Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Bad Smell and TripAdvisor Advice

I was pretty lucky with the hotels I picked for my European trip last year.  There was the lovely bed and breakfast in Lyme with all the books...there was the charming hostel in the Brittany countryside with the delicious croissants.

I had scoured the web beforehand for reviews and suggestions...but even when you've done the research, you never know if the hotel will be as charming as the internet makes it look.  And the internet can only show you the sights...not the smells.

I had lots of fun exploring Tintern - wandering through the old Abbey ruins and quoting Wordsworth - but all the time I was eager to stay away from my hotel.

It certainly looked quaint and cozy from the outside...but it had the worst pervasive, sickly sweet, wet dog odor.  There were dogs kept in the house - I could hear them barking when I arrived though for the most part they stayed quiet.


There was a full English breakfast at the hotel the next morning - complete with pot of tea, toast rack, and butter dish.

...but that horrible smell was at breakfast too, so it wasn't as pleasant as it looks. :(


It was such a pity, because the room was adorable and other than the smell I really wanted to love this place...but it was everywhere, the hallways, the breakfast area, the room, even the sheets!  It ruined my stay - I couldn't wait to get away.

When I got home, I looked at TripAdvisor again; glancing through reviews before the trip, they had seemed mostly positive.  But lo and behold, there were reviews every few months from guests like me.

Those reviews alone probably wouldn't have discouraged me - but the owner's responses would definitely have made me turn away.  They were so condescending and rude - saying that the smell was the guest's imagination or just a natural part of the house and landscape (nothing else in Tintern smelled remotely like this hotel) or that it was because the guest had a sensitive "American" nose and that their hotel was built before our country was even founded so...  Really?  Why would you talk to your guests like that...especially on the internet??

I love old houses...the low doors, creaky floors, unexpected corners, even the little unusual smells.  But this smell skipped unusual and went straight to unpleasant.  I have encountered plenty of strange smells in hotels across the US and in Europe and England...but none have been anywhere near as bad as that dog odor.  I'm glad I didn't mention it to the owners while I was there, since they clearly would've been dismissive and insulting about it!

Ah well.  You can't win them all.  It was a good lesson for doing travel research in the future, though - always look at the one or two star reviews just to see what the guests had an issue with - and how the proprietors reacted!  They can be more transparent than you would expect.

Once I was out in the cold March air it was better...there were already some flowers about!  I headed down the street to wait for my bus back to Chepstow.

Love how this person had their daffodils planted in a boat!

Up Next: we storm Chepstow Castle!

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