travel tales of disaster accommodation

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We have recently decided to go to Scandinavia next year (YAY!) and for budgeting purposes had a quick look at accommodation prices.

*sigh* the fun of checking out places online and then reading about them on Tripadvisor. And then experiencing them for real.

Sometimes you get this:


And sometimes you don’t!

How many times is it all a LIE?

We roll our eyes when we read reviews from people complaining that there was no TV, that the bathroom didn’t have a bathtub, that the room didn’t have a view… blah blah blah…

Yes! Okay, so that might be annoying for some. And generally we are quite liberal with our accommodation. We accept basic and don’t expect luxury. We understand that some places don’t have this, that and the other. And we get what we pay for sometimes.


when it comes to cleanliness: that’s where we have to draw the line!

And then there are other places we stay where the memories will make us laugh purely due to how random they were!

This is NOT a post about naming and shaming hotels… we won’t do that. This post is more for us to collate our nightmare experiences…ones that we can laugh about now. But shocked, and at times, mortified us!

The one with the spiders 

As young, budget travellers on our first trip to Europe. We were away for 4 months and needed to make sure we stayed within budget. But we were so simply excited to visit Bath that we wanted to stay somewhere we thought would be half decent. And all we got were spiders. Let’s just say our experience with the staff left much to be desired BUT then to have to contend with spiders as well is a different ballgame altogether.

We were lying in bed one night talking when David calmly says, “Don’t move!” And when someone says that… well the natural reaction is to move first and ask why later! Next thing, you know there is a spider running across the sheet. Holy F&%$! And if you know Le, she cannot stand spiders!

There were webs throughout the whole hotel (and NO, it was not Halloween). Let’s just say when you see a footprint mark on the ceiling, you know someone used a shoe to squash something up there.

Courtesy of Neograf Forum thread (

The one with the hair everywhere

On a weekend away, in our nation’s capital, Canberra, we chose to stay at a big name chain hotel. They are usually quite reputable from our experience but this one… let’s just say, we would found the experience rather “hairy”. Getting ready for bed, Le has a habit of ripping back the sheets to check that there are no creepy crawlies in the bed (thanks to our experience in Bath). Luckily, there were no spiders… there was in fact HAIR everywhere. Not just a few strands but it was like someone had a haircut while sitting in the bed! Top to bottom hair was scattered on the bed. YUCK!

The one with dirt and mould everywhere

We were booked to stay at another hotel in Istanbul, but due to being overbooked, they pushed the overflow into another hotel, apparently “4-star”. More like 0.4 star. The staff were rude and dismissive to start. The rooms were tight, dark, dirty and mouldy. The bathroom was absolutely putrid… imagine “Fawlty Towers” in every way but worse and NOT funny!


The one where the toilet clogged

Anyone who has visited New York City knows that accommodation is not cheap and we were there for over a week. We chose one of the cheapest and most convenient places to stay… and well, much like our other tales, we were in for a bit of a shock. The first room they gave us was a small tiny little room, the second one they tried giving to us didn’t even exist (we walked around and around trying to find it to no avail), finally the third one they gave us was at least spacious and existed.

The toilet didn’t flush well and did this weird thing where it would fill to the top and then drain 5-10 minutes later.We just prayed each time that it would not overflow.


The one where we got robbed

We stayed at these serviced apartments in Barcelona, right on Las Ramblas. We ducked out for our last day in Barcelona. Upon our return, we started to get organised for our departure the following day, and noticed that a padlock was missing from one of our bags. So we turned the room upside down looking for it. We didn’t think anything more of it until we went to start packing and saw that our little case of gifts for family and friends back home was missing. Nothing was of immense value but it was just annoying that someone had broken in to steal souvenirs from us! And that was ALL they took, thank goodness!

The one where we were chased by bees

On the Greek Island of Ios, we stayed at a hotel with a lovely view. Except a lot of random things happened at that place and just to name a few memorable ones.

On our first morning in Ios, we went down to breakfast. It was a beautiful warm day, and we wanted to enjoy some sunshine and cereal. Next thing you know, we were being followed by a swarm of bees. They would not leave us alone no matter where we sat, so we were literally were chased out by the bees.


Courtesy of The Hob-bee Hive

The following morning, after a rather sleepless night, thanks to crazy young hooligans staying in the same place, we had a sleep-in. Mid-sleep, we had housekeeping come through. Yep, she came in and tried to be “invisible”, making no eye-contact, she hunched her shoulders to appear smaller, we think.  She mopped around the bed and cleaned the bathroom, all the while as we lay in bed. It was rather awkward. to say the least.

The one with the burnt toast

Staying in Malta, right by the waters, we had nothing to complain about this hotel. This experience is one we laugh at. At breakfast, we noticed that the toast was always burnt. Black toast every morning.  So on our final day, we thought we would ask for bread that was not as black, and clearly due to a lost-in-translation moment, the toast came out, and it was even more charred than we could ever imagine. It looked like a piece of black charcoal. Not a piece of bread in sight. We looked at each other as the waitress put it down, and burst into laughter.

Courtesy of Kindness Blog

The reality is with where we stay… its purpose is for us to shower and sleep. As long as we can do those comfortably and safely, we generally don’t mind where we are staying. 

Now it’s over to you. Share a bad accommodation experience with us… Make us feel better that it is not only us that gets all this craziness!

What has been your most horrible hotel experience? 






45 thoughts on “travel tales of disaster accommodation

    AndysWorldJourneys said:
    December 3, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    wow. i dont think ive EVER stayed at a place as bad as these!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      December 4, 2015 at 6:39 am

      What??!! Not even slightly as bad???

        AndysWorldJourneys said:
        December 4, 2015 at 7:13 am

        these places seem way off the scale! Yeah I’ve stayed in some bad places. But in half a dozen journeys or more the number i put as really bad would be like one a trip. Having said that, if I counted hostels where because of others it was impossible to sleep that number would rise dramatically.

    thegrownupgapyear said:
    December 3, 2015 at 1:10 am

    Oh my goodness, I can imagine that some of these definitely were not fun at the time – although some funny stories to tell now 😉 My worst experience was in a hostel in Honduras, when a cockroach flew past a fan, got caught in the breeze and blew straight into my hair! Eeeewww!!!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      December 4, 2015 at 6:40 am

      Hell no!! Cockroach in the hair….that is pretty bad. Bet you went straight to the shower and shampooed it good. 😉
      Hope you are well and the winter doesn’t get too cold for you.

    badfish said:
    December 1, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    MORE good stuff!! Years ago, all I needed from a hotel was a bed (usually a mosquito net…though I carried my own), and a window. Never spent time in the room, always looking around. Now…I’m a bit weary of all that. I don’t mind a nicer room, with a great view, a pool, a jacuzzi. I know, I know…but it’ll take you a good many years to sink this low.

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      December 2, 2015 at 7:50 am

      Hahahah – we don’t mind a great view, pool or jacuzzi now! A little bit (or a lot) of luxury is never turned away 😉
      Do mosquito nets keep the spiders out?

        badfish said:
        December 2, 2015 at 4:05 pm

        spiders can go where they dang well please, snakes, too

    Gypsy Bev said:
    November 26, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    One of the strangest experiences I had was in a hotel in Bangor, Maine, home of Stephen King. When I opened the door to the room I was given, there were people inside – surprise! So I went back to the desk, and they gave me a second key. This time I opened the door and there were clothes in the closet and a suitcase on the bed. Third try was a success, but it reminded me of something King could have used for a novel. Maybe I’ll have to use it in mine!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      November 26, 2015 at 4:34 pm

      Wow! That is very very very strange… and awkward too. Luckily, you didn’t see anything you shouldn’t have 😉
      And it does seem like a very Stephen King story, except something eerie would’ve happened next… Anyway, we were thinking 1408 as soon as you said Stephen King. 🙂

        Gypsy Bev said:
        December 3, 2015 at 4:13 pm

        That setting does have definite story possibilities…and they would have to be eerie.

    kayrpea61 said:
    November 25, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    Our worst was a house rental, with a three year old and a baby under 12 months. The place was so filthy, we didn’t even put the baby down. We just locked up and scooted off to a nearby motel!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      November 25, 2015 at 8:03 pm

      Good to hear from you, K!

      We have found that it is a little hit-and-miss with house rentals… So glad you were able to locate another place to escape to.

        kayrpea61 said:
        November 25, 2015 at 9:56 pm

        We were too. It is the last time we used ‘friends of friends’ too. TripAdvisor is much more reliable. 😉

    Diana said:
    November 25, 2015 at 7:02 am

    Our’s was in Russia (st. Pete).the hotel looked so super cute in the photos…and in fact – it was – ON THE INSIDE…..getting there was another story and the alley ways were scary too…all of this would have even been ok…but we were with my mother….and we had just come from the Marriott in Moscow…anyway…all turned out well and we had a great time. LOVED your stories!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      November 25, 2015 at 8:10 am

      Oh gosh! Scary alleyways?? Yikes! Safety is an essential when staying somewhere… But the main thing is that is all turned out ok! We are very relieved to hear 🙂

      Glad you loved our accommodation stories… we laugh at them so much now! But it wasn’t so funny at the time…

    Cherrie said:
    November 24, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    Interesting topic. 🙂

    Our worst experience with a hotel is in Istanbul with paper thin walls, where an extended family with at least 5 children were placed next to our room. The kids kept running about the corridors all night while the parents shouting at each other. This went on until after midnight, and started again at 5am in the morning. They also emptied the breakfast buffet in the morning. To make matters worse, the taxi we booked to go to the airport took forever to arrive and we got stuck in crazy traffic and missed our flight back home. So yeah, a complete disaster.

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      November 24, 2015 at 9:57 pm

      Oh dear!! Thank you for sharing your accommodation nightmare! So it appears we both had disasters in Istanbul!
      Paper thin walls… YES we do know about that! We forgot to write about that one…. We know exactly how you felt. We were in Brazil and had to be up at 3am for a flight and we could still hear the kids next door at 11pm. Worse still… in the bathroom, we could HEAR everything in their adjacent bathroom. AWKWARD because that meant they could hear everything in ours! Hahahaha!
      Thanks for reading 🙂

    Shelley @Travel-Stained said:
    November 24, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Lol…you’ve really had some experiences to write about! Our worst was in Pamukkale in Turkey. It was a super well reviewed little guesthouse, where the owners had unfortunately left for vacation, leaving the hotel to the staff, unbeknownst to us. Upon checking in, we found the last guest’s um, “dinner” floating in the toilet. It was completely horrifying! But anyways… Scandinavia!! 😀

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      November 24, 2015 at 9:54 pm

      Hello Shelley! First things first.. Congrats on your gorgeous little one!! She is adorable 🙂
      Secondly, thanks for sharing that tale that would’ve made our stomachs turn a few times too. The joys of travel right??! All the reviews point to great and fabulous and next thing you know, it’s nothing like you expect.
      We have been pleasantly surprised a few times when the review haven’t been all too crash hot – almost 50/50 but it has turned out better than we expected.
      It comes down to our expectations, huh?
      Anyway, congrats again 🙂 So when is her first trip?

    Curt Mekemson said:
    November 24, 2015 at 9:43 am

    Fun blog, Monkeys. I am not sure it was horrible but I did find it interesting when one of my windows in the hotel where I was staying had a string tied to the latch and then carefully threaded outside so someone could undo the latch. –Curt

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      November 24, 2015 at 9:49 pm

      Hi Curt,
      Thanks for reading and sharing that rather unusual hotel experience…. Hmmm… wonder what that string was intended for??!! Maybe in case you ever locked yourselves out of the room??

        Curt Mekemson said:
        November 25, 2015 at 11:49 am

        Right. After removing the string I put a chair up against the window that would fall over and wake me up if anybody tried to sneak in at night. 🙂 –Curt

          wisemonkeysabroad responded:
          November 25, 2015 at 8:03 pm

          Oooh… booby trap the place 😉 We like the way you think!

    CrazyChineseFamily said:
    November 24, 2015 at 6:34 am

    I seldomly had any good hotels in Europe or in China. Especially in China they have been real nightmares…
    It can be really upsetting when you get dirt everywhere and bad service in a supposedly 4 star hotel in Germany, money really good invested 😛

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      November 24, 2015 at 9:48 pm

      LOL…. It is disappointing when you pay the money but still don’t get the goods…It sucks real bad actually!
      We were very lucky in China… it was all pretty good except they do have hard mattresses over there, don’t they?

        CrazyChineseFamily said:
        November 24, 2015 at 10:14 pm

        Yes they are hard but I am used to that anyways as I prefer them as well here in Europe. Main problem in China was always the thick smell of cigarettes in each room, much dirt and mold in the bathroom

          wisemonkeysabroad responded:
          November 25, 2015 at 8:06 am

          Yes…. cigarette smell everywhere!! All through the sheets, carpets, vents… Eeeek!

    The Vagabond Baker said:
    November 23, 2015 at 11:15 pm

    Oh gosh, there are some frightningly horrid experiences here! Theft is obviously the worst, but grotty bathrooms come a close second!
    My worst is possibly crickets dropping from the narrow gap in the roof directly above the bed – in India– and falling onto me and my face, before hopping off on to the tiled floor. I still have nightmares of this!

    I’m heading to Scandinavia too next late spring/summer, we are taking our home/truck camper with us for a few months road trip so we won’t need to spend a fortune on accommodation! I’ll have my own lovely bed!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      November 24, 2015 at 9:47 pm

      OMG – crickets dropping from the ceiling?? We wouldn’t have slept.. well.. maybe David would have BUT definitely not Le. The fear of one falling into the mouth would’ve been too great… Yikes!!
      Well, that’s a fabulous way to travel.. with your own lovely bed! We need to try and work out how to do that from Australia maybe 😉

        The Vagabond Baker said:
        November 24, 2015 at 11:19 pm

        In the middle of the night I could stand it no more, so we went to find the night manager (It was a low budget safari resort, I can’t remember where), he thought we just wanted a new pillow – it was hilariously confusing! He didn’t quite understand that how the crickets were a problem! We did eventually move rooms. It was exhausting!

          wisemonkeysabroad responded:
          November 25, 2015 at 8:08 am

          PHEW for a room change despite the confusion. Thus is travel, right?? If there was no “lost-in-translation” moment… there would never be a good tale to tell :). BTW – whereabouts in Scandinavia are you going?

            The Vagabond Baker said:
            November 27, 2015 at 11:51 pm

            We are taking a ferry or ship over to Norway (if we can, the ferries aren’t running direct yet) then driving north, meandering of course, then cutting across the top of Sweden into Finland, down through Finland then ferry to Stockholm. See a bit of Sweden then cross the bridge to Denmark. The vague route is in our heads but the finer details we’ll leave to chance/plan nearer the time. You?

            wisemonkeysabroad responded:
            November 28, 2015 at 10:24 pm

            We are flying to Copenhagen to start. It’s only a flying visit, so touch a bit of Norway, Sweden and Iceland. It will only be a taster… Wished we lived closer to Europe.

    Mabel Kwong said:
    November 23, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    Hahaha! Hahaha! This was such a hilarious read for a bit of a dull and weary Monday here. Lots of bed on the hair – that I do not understand and someone must have forgotten to send housekeeping to clean up the room.

    The dirty bathroom one I can relate. Once I booked into a 3.5 star hotel in Malaysia. There was black dirt and fungus in the nooks and crannies of the tiles and shower of the bathroom. Ugh. At least there was hot water. And it wasn’t a haunted hotel room…

    I really don’t know what to say about the burnt toast 😀 Maybe it’s something the locals like over there. Maybe burnt toast mean extra crispy to them 😀 Hope you two are well and it’s not too hot over there in Sydney!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      November 24, 2015 at 9:45 pm

      Yeh, we couldn’t understand the burnt toast thing.. After Day 1, we thought it was an oversight from the kitchen but after three days, we figured that it must be normal to eat black toast… maybe??!
      And dirty accommodation is absolutely revolting! YUCK!
      We are doing ok in Sydney.. almost melted last Friday when we hit mid-40s. How is it in Melbourne?

        Mabel Kwong said:
        November 24, 2015 at 10:10 pm

        I have never eaten black toast and probably would not even do so. Hat’s off to you for eating the toast. I am guessing it has a bitter taste to it!

        It hasn’t been hot at all in Melbourne. Cool enough for a jacket in the day even. Wish it was a bit warmer!

          wisemonkeysabroad responded:
          November 25, 2015 at 8:05 am

          Be careful what you wish for Mabel!! The heatwave could just be a’coming!

          And no, we didn’t eat the burnt toast… we took a butter knife to scrape of the “ashes” 😉

    the eternal traveller said:
    November 23, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    I don’t know what’s worse…hair or spiders.

    We always say as long as we have a clean bed and a clean bathroom we’re happy. We’ve had two experiences that were memorable and not in a good way. The first was when we stayed at a hostel in Bath and I reckon the showers hadn’t been cleaned since the Romans were there. They were so mouldy. Yuk! The other time we were in Brussels. The apartment we rented just needed some attention to detail, like making sure the gas gun had gas in it for the stove and the back up box of matches actually had some matches in it! There were lots of little things awry and it wasn’t particularly clean. But its amazing position literally in the centre of the city made up for its faults. I guess for all the travelling we’ve done, it’s not bad that we can only name two places that weren’t up to scratch.

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      November 23, 2015 at 8:54 pm

      Yes… the hair was gross and the staff were very quick to change the sheets (and so they should!), they gave us free parking as an apology. So at least with hair… it can be changed. The spiders on the other hand… were not going anywhere when they were throughout the whole hotel.

      Urgh… dirty showers and bed are two things is where we draw the line too!
      Thanks for sharing your two experiences.. you are pretty lucky to only have two 🙂

    Ulrike said:
    November 23, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    Oh, I did not make so many bad experiences, specially with spiders and cockroaches. OK, when I was backpacking in Asia on a low budget, there were quite a few accomodations with used bedsheets and dirty toilets. That is “normal”. If you like to read about my worst hotel-experience, have look: Sorry, that is in German language. But there is also a pic of the bathroom…

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      November 23, 2015 at 8:50 pm

      Thanks for sharing!! We checked out your post and that bathroom was absolutely revolting…. We haven’t seen anything that bad ever… yet!

    Yvonne said:
    November 23, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    You’ve had some noteworthy experiences!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      November 23, 2015 at 8:48 pm

      Yes Yvonne… we certainly have 🙂 But all in the fun name of travel!!

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