Since your vacation time is precious, I share these warning signs that you've checked into a Hotel Hell. Should you find yourself in similar circumstances, leave as quickly as possible. Trust me: The second night won't be any better.
On a visit to this allegedly fine inn located in an isolated area, we arrived at 2 pm. The very annoyed young woman at the front desk informed us that check-in time was 4 pm and made it clear she wished to have no more to do with us until the appointed hour. No offer of a cool drink, no suggestions of where to bide the time, no offer of a tour, no invitation to use the facilities. And that was our welcome to Hotel Hell.
2. Your Room at Hotel Hell Stinks
If you enter a room and smell something foul, notify the front desk and ask to be given another room. Sometimes, this isn't possible. You're too tired to move, or perhaps no other room is immediately available. In cases like this, close the bathroom door and pick up a scented candle, spray perfume or deodorant. Got minty mouthwash or fruity shampoo? Sprinkle it around. Use whatever is at your disposal to disguise the stink of Hotel Hell.
3. The Water is Not Potable at Hotel Hell
4. Furniture and Carpets are Stained at Hotel Hell
As hotel guests, we don't like to dwell on the fact that strangers have occupied our room before. But unless you're the first guest to stay in a new hotel, it's likely that's the case. Nonetheless, your room should be so clean that there's no hint anyone ever hit the sheets but you.
At Hotel Hell, I observed many stains of unknown origin on the beige carpeting. Not terrible. But it made me wonder, if they couldn't clean up visible dirt, who knows what lurked elsewhere?
5. Hotel Hell Looks Like a Layout in Kazakhstan Home & GardenWhen you seek out a fine hotel for a romantic getaway, it's reasonable to expect the surroundings to have a degree of taste or charm. Great hotels and resorts pride themselves on decorating well. Some boast fine antiques or reproductions; others feature sleek and innovative contemporary design; yet others maintain rooms crafted to reflect their country or culture.
In Hotel Hell, guest rooms look thrown together cheaply and without any design sense. There's a preponderance of creaky white wicker, couches upholstered in hide-the-dirt flowery prints, lamps that don't match, ugly wall art, and other elements that create a look best described as Early Before (as in Before and After).
6. There is No TV at Hotel HellI don't care how romantic a holiday you have in mind: At one point or another, you will miss TV. You'll want the news, the score, or simply a break from a togetherness so enforced that you start envying Siamese twins their private time. Any place that tells you it doesn't have TVs in guest rooms because "it's not romantic" is lying. There is no TV because they are too cheap to provide it and cable. If you don't want to watch it, fine. But it should be your choice, not your host's.
7. Hotel Hell Claims it Offers Wi-Fi... But It LiesEven on a honeymoon, some travelers tote a laptop. Far from civilization or an Internet cafe, Hotel Hell assured you before you arrived that free wi-fi would be available. Maybe it's free in their business office, where the accountant sits. Or maybe in a corner of the lobby when the sun is shining in the right direction. But a strong and consistent signal? Nope. It's a tease -- so don't spend more vacation time than you care to waste trying to log on. Hotel Hell never thought you'd take their promise of service seriously. Besides, it's not romantic to check email on a honeymoon (refer to #6, No TV). Again, it should be your choice, not theirs.
8. Food at Hotel Hell is Expensive and Pretentious Yet Mediocre at BestEach night the menu changes, so each night the chef comes up with a new take on fusion cuisine. Yet at Le Restaurant of Hotel Hell, the menu is more con-fusion than fusion. You can select something piled tall, something vaguely Italian, something meaty topped with flaming sage from a menu that reads as if it's written in pidgen French. Because the restaurant tries to appeal to so many different appetites, it rarely excels at one dish. Iron chef isn't in the kitchen, so you'll need an iron stomach at your banquette. My advice: Order the simplest thing on the menu. And fill up on bread.
9. The Servers at Hotel Hell's Restaurant are Obsequious
Any enjoyment I may have had over the soup/salad/appetizer/entree/wine/dessert/coffee departed with the fifth or sixth iteration of The Question -- as I wish I had. Fine dining does not require a restaurant-goer to issue a play-by-play review of each course when solicited by the help.
If you face such intrusions, tell the captain you prefer to be served without discussion and you will notify him if there's a problem.
10. You're Bored Out of Your Minds at Hotel HellThis isn't necessarily the hotel's fault; sometimes it's just a mismatch between guests and facilities. If you're beach lovers at heart, you may find a remote mountain inn unappealing. Love cities and culture, but fear that you would lose your mind baking on a beach? Then steer clear of sandy shores. Don't play golf or tennis? You could sign up for lessons... or simply not choose a resort that specializes in those. Find kids annoying, to say the least? Then a "family friendly" resort will make you miserable.
The bottom line: Think about types of places where you would be happiest, discuss what you both like to do on vacation, and research potential resorts thoroughly so that when you arrive you'll know you've checked into Hotel Heaven.