On hotels, cockroaches, and boots

220px-Keep_Calm_and_Carry_On_Poster_svg_In light of the updates we are getting about hotel-life in Sochi, I’d like to tell you a story. Since this was related to work that I did at that time, I will not mention where this happened. The rest is true.

After a flight with delays and trouble getting a taxi, I finally arrived. The hotel lobby was well-lit and that was a welcoming sight since it was past midnight.  My eyes were so tired. All I wanted was to crash because next morning’s meeting would start at the heavenly hour of 7am.

Upstairs, my room was in a corner of the floor. A narrow door and hallway led to a bigger room. On the right was a simple desk and chair. Along the north wall was a dresser. The windows were opposite the desk and the queen size bed was along the south wall. The bed had a simple headboard flush to the wall. I was too tired to shower so I just brushed my teeth in the dark and crashed.

Around 2 am I woke up. I was not completely awake but I felt a presence other than mine in the room. It set my neck hairs on end. I heard scratching noises. Through the moonlit window, I did not see another human shape in the room. Thinking that I had seen a shadow I tried to get back to sleep. But the feeling did not go away. I got up and turned the lights on. And then I saw them.

On the top of the wall were cockroaches crawling down. Since the headboard of my bed was flush against the wall they would be able to reach me! I ran to the foot of the bed to pull the bed away from the wall. And then I stepped on one!

I jumped on the bed and scanned the room. I felt surrounded but in hindsight that was exaggerated. However, any cockroach in a hotel room is one too many so I can justifiably say that I felt that they were closing in on me.

Of course, I considered calling the front desk and demanding another room or, leaving for another hotel. However, it was late. Because of that 7am meeting I had to be up by 6am to shower, dress, have breakfast, etc. That left me with just under 4 hours of sleep.

Getting someone from the front desk up here and changing rooms would probably take away another hour of sleep. That is, if another and better room was available. Changing hotels at 2am was tricky as it would depend again on room availability. All this could easily consume my only 4 hours of sleep that I had left.

So …

My brilliant plan was to get fully dressed. I tucked my jeans into my socks and put my boots on. Lucky for me, I had a long-sleeved sweater with a tight neck collar in my suitcase. Then I pulled the bed away from the wall. I left the lights on and went back to sleep with a sneaker in one hand for when I needed to hit something.

The next morning, I inspected my clothes for any signs of life beyond my own. The cockroaches were not in sight anymore except for the one I stepped on a few hours before. I went to the bathroom. This time I did flip on the lights … just in time to see the cockroaches scurry away.


I let out a howling scream not caring who I would wake up. After my shower, I packed all my bags while being careful that only my possessions went into the suitcase. I took everything downstairs to the breakfast hall.

The meetings went well. The conference room was big. My suitcase along the wall did not bother anyone. I made a few calls at the end of the day.

After a fierce conversation at the front desk, it was clear that nobody understood why I made a fuzz. I vowed to never return there and just left. A taxi delivered me to a five-star hotel in another neighbourhood. I deserved a good night sleep.

I told the good folks at the front desk about my experiences. To make sure that I was happy, a manager came up to inspect the room.

I kicked off my boots and crashed on the big bed. I didn’t look at the walls and did not notice whether this bed’s headboard was flush against the wall or not. I had not inspected the bathroom myself but took a five-star hotel manager’s word for it being roach-free.

The next morning around 6am I woke up. I still had to attend day two in that series of meetings all starting at 7am. And then I saw it: beautifully clean walls and no other life forms in the room unless you want to count the flowers. Everything was roach-free.

I understand that my one night ordeal is nothing compared to a few weeks in Sochi with yellow water and the joy of dumping soiled toilet paper in a bin. The experience did start the habit of always booking my own hotels during travel and to spend the extra dollar.

Anyone else with nice hotel experiences?

Happy Blogging!

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