You Think You’ve Stayed in Bad Hotels? Check this one out in Colombia! 67

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really bad hotel in manague colombia

hotel on the left side

I have stayed in a few really bad hotels in my travels. Interestingly, although I have had some bad nights in hostels, I really haven’t stayed in a bad hostel yet, but on this short stop in Colombia, I might have stayed in one of the worst hotels in the world.

Luckily, I also haven’t spent too many bad nights in bad hotels either, since I try to usually get to a place early enough in the day so that I can check out places and rooms, until I find one that I like, which was one of the things I wish I knew before my RTW trip.

It had been quite a while since my last truly horrible hotel room, but there was a long travel day in Colombia a few months ago that brought it right back to me.  I was going from Cartagena to a town called Mompos, which is far off the normal backpacking trail in Colombia.

Mompos, or Mompox, was an important town in Colombia a couple hundred years ago, but the river changed course and basically made it into a bit of a back-water town.  Literally.  More on it in a future post, because I have some pics of the town, which was partly underwater, since I was there during some of the massive flooding that hit Colombia in late 2010.

worst hotel ever, in Colombia

To get back to my short tale, to get to Mompos from Cartagena, you need to take a combination of road and river transport, since Mompos is an island and there is no way to get there by road.  I left a bit later than I expected from Cartagena, but still thought I could get to the river port town of Magangue to catch one of the last little boats to head up river — since they don’t travel at night.

Bad hotel bathroom Colombia

Basically, the bus ended up being a typical Latin American experience.  At some point, we randomly stopped on the road.  Traffic was backed up for miles.  There was no particular explanation, but there was a little town with a few beer stands and we sat there parked long enough for a couple trips there and back.  In the end though, we got into Magangue after dark and I had to spend the night there.

I ended up at this particularly lovely hotel because the ticket taker on my bus, who is invariably the person in charge, took a special interest in me.  As is generally par for the course, I was the only white person on the bus.  He spoke some English and since my Spanish is poor, he took my under his wing to insure that I would be happy at the end of the journey.  So, when we got to town and dropped everyone off, he told me “I’ll find you a good hotel. Cheap. Budget.”

It was cheap and budget to be sure.

Bad hotel hallway Colombia

We got to the hotel and the bus guy talked to the hotel owner about rates and then took me upstairs to show me my room.  The bus guy came with us and when I was shown the room, he beamed at me and said, “see, all good. And cheap.”

The bed actually looked fine and since I was only going to be there for a brief sleep and wasn’t needing to take a shower or anything other than crash, I said fine and just dealt with it.  I got the feeling I’d made the bus guy’s day, which I took for good travel karma — important in my mind.

I think even though I hate cold showers, a regular cold shower might still manage to be leaps and bounds better than what this bathroom had. If you look closely there, you can see there is a “shower.” It is the pipe coming from the wall.

Now, the better question for me is whether I’d prefer this pipe from the wall shower over a widow-maker shower. At least this one stands zero chance of killing me….

The other photos here are of the hallway on the 2nd floor — I didn’t think going downstairs and taking one of the guy at the front desk would be nice, even though this might be one of the truly bad hotels on the planet, no need to aggravate the situation.

The last one is the “port” that I departed from the next morning. More on that trip and Mompos soon.

port manangue colombia

the bustling port of Manangue

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About Michael Hodson

I’m an attorney that took off on my birthday in December of 2008 to circumnavigate the globe without ever getting on an airplane. After 16 months, 6 continents and 44 countries, I made it all the way back home. Right now, I am back on the road writing about it all.

67 thoughts on “You Think You’ve Stayed in Bad Hotels? Check this one out in Colombia!

  • Katrina

    Hahaha! That looks nearly identical to my worst hotel experience. It was on Pemba (island) in Tanzania. They advertised fans (vs. air conditioning), which was plenty fine, except that the power shut off for the night around 10:30. Freakin’ hot, a tiny window, and tons of mosquitoes. We canceled the rest of our reservation and paid a bunch of money to head out to a diving place on the coast. We didn’t save money, but we saved our sanity!

  • Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World

    Oh gaaawd, it looks like something out of horror movie. Did you ever see a glimpse of two twin girls walking down that hallways?

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      thank GOD I don’t know what horror movie you must be referring to, since I don’t watch any of them 🙂

  • ADam

    Haha, this looks like a gem. I just wrote a post about our best hostel experience, and I”m going to be writing another soon about our worst. It was Hostel Yo Yo in Valparaiso, Chile. I won’t go into detail here, but I will say that we arrived about 6am from an overnight bus, and when we knocked on the door we were greeted by the staff member holding a glass of vodka, still bombed from the night before. It was actually highly entertaining. But the entertainment stopped there. Rooms looked similar to above. And the idiots that we were, we stayed TWO nights for some reason.

  • Ken Kaminesky

    One hotel that I was staying at in Paris… The room smelled of urine, the springy & lumpy mattress was from the Jurassic era, the walls were falling apart, no light in the staircase, it was partly under construction, windows didn’t close securely, there was mold everywhere, no heat, they lost my pre paid reservation on the way out so they kept me waiting for 2 hours, and I almost missed my flight.

    Next time I stayed in the La Defense area, at a great hotel for less money. Go figure.

    But I’d still take the room in Paris over what you’re showing here.

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      Hmmmm, dunno. The room that smells of urine sounds pretty damn bad. This room looked bad, but didn’t smell or anything.

  • Nicole

    AH, this brings back memories! I can’t tell you how many times we had a shower from a small pipe.

    Really great post.

  • Tran

    But did you have to safety pin the sheets to the mattress? Details from another story…. Hope you found better accommodation in Mompos!

      • Vicious

        Please tell us about Mompos. I had thought about it on both trips to Colombia but never made it. Is it really like the American South?

        • Michael Hodson Post author

          you have reminded me to do a follow up post on Mompos. It was an interesting town. Slow and sleepy. Not anything fabulous, but a nice enough place.

  • Jason

    Dude, you actually have a headboard on your bed…that’s downright luxurious.

    Hey, at least you can shower and poop at the same time. Thanks for sharing.

    By the way, I got a kick out of your cool “follow” icon with the social media stuff…was just thinking about following the blindfolded ‘lady liberty’ just to see where she might trip and fall…
    Nice post.


    • Michael Hodson Post author

      the hopandjaunt folks did the follow stuff — I like it a lot also. Different look.

  • Jack

    Ugh, that’s a horrible place. Though like Ken above, my worst was in Paris as well. Cheap, but horrible, and I think they may have bought the mattresses from when Ken’s hotel thought they’d needed replacing. Not just lumps, but very strange bumps as well.

  • Andrea

    Generally if the shower is bad, I just don’t shower. Might sound gross, but no way I’m enduring a cold shower or a pipe in wall. Luckily I’m magical and don’t get smelly very often =)

  • Megan

    I stayed at a place in Guatemala where I got flea bites all over me. I think 3 of us shared a room for $2 each, and we got what we paid for…that was a long time ago, though. I’m much pickier now.

  • inka

    Grrr, I wouldn’t have closed an eye for one minute. What about cucarachas? Did they keep you company? I see from the above comments that most bad experiences are either in Asia or Soutamerica, so it may come as a surprise that the worst hotel I stayed in was in Europe, on the Greek island of Mykonos, otherwise know as a quite glamorous place. I don’t even want to think abiut the horror, suffice it to say that I ran and spent the night on a bench in the Old Port waiting room.

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      the night on the bench was better??!! Wow. That must have been a horrible room, indeed.

  • jamie - cloud people adventures

    nice one! we stayed in one in mexico that had an almost identical bathroom. we paid extra for a room with a tv. it only had one channel, the menu for sky channel. at least they make great stories!

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      THAT makes me chuckle a bit. Here is your special TV room…. how much did you pay extra?

  • Dave & Deb

    Yuck. Yes, that’s a bad one. I have a high tolerance for bad hotels, but I am not sure if I could have stayed in this one. Good for you for making the bus guys day.

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      it did make the guy smile a lot, which was nice. Room actually wasn’t as bad as the pictures, so making his day was worth it, for sure.

  • Kim

    Wow! So glad I haven’t had that kind of experience. I’ve gotten lucky with most of my hotels and hostels. It’s also amazing how your standards tend to lower over time. hehe.

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      true, true. When I started traveling, my standards were much higher. Now…. reasonable bed and a lock on the door that works are basically good for me.

  • Sophie

    At least bad hotels are memorable and make for good stories after you’ve suffered thorough it, which is more than you can say for the bland, mediocre chain hotels. I think I’d rather stay one night in a dinky place like this – and one in a super luxurious one, rather than 2 nights in a middling, boring one 🙂

    My worst hotel was much like this – and it was on the Greek island of Skiathos.

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      as long as someone else is paying for the super luxurious one, I agree with ya!

  • Cathy Sweeney

    Oh, yes that’s one nasty hotel! My “bad hotel” experiences don’t come close to this, so I won’t even bring them up. At least it gave you some great material for a blog post. Always enjoy reading about your travels — the good times/the bad times.

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      many thanks — I like to write about some of the down times. They exist, for sure. Don’t like when people tend to ignore them and don’t write about them.

  • bethany

    wow! This looks wretched. I have stayed in some shady places in Tijuana but actually they all looked better than this. Please tell me you had a sleep sheet 🙂

  • Sherry Ott

    So – what exactly is a widow shower?

    i’ve had some similar experiences that have actually brought me to tears before!

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      Ahhh, widow maker. An electronic shower head. Click on the link there and you’ll get taken to my post talking a bit more about it.

  • Cailin

    OMG how much did you pay for that? were there other people staying there? what happened to all of the other people on your bus? hahaha

  • Fida

    That truly looks like one sad hotel 🙂

    I slept all over the world in weird places: rooftops in Africa; rooms in Asia with a bin full of rain water for a shower in the garden; hammocks in Venezuela; hay beds in the Alps with cold running water at the outside fountain, and a dirty dosshouse on Khao San Road in Bangkok but nothing could compete with the motel somewhere in Saskatchewan – I promptly forgot the name. I spent the night in my car in the motels parking lot.

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      Ahhhh, I miss the rooftops in the Middle East actually. Those were great nights of sleep.

  • DTravelsRound

    I actually said “oh my god” aloud when I saw those pics! I thought I have stayed at some bad hotels … clearly that was false. 🙂

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      LOL – I stayed (accidentally) in a whore house in Gondor. Not a full-blown one, was a legit hotel also, but pretty obvious what many of the rooms were being used for.

  • jade

    Worst hotel was in Dublin… smelly room, gross sheets (we slept on top of the comforter and on top on towels), no shower in the whole place!

  • Michael Hodson Post author

    funny thing was that the pictures made it look worse than it was. Don’t get me wrong — it was crap. But even worse on a digital screen.

  • Joel

    I think my worst was the one I just stayed at in Puerto Princesa. Every time I turned off the lights, cockroaches came out to play, so I ended up sleeping with the lights on like I was a four year old. They stayed in the bathroom after that, but I still had to stomp a few when I had to use the toilet (of all the nights to drink too much beer).

    There’s more fun in addition to the friendly vermin, but maybe i need to save that for a blog post of my own. 😉

  • Riitaa

    This is really a pathetic one to live and spend your time even for a single day.. I think that the owner of this hotel must closed this down the moment he read this review and blog revealing the interiors and awful furnishings of his hotel.. But one thing is really hard to know that what made you to stay in such hotel which is looking worse even from a street view?

  • hotelinfo

    Can you actually call that place a hotel?

    It has to qualify as one of the worst in the world, all previous experiences I´ve had pale in comparison.

    Thanks for taking the bullet here as I will forever have these pictures in my mind of what the worlds worst hotel truly is.

  • Chris

    Oh my goodness- this is a CLASSIC hotel horror story. Your pictures are truly amazing (and slightly horrifying) 🙂

  • Dina

    The pictures are terrific! Is there a door to the bathroom? We are currently having the widow maker shower, I still feel nervous underneath it.

  • Elephant Safari Family Packages

    The blog looks great and interesting. The author had rightly expressed his cause of concern with this blog. However, on the other hand, my friend’s cousins had gone to Chaing Mai in Thailand, from where they had been taken to Karen Hill Tribe Lodge. They had stayed there for a month and experienced wilderness safari on elephants being Asian Elephant Safari (, which was quite amazing. The food served was too good.

  • Alicia

    I think this post is ridiculous. You are not in a western country so don’t expect western things. This hotel was probably nicer than anything anyone in the community lives in and yet you complain about being there for one evening, get a grip. How about instead of worrying about your accomodation you take a look around and see what kind of conditions the rest of the world is living in.

  • Andy

    My worst was a hotel in Mali. I’d just come off the top of a truck (yes the roof) having hitched a lift for several hundred miles through the southern part of the Sahara -don’t ask…Anyway in addition to this malaria had kicked in so my head was thumping and fever was racing. The hotel was even less appealing than the one here but it had a surprise ‘bonus’. It came with its own prostitute, already ensconced in the ‘bed’. After managing to turf the poor woman out I did, even in my time of near-dying, reflect on the funny side of the situation…

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      ROde on the top of a truck in Africa also, but the rest of that story is WAY better than mine. Wow.

  • aura

    That was a hotel in Magangue? That guy took you to a horrible place! I lived in Magangue for almost 7 years and the town is not so fancy, but has cheap and better places.

  • jay

    Angels Home Hotel in Isatanbul
    Me and my 3 children stayed in the apartment belonging to this hotel in May 2012. The apt is actually a few blocks from the hotel, facing it is a derelect building it does not have signs or indication that it is part of the hotel. When we arrived the apartment was filthy, ( food stains on the table and dirty bathroom and beds)we were shown the other apartment on the first floor and it had muddy foot prints in the shower and boxes in the hall , it felt as though we were trespassing in someones home, so we choose the lesser of 2 evils.The bath is not a tub/ shower, but a mouldy, ant infested shower.We didn’t use the shower while there( we used the turkish bath) No phone, LCD TV, desk , safe or “designer toiletries”, as were advertised. There were long blond hairs in the sheets (we are not blond) and a footprint on a pillowcase. It has a leaking skylight over the entrance to the apartment that made the narrow spiral staircase slippery.the hotel). Maybe the hotel is better. We arrived around midnight , and since there was no phone , we had to return to the hotel ( 3 times ,walking 15 min each time) to ask for clean pillowcases and towels at 1:15 am , we were bought 1 damp pillowcase. I complained to the owner , who took no responsibility and was extremely rude .See Istanbul Forum: in TA angels home hotel – suspicious. By the way I paid $767 for 3 nights in a ” boutique hotel” in the off season. I got 3 nights in someones 30yr old dirty apt. We are not fussy travellers, we where in Greece & Turkey 3 weeks, and stayed in 8 hostels $15/night, all were excellent. We’ve been to Egypt, Southeast Asia, all of Europe, etc., so I know standards are different. But you get what you pay for and I paid a lot for a place that wasn’t as nice as or as clean as a hostel. I have posted pictures of the apartment and the building.

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