Who doesn’t love a nice, relaxing vacation in some different and interesting place somewhere far, far away?
As most of us know, one thing that can easily make or break a vacation is the place where we choose to stay. Despite how great everything else about our destination may be, whatever hotel, motel, hostel, or other form of lodging we choose to make our temporary homes while away can either enhance our travel experience or completely ruin it.
Whether it’s being in a bad location, hosting some unwanted neighbors, or just providing some overall sub-par service, getting stuck with bad accommodations can quickly turn your motto from “vacation vibes” to “there’s no place like home.”
Here are 36 anecdotes that vividly show what it’s like when a hotel ends up giving us less (or in some cases, more) than we bargained for!
37. Can Anything Else Go Wrong?
In Thailand we went kayaking, the kayak got stuck on some rocks while we were making our way back to the shore. Me and bf at the time both stepped in sea urchins and had to limp to the clinic to get them removed. I had a TON of them in my feet. It hurt lol.
To add to that, right before we went kayaking I grabbed a quick bite and later got food poisoning from that meal. So while I stepped in sea urchin, the bad food I ate was festering up in my stomach and got me super sick. So I pretty much got double whammied all in one day. My time in Koh Phi Phi was Koh Poo-Poo 🙁
I started vomiting and going to the bathroom from food poisoning while we were back at the hotel. So I was limping with my healing foot back and forth to the toilet in the hotel room. I hope this qualifies as my worst ever experience in a hotel.
36. Front Desk? More Like the Front Lines…
My old roommate spent a night in Belize City before heading to the beaches. The guy at the front desk was murdered overnight.
35. Three Okays Are Apparently As Good As None
Two nights ago, drunk guests in the room next door in Kuala Lumpur were playing loud music and screaming until 4 am. I knocked on their door every 30 mins after midnight, they would open, I’d tell them I had a 5 am flight next morning so I really needed to sleep, they would say “ok ok ok” then close, keep quiet for literally 30 seconds and then continue. Total idiots!
34. That’s a Pretty Hostile Attitude Towards Hostels
Came home late at night to people having sex in my bed.
Hostel stories are kind of cheating though, even the best ones have loud snorers and girls face-timing their boyfriends back home at 3 am.
33. I’d Take Quality Over Quantity Any Day
I stayed in a disgusting, pest-infested place and according to their website, the price for that room has since gone up to $34.50.
32. Ulterior Motives Much?
I had someone from a good hotel recommend me another place to stay, which turned out to be terrible. The only reason I can imagine for this is that recommendation = commission reward.
31. Luck of the Draw
I walked around for hours in Xi’an, China looking for a room until I thought I should check out the hotel connected to the train station. At that point, I couldn’t care less if there were cockroaches running across the room. Luckily it was a decent room though.
30. Dying and Diving, Vacation Style
I had to help save the life of a desk clerk who had been stabbed. I think he would’ve eventually called for an ambulance himself but he was in too much shock when I got there so I had to take matters into my own hands.
The more creepy thing is that the assailant must’ve just left. If I would’ve been there a literal minute or two earlier I would’ve encountered them and could’ve been hurt too.
29. Never Forget That Some Sisters Are Evil Twins!
First time backpacking around Europe in the early 2000s in the summer. My sister and I, who were new college graduates at the time, go on a six-week tour. Midway we’re in Berlin and the next stop is Munich. We’re traveling on a budget and the hostel in Berlin helps us out in making reservations to their sister hostel in Munich with glowing reviews for four nights. The hostel in Berlin was one of the best we had experienced so we were game.
We show up at the Munich hostel and find out there rooms are above a beer garden laden with smoke. It wasn’t the noise or atmosphere that bothered us, it was the cigarette smoke. I’m an asthma sufferer and the slightest sense of it induces my asthma.
We stayed one night in a four bed shared room.
The second day we find a nearby hotel and opt to book there. I ask the receptionist manager if we can opt out of the last two nights since it was high season and finding replacements in our head shouldn’t be much of a problem. We were willing to forego a night’s payment. This place was so old school they did not accept credit cards and did everything by handwritten ledgers.
The manager was in his late 50s, and shouted at the top of his lungs that we must pay for all four nights or he will call the police. After trying to discuss this with him in a civil manner, he shouts “You Americans think you do this in OUR HOUSE? This is our house, you obey our orders. This IS Germany!”
He then threatens that if we don’t pay the remaining nights he will come to our rooms with some other men and tussle. My sister and I return to our room, tell a fellow American backpacker what happened and that things might get elevated in the room. We wait for an hour, no one comes—we book it out of there and since they only accepted cash—they had no formal trace of who we were, etc. One of the oddest situations to be in.
28. C’mon Lady, Have a Sense of Humor!
I travel a lot, both for my work and for fun.
My absolute worst hotel stories involve bed bugs—ironically at the Sheraton Philadelphia and the Hilton Anatole in Dallas.
I also found two cockroaches in my bathroom at the Sheraton in Philadelphia. When confronted, the lady at the front desk offered me 2,000 points. I asked her if it was a 1,000 points per cockroach. She wasn’t too impressed.
I am usually happy to pay more and stay in a nicer hotel or go camping. So, I have been fortunate enough to avoid some of the crappier hotel nightmare stories.
27. And the Walls Came Tumbling Down
Roughly 2004. Iceland hostel in the north (between Akureyri and Dalvik). Kids on a school trip next to us managed to kick through the adjoining wall while doing vodka-infused somersaults on the bunk beds. We got a free packed lunch. Otherwise been lucky.
Wife and I were wandering around Montezuma, Costa Rica trying to decide on a place to stay. We asked other tourists elsewhere for suggestions, and one place kept popping up. I forget the name of it now (I’d remember if I looked it up), but it was a hippie hostel right on the beach.
We get there and ask to see a room before booking. The host brings us back to the lousiest concrete seven by eight slab of a room, with a stained twin mattress on the floor and a bucket of water for washing. Quotes us $30.
Nah, no thank you.
We walked one block inland away from the beach and found a really nice quaint hotel for $35, with a new king bed, AC, cable TV, and a great courtyard. I don’t know what those other people were thinking to recommend that first place. Must have been a running joke.
25. The One Two Punch of Bad Service
Took an hour to check-in to a hotel in Louisville on a work trip, literally the only time in my life it’s taken longer than ten minutes. Then the next day, sewage came back up the sink drain and overflowed the sink and was pouring onto the bathroom floor.
24. Second to One
Was in Haiti, took the bus from Port-au-Prince to Cap Haitien, and got in MUCH later than we’d anticipated, at about 10:30pm. It was raining torrentially, and since Haiti was in the middle of a gas shortage all of the streetlights were out and it was pitch black.
Our Google Maps was telling us that the bus stop was a few kilometers out from town and far from the hotel we’d planned on staying at, so we decided to just stay at the hotel attached to the bus stop, then figure things out in the morning.
Came in to find one sleepy guy running the place, who showed us to a dark, dingy room, that didn’t appear to have been cleaned, and had the sheets just bunched in a corner. He quickly tried to tidy up, and threw the corner sheets onto the bed.
Then he charged us $80 USD and wouldn’t budge.
Slept horribly. Got up in the morning and made our way to the hotel that we’d PLANNED on staying at, which was $60 for a beautiful room overlooking the city, free super fast Wi-Fi, included breakfast, bright restaurant, and even had an infinity pool.
23. As Long As You Were Happy With It, Who Am I to Complain?
A decade ago on Koh Lanta, I was sharing a bungalow with some friends and drew the short straw so I was on the floor. There were a lot of stinging ants on the floor. Still, the place was awesome.
22. What’s Bugging You Guys?
This story took place a few years ago in Mandalay. The hotel room was dirty and had lots of mosquitos but my wife and I figured whatever, it’s just a few nights.
So the first morning we are lying on the bed trying to figure out where to go for the day when we look down and spot a giant bug sitting between our heads. We noped out and managed to snag a deal on a luxury hotel doing a soft open.
21. You Were in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time, My Friend
Check into a motel in Dothan, Alabama on our way to vacation. Cheap place but solid and quiet. Around 1 am I hear some commotion outside but it quickly passes. Ten minutes later I hear some cars pull up and doors open and close. Then the sound of the room next to ours being raided.
Turns out the guy next to us was wanted on some federal warrants. The feds were out there for a while. I couldn’t leave as our car was blocked in. The kids went back to sleep but I couldn’t. Spent most of the night sitting outside watching. They comped the room though.
20. To Each Their Own I Guess…
There was the night in DC where, at 11 pm, the folks next to us, all nine of them, check into a two-bed unit and begin having a curry cook-off, or so it smelled like. Hotel was full, I ended up moving to another place. The hotel took care of it, when the guy was checking me out he said that the folks next to us had been moved around from other rooms due to their noise.
19. The Key to a Good Hotel Experience is Not Letting Anything Like This Happen…
I was staying at a guesthouse in Qui Nhon, Vietnam. Decent place, family run, clean and well kept, about $10 USD a night. Everyone was nice, but very little English spoken.
I’d walked down to the beach that evening, met a fellow backpacker at a bar, and we had drinks until about 11:30 PM. I walked back to the guesthouse to see the main gate surrounding the yard locked up tight. The house was surrounded by a nine or ten-foot tall iron fence, and I couldn’t get in. All the lights were off, and there was no buzzer.
I pace back and forth for about ten minutes trying to figure out what to do. I finally find a ledge that I could use as a boost and manage to pull myself up and over the fence. I walk up to the front door and knock.
The very nice early 20s guy sleeping on a cot by the front door (if you’ve been to Vietnam you know this is normal) cautiously opened the door. He recognized me and let me in and started chattering in Vietnamese.
Finally, he said—”how you?” and I motioned that I went over the fence. His eyes bugged out! A guest at his place had had to jump over the fence ’cause he’d locked up for the night.
Then he said … “but…. keys?” This was the kind of place where you were supposed to leave the key to your room at the desk. They know who is in and who is out by which keys are left in the “checked in but not in” pile on the desk. I didn’t know that I was supposed to do that (no one stopped me on my way out) so I had my key with me. Since there weren’t any keys in that pile, he assumed everyone was in for the night, and locked up.
I apologized to him because it was my fault for not leaving the key. I didn’t want him all wound up that I would report him in the morning for locking me out.
18. Sounds Like You Got Snaked By This Hotel
Snake in my room when I stayed in Thailand.
17. A Consistent Routine is an Important Part of Life
We were in Florence and the hotel was fine, but every night around 2 am some guy would walk up and down the street yelling “castratro.” On the third night of this, some guy in another room leaned out a window and yelled that if the guy didn’t shut up he’d come down and castrate him personally. Blessed silence for the rest of our stay.
16. Those Who Do Not Learn From History Are Doomed to Repeat It
I was spending the night in a cheap Comfort Inn hotel in Raleigh, North Carolina and a group of people were hanging out in the hallways right outside my door literally all night shouting and laughing. I was furious. Before I went out there and told them to shut up, I heard someone else pop their head out and ask them to be quiet.
One of the guys responded, “get back in your room and shut up before I shoot yo butt.” And they continued to carry on like this all night. I’ve extensively traveled around the US, and that was probably the one night where I actually felt uncomfortable. So, whether you agree with this decision or not, I went home and bought a gun for all future domestic travels.
15. A Scenic Nightmare
I was trapped in a hotel room with NO WINDOWS.
14. My Comfort Food Was Nowhere to Be Found in My Moment of Need
I had an incident in Yangon, Myanmar in June 2017 where at night I could hear strange footsteps in the hallways. I was so scared. I couldn’t even go to the 7-Eleven to get an ice cream to relax because Myanmar does not have any 7-Elevens. They don’t even have ice cream late at night for sale. There was pretty much nothing I could do to calm myself down.
13. Working Right Through Your Vacation
One of the hotel staff had somehow gotten seriously injured and wounded when I had arrived. He was bleeding heavily from his face, it was a very deep wound. I call 911 and then since I’m a nurse I ask where their first aid kit is. He tells me, I go to open it and …… it’s completely empty.
Grabbed some towels from a cart behind the front desk and had him put pressure on it until the ambulance came.
12. You Interrupted Their Important Business!
A couple of years ago in Cali, Colombia there were these two Italian drunkards that made sure no one in the guesthouse could sleep by smashing watermelons with machetes in the kitchen. I went up to them at around 2 am to try to make them understand we were like 20 other people in the other rooms that would love to spend the night in peace and they just disregarded me and kept on.
11. Knowing How to Manage Your Peers
As anyone who has had to spend any amount of time staying with other people in hostels knows, there is a special place in hell for snorers. One trick for handling them is to clap really hard, which brings them out of “rhythm” and they’re quiet for a couple minutes.
10. Giving Them an Ultimatum
Hahaha. I was staying in a pensión in San Sebastián, Spain a couple of years ago and had people having loud sex in the room next door. I opened the window and called out, “Invite me or shut up!” They quieted down after that.
9. I Guess Some Things Come With the Territory
My family is from the Philippines and after having visited twice, I feel that asking the question of whether the hotel rooms will be shared by insects and/or bedbugs is always completely warranted.
8. The Ants Go Marching Hundreds By Hundreds (Hoorah?)
I was cleaning my mouth in the sink and suddenly hundreds of ants came out of the tap. That’s the worst story I have.
7. Always the Reception You Want to See
When I entered the hotel, there were already cops all over the place, although I don’t remember the specifics of what happened. Either someone went out for the evening, returned, and a guy was found dead, or it happened overnight.
Kind of weird since I don’t think the city I was in is that unsafe.
6. Filling a Psychological Need for Feeling Safety
Having been staying in one of the murder capitals of the country, I chose to bring a gun because I did not feel safe in my hotel room with a group of people right outside of my door (literally could see them through the peephole) shouting and laughing all night long, who already made one death threat against another hotel guest.
It was not that I was planning to directly confront them holding a gun, or that I would have confronted them at all, but I just did not feel safe without knowing that I had one there just in case.
5. The Uninvited Guest That Just Keeps Coming Back
I was in India, a little south of Delhi. I was sitting in bed looking out the window kind of in a jet-lagged haze. Suddenly a dark blob jumped out in front of the window and rammed into my window. I about had a heart attack! It was a monkey, and every morning it would do the same thing. Basically jump at the window and bang on it to get a rise… what a jerk!
4. Taking One For the Team
I was staying at a hostel in Cambodia, in a big room with 30 beds or so.
In the middle of the night, a girl came back from partying on a ton of drugs. She flopped into a top bunk bed that wasn’t hers, and then proceeded to vomit and poop in her pants. It dripped down through the bed and the rest of us in the room woke up to the poor guy in the bottom bunk just screaming in horror.
We were all up for the next hour (at about 3 AM) trying to air the place out before we could go back to sleep.
3. They Must Have Been Pretty Shocked to Hear That
Two people loudly having sex for hours in the room next door. So hard, my bed was literally moving with every thrust he gave her, which is what woke me up. After an hour, I finally called the room, when the guy finally answered, I told him to “move the pillow so I could see the girls face”… they stopped instantly.
2. Wild Goose Chases Are Worse On No Sleep
Flying into Venice, Italy, I had been awake for almost 24 hours and was exhausted. Next, I was stuck in the sun on a crowded boat for about an hour on the way to Lido. Pinned against the stern without shade, that was enough time for me to get sunburned.
Sweaty and sunburned, I get off the boat and get on a bus for a ten-minute ride to my hotel. I show up at the address and the hotel is no longer in business. It is just an empty shell of a building with a sign and a phone number that I couldn’t call. I did not receive any notices in my messages.
I go and get back on the next bus to go back to where it picked me up in the first place, so I paid to go nowhere, essentially. Frustrated, hauling my luggage around the bumpy streets, and in broken Italian, I ask local business owners what happened and where can I go. I was sent to a “sister” hotel of the same chain. Thank goodness they honored my other reservation and gave me a very nice room. Friggin finally.
1. Not This Type of Thing Again!
In Montreal ten years ago, came back to our hotel by UQAM by myself around midnight to find the front desk clerk stabbed and on the ground.