Econo Lodge Columbus Mississippi
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

A Hotel Property So Disgusting, I Spent the Night in a Rental Car.

Would you pay to stay here?

Not long after I checked in to a specific hotel, I eventually spent the night in a rental car instead because the property was revoltingly disgusting — with plenty of photographs of my experience to prove that observation — and also because all of the other lodging options within 25 miles had no vacancy.

A Hotel Property So Disgusting, I Spent the Night in a Rental Car.

Econo Lodge Columbus Mississippi
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

I walked through the door of the original room on the ground floor in which I was to stay, which opens up to the outside instead of an interior hallway — and it sorely needed to both be cleaned and freshly painted.

Econo Lodge Columbus Mississippi
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

The walls of the room were not much better…

Econo Lodge Columbus Mississippi
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

…as every wall was covered with filth and scuff marks. They desperately needed to be cleaned and painted as well.

Econo Lodge Columbus Mississippi
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Of the three drawers to the dresser, two of them included hair as well as particles of some unknown origin.

Econo Lodge Columbus Mississippi
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Thankfully, I rarely put any of my belongings in drawers — especially clothing.

Econo Lodge Columbus Mississippi
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

The bottom drawer had no hair in it — but it still was far from clean.

Econo Lodge Columbus Mississippi
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

I am not sure what happened to this miniature refrigerator to be beaten up like that — but even though it was aesthetically displeasing, I really did not care as long as it worked properly.

Econo Lodge Columbus Mississippi
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

I then pulled the covers on what otherwise initially appeared to be a clean bed…

Econo Lodge Columbus Mississippi
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

…only to notice several obvious stains of dried blood — as well as other patches of soiled areas on the sheets and covers.

Econo Lodge Columbus Mississippi
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

I cannot imagine anyone looking at this coffee maker — which was caked with dust and who knows what else — and think about actually brewing something to drink.

Econo Lodge Columbus Mississippi
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

The dusty frame of the spotty mirror was not properly attached or secured. This area is located just before the entrance of the bathroom, into which I went to inspect.

Econo Lodge Columbus Mississippi
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Splotches of mold of various sizes was all over the ceiling over the bathtub. A close up view of one small portion of the ceiling with the mold is shown below, with smaller spots which are not immediately visible upon first glance.

Econo Lodge Columbus Mississippi
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

The Second Room

I had had more than enough of what I saw, as too many potential hazards deemed the room uninhabitable, in my opinion — so I went to the front desk to let the agent know. When he came out from the back office, I explained to him what I saw — as well as showed him several of the photographs. He shook his head in disgust and acted extremely embarrassed, as he explained to me that he only had two full-time employees in housekeeping due to the current shortage of labor in the United States; and a couple more employees were in training.

“I appreciate your situation; but these conditions are still unacceptable,” I replied politely. “I am not staying in this room.”

He agreed — and shortly thereafter, he gave me the plastic keys to a room on the second floor. I walked in to immediately inspect that room.

Econo Lodge Columbus Mississippi
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

The first thing I noticed is when I attempted to secure the door, it was impossible because both parts would not align properly — which means that my safety and security in the room was compromised at best…

…and if you are wondering what that red and white coloring was on the gray curtain…

Econo Lodge Columbus Mississippi
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

…well…so was I. I still have no idea or clue.

Econo Lodge Columbus Mississippi
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

I did not even have to pull the worn and pilled cover to notice what appeared to be holes created by burns from cigarettes…

Econo Lodge Columbus Mississippi
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

…as well as long hair which was obviously not mine.

Econo Lodge Columbus Mississippi
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

More holes in the sheets and cover — as well as more hair — were immediately found upon pulling the covers partially off.

Econo Lodge Columbus Mississippi
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

The bathroom did not seem to be moldy; but it was still stained and repulsive — and I had no idea what may be lurking behind the walls, as mold could be there as well.

Econo Lodge Columbus Mississippi
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

As I descended down the outside staircase, I noticed something on the floor which caught my eye: it appeared to be a rat trap.

Econo Lodge Columbus Mississippi
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Final Boarding Call

I went to the front desk again and let the agent know that even though the second room was much better than the first room, it still did not meet the basic requirements of a reasonably clean place to spend the night. I then showed him more photographs; and he once again appeared to be mortified. He downloaded all of the photographs from my mobile telephone while simultaneously agreeing with my assessments of both hotel rooms.

“I just want a reasonably clean hotel room in which I can work, shower, shave, and brush my teeth” is what I responded when he asked me what he could do to make things right. He tried to book me a room in a different hotel property; but it was sold out.

He then did something which I thought was strange: he said that one guest still had not shown up; so he did not know if he could release that room to me yet. He even attempted to contact the guest but was unsuccessful — so he offered for me to wait until that guest called back before he could release the room to me. I was not about to waste an inordinate amount of time waiting for some guest to call back; and I was already there. Why not release the room to me at that moment?

I told him I would let the parent company know about my experience; that my night was already ruined — the time was after 12:30 in the morning at that point — and that at that point, I would rather spend the night in the rental car…

…which I did. I do not expect absolute perfection; but I do not believe that the hotel property in question would pass a routine health inspection. It should be closed down until it is cleaned up and meets the basic standards of cleanliness, in my opinion.

I am not naming the specific hotel property just yet, as I am awaiting the response and outcome of the lodging company of which this hotel property is part of one of its brands, as I had contacted the customer service department via telephone immediately after getting into the rental car.

Please stay tuned…

  1. Wow Brian, what a very unfortunate experience of yours at this unnamed hotel property. Your requests as a guest for one evening were reasonable, those of a reasonably clean hotel room where you can work, shower, shave, and even brush your teeth.

    You raise a basic premise of lodging which we take for granted, although not all that long ago in terms of our history your reasonable requests weren’t a routinely honored standard along the highways and byways of these United States.

    Please keep us informed of this matter as you receive responses from the management of the hotel property in question as well as its brand parent customer relations personnel.

  2. Wow that reminds me of the Crown Plaza in Jacksonville, FL. They put me on the 1st floor and it was unbearable disgusting. Crazy mold smell, stains, hair, peeling wall paper. No way was I able to sleep there ended up having lots of arguments with the management who did not want to refund me but after over an hour and a call to IHG corporate they finally refunded and I was able to book something clean near by. Luckily it was a big city and I had the option but if I was stuck like you I would have also slept in the car.

  3. That reminds me of a room that was terrible condition but a little better than those 2 rooms. That room of mine was in San Antonio, Texas that was part of a major chain.

    I have found that Holiday Inn Express and Hilton Garden Inns tend to be newer and not bottom of the barrel.

  4. Looks like a stack of misery was there before you were.
    Looks to me like a lack of pride is a big issue there.
    Underpaid overworked staff burn out and lose pride.

    The old focus on training and supervision can’t replace that. The new supportive workplace that is nice to go back to every day can. Money is obviously a big factor.

    I wonder about depression and substance use disorders which when untreated – no health insurance – can take out individuals and teams.

  5. I don’t think the “current” lack of housekeeping staff caused these issues. It’s poor management. You’d think the front desk person would know, in general, what the property and rooms look like. If you follow up on this story you might think to include some Tripadvisor stuff for comparison. That could be fun to show how accurate some of those reviews might be.

    1. It is the housekeeping staff’s fault. Good help is hard to find. Some people lack motivation. If there was an effort, each of the two housekeepers could tidy the rooms everyday AND really clean up one room together. After a month, 25 rooms could be brought back to shape.

      1. No; rather it’s the fault of the hotel ownership and management.

        The hotel owner/management have clearly decided to be cheap and to coast on filling up “enough” anyway.

  6. Reminds me of a hotel I stayed at in Montgomery, AL. Room had fire ants! Got a different room…not much better but no ants.

    I use Twitter (mail, not a tweet) to get a rapid response from any company I’m having a problem with. Usually a quick response.

    1. I am not giving the name of the hotel property just yet, Joe, because I am awaiting a response from the parent company to give them a fair chance.

      1. B.S. You are waiting to see if you can leverage your access to readers to get some sweet compensation. IOW, extrotion.

          1. I never let Choice Hotels or the employee at the Econo Lodge know that I write a weblog and that I wrote this article, Alex Ashton — nor do I intend to do so.

            Thank you for reading The Gate and for giving me the benefit of the doubt.

  7. You really should name the hotel. It doesn’t do anyone ANY good to not name the property. There isn’t really anything the parent company can say or do to change the outcome so you should just name it. JMHO.

  8. I agree with Mike. How many people could you save from this in the mean time? You could always update with the results, not that anything other than a closure and renovation and decontamination would fix.

  9. Had a similar experience in a small town in AZ. ONLY motel/lodging in area
    Walking in with our dogs and my Cairn started to whine
    Ended up sleeping in the car too!!!
    This was pre Covid so no excuse!!!
    Sorry you had this issue
    Yuck

  10. Really, that entire hotel looked like a hell hole. It’s kind of you to not release the name of that place but it doesn’t help your followers who may wind up there. That situation doesn’t look like it is a result of short staffing. I’ll bet it was pretty dirty preCovid as well.
    I once checked into a HIE in El Paso that had what looked like a bullet hole in the window. I went to the front desk and told the clerk about it. He said, ‘I guess you’ll want another room’ to which I replied, ‘No, I want another city’ and left.

  11. Pretty bad, but I have been in worse situations (actual insects alive). Once I stayed in a Hotel in Delhi, which we reserved from one of the hotel websites (I do not want to mention the name, so I do not have adverse outcomes). The hotel was worse than yours on many levels. The following day we switched to a hotel in old Delhi in front of the Muslim Temple (Jama Masjid). The view was fantastic, the neighborhood was busy and noisy (everything you think can be sold), and we ate the best Moghul cuisine in India.

  12. Greetings, everyone —

    Thank you for all of your input. I intend to name the hotel property and the parent company sometime this weekend.

    Please stay tuned…

  13. That description almost perfectly describes the La Quinta Dayton/Fairborn, OH. Looks nice and new on the outside, but it’s apparent that they have never spent anything on updating the interior, the rooms or most importantly, housekeeping. Unfortunately, every other hotel for 20 miles was fully booked. The place was an absolute dump and I have literally stayed in nicer hotels in 3rd world sh1tholes. The reply from Wyndham was “We’re sorry we didn’t meet your expectations…”

  14. OMG! What a rat trap! I occasionally stay at an Econo-Lodge near one of our local casinos (when I want to enjoy a few beverages but do not want to risk the drive all the way home) and it’s perfectly fine, although far from the Waldorf. I think it’s nonsmoking too.

    I would be more afraid of fire, since they allow (or tolerate) smoking and I would be afraid that fire alarms would be inoperative.

  15. It’s really not the fault of housekeeping as they get paid probably around $2.50 to clean one room and sometimes the rooms are trashed from someone partying the night before or those hotels get guests that stay for weeks at a time which always ends up leading to a ton of damages to the room that the owners just don’t want to pay to have fixed. The owners are the ones to put the blame on because they don’t care about their properties they are only in it for the money. It’s not in their mentality to care about their guests or employees and definitely not their opinions or reviews.

    1. You are likely correct, Chelsea king — but I also place the blame squarely on Choice Hotels, Incorporated for allowing this hotel property to even be a part of its portfolio.

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