News reaches me of the world’s first zero star hotel. The Null Stern Hotel (slogan: ‘The Only Star is You’) in Switzerland is a converted nuclear bunker where, for for six quid (about 1 Euro at present) you get a military-style bunkbed for the night, hot water bottles rather than central heating, and earplugs to blockout the din of the ventilation system. Who gets a hot shower in the morning and who’s shower is cold is determined by drawing lots.
All very shocking, I’m sure, but does it really deserve no stars? And if it does, I’d like to nominate a few more which deserve that honour. One that immediately springs to mind is the lovely en-suite double I once stayed at in Morecambe. En-suite, it technically was, but the bathroom was of Fawlty Towers proportions. I literally had to open the door to lean forward to wipe my bum. Lovely. Especially for my partner.
Then there was the establishment in Blackpool where a turd was discovered in the cleaner’s bucket (though that may have been left there by one of the guests), not forgetting the B&B above The Swan in Bath with 1 room, five beds and a sink, which one night trebled-up as a wash basin, urinal and bidet.
Closer to home there’s Blackheath’s very own Clarendon Hotel, which stands above the village as a beacon of overpriced misery, a monument to peeling paint, a seven-star shabby shit-pit, spewing out streams of swindled Spaniards, irate Italians and dejected Gerries onto the surrounding streets and environs as they spend a gruesome night there as part of their coach trip round Britain. They’re easy to spot wandering around the bars and eateries of the village, all with that same bemused look on their faces as they struggle to come to terms with where their tour company has billeted them for the night.
At one newspaper I worked at, district men and foreign correspondents were put up in the Clarendon for the night if they were called to the London office. They threatened to strike until the company eventually found a proper hotel.
I stayed there once, during my divorce malarky. I stayed in a single room of such drabness, smallness and all-round lessness that, even in my misery of a break-up, I pitied the poor French or Japanese sods who have to put up with ‘traditional quaint British hospitality’, and fork-out a fortune for the privilege. I can’t remember exactly what they charged my for that room, but it in the neighbourhood of a hundred quid. What must the visitors think of us?
On the other hand, sometimes the guests are actually worse than the hotel: On a rugby club tour one year, and after a particularly long and boysterous first night in our hotel, an ashen-faced hotelier staggered into the breakfast room the following morning to address us.
“I’ve been in the hotel trade for 35 years and that was the the worst behaviour I’ve ever seen” he whimpered.
“Stick around!” came a voice from the back.