Paying For A Prison Cell

You have already heard about what we got up to in Hong Kong, what I haven’t shared is our accommodation situation we had there. Our first night was in a lovely hotel as it was part of the Essential China tour.

After that though we were on our own. We booked literally the cheapest accommodation we could find in Hong Kong. Huge mistake! We booked with UK Hostel without reading any reviews.

It was the first day of our trip not on a tour and we enthusiastically headed to our new accommodation. We entered the building as directed and noticed that there was a market inside. We found the lift we were to take and waited in the queue. We made it to the third floor as directed and couldn’t see the reception immediately, eventually we saw a reception for “HK Hostel” and thought we would ask there. Turned out it was the same one.

We started the check in process and my husband gave his passport over as requested. We had been used to doing this in China as it was always required. This is when things started to go downhill. We had planned to pay by credit card, but they only accepted cash, we didn’t have enough on us to cover the full time so my husband went to get some more out while I watched the bags. We were told we could leave our bags there and there was CCTV but I thought I would just stay with them.

We put our bags in a corner and I stood near them, during the period my husband was away I started to notice some cockroaches, then I noticed more and more and saw that some of them were on the box our bags were next to, so I moved them and saw a few roaches on my husbands bag, I started to swipe them off and then stood with the bags between my legs away from that corner.

Not only that, while I was waiting two other guests appeared at the reception to complain about their rooms. One said that the air conditioning was not working and it was dripping onto her bed, she didn’t want someone to come into her room while she was out to fix it because she said that the room was so small that her stuff had to be all over the room. The guy behind the desk kept saying to her it wasn’t a problem and someone would be sent to fix it. It was only after she revealed that she could speak chinese that he agreed to upgrade her to another room for an additional 100 HKD, mind you I have no idea what she said in Chinese.

The second guy who came to complain said their air conditioning was working but not doing anything and that the wi-fi wasn’t working. This guy was more easily put off with a promise that someone would be round to fix it.

It should also be noted that the guy behind the reception’s tone was not one of sympathy or trying to help.

With all this I had decided by the time my husband returned that we should be allowed to look at the room or else we would walk away without paying (unfortunately as it had been my husband who placed the booking I didn’t realise that it was no refund if cancelled within 48 hours). When we asked to be shown the room, the guy basically kept saying that if we paid, then of course we could see the room, and kept the passport hostage to stop us simply walking away.

After a lot of back and forth, including getting another guy involved and being told again and again that we could see it after paying and that those complaints were for a different room, we finally settled on seeing a similar room because our room was in a different block and according to them it would take too long to take us to see it.

The room they showed us looked ok, despite the alarm bells that started going off seeing as the room they showed us was occupied, but the people were out at the time. By this point we had arrived over an hour ago and we were worn down and just agreed to pay. I got some kind of promise that if the AC wasn’t working in our room they would upgrade us, but it probably wasn’t worth anything.

He gave us some vague directions to our room and off we went. We wandered around the market for a while looking for the right lift, eventually being pointed in the right direction by one of the stall owners. When we arrived we were just glad that it seemed clean and the AC seemed to work.

What we didn’t really start to appreciate until we had been in it for a while is how small it was; how demoralising not to have a window; how hard the beds were; the fact my husband couldn’t lie flat in one of the beds because there was a wall at the foot and it was so short; the AC blew directly onto the face of whoever was in that bed; neither of us could fit straight on the loo as our legs were too long, we had to sit sideways; and how annoying it was that the whole toilet room got soaked whenever the shower was used.

These things all started to get us down over the next few days and my husband started to get sick. The final straw though was when my husband wanted a shower at night (the hot water was only on from 9am-noon and 7pm-midnight) and there was no hot water. We waited till the morning, but still no hot water. We went back to the reception to complain and basically got laughed at and asked if we had used it at the right times, even after specifically saying the times we had used it.

We had had enough, we looked retrospectively at the reviews on the place, which were resoundingly awful. So we booked a different place, which was slightly more expensive, but much better reviews for the remaining nights. Yes, we had already paid for this other place, but it was worth it given how much it was getting us down.

We arrived at Check Inn HK the difference was like night and day. The staff were really friendly, the place was light and airy, there was a lovely communal space to sit, although we were sharing a dorm the beds were comfortable and large and finally the bathroom was really nice.

We left reviews on both places respectively (here and here) and learned a valuable lesson not to go with the cheapest place without looking at the reviews.

This post is in no way sponsored, links are included to help people find the relevant information if they are interested. I have only included links that we have used, I am sure there are other services that would work in their place.

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