For the most part, staying in a hotel is supposed to offer a little bit of luxury. Whether you’re travelling for business, splurging on a big vacation, or shoe stringing it on a budget, at the very least people expect clean accommodations to rest their weary travelling bones. Unfortunately this isn’t always a given.
There are a number of factors that can impact just how fresh and squeaky clean your accommodation is going to be. Some of this has to do with the guests who checked in the weeks and days before you, whereas other factors are up to the due diligence of the cleaning staff who are supposed to keep things above and beyond health code factors.
Big hotel chains like The Marriott pride themselves on their 30 minute room cleaning science, where there is a cleaning manual and a strict routine for all to follow with tips on everything to stripping a bed and re-making it in a clockwise position and ensuring the room has a “neutral” odor.
The truth is, very few hotel rooms get the deep cleaning we’d like to believe they do before each new guest checks in. This can lead to smaller items, like doorknobs, light switches or even the TV remote picking up days, weeks, or even months’ worth of bacteria (pack antibacterial wipes for your next trip).
One of the bonuses, or drawbacks depending who you are, of social media and the world wide web is that people are able to share with other customers their experiences whether they’re good or bad, and even include photos of their hotel stays on travel sites like Trip Advisor. Some of these photos and the stories behind them come from big name top 10 hotel brands, whereas others come from smaller motels and inns. Some pictures and horror stories come from staff members who have removed the names of their employers to protect the innocent (and guilty) parties. Here are 15 photos that no hotel executive wants any client to see, ever!
15. The Polynesian Beach And Golf Resort
You have to wonder how some places stay in business when they receive so much terrible press. Customers have given this hotel 439 terrible reviews, and counting. Customers complained about rude staff who rolled their eyes at visitors and even clapped their hands in guests’ faces. The resort is also infamous for adding on hidden fees to get as much money out of their guests’ wallets as possible. People complained of telephones that didn’t work, and “undesirables” hanging out in the parking lot appearing as if they would break into your car the second they had an opportunity to. Guests felt they’d been bait and switched in terms of the photos on the website, not even coming close to matching the roach motel they arrived at. Some guests simply opted to describe the public washroom near the front desk as “nasty”.
14. The Leland, Downtown Detroit
The good news for hotel execs is that eventually The Leland’s bad behaviour got them shut down, but that wasn’t before a number of horrifying tales surfaced about what went on at this historic landmark hotel that featured over 800 rooms. One guest wrote of their trip in 2009, “’the staff was extremely unhelpful, and when we finally got up to our room (the elevators are as horrific as everyone has described) and began to unpack, another couple unlocked our room door and walked in. The hotel double booked our room!” Safety did not come first at what was once a luxury hotel, and one guest said, “Someone had been stabbed right in front of the doors to the hotel and there was a huge puddle of blood on the ground.” Others wrote online of windows coated in dirt, the toilet and bath hadn’t been cleaned in ages, and a guest from Scotland complained of a smell in the lobby, “they could never quite work out.”
13. Econo Lodge, New Jersey
The Econo Lodge in Elizabeth, New Jersey has definitely seen better days and tops the list of bad hotels with 251 terrible reviews. One guest says, “Stay away even if you could stay here for free!” Guests were unimpressed by bug bites, mold, old smelly rooms and very dirty bathrooms. Some mentioned that when it rained there was a lot of leaking and giant puddles gathered by the front desk. Others have used this for an overnight and place to park their car because of its proximity to the airport but have warned of hidden fees, over pricing, and some even suggest that guests would be better to sleep in their cars or on a bench at the airport. Others complained of cracked windows, curtains that were make-shift out of sheets and broken stairs.
12. Bed Bug Drama
Bed Bugs are two of the worst words you can utter in the hotel business. An infestation can sink a hotel’s reputation faster than any exterminator can eradicate the problem. People’s worry over bed bugs in recent years has led to a Bed Bug Registry where people can report their bed bug experiences with various establishments all over the world. Bedbugs.net even went so far as to put together a list of the top 20 worst bed bug hotel chains in the world. The top ten list included: Hotel Pennsylvania, New York, Hotel Carter, New York; Fort Rapids Indoor Waterpark Resort, Columbus, Ohio; West Side Inn Hotel, Amsterdam; Niagara Lodge and Suites, Ontario; St. Vincent’s Guesthouse, New Orleans; Beach Plaza Hotel, Florida; Hotel De Blavac, France; Hotel Y Boulevard, Amsterdam; and Sandman Hotel, Vancouver.
11. The Missing Piece
Sometimes a hotel staff member will miss things, and that usually isn’t a big deal. In speaking to someone who works in cleaning, staff will often rotate who cleans rooms on a regular basis to ensure that nothing is missed twice in a row since everyone cleans a little differently and this ensures that the rooms are as clean as possible. One hotel employee says that he found something more than an errant pair of socks under the bed when inspecting a room. A guest had been killed during a drug deal that clearly went wrong and left something behind. His hand was discovered hanging out under the bed, and this was after the cleaning crew was finished cleaning up at the Flint Michigan Hotel. We’re guessing heads rolled on this poor cleaning job!
10. Just A Little Fight
The thing about online booking sites is that it means hotels aren’t always connecting directly with their clientele, and the online service is literally the middleman. A person who worked for an online booking website comments that they have been contacted by a hotel with severe complaints about a difficult guest. The guests were found, presumably by the cleaning staff, unconscious on the balcony, buck naked, covered in blood and holding a knife. The hotel didn’t want to take the chance of the booking service not believing them, so they decided to snap some commemorative photos. While the name of the hotel was not provided by the person telling the story, we’re guessing there isn’t enough hot water, cleanser or scrubbing to completely get rid of this bloody mess. We’ll all think about this story the next time we see a red spot in our hotel room.
9. Just The Tip
Sometimes an annual event will lead to a lot of partying. This leaves the cleaning crew with a bigger job than usual, with many more disgusting surprises to clean up. One staff member was cleaning hotel rooms in a small mid-western hotel following a rodeo. All of the rooms were significantly worse than usual, so the cleaner pushed through; that was until she came across one room that will forever be etched in her mind. One bathroom in particular was absolutely covered in blood. Like any diligent employee this person set out to work. When they got to cleaning behind the toilet the staff member found a hard small, pebble-like object. The cleaner opened up their rag to inspect the rock and discovered a finger-tip. Someone had severed their fingertip in the bathroom, and just left it there. No one returned to claim it from the lost and found.
8. The Dead Body In The Room
Movies like Four Rooms feature people moving the mattress in their hotel room to discover a dead body. This story, for the most part, is based on an urban legend that’s been around longer than mints have been left on hotel bed pillows. One would assume that hotel staff would get a whiff of a rotting body long before a guest ever discovers their new roommate, but the dead body in the room really happens. In 1982, some car thieves had killed one of their partners in crime and left him under the bed in a New Jersey hotel. Three guests, and four days passed before someone discovered the body. In 1988 a New York City murderer took extra care in hiding his kill by stuffing the body into the bed’s box spring. Two guests unknowingly slept above the body before the smell took over the room and the dead body was discovered.
7. The One With The Goat
Most people remember the episode of How I Met Your Mother that involved the gang discovering a live goat in their bathroom. Perhaps these particular hotel guests took inspiration from this show. One hotel staff member went in to clean and came across a goat, who was dressed like Abraham Lincoln, and who was left behind by a group of party animals who had checked out a number of hours earlier. Another hotel staff member said he once went into a room to come across several cats taking up residence. There was a note from the owner and a hundred dollar tip thanking the hotel staff in advance for taking care of the cats with a promise to return shortly; spoiler alert the pet owner did not return shortly after. If you’re allergic to cats (or goats) perhaps you’ve managed to book the Abraham Lincoln or kitty palace suite by mistake.
6. Escape From The Murder Room
Keeping a hotel clean doesn’t just have to do with cleaning products, it has to do with overall upkeep – just read any Trip Advisor review. People’s complaints about lack of maintenance in their room is really important, ranking just after cleanliness and customer service. With this in mind you’d think that if someone had been attacked in their hotel room the staff would be on top of painting over and repairing any signs of an intense struggle. This was not the case at the Galt House in Louisville, Kentucky. A flight attendant who checked in for a stay was bothered to note there were signs of entrapment and escape in her room, particularly puncture marks around the lock of her room’s door. We’re guessing the offer of an upgrade to a more secure room wasn’t enough to get her to keep her mouth shut.
5. When It’s Not Even Hunting Season
If people are going to be okay with bringing live animals into their rooms, odds are they’re not going to have any qualms about bringing and preparing dead animals in their rooms. This is the case for an Amish family reunion where they took the staff suggestion of “make yourself at home” a little too far. Hotel staff went to investigate after receiving several reports of offensive odors from several other guests. Upon making their way into the room one employee was greeted by a deceased guest making themselves at home in the room’s bathtub. This “guest” was a half-skinned deer. In addition to the “deerly departed” guest there were also many fish hung all over the room adding to the stench. Since it wasn’t deer season the hotel staff didn’t have to turn the other way and were able to call in the county Sheriff to deal with things. Law enforcement aside, the cleaning job probably still wasn’t easy once the deer and fish were removed.
4. When You’re Feeling Pooped
When your job is cleaning bathrooms, odds are you’re going to come across some poop. One discount hotel let their guests know just how little attention they paid to cleaning their rooms or changing their linens. A rightfully furious guest fumed at staff upon discovering a pillow in their “freshly cleaned room” that was filled with human feces and was simply “missed” by the cleaning staff, who didn’t care to change the linens. Poop isn’t the only thing that hotel staffers regularly miss. Some recount simply rinsing most of the glasses and one Australian travel website heeded a warning from a former hotel staff member who says they kept a special pen with them when cleaning rooms for the explicit purpose of removing used condoms from the complimentary kettles and coffee pots in rooms. Better stop at Starbucks next road trip mate!
3. Farming Mushrooms
This wasn’t a stay in Smurf village, even though some people believe that Disney is the most magical place in the world with mystical things happening even outside of the gates of the park. When someone tries to save a few bucks by staying at a discount hotel they probably expect some of the frills like an included meal with their stay to get waived. What they don’t expect is to discover mushrooms growing right in their hotel room – gross. One would think that hotel staff would notice an abundance of fungi thriving in the moist and warm Florida room, but apparently this got missed in the cleaning until it was discovered by a hotel guest who didn’t like the snacks provided by her hotel. If the room was warm enough to grow shrooms, who knows what else lurks there unnoticed.
2. Best (Or Worst) Western Hotels & Resorts
Is a great location enough to overlook a very average hotel? Many people provided similar, lackluster reviews for this Best Western Hotel near Disneyland. Complaints included old, thin, dirty carpets with holes in them. One guest put on new white socks and walked around the room to find them blackened significantly from the dirt on the floor of the room. The bed featured uncomfortable springs poking out, and several surfaces within the room were described as sticky. Just the same because of the location of this discount hotel, people were willing to sacrifice cleanliness and endure a rather large ick factor to make their family vacation a lot more affordable. There is a pool here, but it’s pretty worn down, so not sure if anyone really wants to take a dip in it.
1. The Grand Resort Hotel And Convention Center
One of the best things about the advent of the internet is that you can look up your accommodations before you book. Anyone who looks up The Grand Resort Hotel And Convention Center in Tennessee is probably going to opt to stay somewhere else, since it’s among the worst in the world for rankings on cleanliness.
This hotel was crowned the dirtiest hotel in the United States by Trip Advisor, and the hotel was so upset about this ranking instead of focusing their efforts on cleaning up their act, they decided to take Trip Advisor to court for defamation, asking for 10 million dollars. The Grand Resort lost their case and the judge found the ranking to be based on fact.
One guest review that got the hotel its notorious ranking said, “If you are looking for a hotel with: pubic hair stuck to the bathroom floor in some unidentifiable, gelatinous liquid; chewing tobacco spit oozing down the halls and corridors; spiders actively making webs in every corner of your room; carpeting so greasy and dirty you wouldn’t want to sit your luggage down – let alone walk around barefoot; dingy bedsheets and towels as rough and thin as sandpaper; and a room so putrid and smelly it causes a gag-reflex when you walk in…by all means, stay at The Grand Resort.”