Boutique Hotel Gone Wrong

Boutique Hotel

Do you ever have those experiences that just go terribly wrong? Just so wrong? It’s in those moments that the choice lies whether to laugh and chalk it up to memories, or let it ruin the whole kit and caboodle. We had a boutique hotel  experience a couple of years ago that went terribly wrong, and that left us laughing until our sides hurt. The experience went something like this…

It was a beautiful Spring day in October when my husband and I set out on the 3 1/2 hour drive to Johannesburg. We had to attend some meetings near the city, so we had the bright idea to get away a day early for a romantic night in the city. Psh.


We arrived at the boutique hotel in downtown Joburg…pause, this was our first mistake. Never, ever willingly find yourself in downtown Joburg at night. We checked in and the first thing the clerk said was “Don’t go outside at night. It’s dangerous.” I appreciated his honesty, but it didn’t really invoke a sense of peacefulness. On our way up to our room, we inquired about the free WIFI that they advertised when we booked it. “Oh yes,” he replied. We have free WIFI in the lobby, which consisted of about a ten foot radius.

We weren’t off to a good start, but we hadn’t seen the room. Our hopes were up. Nothing could ruin our night away sans kids. The room was decent, so we thought things were looking up. We don’t have TV service at our house, so my husband switched the tube on to see if there was anything interesting on while we got settled in. Fuzz. That’s all that appeared on the screen. He called down, and our clerk friend that there was no DSTV because the bill had not been paid. “An interesting way to do business,” I thought.

We heeded our primary instructions and chose the restaurant connected right to the hotel for dinner. Our Mozambican chicken was delectable, leaving us with happy bellies for a good night’s sleep.

The next morning we decided to re-visit our dinner establishment. It could have been lingering fear of leaving the complex, the food beckoning us back, or simple convenience. We walked outside our room on the fourth floor, and our ears immediately picked up the sound of rushing water. As we neared the steps, it was like a waterfall had been erected overnight. It was a slipping hazard, but we managed to go floor by floor without falling, discovering that the waterfall continued with each level. When we got the restaurant, half of it was closed because water was everywhere. Upon inquiry, they told us that a pipe had burst on the fifth floor. I tried not to worry if it was toilet water that was in said pipe. Experience at this place told me not to ask, because I probably wouldn’t like the answer.


After breakfast, we decided to go ahead and check out. No sense taking further chances, right? We were ready to leave our boutique hotel experience behind us and chart new waters. We packed up our stuff and headed downstairs. Umbrellas would have been helpful, but we carefully maneuvered around the flood once again. Back down in the lobby, we tried to find an employee to give our room key to. It was like a ghost town. I think even the WIFI decided to flee. We tossed our keys on the desk and vowed never to return.

We thought “boutique hotel” sounded fun and fancy. But, it seems that definition of accommodations was used loosely. I think we’ll stick to finding cool places on Airbnb where we can actually read the reviews of those who have chanced it before us. Which is the advice I leave with you: check any and all available reviews for your accommodations before you make reservations.

Do you have any crazy travel experiences involving staying in sketchy places? Do share, so we can laugh together!

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Jen Price

Jen currently makes her home between two continents, one in the great state of Texas and the other in a small town in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. She wears many hats such as wife, mother, photographer, storyteller, communications director, writer, traveler, and lover of dark chocolate. She writes for several websites including her personal blog, I Believe In Love, where she shares her creative ventures, her photography, and the stories of the orphans she loves on in S. Africa.

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