Thursday, 21 August 2008

Crap Hotels and B&B's...


The rabbit has been quiet of late - part of the reason is that I have been tearing about the Midlands plying my trade in assorted courts. Commuting is stupefyingly expensive on the early trains as well as exhausting (never an enthusiastic driver, I have sold my car - no regrets - and don't really do long distance hauls anyway). So, on an economy drive, I get the cheaper off peak trains and stay overnight in -erm - inexpensive hotels and B&B's (bed and breakfast accomodation for any overseas reader mystified by this acronym). I can tax deduct travel and hotel expenses but still have to find them upfront. I'm becoming some sort of expert on the cheaper end of the accommodation industry. Some thoughts...
The picture is very varied. Some cheap B&B's etc are actually fine - the odd one is very good value. The horrors are - well - horrific.
Let's call it the Fleapit Hotel, Stoke. I'd come up on the Sunday night and stayed in a very nice place a few minutes from the court at weekend rates. For weekdays the rate went up sharply so, remembering the economy drive, I rang the Fleapit Hotel for the Monday night when it became clear that my trial would go into Tuesday. They had vacancies - why am I not surprised? The Fleapit was at least secure. The front door key I was issued engaged in a battle with the lock just about every time. The interior was gloomy with the usual collection of rubbishy 'ornaments' on every available surface and fussy patterned carpets everywhere. The carpets had plainly seen better days and were apparently in the later stages of death by vacuuming. At least my room was clean and had plain white walls. Both room and bed were small but it was passable for one night. One particularly classy touch was the plastic mug supplied for in room tea/coffee. Presumably they didn't trust me not to break/steal a porcelain one.
I got talking to a guy who was also staying there. He was - I would guess - in his mid sixties.
'I've been put here by the council' He said. He'd just suffered relationship breakdown and had left his council place in Chesterfield and, coming from Stoke, had headed back there like an elderly homing pigeon.
'They're showing me a bungalow tomorrow. It's in a nice area. I'm going to take it. I've hit rock bottom. The only way is up for me after today'.
My heart really went out to him. He had no children and was a cancer survivor. I hope things worked out for him. It became clear that several of the residents had been put there by the council. Obviously this is done because the place is cheap but this seemingly guaranteed income stream provides whatever miscreant owns the place no incentive to improve it. One of the homeless persons was a friendly soul. I met him briefly in the evening and again at breakfast. He got up after eating his meal.
'One more beer and then I'll go to bed' he announced cheerily. It was about 8.30 in the morning. Another resident, a young man, looked as if he was in withdrawal.
I should say something about the surrounding area. Almost directly across the road from the Fleapit Hotel was a boarded up pub. They seem to do boarded up bigtime in Stoke with commercial and shop premises in various states of dereliction left, right and centre. I noted that 'Adult Shop' and 'Bargain Booze' seem to have survived this commercial holocaust as had a halal takeaway shop just down the road from the Fleapit. I had shish kofte and chips from there for dinner. It wasn't at all bad.
'See you later' said the duty staff bloke when I left in the morning.
'No you wont' I thought.
I moved on with much relief to Stafford and the Spittal Brook Inn - I've blogged on the Spittal Brook before and love the place and its gloriously crazy landlord to bits...
After a weekend back in London, it was Wolverhampton on Monday and a nice little earner. So up on off-peak train on Sunday night and, the economy drive still being on, a night in - let's call it - the Dog Hotel. I've looked at it online and comments by former guests are venomous. I copy and paste from the hotel website: 'All of our thirty-three bedrooms are en-suite, tastefully decorated and maintained to a high standard of cleanliness'. Erm, really??? A traveller review paints a somewhat different picture: 'Absolutely disgusting. Tiny, dirty and dangerous room. Stairway littered with broken plant pots, soil and dead plants (still there the morning we left). Reception area strewn with broken furniture and dirty bedding: an obvious health hazard and fire-hazard. 'Non-Smoking' room stank of smoke and had an ashtray near the bed. This was a week AFTER the smoking ban came into force, so clearly illegal. This hotel needs to be closed down before there is a serious accident there'.
Oh lighten up! Okay, the Dog is a dump but it is so awful it is pure comedy, unlike the Fleapit, which is just oppressive in its dreadfulness. I arrived to meet a very nice guy who seemed to be in sole overnight charge. The carpet in the foyer was waterlogged.
'We've had a flood' he explained.
'What caused it?' I asked.
'Just rain' he replied.
Righty... My room had a number of interesting features such as the wall mounted light which wasn't wall mounted any more but hung from the wall by its electrical cable. The en-suite had an interesting collection of cracked tiles. I thought at one point in the middle of the night that my bed was going to collapse. I wasn't doing anything energetic, just turning over. Usual nasty patterned flowery wallpaper and swirly threadbare carpet. Though as I say, the guy in charge was very affable and brought a late night beer to my room. Tuesday night, I stayed in a B&B in Leicester for pretty much the same price as the Dog Hotel. It was very nice indeed. Better than many hotels. I'm learning rapidly where to stay and where not to.
Quick change of subject - with hat tip to Downtown Guy (link to left) here is a list of top 50 dystopian movies, courtesy of something called Snarkerati http://snarkerati.com/movie-news/the-top-50-dystopian-movies-of-all-time/
Discuss...
Parting shot - JoJo (again link to left) commented that Throwing Stones would be a more appropriate Dead song than Eyes of the World to go with my posting on Georgia. Here it is, then, complete with gnomes...

12 comments:

Never Mind The Bollix said...

Ahhh the memories are flooding back to me after reading your descriptions of various hotels in the Midlands. Many years ago before I started my own company, I used to travel the length and breadth of the country plying my trade as a builders labourer. My frequent stays overnight in flea pits and down-market hotels remain etched in my memory still.

I don't envy you my friend.

JoJo said...

I am REALLY glad I never saw that cartoon whilst on acid. lol Oddly enough, the action did fit the lyrics. Weren't the live versions sweet? Bobby would be yelling "AND THE RICH MAN IN HIS SUMMER HOME!!!" and the crowd's going insane...ah, good times.

As to disgusting hotels, I've seen my share of them too. I did a blog post in Sept. 07 of the hotel in which my friend & stayed, in Portland OR. We called it The Hotel Sordid. I trashed it on Trip Advisor and posted the photos of our gross room. I've recently started the practice of examining the mattress seams & bed for signs of bedbugs before I even unpack or get settled. Then I get myself all paranoid that my legs start to itch anyway. *shudders*

Law Minx said...

Good GRIEF, Rabbit, your hotel stays sound as if you are taking your life in your hands!!
I've stayed in some dumps in my time, commonly around Victoria Train Station when coming to the smoke to dine in; when the booking web page offers a room at £25 plus brekfast I rapidly came to realise that such an offer was way to good to be true, and spent many an anxious and sleepless night armed with a flyswot ( for potential creepy crawlies) and a torch!
Brekfast, positively SWIMMING in grease, doesnt even BEAR thinking about!!

white rabbit said...

Mr Bastard - I met a friendly gang of Glaswegian railway workers in the better than okay place I stayed in on the Sunday night in Stoke. They invited me or a few beers on the Monday night but by then I had moved on to the Fleapit, plus I suspect an evening in their company might not have been compatible with a clear head in court the next morning ;)

JoJo - gnomes and acid - bad combination nodnod. I looked for live versions on YouTube - complete with Bobbykicks - but sound and visual quality pretty poor so I settled for the gnomes.

Minx - I wasn't in any danger, just running the gamut of emotions from amused to appalled. I know what you mean about the breakfasts, though. If I see another full bloody English I'll go vegan or something...

mikeb302000 said...

Rabbit, I've asked for your help over on my blog because my pro-gun commenters keep citing the UK in their arguments against my claiming there are too many guns in the US. They seem to know much more about Great Britain than I do. I wondered if you agree with their description of what's happening in your country

If you have time; it's a bit long-winded.
http://mikeb302000.blogspot.com/2008/08/tennessee-school-shooting.html

white rabbit said...

Mike - responded - and about crap hotels???

Daisy said...

'I've been put here by the council'

Okay, what is "the council"? Like is this the British equivalent of Social Security?

white rabbit said...

Daisy - the Council is - erm - the local authority as in Town/City Council. They have reponsibility for homeless persons. What must have happened here is that the elderly man presented himself to them as homeless, they accepted a housing responsibility for him and put him in temporary accommodation (the Fleapit Hotel) while finding him permanent housing (hopefully the bungalow he spoke of0. Temporary accommodation for homeless persons is usually in a soul detroying (but cheap) dump and the homeless person can stay there for a long time before permanent rehousing. Being homeless must be distressing enough without living in miserable conditions as well.

mikeb302000 said...

It was rude of me to ask your assistance without even commenting on your post.

I've stayed in hotels of every description. Ont thing that works for me is this: The older I get, the more stars I need on my hotel.

Thanks for the help on my blog. Those are some tough Americans aren't they?

Ron Knee said...

Brings back floods of memories from my days travelling and sleeping at B+Bs when I was an office partitioning installer. My favourite memories was the place in Cheadle where for breakfast one was proffered full english with the bacon given the rather nice touch of all the edges being sort of "snipped" or cut. The landlord's dog used to gaze up at me eating brekkie as if to say "I've just chewed that for you to save your teeth the effort"

Another place we stayed at had an en-suite with an electric shower which duly fell off the mains pipe when I used it and caused a veritable Niagara right up to the cieling and down again.

Ron Knee said...

"My favourite memories was"!

Please excuse the bad grammar. It should of course read:

"Me favourite memories was"

white rabbit said...

Ronald - Your electric shower story reminded me of staying ina B&B in Norwich a few years ago. The toilet in the en-suite was one of those mechanically powered thingies (cos room was in loft). The mechanical thingy malfunctioned. Result: a tide of - erm - brown liquid across the en-suite's carpet. Not nice...