Last week I revealed the name of my Jodhpur hotel and mentioned that it would score very highly if you were talking about the Top 10 Worst Hotels in the World. The employees were fabulous but the property itself was simply hideous. I would have checked out after about 30 seconds had the staff not been so welcoming. (To start with, the front desk clerk was only paid to work until 9PM but he stayed until midnight to check me in as he correctly guessed that I was arriving on the late train from Jaisalmer. He even waited at the end of the narrow alley to flag down any passing taxi or tuk tuk as they rarely find their way to the hotel’s well hidden front door.)
Well, that was Jodhpur. On Monday morning I flew to Nepal and by 2PM local time I had found the worst hotel in all of Kathmandu and quite possibly a new leader for my Top 10 List. Expedia called it a 2-star property but I don’t see how it could possibly deserve more than a Texas Rating…a lone star.
I’m going to refrain from naming this particular s@#%-hole for the same reason I now regret naming the Jodhpur joint. The Kathmandu hotel and restaurant staff have been amazing and I’d hate for them to stumble across this blog while Googling their hotel’s name. It’s not their fault that they work at a dump, and to be honest I don’t think they realize just how bad it is. Ignorance is bliss, as they say. And in case you’re wondering why I’m willing to spare the slumlord who owns the joint, bear in mind that I paid $35 for a good-sized room with a private bath… for four nights.
So what does one get for $8.75 a night? Well, I got what was advertised – two twin beds, a desk, chair, bedside table, and a private bath with shower, sink and toilet. Nothing more, nothing less. The online description didn’t mention things like hot water, a mirror in the bathroom, a curtain on every window, more than one electrical plug – and the hotel didn’t over-deliver!
I suppose I could post a scathing review on Trip Advisor but really, what would that accomplish? I’m a firm believer that you get what you pay. Heck, I once paid more for 6 salted almonds from a Vegas hotel minibar. Anyone who books this place will know by the price that it ain’t the Shangri-La.
But if I did decide to write a review it would look something like this:
PRIVACY & SOUNDPROOFING
• It wasn’t management’s fault that a troupe of professional tap dancers were staying above me and they had to practice night and day for an upcoming competition. To be honest I don’t know what was going on up there but I could hear every footstep, every coin that dropped, every pig that was sacrificed in the bathtub, etc.
• The overall ambience wasn’t too bad if you don’t mind the sound of a pack of rabid dogs in the alley, a toilet tank that trickled constantly, and the neighbours. Oh, the neighbours. The walls were so thin that I could hear the people in the next room. Eating potato chips. Salt and vinegar, I think.
SAFETY, SECURITY & EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS
• When I checked in I honestly thought they were awarding me the Key to the City. Each door had an old fashioned lock and an iron skeleton key that was about 6″ long. I’m sure the lock could be picked with a toothbrush.
• The lock and key were actually the lesser of two issues with the door. While it did wonders for the cross ventilation, I would have felt a bit safer if the door wasn’t 8″ smaller than the door frame. There was a gap of 2″ at the floor and another 6″ at the top. This made it quite convenient for rodents and small animals to enter at will and a small child would make it over the top with only minimal assistance.
• Fire escape, fire extinguishers, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: You’re kidding, right?
• Earthquake Evacuation Plan: Probably not necessary as this building will be reduced to a pile of rubble within seconds.
• Again, it’s not management’s fault that the entire city is on a power rationing program but it would be nice if they gave guests some advance warning since the power utility publishes the schedule well in advance. They call it “load shedding” and it involves cutting power to each of a dozen neighbourhoods for up to 60 hours per week. You may be in the dark from 8 AM to noon for the entire week while houses on the opposite side of the street go dark from noon to 6PM. The power happened to be off from 8AM on the day that I checked out and as a result I inadvertently left behind a USB memory stick. I returned the next day but it had not been turned in. (Before troubling the guys at the front desk I went up to the room and peered over the top of the door to be sure it wasn’t still on the bedside table. My sincere apologies to the elederly woman who is now in #412.)
• Ceiling Lights: 3
• Working Ceiling Lights: 0
• The only source of electrical light in the bedroom was a 4′ long fluorescent tube mounted on the wall opposite the window. A scribbled note from the manager was taped to the wall. While I cannot read Nepali, there were enough English words for me to deduce that the light should not be used without first closing the drapes and something about pilots on their approach to Kathmandu International.
• The water from the tap and shower never did get hotter than my last racehorse’s ankle.
• The tile on the walls and floor was actually quite stylish… in an Atlantic City circa 1973 kinda way.
• There was a rather unique drainage system that allowed the water from my shower to flow under the wall and presumably into a drain in the adjoining bathroom. Interestingly enough, the water from the neighbour’s shower entered my bathroom near the door and flowed a good six feet to a drain below my window. From there it ran down the outside wall and into a ditch. I can say with some certainty that the neighbours used Herbal Essences shampoo.
• I generally shave in the shower so I didn’t require a bright light over the sink. And that’s a good thing as there was neither a mirror or a light. There had once been a pair of wall sconces near the sink but all that remained were two bare wires protruding from the wall. Above that was another light fixture but it was of little use as I’m not in the habit of carrying my own 8″ fluorescent tubes.
• While “load shedding” is an awkward term to use when discussing a bathroom, I can assure you that at some point you will need to use a bathroom in Kathmandu and the power will be off. I did and I survived. Barely. I also discovered the hotel room’s only source of heat when I entered the darkened bathroom, stepped in 2cm of standing water and accidentally brushed up against those damn wires.
• From the unfilled screwholes I can tell that the bathroom once had a towel rod, mirror, wall sconces, soap dish, TP dispenser, and several hooks on the back of the door. They appear to have been removed before the last paint job and that might have been in the 1970s.
• Complimentary Toiletries: Nope.
• Bathtub: What dat?
• Jacuzzi: Oh, come on.
• Towel warmer, overhead heat lamp, in-floor heating: Negative
• A wide assortment of fluffy towels: Surely you jest.
• Plush robe and slippers: Now you’re just being silly!
• The light switch is generally the first thing you touch upon entering a hotel room and this one really set the tone for my 3-night stay. I’m dead serious when I say that the switch was probably installed in the 70s and it may NEVER have been wiped down.
• Vegetarians may have been pleased to find organic mushrooms growing on the bathroom window sill and door frame but I scraped them off and flushed them down the toilet on Day #1. That was not a good idea as the toilet required a triple flush thereafter.
• I’ve been in a few hotel rooms that could use a good steam cleaning but this place would require nothing less than Exxon’s biggest fracking rig.
BED, BEDDING, OTHER FURNISHINGS
• The bed came with a typical Asian mattress that appeared to be made of sheets of felt. To be honest, it wasn’t that bad. But don’t even think about it, Christine Magee.
• There were two “comfy” chairs in the hallway outside my room. What one might reasonably assume to be a cushion turned out to be an upholstered plywood box (he learned the hard way).
• I’ll give credit to the decorator who chose grungy grey bedsheets and pillowcases as they contrasted nicely with the dark red bloodstains.
• At the foot of each bed was a heavy afghan that smelled like the backside of a wet yak. Of course that shouldn’t have come as a surprise since that’s exactly what it was.
• There was a small desk and chair to the left of the door but unfortunately you couldn’t sit at the desk without moving the bed and that involved detaching it from the wall-mounted headboard. I would have done that had I remembered to pack a 6-sided Allen key.
• With four curtains and five windows, one had to do a fan dance of sorts to block the neighbours’ view of the bed and bathroom. You simply couldn’t hide both at once.
IN-ROOM ENTERTAINMENT OPTIONS
• TV or radio: No
• MP3 Docking Station: Umm, No.
• Pay-Per-View Movies: Whaddya think? There’s no TV!
• Newspaper, local tourism magazine, room service menu, Gideon Bible: Nope
• Badly translated set of house rules pasted on the back of the door: Okay, that’s enough. There is NO reading material of any kind, whatsoever! Got it? The only entertainment option I could see was the rather attractive couple in the room across the alley at Hotel Excelsior. But I didn’t watch. Honest.