So for the beginning, I thought I tell the amusing tale of my worst hotel experience ever...so far, at least ;)
We begin on a cool, rainy day in Switzerland...July 2007. My sister and I were just about smack in the middle of a Contiki Tour of Europe--13 days, starting in Amsterdam and ending in Barcelona (hence the tour name, "Amsterdam to Barcelona"). After something like 10 hours on a bus, due to a breakdown somewhere in France, we arrived in Luzerne, Switzerland and practically jumped off the coach. At that point, we thought that anything had to be better than sitting in those rock-hard seats any longer.
We were wrong.
Beyond the fact that this hotel was a former jail, there were other concerns.
1) The bus could not access the streets around the hotel, which meant we had had to pack overnight bags when we left Paris that morning and upon arrival in Luzerne, had to lug them across a road, through a covered bridge, and a couple more blocks to get to the hotel.
2) There were no elevators. Not a big deal for us, as we all only had overnight bags, but imagine if you were staying here for more than one night?
3) There is no way their lock system for the individual rooms is safe. They give you a (very worn, mind you) piece of paper upon check-in that has a four digit "code" on it. You punch this code into a keypad next to the door of your room. The hotel charges you if you do not hand the piece of paper in at the end of your stay. Now, they claim that they change the codes on the rooms after everyone checks out; but if that's the case, why are they such sticklers about you returning a piece of paper with a number on it?
4) There is no heater or temperature control in the rooms. We were there in July, but as I mentioned before, it was cool and rainy--which meant that the room was freezing when we woke up in the morning. I can't imagine staying there during a colder time of year!
5) The bathrooms were very makeshift--basically a cubicle-type area that was obviously added to the rooms when they turned the jail into the hotel.
6) Upon moving the duvet, I noticed that the comforter was stained in a seemingly disgusting manner; there were some sort of black spots on the sheet as well. I can't tell you how happy I was to have my dream sack (travel sheet) with me that night!
7) The general creepiness of the room was just another factor in making this the worst hotel I've ever experienced. The ultra-thick door, the bars on the windows, no phone, no television...I did not get a good night's sleep that night.
8 ) Finally, the food. As part of our tour, we were scheduled for a dinner here, and not only was it the worst included meal of the trip, it was downright gross by normal standards--a giant, rubbery, tasteless sausage and some badly cooked croquettes. In the morning, we admittedly arrived a little late for the breakfast, but for them to have only one kind of cereal and a few rock-hard pieces of bread was a far cry from any of the many breakfasts I've had in Europe throughout the years.
And there you have it, folks. I've had a few really great hotel stays, dozens of good ones, an average experience here or there, and a handful of really bad ordeals...but this jail-turned-hotel is by far my up-to-date winner for the worst hotel I've visited.