7 (More) Habits of Highly Ineffective Hotels

Posted by - August 29, 2012 | Category: Hideouts

A Primer on Bad Hotels

A while back, I did a post on the things bad hotels do in the 7 Habits of Highly Ineffective Hotels. Since I had been travelling a lot for my previous job at the time, that article was aimed squarely at much nicer digs than the ones I’ve been staying at lately. Whereas once the Marriott was de rigeur, Motel 6 is now the reality .

If I’m lucky that is.


To be honest, if a hotel has free Wi-Fi and a roll of T.P., well…I’m giddy as an Amish teen on Rumspringa.

That doesn’t mean budget hotels get a free ride though. So I’ve come back with 7 More Habits of Highly Ineffective Hotels – the budget hotel version.

Here are the bad hotel habits I’ve noticed in the past year…

Bad Hotel Habit #1: Mini-bar Malarkey

Fridge in the room = yay! Mini-bar? Well that usually equals a nay. Although I do like to remove their contents to put in my own stuff and, from time-to-time, I’ve even been known to sneak a snack or two and replace it before they’re on to me. At one hotel in Vietnam though, I noticed a sign that said something to the effect of…

“If you remove something from the mini-bar you will be charged for the item, even if you replace it.”

Bad hotel habits -- vintage retro mini bar fridge

I wondered how in the dickens would they know? I’ve read about other high-brow establishments using laser detectors, motion sensors, and other Big Brother-esque contraptions to automatically charge the item to your room, but this was a regular old mini-fridge circa 1960. And a Communist one at that.

Turns out they had the cleaning lady sign the bottom of every Tab, Dew, and Hires in the bloody thing with a big fat Sharpie. Next day, if she sees one without her “Karl Marx” (that’s the Communist equivalent of a “John Doe”), your room gets charged. Sneaky buggers.

This is why they won that war.

Bad Hotel Habit #2: Hygiene Hijinks

Whoever said size doesn’t matter never showered in this bathroom at this hotel:Toilet missing lidBathroom with shower head above the sink

The bathroom door wouldn’t fully open because of the toilet in the way. And the shower head? Well, that’s placed thoughtfully above the sink. Looks like someone got their sweet revenge though by swiping the toilet lid. Or perhaps the hotel staff — fearing it could be used as a murder weapon against, well, the hotel staff – removed it as a preventative measure.

In any event, while it’s great not to have to share a bathroom, if you can’t (through no fault of your own) fit through the bathroom door, then the benefit sort of evaporates.

Bad Hotel Habit #3: Outlet Maul

Perhaps the only thing worse than a lack of electrical outlets in the room, are electrical outlets that look like this:


Bad Hotel Habit #4: Drastic Plastic


Plastic wrap on the headboard? Just when I thought I couldn’t feel any cheaper after spending 10 bucks on the room. Maybe that 10 bucks was only for an hour? Oh Lord.

Bad Hotel Habit #5: Felonious Flipping


I read somewhere once that “If you’re not in your bed, you’re in your shoes, and you shouldn’t scrimp on either.” I’d like to get an idea of how many well-soled hoteliers have actually slept in their own hotel beds. Many are just worn out from overuse, (or perhaps over-abuse — see point #4 above).

To combat the problem, I’ve started flipping mattresses in hotel rooms. Not to see what’s underneath (shudders), but because many budget hotels rarely rotate their mattresses. The folks at Sealy recommend flipping the mattress every two weeks for the first three months of its life, then flipping the mattress once every two or three months thereafter.

Bad Hotel Habit #6: The Wi-Fi White Lie


Hotels at the bottom of the pricing spectrum do have one major advantage over their high-end counterparts – the availability of free Wi-Fi.

It’s as ample as the bedbugs.

The Sheratons of the world will charge you 10 to 15 bucks a day for the privilege of in-room internet, but even the most basic flophouse gives it up freely nowadays.

Well almost.

A lot of places like to advertise Free In-Room Wi-Fi, but in reality you may need to stick your laptop out the window (if you have one) in order to connect to the weak signal. Be prepared to spend a lot of time in the lobby where the connection is usually the strongest. Or better yet, when you compare budget hotel room prices online, check the reviews as well to see what previous guests have to say about the Wi-Fi situation.

Bad Hotel Habit #7: Storage Wars

Some hotels aim to mimic the airline industry’s “nickel-and-dime” approach to pricing – every convenience has an added fee. Regrettably, this includes storage. Charging you extra for leaving your bag with them for those few wee hours before your bus, train, or plane departs seems to be the norm at most budget hotels lately. Space, it seems, is the final pricing frontier.

How about taking the reverse instead? One budget hotel I stayed at in Bangkok not only had free storage, but also had a scale in the lobby so you could weigh your bags before you went to the airport. Or maybe their storage rates were by the pound? Hmmm. Anyhow, if it was actually to weigh your bag before heading to the airport, good on them.

What other bad hotel habits have you noticed in your travels?

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43 comments - add one
  1. Thanks for the great article. Thankfully I have only experienced once of these – a tiny bathroom/shower in Paris!! The Wifi is a definite issue – some of the rates charged are jaw dropping.

  2. Excellent article! Let’s see… stayed in a a “high end” hotel in Italy full of bed bugs… (the idea of flipping THAT mattress will have me scratching all day.
    Stayed at an in-law’s wedding where there was NO BED…until we realized it was a Murphy Bed in the wall… When I worked for Surfer Mag (cheap as hell) every hotel I stayed in smelled like Indian food. I still can’t bear to smell it. Barbados was a hut with a dirt floor…
    I’m sure there is much more I’ve blocked out…

  3. The tiny bathrooms with the showers that get everything wet are one of my biggest pet peeves. When I wrote the Buenos Aires city guide, I was sure to note any hotels or hostels with that style of bathroom. Your photo is worse than any I encountered though 🙂

  4. What a sterling collection! The electric thing seemed to be rampant in Taiwan (and other southeastern Asian countries.) Not only the hot wired outlet, but wires snaking all over the floor overloading circuits. It puzzled me because I was on a high-class government-sponsored tour in a high-class hotel, and Taiwan in general is very advanced technologically. But the electricity? I just hoped its improved in the past 20 years.

  5. Seriously, some hotels are terrible. I never take anything from the minibar because I know I’m charged 10 times more than socially accepted! Truth, I’ve never been to super terrible hotels, even going cheap, I guess I’ve been quite lucky so far..

  6. Here’s another one: Advertise it as quiet, even though it’s built less than 50 feet from a busy thoroughfare, near a major airport.

  7. Stuck in Tampa due to an oncoming hurricane we snagged the last room in town. We encountered #8 on your list: the Police. No, I’m not referring to the musical group. I am meaning the police as “put your hands up”. In this instance they were questioning vacationers who may have witnessed a killing… in the lobby… minutes after we had checked in… where the body still lay awaiting the coroner.

  8. I’ve run into showers like that extensively in South America. I had to remind myself to take out the TP or you will be sad at the end of your shower.

  9. Great list and some of these are scary. The mini bar where the fridges report activity freak me out so much, I don’t even take a peek in case that may trigger a charge. So guess what? That means I NEVER consume anything because I am not tempted. That means a lost opportunity to make a sale. Absurd!!

  10. I can’t decide if your post is more hilarious or more true, so I’ll call it a tie. Nicely done. I have noticed most of these less than desirable conditions in cheap hotels, and then some. Anyone else had weird skin reactions to towels and sheets with similar consistency to sandpaper? Gross.

  11. You nailed it on the crappy bathrooms, the definition of “wifi”, and the electric outlets. I have a collection of photos of shabby electric. And, I have soaked several rolls of toilet paper with the wet showers in tiny bathrooms. I now know to remove the toilet paper or hide it before showering, and then try to remember to replace it before I need to do any additional business. The life of a budget traveler!


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