After securing my first media internship in Sydney, I decided it was time to organise accommodation. Since I wasn’t getting paid for my work, I needed to find a hotel that was economical. During the one month of my internship, I would be staying in a budget lodge in Kings Cross, as the area was close to my workplace.
Unfortunately for me, this was not the smartest decision and I would soon find out that the hotel was noisy, unhygienic and unsafe.
I was pleasantly surprised when I first entered the hotel and checked in with the receptionist. He informed me that the place had a ‘no noise policy’ after hours and visitors were strictly forbidden after nine pm. These rules were beneficial to me as I would be working long hours and needed plenty of rest.
I grabbed my belongings and raced up the stairs to check out my room. The excitement soon wore off as I entered my room to find a dirty and unkempt single bed, a small kitchenette with no stove and a window facing a seedy alleyway.
After entering the bathroom, I began to feel concerned about my privacy and comfort. There were six bathrooms, all of them shared. In my bathroom the toilet hadn’t been flushed and the shower was home to a number of insects. Looking out the window, I noticed that the room was adjacent to a professional office building. It seemed that the building’s employees were able to see directly into the hotel’s bathroom. As a result, one of the office cubicles had been blocked off and placed with a sign which read: ‘do not enter’. I was unable to close the window as it was jammed and decided that I wouldn’t be using this particular bathroom for the time being.
I was hopeful that this would be the last of my troubles, but sadly this was not the case. In week two of my stay I met a British backpacker named Phil. Phil was staying in the room next door to me and had decided that the hotels ‘no noise’ policy didn’t apply to him. From Tuesday to Friday I heard the sounds of loud music late at night and obnoxious shouting. This was at times, hours before I had to wake up for work. When I finally chose to complain I was told that Phil had left the hotel. I would finally get some sleep.
Issues with the hotel continued as I noticed one day the toilet was blocked. On this day, it took management hours to clean up the mess and during this time I was forced to use one of the other five bug infested bathrooms to conduct my business.
Yet the worst experience occurred in the final week of my stay. It was a Saturday night and I had been out celebrating the successful completion of my media internship. I returned home in the late hours of the morning to discover a middle aged male and female sitting in the bathroom with the door open. I soon noticed needles on the floor and at that point the man uttered: ‘sorry to disturb you, mate’. I quickly shut the door and returned to my room in a daze of intoxication.
The next morning I awoke to the realisation of what had occurred the previous night. I walked downstairs to put the matter forward to reception but found they had beaten me to the punch.
‘Sorry about last night, we’ve observed the camera footage and it seems the junkies must have slipped past us. We apologise for any inconvenience,’ the receptionist exclaimed.
At the time I thought it was fairly foolish of the receptionist to admit to negligence, but I had one day left at the hotel and wasn’t in the mood to argue or complain. I concluded it would be best to simply learn from the experience and move on.
Despite the gross violations of privacy and personal hygiene, the hotel’s facilities were what you would expect of budget accommodation. The lesson I learned was that sharing a bathroom is never a good idea. I was also staying in an area known for its notorious night life, so it’s only natural that there would be a little noise late at night. I guess sometimes, you have to take the good with the bad.
Toli Papadopoulos is a third-year Bachelor of Media Studies student at La Trobe University and is one of upstart’s staff writers. You can follow him on Twitter: @paprant