The last two times I was in Korea for business trips, the company covered my accommodation, so I could put up at decent, and even nice, hotels. These hotels were really just three-star, but they were so much more beautiful than the ones of the same grade we get in Japan. For this trip, however, since I chose to visit myself, I had to cover my own accommodation costs. It naturally makes more sense then, to choose a cheaper lodging. After some quick search, I found a two-star hotel that is very near to the office. The ratings on booking.com were decent, leaning to good which got me very surprised and interested in staying there. I looked at the photos, which looked fine despite the lower grade. I proceeded to the reviews page to look at the comments of those who gave it a low rating and found most comments stating that the rooms were dirty. Since there were more positive ratings, I decided to take it.
When I arrived at the hotel, the door looked really dirty like no one cleaned it for a very long time, but the building looked pretty decent and the interior seemed fine, so I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and proceeded to leave my luggage with them before heading to office.
After work, I met with a friend, W, whose situation is somewhat like mine. A couple of years ago, he left his VP position at a media company and turned freelance. He currently lives in Singapore but travels to Japan and Korea frequently for his work and while we’ve met a number of times in Japan, for the last few months we were like 牛郎織女 because on the days I flew to Korea from Japan, he would be flying the opposite direction and when I return to Japan, he would be returning to Singapore. And this has happened a lot the last few months. Anyhow, after dinner, I headed back to the hotel half-excited, half-worried wondering how the room would be like but since the three-star hotel was so amazing, I had fair reason to believe the two-star would at least be average.
As I checked in and stepped out of the elevator on the floor where my room was supposed to be, I could smell something funny. But that didn’t bother me too much because it simply smelled like what a two-star hotel would. I stepped into the room and found it looking pretty decent. The bed sheet on the larger bed was kinda outdated and looked like something you would find in a slightly more backward nation, but no need for pretty designs in a room that I was just gonna sleep in. There was also a smaller single bed right next to it. The room was spacious as one could expect from Korea unlike Japan where everything is so cramped and tiny. Little wonder why the Japanese are so stressed out.
I took off my shoes and stepped into the main space of the room. As soon as my bare feet touched ground, I could feel dust. It was a little sandy as though you had just returned from the beach not having thoroughly cleansed your feet. The wall sockets were located in awkward positions and when you get a closer look, it was covered in so much dirt and dust, it makes you wonder when it would cause fire. Nevertheless, I felt I could handle that and headed to shower.
The bathroom was very spacious and looked fairly nice. As I washed myself and was about to throw on shampoo, I grabbed the small shampoo bottle and could feel soap covering it even before I used it. While I washed myself in the tub, water drained really slowly such that before I was done, I had water covering my feet till my ankles. When I was done, I headed to the single bed where a pillow and blanket was placed. As I sat on it, I could feel tiny particles on it and my body began to itch all over. I touched the pillow and blanket and both had the same feel to it. But I proceeded to place the pillow by the edge of the bed. Then, I noticed some yellow stains on the bed sheet. Since I already paid for it, I was thinking to bear with it but despite being really exhausted from the day’s activities, I couldn’t bring myself to put my face on the pillow or cover myself with the blanket.
At that time, I was chatting with Ms. D, who encouraged me to switch rooms. After thinking through, I searched the net for the hotel I stayed at previously and made a reservation. Then, I packed my stuff and headed down to the reception telling the lady I was going to leave and asked her to refund whatever was possible. Since it was already late at night, I had to pay for the following night’s stay as well but she very kindly refunded me for the last night. After she was done, she asked, “May I know the reason why you are checking out? Is it because the room is dirty?”
Ok, so they know.
After some explanation about the cleanliness, or lack thereof, I thanked her and headed to the three-star hotel. As it was a last minute booking, they only had two double rooms left and I reserved one of them. But when I arrived at the hotel, the lady saw that I was alone and offered to upgrade me to their private suite, which was the best way the night could’ve ended. I checked into the room, inserted the room key into the slot and all the lights and the TV came on. There was an open bathtub, separate shower and toilet, wash basin, a kitchen, and a sliding door separating the bedroom. I was so amazed by it, I decided to show it to D.
I made a video call and wanted her to experience what I felt by entering the room again from the outside. So I went outside the room and closed the door. As I asked, “are you ready,” I reached for the door and pulled on the handle. And then I pulled again. And then I realized, I left the room key inside and locked myself outside. =_=