When staying at hotels while traveling, getting a good room depends a little on luck, but typically, I’ve found that with hotel rooms you get what you pay for. This was driven home by a recent experience at the hotel from hell — where thinking about my “bargain priced” hotel room still makes me shudder.
I travel back and forth to Florida frequently and Darien, Georgia, is about the half-way point between my house and my family’s. If I leave after work on Friday, I can knock out half the trip and then get up early the next day and be there by mid-morning.
On a recent trip, I spent the night at what turned out to be the world’s worst Hampton Inn. I always loved Hampton Inn; their rooms were consistently good, and so was the free breakfast.
However, not that time. And $120 is a lot to pay for a sub-par experience.
So, next time I decided to “get a bargain” and go to the Days Inn next door to the Hampton. Had seen it from my window the previous time and it looked fine from the outside. The hotel has interior corridors, which appeals due to the safety factor, and when I looked it up online, the price was only $41 a night.
What a mistake!
Checked in at the Days Inn about 9:30 p.m. and the night clerk was visiting with another employee at the front desk, which didn’t present a professional vibe. When they finished talking, she was pleasant to me.
She checked my (non-refundable) reservation and handed me a (previously) white key envelope that looked like it had been used 100 times before. If was filthy and looked germ-laden; the corners were curled and a previous room number has been scratched out. Ick.
Then she directed me to a room 3 doors away, around the corner from the desk. Went to the car and got my bags, and when I approached that room, the door was propped completely open! (Why? And why didn’t she know that?)
Went back to the front desk and told the clerk about the door and asked her to come in with me to check it out — since I wasn’t going inside until I knew nobody else was there.
She did, and checked the bathroom and other spots someone could be hiding.
The moment she closed the door and left, though, I noticed that everything was filthy.
The toilet was too disgusting to describe! Have NEVER seen anything that bad in any public restroom anywhere.
There was a heavy layer of dust on the counter around the sink outside the bathroom, too.
The TV stand was covered with dust, the carpet hadn’t been vacuumed and was filthy — and I wasn’t so sure the bed had clean linens.
Trudged upstairs with my luggage on the single elevator (where the button for floor 1 had apparently fallen off, and management had criss-crossed Scotch tape to fasten it on).
Couldn’t get the room of 306 to open after several swipes with the card and was debating what to do, when I heard a scratching noise from inside the room — and a 300-pound woman with only two teeth (I’m not making this up) opened the door from INSIDE!
That was her room! I backed away, horrified and apologizing profusely. (She could’ve beat me to a pulp.)
She was kind, though, and offered to call the front desk when I explained what happened, but she couldn’t get through on the phone line.
So… I toted my bags back to the first floor for the 3rd time. It was about 10:30 p.m. by then.
Finally, I got into room 308, found nobody else in it (!) and decided it was OK.
I was tired and it was late, so I took a shower and used the toilet, then went to flush it.
However, the handle fell off, clattering on the tile floor! (Unbelievable.)
Tried to put it back on the little plastic peg, but then that broke off, too.
At that point, had no choice but to reach into the back of the tank to flush it — and decided I was only going to do that once, no matter what happened.
On the way to bed after that (wearing socks I wasn’t going to remove for any reason whatsoever), looked down at the desk chair and noticed the seat was badly stained (ick again) and had a big rip in it. (No sitting in that chair.)
Lifted up the corner of the mattress, didn’t see any moving bugs, and got into bed — right after noticing that the bed didn’t even have standard sized pillows. They were all half-sized, wrapped in folded-over pillow cases. They even skimped on bed pillows?
The next morning, thought I’d take advance of the complimentary breakfast in an attempt to partially compensate for the previous evening.
No luck there, either. Got a rock-hard biscuit that required a lot of microwaving, then noticed there wasn’t anything to put on it. Asked the desk clerk if there was any jelly and she declared — almost proudly, “No, and no peanut butter, either!”
She was friendly, too, like the night clerk had been, but she also had several co-workers gathered around her chatting.
Although both desk clerks apologized for my plethora of problems, I had the feeling they probably were used to apologizing a lot…
Bottom line: the owners of this hotel should be ashamed! The chain’s corporate office staff need to come inspect it, too; it couldn’t have met corporate standards. (I mentioned all this and much more when they emailed me a survey about my stay several days later.)
Since I’m a pretty persistent person … and surely every hotel in Darien couldn’t be bad … on the next trip, decided to try the Econo Lodge in Darien, where the rooms were $61 a night ($82 after taxes) — midway between the previous two hotel’s rates.
The night clerk there was professional — dressed in a suit — helpful and competent. My room was extremely clean and well maintained, wifi worked well, the complimentary breakfast was great — and the hotel even had an outdoor swimming pool.
This is where I hit gold. Who knew?
If you’re staying overnight in Darien, I recommend the Econo Lodge.
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