motel? Pin it!
We’d love to hear your tips on how to keep your cool when faced with a similar situation!