If you've been to my IG before, you'll see that the top line in my bio is "your fave budget traveler". Some think that means I'm cheap and I'm willing to compromise quality for price... and that's typically not true. Essentially, it means that I'm always looking for deals and trying to find a good bang for my buck.
For me, it usually means staying at airbnbs or hostels, or booking hotels through a number of preferred third party vendors because they have bomb deals. 9 times out of 10, it works out in my favor and I have wonderful experiences. Honestly, I've stayed at hostels in 8+ different countries, and NEVER had a bad experience. I even got one of my clients an all-inclusive resort in Aruba for $209 /night (regular price $425+ /night) just last week - check out my travel planning company if you want my help finding good hotel/flight/excursion deals! Don't get me wrong, booking hotels 3rd party and hostels/airbnbs each come with a number of pros and cons, but if you do your research and use some hacks (that will be in an E-book I'm dropping in the next few months), it can definitely be worth it.
All that to say, there have been one or two occasions that booking "deals" hasn't worked out in my favor - thus my first of two horrible lodging stays I've ever had was in.. Orlando!!
So I was in Orlando for the 2019 Florida Classic (which if you haven't been, plan a trip post-covid for sure!). I love the Classic, but a huge struggle is that rooms are booked months in advance - and I was booking only a few weeks in advance. Rooms that are usually $40 /night were up to $80-$100 /night - and I was a in a long-distance relationship that was consuming much of my expendable income at that point - so I wasn't trying to spend more than $100 /night for this visit.
I ended up booking a room at the Econo Lodge Inn & Suites. Today, it has 2.9 stars - when I booked back in 2019, it had 3.3 stars (so it has obviously just gotten worse). This hotel was just awful from start to finish... from the check-in service, to bed comfortability, to safety, and overall cleanliness. If you don't believe me, read this review I left:
If you take nothing else from this blog post, please never ever stay here!! As you can tell by the Google review, I was extremely unsatisfied with the entire experience here. I would've given 0 stars if I could have. Mind you, I have stayed at other 2.5 star hotels (Comfort Inn, Motel 6, etc), but only ONE other experience was as bad as this one.
Next, the equally as horrible lodging option I have ever stayed in was in Tucson, AZ at the Travel Inn. My boyfriend and I were driving across the country (for the second time together), from Los Angeles to Atlanta - I'll probably write a blog post about that at some point. Tucson was our first stop of a five day journey; and despite us having a pretty good drive there (and even stumbling across an outlet mall on the way), sleeping that night was pretty trash. I bet you're wondering why?
Two words: BULLET HOLE!! Y'all there was a bullet hole in the cover/blanket on the bed. A dead ass bullet hole. Perfectly circular and everything. That alone is enough to let you know why this place made my worst 2 list.
Similar to the Econo Lodge, cleanliness was notttt their area of expertise. Which is crazy because so many of their reviews (according to my bf at least - he picked this one, not me) mentioned cleanliness. Maybe it's because the place catered mostly to truck drivers (right off I-10).. but I don't even want to know what other places look like if people think this place was "clean".
The sheets were thin as paper and looked dingy. The towels were old and dingy. The bed was hard as a rock. The toilet handle was broken - like legit cracked in half and needing to be replaced. The tub looked like it hadn't been deep cleaned in weeks. Plus, the water barely got hot. My bf asked if I was taking a shower that night, I said "absolutely not" and got in the bed. I was trying to touch as few surfaces as possible!
The one thing that was nice about this place was that the pillows were mad soft. Buttttt... there was only ONE on each bed (we were in a double room). Oh yeah, it even came with a room pet: Dustin. Dustin was a fly that had to be high or drunk because he flew in slow motion and barely moved when you swatted at him. We call him Dustin because the room was dusty as hell and he moved around like he owned the place. Luckily we brought our Clorox wipes and wiped all surfaces down before getting comfortable - so we were able to get rid of the dust, but Dustin wasn't going anywhere.
Y'all, to put icing on the cake: this place didn't even have a lobby!!! There was a thick layer of bullet proof glass that you walked up to for check-in and out. And this place had the audacity to charge if you didn't return the key to the check-in area. Whew... the ghetto! At least they had this cute huge cactus though, I guess... 🥴
While both of the experiences were extremely subpar, they are experiences that I can live to tell. Mentioning the "Travel Inn" is even an inside joke between my bf and I now. When we go to new hotels/airbnbs, as long as it's not as bad as the Travel Inn, we can survive. The night before we stayed at the Travel Inn, we actually stayed at the Westin (a beautifulllll 4 star hotel with amazing service and a clean and comfortable room), so it was definitely a night and day experience. But at the end of the day, I'm grateful I was with him for both of these experiences. Because if I was alone, chileeeeeeee, that would have been a whole different story.
So that's the story about the worst two lodging places I've ever experienced. I have many more crazy travel stories to share, so make sure you subscribe to my blog to get first dibs at all of the stories!
Ciao for now,