The news today that a couple had been fined £100 by the Broadway Hotel in Blackpool for leaving a bad TripAdvisor review reminds me of my own worst hotel experience. Here’s a review I wrote at the time:
I can think of just three reasons to stay at the Stage Hotel in Nottingham: if you are stupid, desperate, or crazy. I stayed there for a weekend poker tournament at Dusk Till Dawn. I began as stupid, since I didn’t read the mostly one-star TripAdvisor reviews before booking (sample headlines: “Disgusting”; “Waste of money, filthy”; “Dirty, noisy, smelly”, “Good grief”). I passed swiftly to desperate, and would have ended up crazy if I hadn’t moved out early.
I arrived exhausted at 1.30am, but couldn’t sleep because of the noisy clock directly above the bed. The clock had lost its hands – this literally is the Hotel That Time Forgot – so there was no purpose to its pitilessly loud ticking, except perhaps to remind sleepless residents of the ultimate futility of existence as their lives tick away second by second towards the ineluctable void.
I finally discovered that if you hold a button down, the ticking stops. Fine, but you can’t sleep while holding down a button. Eventually I chewed some gum; stuck it to a coin; stuck that on the button; got some sellotape from reception; taped the coin against the button. Success! Pausing only to hurt my arm on something broken inside the mattress, I finally fell asleep…
Only to be woken again at 4.50am. “Listen, raht, listen, will you listen raht, listen, LISTEN!” This phrase was shouted every five minutes during the couple’s argument across the hall. The whole corridor’s listening, dear, I wanted to shout back; the walls are paper-thin. Finally, nearly an hour later, the argument calmed down, in anger if not in volume: “You know what I WANT, raht, what I REALLY WANT?
“What do you want?” answered the long-suffering unseen boyfriend, for once not using the F-word.
“I want you to be my man, and me to be your girl.”
Aaaah, how sweet. EXCEPT AT 5.40 IN THE MORNING.
What I wanted, what I really wanted, raht, was to phone reception to get them to have a word, but there are no phones in the rooms. There were no towels in the bathroom, either – you have to go and ask for that luxury – nor even a mirror (though the hooks were still there), which made shaving a challenge. Perhaps the absence of a mirror was actually a rare thoughtful courtesy, saving residents from gazing into their hideously bloodshot, sleep-deprived eyes as they contemplate the aforementioned futility of their existence ticking down to the ineluctable void.
Near 6am I decided that, British or no, I was going to Make A Fuss. I trudged down to reception in my pyjamas, hoping they would do something about the commotion. Offer me another room, perhaps; or go ask the couple to calm down. Nope. “Well I’m going to knock on their door then,” I said. “Hope I don’t get stabbed,” I added, when no reply was forthcoming. “All right, then, good night,” said the receptionist.
The argument had got heated and sweary again by the time I got back to the corridor, so I thought I’d leave it a few minutes. Bad idea. Somehow they transitioned abruptly into make-up sex. “Oh bay-BEH! Oh bay-BEH! BabyiloveYOU!” shrieked the woman. “Eurgh! Wurgh! Ooogh!” groaned the man.
As a small blessing, he lasted only four minutes… after which the arguing started up all over again.
I gave up, got dressed, and went to sit in reception, Googling other hotels to stay in (there was no Wi-fi in the room, of course), until 7am breakfast – which, for the sake of fairness, I should point out was perfectly good. The other plus is that I convinced the manager to give me a partial refund, which other reviewers have failed to do – not for the night I’d stayed, admittedly, but for the next night I had pre-booked. We settled on 50%, to account for taxes, fees to Bookings.com etc.
I’d booked the hotel online at just £35 per night, including breakfast and free parking. That sounded like good value. Not so. As David Byrne once sang, I wouldn’t stay here if you paid me.