Throughout my years of travel around the globe I have visited a mix of hotels ranging from the luxurious located in Dubai through to those that are on the verge of collapse. Of the many hotels that stand out in my memory, this one wins the award of the most "can't be arsed" hotel I have ever visited...
While the hotel wasn't billed as being a 5-star resort (the brand rhymes with Doliway Bin), I'd stopped in many of them at this point and they had come a long way since my teenage years. This one however, looked more like a building from Soviet-era Russia than anything resembling something in the last 20 years. As I later learnt this became a chain hotel, only to subsequently be removed from the chain a few months after.
With the appearance of the hotel being the first impression, the reception staff can firmly be viewed as making the second. In this instance the sole receptionist can only be described as someone whose interest in their job was on par with my interest in fishing equipment (i.e., so minuscule the James Webb Space Telescope wouldn't be able to see it).
In something out of a 1970's horror movie when trying to get their attention their head slowly raised from being fixated on the keyboard to meeting my eye-line. With the subsequent conversation that followed when trying to check-in, I can only describe the dialogue as something from the Addams family as in trying to have a conversation with Lurch.
After (finally) getting the keys to the rooms my colleague and I made our way up the stairs to our rooms to see what we had been graced with. At this point neither of us were feeling confident with our choice, especially given the 1980's decor and high heat/humidity.
The first thing of note when entering the room was the immediate blast of heat that hits, somewhat reminiscent of leaving a cool building mid-day in the UAE. For reasons that are still unknown to me to this day the hotel seemingly had the heating on full during the summer months. Not just my room, but all the rooms, and the hallways, and the downstairs areas.
After being struck by the extreme heat (and realising my bed had the comfort of large concrete slabs), I recalled that one of the reasons I picked this specific hotel was that the website did state there was A/C. After checking the room (and desperately trying to turn the radiator off) I decided a trip back to reception was required given I couldn't find a thermostat (or any A/C vents).
Even looking back at this, I still don't know what I expected the answer to be. It wasn't the answer I was given, but it really should have been what I expected. After stating to the top of the receptionists head (as they had returned to staring at the keyboard) that I couldn't find the A/C in my room and that it has hotter than the surface of the sun, I was greeted by a raised head that uttered the words 'open a window', right before the head tipped back to the keyboard.
With a presentation scheduled for the next morning sleep was definitely in order, and as the bar within the hotel was also manned by Lurch there wasn't much to do in the evening. Even with the radiator off and the window as wide open as it would go the room was still over 30 degrees Celsius, which frankly is way too hot for me to sleep.
As most people would do in this situation the first thing to disappear are the bed sheets, with a goal of trying to expose as much of yourself to the air as possible. While this did allow me to (finally) get to sleep, I ran into a different issue that I hadn't catered for, and would be my downfall of the stay...
As it transpired, the hotel was located next to a large patch of woodland that was inhabited by a large number of flying nuisances known as gnats. During the night some of them had decided to come in through the window (that lacked any netting) and had chosen to bite me from head to toe (literally).
When I finally awoke I was greeted with the rather unpleasant sensation of the one side of my body being in a large amount of pain. Confused as to why I felt like this I took a trip to the bathroom only to find that not only was walking difficult but one side of my face had swollen a significant amount (as in something from a medical textbook).
Knowing that at this point there was very little I could do, I foolishly decided to brave it, get dressed, and head down to breakfast in the hope of distracting myself. Getting dressed was a challenge, and realising that despite wearing a suit I looked seriously rough didn't instil confidence.
Heading down to the breakfast area I found that Lurch was still at reception, making me question if they had actually left (or slept). Sitting in the breakfast area (and receiving unwanted attention from those wondering if I had a permanent disfigurement) I observed what can only be described as collective frustration by other guests.
My work colleague arrived ready to enjoy breakfast (after the expected mocking of my appearance), only to see me chucking (while trying not to drool) at the very notion of finding something to eat. When I had arrived at breakfast 25 minutes prior I had seen Lurch place a small loaf of bread, a small packet of ham, a few slices of cheese, and a half-used tub of margarine on the side for people to eat. Considering the number of guests I observed coming for breakfast was close to 50, you can see that the maths doesn't work.
As more and more frustrated guests came and went (and the pain of half of my body distracted me from my inevitable hunger), I watched (and laughed) at all manner of people trying to complain regarding the lack of food, only to see them realise how futile it was as Lurch had zero cares regarding any complaint that was being made.
After checking out, well, in truth I recall tossing the room key on the reception desk and walking out of the building with a view of how it would be less painful to argue with the expenses team for a missing invoice than it would be to try and get one, it was time for a taxi ride to the customer site ready to present. Kudos to the taxi driver for not only asking if I was ok but if I needed to visit A&E given the swelling on my face.
As for the presentation, I lasted less than 20 minutes before being asked to stop and to go to a hospital given I could barely string a sentence together (and was visibly drooling). As the pain was getting progressively worse I accepted the offer from one of the attendees to drive me to A&E, leaving my colleague to take my place for the morning session.
The lesson of this tale: f**k gnats! They are a close second to wasps!