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Cheap Hotels now and then

January 4, 2012

I love modern life. I can go pretty much anywhere in the world, forearmed with knowledge that I won’t be sharing my lodgings with scorpions unless the internet says I will.

Scorpions? Seriously. My grandparents told tale of a road trip to northern Mexico in the 1920s where their hotel room walls were covered with creepy, crawly, poison scorpions. I can’t even sleep without an eye mask and the perfect pillow. Imagine the comforting night’s sleep I’d get while sharing my room with poisonous insects.

I had my own pre-internet hotel/motel adventures, as I’m sure most people did. Tell me your worst lodging stories in the comments section. I love to hear them.

I remember a cheap motel in Denver that stank so badly of cigarette smoke that when I took my nightgown out the next night 500 miles down the road, a wave of rank grey smell came floating out with it.

Or the formerly quaint, now kinda Shining-level scary hotel in California’s Gold Country where there were 2 options: a room RIGHT above the bar, where Bob Seger music blasted at about 110 decibels, or a room that had apparently not been aired out since Eisenhower was president. It also had a bed that was on bedsprings…let me find a photo, because most people in the modern era have never seen this…

Ha. The only photo I could find shows the bedstead being used as a BBQ. But you get the idea:
Tuffit bedsprings and broomsticks
Photo by Aroid. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Every time my partner (who was in a great deal of trouble, because he had promised to make hotel reservations and hadn’t, leaving us stuck with the only available rooms in town) or I moved an inch, the metal springs creaked out a loud, rusty song.

I could go on…but seriously, traveling was scary. You pulled into a town, took a peek around and tried to determine from the motel’s facade and general state of appearance whether you were going to find a clean, comfortable room, or whether a Night of Living Hell awaited you.

And if you did have a terrible stay, what could you do? Argue over the bill? Tell all your friends that if they ever happened to be in Salina, Kansas that they should avoid the Dew Drop Inn? (No idea whether there is a Dew Drop Inn in Salina or if it is habitable. Just exampling.)

So I’m so glad to have the internet, with its passionate travelers, to give me an advance peek into potential lodgings. is my choice of review sites, but Yelp will work, too. I don’t know why I usually use Trip Advisor for hotels and Yelp to find great places to eat…it’s just how I do.

I pay it back, too, posting reviews and photos of places I stay and restaurants. As every statistician knows, sample size matters, so the more the merrier.

On this trip, thanks to Trip Advisor’s “Best Value” button, we found two great deals on two humble but clean motels. I can tell you that Mrs. Lin at the Sundown Inn in Morro Bay runs a tight ship. She owns the place and does everything, including housekeeping, and I have to thank God that she’s a much better housekeeper than I am. It was CLEAN. For $49 a night, I was pretty skeptical, but I’m a convert now.

The internet has taken some of the adventure and romance out of travel, for sure. True surprises are harder and harder to find. But it has also taken out scorpions and cigarette reek, so, for me, it’s a fair trade.

  1. January 4, 2012 12:08

    Worst room I have ever stayed at: 1997, a hostel in San Francisco, where for $15 a night I slept in a top bunk in a room with 9 other people, two of whom were girls who sat up till 5 am debating the pleasurable merits of a Prince Albert versus a tongue ring. I should have known what I was in for when I walked up the stairs and was greeted a by a 10 foot, floor to ceiling mural of a naked winged Valkyrie with a snake winding up her leg, poised to bite her lady bits. I am pretty sure this experience was the reason I decided not to apply to law schools in SF.

    • January 5, 2012 14:43

      Why, why must there be the “We’re keeping everyone else awake and it doesn’t bother us at all” people?

      The place sounds…exotic.

  2. January 4, 2012 13:34

    One time Chris and I stopped in Chandler (?) OK (some dinky town half way between Tulsa and Oklahoma….we wanted one night of non-dorm-room and non-sneak-around-my-parents sex). The floor to the room was cement with a drain in the middle of the room. In the windowsill, the previous occupants left behind half a plastic cup of beer (I hope) and a homemade bong made out of a baby food jar and a straw.

    • January 5, 2012 14:43

      Nice. If you can’t make a bong out of a babyfood jar, I guess you just aren’t very creative.

  3. January 4, 2012 16:23

    I was driving across PA alone and finally had to pull off the highway and get a room because I was totally exhausted. There were a bunch of chain motels and I just picked one at random. The only room they had was a so-called Jacuzzi suite. As in, there was a Jacuzzi just stuck in the corner or the room about 2 feet from the bed. I was super skeeved but couldn’t muster the energy to try another place.

    • January 5, 2012 14:44

      What, you didn’t make germ soup and get in the jacuzzi? Eeeeeeeeeh.

  4. January 5, 2012 06:41

    I actually don’t mind hostels, because at least you know what you’re getting (usually a bunk in a room with 9 other people). My two worst were probably a place in San Francisco that had a shared bathroom down the hallway (was not aware of that when I booked it), and a supposedly fancy place in Portland, OR that situated us right above the live music venue. Even after the music was over, people stood outside under our room talking, laughing and smoking cigarettes almost all night long.

    • January 5, 2012 14:46

      I shared a bathroom in Costa Rica. It was during a really unfortunate confluence of stomach and girl-related issues…I feel so sorry for that poor couple in the other room.

  5. January 6, 2012 03:15

    Hey There Suebobdavis,
    Thanks for the above, we are living in kerala.and four of us planning a tour to delhi,agra,and jaipur.anybody please inform cheap hotels and how much hotels and taxi services there any agencies that can help us?

  6. January 7, 2012 19:17

    i use tripadvisor too.

    probably my scarest hotel story was when i was 21 and took off on an adventure across the country. in new orleans, i ended up at the scottish inn on old gentry road. it used to be a howard johnson but they couldn’t keep up the standards.

    i’d never seen vending machines for sex toys before. they offered rooms by the hour, day, week and month. the lady said that i seemed nice and she’d give me a clean room. 0-o

    there were chains holding the patio table and chairs in the room to the floor, and huge bolts screwing the bed headboard and the picture on the wall to the wall. seriously, they bolted right thru the glass in the picture frame!

    the lady from the local aaa called me from her house at 5am to get me out and into a different hotel. yay, adventure!

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