I had to stay in a horrible hotel on a team-building trip

A reader writes:

I work for a large company and my team is spread over four offices in different cities. We do a yearly employee satisfaction survey and our scores last year were quite low.

In an attempt to improve our scores, our manager and director arranged a team-building trip to their home city. The idea was that the various offices would work together for a week, have fun together, and build team morale.

In practice, we were still responsible for all our regular work (which is substantial and deadline driven) and the travel time plus the special activities made meeting deadlines very difficult. I worked the weekend before and still had to do quite a lot of work until late into the evening in my hotel room.

Which brings me to the worst part. Our company has preferred hotels which are not luxury but perfectly nice, like a Marriot or Hilton. For this trip, the director booked all of us rooms in a very downscale hotel. Some highlights:
• There was no security and anyone could walk in off the street and access the elevators.
• The carpets were ripped and visibly dirty.
• There were bags of garbage in the halls that stayed there for days.
• I found hair on my sheets and my requests for fresh linens were ignored.
• There was no housekeeping for the three days I was there — no one touched my room.
• I went to the front desk and asked for clean towels and was told they “didn’t have any.”
• The tub did not drain; I had to stand in ankle-deep water when I showered.
• There was no food available and the only restaurants were a substantial walk through a pretty dodgy neighborhood.

We did get closer as a team, but that was only because we bonded over complaining about the horrible hotel. Two team members left in the month after the trip. One had become sick during the trip and blamed the hotel. I am also actively job hunting. The trip/hotel isn’t the reason I’m leaving, but it definitely made me step up my job search.

Is this worthy of elevating to HR or bringing up in my exit interview if I get another job? I told my manager about the hotel in private and got a shrug and “that’s the only hotel that’s close to the office.” I admit I am offended that the director thought it was fine to make us stay in a filthy hotel (and seemed to think it would improve morale?), but I also think this was a safety issue. I did not feel physically safe and my female colleagues and I made a pact to text each other if anyone came to our doors and to always travel with a buddy. It doesn’t seem that should be standard procedure on a business trip?

As context, we work for a large, publically traded company that is generally good to work for. I have been quietly asking around and no one else has ever stayed at this hotel while traveling on company business.

No, when you’re traveling for work, you should not expect to be stuck in a hotel where you feel so unsafe that you’re settling up a buddy system for leaving your room.

If that was the only hotel close to the office, then you should have been offered a hotel further away. But if no one else traveling to that office has ever stayed in that hotel, my bet is that it wasn’t really the only one in the area — but rather, your group was put there to save costs because there were so many of you.

If you’d only had to deal with a few of things on your list — ripped and dirty carpets or no housekeeping — that wouldn’t be such a big deal. But some of what you listed is disgusting (dirty sheets and no option for clean ones?!) and feeling unsafe is a deal-breaker on its own.

It’s too late for this now, but ideally you and your coworkers would have raised the safety concerns during the trip and asked to move somewhere else. Sometimes in a situation like this it helps to present it as a fait accompli — “We don’t feel safe staying here so we’re going to switch hotels. Would you rather we move to the Oatmeal Inn in West Groats or the Buckwheat Hotel in Porridgeville?”

But there are still things you can do after the fact. You can talk to whoever books travel and tell them to put the hotel on a “do not book” list, explaining the problems you encountered. You can talk to the people in the office you were visiting about what happened and ask that they ensure future visitors know not to stay there (and perhaps that they have other suggestions on hand). And you can indeed talk to HR about making sure this doesn’t happen again, and ask them to issue clear guidance on how people should handle it if they don’t feel safe during work travel.

You asked about mentioning it in your exit interview and you could do that too, but it’s unlikely to be as effective as these other options (a lot of what gets said in exit interviews goes nowhere).

Read an update to this letter.

{ 447 comments… read them below }

  1. Mark Baron*

    “my female colleagues and I made a pact to text each other if anyone came to our doors and to always travel with a buddy. It doesn’t seem that should be standard procedure on a business trip?”

    I completely disagree with the last part of that statement. I think this SHOULD be a standard procedure on a business trip. In many cities around the country, once-safe streets are no longer completely safe. Even if a hotel limits who is allowed as far as the elevators, plenty of checked-in hotel guests (and or the guest’s guests) have assaulted people in other rooms, and even more have robbed them. (I used to work in the hotel industry.)

    1. NotRealAnonforThis*

      My unfortunately too realistic thought is that “nah, that’s just standard procedure for having the audacity to exist in a female presenting body in public”.

    2. Spearmint*

      I strongly disagree. I’m sure what was really happening is you heard about the rare cases where this sort of thing happened and so it feels like these kind of events are common, but really the reason you hear about all of them is because they are rare.

      LW’s hotel seems sketchy, but like I don’t think people need to be scared walking the halls of a Marriott.

      1. CJ*

        I’ve been telling everyone this for years when people say things like “the world isn’t the safe place it used to be” because by every measure, it’s SAFER than it used to be! You only hear about more things and for longer now because of the 24 hour news cycle. That’s not to say the complaints in this letter aren’t valid but people perceiving the world to be a more dangerous place than it is is my hill to die on because that perception is often based in racism. Call someone when a stranger comes to your door if you want but don’t fool yourself in to thinking that you are less safe than you were 30 or 40 years ago.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          This. I usually have this discussion in the context of my kids. My high schooler is just now up to undertaking a routine purchase in a store with adult assistance, and has literally never walked two blocks from the house without an adult. The helpless college student is the inevitable result. When I propose that the kids should be allowed, and even encouraged, to roam a bit, I am met with horrified responses by people who routinely did this sort of thing when they were kids. “But things are different now!” To which I respond that yes, it is. Violent crime rates are vastly–and I do mean vastly!–lower nowadays. The usual reaction is outright unwillingness to believe this, official crime statistics notwithstanding. *sigh* The kid has taken to drinking coffee. We have a good independent coffee house about half a mile away. I am negotiating with my wife to allow an unaccompanied walk there.

          1. bamcheeks*

            The stuff that is different is unfortunately:

            – more cars, bigger cars, more bigger cars
            – fewer other kids and adults around

            both crappy, and both definitely making walking more dangerous for kids. But not something that the regular flaps about CRIME and SAFE STREETS are ever serious about addressing.

            1. BubbleTea*

              Bigger cars, but with more safety features – automatic stopping, for instance. And stricter enforcement of drink-driving laws. But yes, road safety is not talked about half as much as it should be in these conversations.

              1. ThatGirl*

                Yes, but those features tend to protect drivers/passengers more than pedestrians. Some SUVs and trucks are so big you cannot see a child standing in front of it.

                That said – I’m all for kids having more independence.

                1. Observer*

                  Yes, but those features tend to protect drivers/passengers more than pedestrians.

                  Not true. SOME of those things help the people in the car more than pedestrians, but that’s not universal. And even most of the things that protect the car people more help pedestrians a lot.

              2. Double A*

                Bigger cars a a bigger risk to pedestrians; this is the main reason that the streets are less safe.

                1. Grammar Penguin*

                  I’d need to see some citation for either assertion that cars are bigger or that streets are in fact less safe for pedestrians.

                2. linger*

                  *shrug* Statistics will only get you so far, because nothing is properly controlled in real-world data. For example, the road death toll in NZ has decreased on average over the past few decades, despite increases in population density (and car density) which might have been expected to raise the death toll. Over the same period, speed limits have been lowered; car safety features have improved; there’s been an ongoing driver safety campaign; and increased enforcement of laws against drink-driving and use of electronic devices while driving; and limits imposed on travel during the Covid lockdowns… Any or all of these could have some role; but the raw numbers simply do not let us tease out causes from correlations.
                  Additionally, the figures reported for “road deaths” are primarily for vehicle occupants (=most likely to be associated with “roads” and with a serious outcome). We do not hear about, or even accurately count, accidents not resulting in death or serious injury (which must include the majority of incidents involving cyclists or pedestrians). So there’s no easy way to tell if e.g. “safer cars” actually leads to fewer accidents, or even “safer” accidents, for all road users.

                3. MigraineMonth*

                  @Grammar Penguin: “U.S. Pedestrian Fatalities Reach Highest Level in 40 Years” from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (https://www.ghsa.org/resources/news-releases/GHSA/Ped-Spotlight-Full-Report22#:~:text=%E2%80%9CWe%20must%20address%20the%20root,ensure%20people%20can%20walk%20safely.%E2%80%9D

                  “Drivers of passenger cars have consistently accounted for the greatest number of fatal pedestrian crashes. However, over the past decade the number of pedestrian deaths in crashes involving sport utility vehicles (SUVs) increased at a faster rate than deaths in crashes involving passenger cars – 36% versus 27%, respectively. Because of their greater body weight and larger profile, SUVs can cause more harm to a person on foot when a crash occurs.”

                4. Cars are too big sorry*

                  For Double A (can’t nest) – check out pedestrian death statistics for most major US cities. They’ve skyrocketed since 2020. A combo, from what I’ve read and experienced, with worsened driving behavior (speeding, impatience) and bigger cars. A modern-day SUV hits an average or smaller person in the chest or the head; the margin of error (that is, the speed at which one of those can be traveling and hit someone and not kill them) is much smaller than a lower-riding car that strikes below the vital zones.

                  And if you’re looking for anec-data…I am frequently on foot or on bike (spare the lectures, I follow the rules of the road when I’m in the road)…there are many places I used to walk or ride without thinking that I now avoid at all costs because of how close I’ve come to getting hit. It has also been my personal experience that road rage and deliberate threatening of pedestrians is more common now but I’m less familiar with the stats for that.

            2. Richard Hershberger*

              “Safe streets” is relevant in the “Are there sidewalks?” sense. I live in a town that goes back two hundred years, so yes, we have sidewalks, except for the bypass (which takes care of most of that increased traffic). The town proper is very walkable.

            3. Ben*

              Cars are the *only* thing that keeps me up at night when it comes to letting my kids play unsupervised in my neighborhood.

            4. Beth*

              And these problems, especially the one about there being fewer kids) adults around, are self-reinforcing. Kids don’t go out because there are any other kids out, and then even fewer kids are out.

            5. Sales SVP*

              The streets are much safer than they used to be. The average American pedestrian of 2023 is literally half as likely to be killed by a car vs the average American pedestrian of 1970. You can argue that people overall walk less than they did in 1970 – maybe, I’m not sure, but it’s also true that the number of cars on the road has more than doubled in that time, and the number of miles driven per car has increased, so there’s more exposure.

              What we have is media that are constantly squawking about how dangerous everything is, and we calibrate to our fears, not to the actual risk.

              This is deaths from car crashes total in the US:
              1970 (US population, 205M)
              Pedestrians 7516
              Drivers 37,009

              1990 (US population, 250M)
              Pedestrians 6482
              Drivers 44,599

              2020 (US population, 334M)
              Pedestrians 6516
              Drivers 32,308

              (This is Insurance Institue for Highway Safety analysis of DOT data)

              1. MigraineMonth*

                The data you provided shows that pedestrian deaths have significantly increased in the past 50 years (and has increased again just during pandemic times).

                Yes, much better than 1970, but I didn’t live back then.

                1. Soup-free head*

                  But the proportion/risk of death went down because of the overall population increase. There was a >1% increase in pedestrian deaths but a >33% *increase* in population.

              2. Splendid Colors*

                My city is working on a “Vision Zero” plan to eliminate pedestrian/cyclist/scooterist traffic fatalities.

                One of my activist colleagues pointed out at a recent public forum for Vision Zero that at least half our pedestrian deaths are unhoused people getting hit by cars after the police have told them to “move along” and they’re either half-asleep, drunk, or high. They wouldn’t be in harm’s way if they had a home to sleep in or have a beer or more in.

          2. Spearmint*

            Dang. I’m a younger millennial (late-20s) so it wasn’t that long ago when I was a teen, but I was allowed to walk anywhere within at least 2-3 miles if I wanted in high school. Actually I think my parents let me do that in middle school too. Good on you for advocating for your kid.

            1. ferrina*

              My parents didn’t just let me walk around- I had to! I walked 1.5 miles home every day during middle school. In high school I had to take the public bus home after school/whatever activity I was doing that afternoon. I only got a ride if I was at school later than 7. And if I wanted to visit my friends? Yep, walk or take the bus.
              This was in a major city, and was in the days before everyone had a cell phone (I think my mom had one, then I got one my senior year)

              1. JSPA*

                I walked 1.5 miles each way, most days, by third grade. In a city of about 3 million people, at the time. Not because I had to, but it was faster than the schoolbus, nobody pinched or mocked me, I didn’t have to breathe diesel fumes, I tended to be late for the bus in any case, and it was (and still is) a pretty walk.

            2. MigraineMonth*

              In a lot of European countries, grade school kids are expected to be able to take the city bus to and from school and get off at the correct stop. As an extremely inattentive 7-year-old, a good time was not had by all (especially my parents trying to chase down the bus at the next stop).

              1. Phryne*

                I’m an European Xennial. At age twelve, we go to secondary school, which for probalby about 80-90% of the kids meant cycling there, depending on where you live up to 10km. I lived relatively close, but from age 12 onward I was allowed to cycle anywhere trough the town we lived in (to get to the sports fields on the other side of town for instance) and at about 14 I was allowed to cycle home alone in the dark along a country road from my friends house 10 km away. This was not considered dangerous by most people, though some of my peers had overprotective parents even in the day.
                Of course, road and town infrastructure here is designed with cyclists and pedestrians in mind, I would not want to do that in the US. My parents cycled across the US east to west in the Bikecentennial in 1976 and some of their stories are hair-raising.

          3. AngelicGamer (she/her)*

            As a former sheltered kid, do it now so you don’t have to hear stories from your kid’s college friends about how your kid walked alone to a store at 2 am as a female presenting individual. It was one of my many spreading my wings as a naïve 18 year old things.

            Ftr, I was fine. The biggest problem with the train tracks and the fact that I went without my cane. Cookie cravings while doing all night studying come at you fast. :)

              1. The Real Fran Fine*

                Yeah, I was always walking to the 7 Eleven down the street from my dorm room alone at all hours of the early morning in a city a lot of people claim is totally unsafe (Philly). Never had a problem.

                1. Anon4This*

                  30+ years ago I lived in a really shitty part of Hollywood (like “a homeless drunk stole my car to live in and my roommates boyfriend was murdered around the corner from our apartment” shitty) and was walking to & from the local punk & goth clubs at all hours and never had any issues either. I was always dressed in some kind of scandalous punk rock hooker looking outfit, and under the influence of alcohol (the reason I WASN’T driving), all the big giant no-no’s on the don’t get raped boogeymen lists. It was entirely eventless.

                  The only time that either my roommate or I were EVER bothered by creepers on the street in that area it was *always*, without fail, during the middle of a bright sunny day, on crowded sidewalks, with us wearing no makeup & super dressed down in plain/grubby sweats or jeans.

            1. Cyndi*

              To be fair I don’t think “going to the store alone late at night” is a huge deal? For one thing, I would probably have starved to death in college if I hadn’t had a 24/7 Walgreens in the neighborhood.

              1. Chirpy*

                Sure, but as female presenting people, one does have to take into account whether that particular route is likely to be problematic more than a male presenting person does.

                1. Boof*

                  Er, as a female presenting person who formerly went about baltimore and other cities alone, often late at night… what?

            2. Kacihall*

              I once took a group of preteen girls to a nearby gas station just before midnight on new years eve (with their parents permission – they sure weren’t sober enough to drive them.) We walked maybe half a mile. I got stopped by the cops.

              I was 18. Didn’t feel unsafe until the cops stopped me. I get that the south side of Indy isn’t as safe as, say, Carmel (ie, rich white suburb where I was told it was fine to drive drunk, I was white and not THAT drunk) but the only threatening thing I saw was the cops.

            3. MigraineMonth*

              As a female-presenting individual, I regularly walked a mile home between 11pm and 1am from my weekend shift at a pizza place. It was a small town, but that means I was generally the only pedestrian around.

          4. virago*

            ” … has literally never walked two blocks from the house without an adult.”

            Yikes. I did this when I was 8 and 9 years old, running down to the small-town corner store for milk and bread at my mom’s request in the 1970s.

            1. virago*

              PS I was and am a female-presenting person, living in the northeastern U.S., to add some context to add context to my answer.

            2. Gato Blanco*

              The thing that does it for me is still needing adult assistance to make routine purchases at the store. How? Why? Surely the kid knows how to count cash or hand over a debit card. What adult assistance could a typical high school student possibly need in making a purchase at a cash register?

              1. Richard Hershberger*

                That was a typo. I dropped the “-out” from “without.” But even this is fairly recent, instigated by my standing aside and making him do it. Since then he has gone into a convenience store alone, while my wife waited in the car. He has anxiety, in the clinical sense, so there is an element of baby steps here.

            3. I have RBF*

              I literally had to walk to grade school five blocks. I lived “too close” to be allowed to ride my bike. I had a ten block radius, essentially bounded by the major streets. This was in the 60s.

              I still can’t wrap my head around parents having to walk their kids to neighborhood grade schools or drop them off with cars. My parents weren’t allowed to drop me off at grade school, even in bad weather. I had to walk in rain and snow. It’s just nuts.

            4. Taketombo*

              Several years back I texted my nine year old to please stop in at the grocery store on the way home* from his after school program to get lettuce and a 1/2 gallon of milk. He got the text, used the “emergency money” store in his phone case to pay, and I cooked dinner when I got home (some time after him).

              As a high schooler, he has a passport and has regularly flown solo to visit grandparents. (I’m pushing sleep-away camp, he’s not interested).

              *it was actually an extra three blocks, and 2 street crossings at lights with pedestrian signals, but close enough.

          5. Seashell*

            I think the issue is your wife being overprotective rather than the way people do things these days. My middle schooler has a 20 minute walk to school, and there are other middle school and high school students doing the same with zero adults around.

            Your average high school student is taller and stronger than me, so I’d probably be a more likely target for crime.

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              It may be a regional thing. When the kids were in elementary school I drove them, as we are out of district for the bus and it legit was far to walk. If I got there early enough, I would get stuck behind a bus on its last stop, literally at the edge of the school campus. There would be parents standing with their kids waiting for the bus, rather than having them walk across the soccer field.

              1. Kacihall*

                My 1st grader is required to have a parent with them at the bus stop and to get them off the bus. I don’t know what age that stops, but I hope it’s soon. (We drive him to school, anyway – it works best for my husband’s schedule. And I pick him up from after school care this year.)

                1. Squawkberries*

                  My elementary kids don’t get the option of a bus. And we live just under 2 miles away… problem is people drive like maniacs and many of the streets don’t have sidewalks. So driving it is…

          6. GreenDoor*

            Richard Hershberger I share your frustration. I got COVID and we needed food so I gave my 8 and 9 year old a very simple grocery list and $20 and sent them through the grocery store without me. They did great and were super proud of themselves. But the pearl clutching when I told people about this was unreal.

          7. Harried HR*

            My kids are pretty much considered feral by many of their friends parents !! Background… I went to a boarding school in the UK from age 9 till 18 so I have a waaaaayy lower threshold of helicoptering than the average parent. Both kids earned money for report cards since kindergarten and were taught to save, budget etc from a very young age and were held accountable with extra curricula activities (bad behavior = missing said activity) and guess what the bad behavior lessened !!

          8. happybat*

            I’ve seen the argument made that child deaths are down due to enhanced adult surveillance. Experimentation seems unethical, but I wonder if work has been done to disentangle cause and effect. I suppose there is also a case for considering whether a slightly raised risk of child death is worthwhile for the lifestyle benefits from greater independence.

          9. Splendid Colors*

            I walked to the grocery store about a quarter mile from home to shop ON MY OWN by the time I was about 8 in the 1970s. (Granted, my mother had no car and arthritis in her hips.) By the time I was 10, I was riding my bike over a mile to the public library and hanging out there all afternoon.

            I was catcalled a few times (EWWWW! and I was wearing a hoodie and jeans, not “junior streetwalker” fashions like my peers wore) and I got a ticket once for running a red light on my bike. I think I was in high school (where I commuted by bike) by the time someone backed into my bike in a parking lot and knocked me off balance. I don’t even think I fell off the bike–I hopped off the seat (girl’s frame) but it tipped over and my books fell off the rack. (This was before bike helmets.)

            1. Splendid Colors*

              Oh, and in the 1970s, cars were ginormous! Except for sports cars and the VW Beetle, these were the kind of cars you see decked out as lowriders nowadays.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          I agree with this.

          As a small white woman I have waltzed right through reception in any number of “nice” hotels with no security person stopping to check that I have a room card or anything else. The only time anyone wants me to prove that I am a guest is if I want the front desk to give me a replacement room key, or a different room. If I don’t initiate an interaction, hotel staff just let me right at those elevators.

          1. ferrina*

            Seconded. I’ve walked into places I shouldn’t have been as a small white woman who looked like she was going somewhere specific.

                1. Yoyoyo*

                  Yup, also a white woman and I learned that I can gain access to many, many places just by acting like I’m supposed to be there. My father even explicitly taught me to do this – just act like you own the place and nobody will question you.

          2. Emmy Noether*

            As a middle-class-looking femme-presenting white woman, I bet I could walk into pretty much anywhere. I’m not even asked for proof to remagnetize my room key. I’ve successfully negotiated unsupervised entry to buildings that have two doors that have to be badged, just with a smile. I’d make a great spy if only I was any good at lying.

          3. Stampy*

            This seems completely normal to me. Do you think a hotel needs to stop everyone who walks in before they can get into the elevator? I don’t see how that would even be feasible. Most hotels now require you to swipe your room key to access the room floors once you get into the elevator.

            1. Splendid Colors*

              I’ve been in a few office buildings whose elevators terrify me because they don’t have floor buttons. The guard/concierge programs the elevator where to stop. So what do you do if you’re in that elevator with someone who means you harm? Hope the guard sees them on the security camera assaulting you? Why can’t I have the option of exiting as soon as my hackles rise?

        3. GiGi*

          Exactly. My mom was robbed at a hotel (at gunpoint) almost 35 years ago. My husband was robbed at a hotel 15 years ago. Both of them were outside the hotel in the parking lots. It happened then and it happens today but at statistcallly lower rates than the previous periods in time. No one outside of our close circles were even aware of these robberies because social media wasn’t a thing in 35 years ago and barely a thing 15 years ago. THAT is the only difference.

        4. tamarack etc.*

          Safety perception is such a complicated topic, and it’s worthwhile not to lose sight of the forest for the trees. *If and when* a situation looks like it’s sketchier than it should be, then *of course* texting each other, check-ins etc. should be employed. This doesn’t mean that it’s likely.

          I was part of a similarly terrible-hotel situation last year. My room was ok-ish, but stuff was broken, house-keeping non-existent (clearly a staffing issues), homeless people were trying to enter by back doors (far-flung, low, square layout). Worse, one grad student found cockroaches, another grad student had a break-in and his poster and bedding were stolen (we think someone saw the poster tube and thought it was a gun case or fishing rod case, ie, something sellable), and a third participant walked into two people making out.

          All of this is *highly* unacceptable for a business trip, nowhere near the most sketchy I’ve stayed privately, AND not realistically dangerous.

          This was actually organized by a US federal agency, and the (apologetic!) higher-up privately mentioned that this was the only hotel in that (mid-sized) city that was available for the exact dates we wanted (for good reason) AND would take government rates. I hope they learned the lesson.

          1. Splendid Colors*

            I booked a hotel for some coworkers because it took government rates and had been a perfectly nice hotel when I went to a SF convention there some years ago. Well, when they returned, I found out it was no longer a decent hotel. At all. I forget the details, but I apologized profusely and noted it as “do not book” for the next temp.

        5. Princess Sparklepony*

          Also, decades ago many crimes were never reported. Especially crimes against women since it was seen as your own fault (not true, but the times were different.) Or things were covered up because it was too ugly to talk about. Add in serial killers/attackers that got away with it because people and police never made the connection that the crimes were linked. Yeah, things were bad before but people either pretended it wasn’t happening or didn’t know the half of it.

        6. Anon4This*

          “ That’s not to say the complaints in this letter aren’t valid but people perceiving the world to be a more dangerous place than it is is my hill to die on because that perception is often based in racism. ”

          Exactly this. I live in the same very racially & economically diverse neighborhood I grew up in because it’s a great place to live. Comfortable, mellow, low key. Old but nice looking & well cared for, we have good city codes & effective enforcement. Same small block runs the gamut from low income section 8 apartments to fancy custom built upper middle class homes.

          Husband invites a couple who are his good friends over. Wife grew up in the rich “Real Housewives” end of our county. Wife later told her husband she’d be scared to live in our neighborhood. It made me really angry. There’s nothing scary about this neighborhood unless you are afraid of quaint little houses built in the 1950s, a lack of superficial glitz, or BIPOC.

      2. RussianInTexas*

        ^^^ this.
        I am a female. I never feel unsafe in standard hotels. And hotel rooms. And hotel restaurants.

        1. WillowSunstar*

          Same here, and being a nerd, I have travelled alone for sci-go conventions. But I have always felt safer among geek/nerdy types than others in general. Not sure why.

          1. I have RBF*

            Heck, I’ve stayed overnight with virtual strangers at SF&F cons when I was in college. Room stuffing was a thing…

        2. Whotels?*

          Yeah. This hotel sounds awful (hair on the sheets?!? Standing water in the tub?!?) but I do not think I’ve ever stayed at a hotel, including upscale hotels in large cities, where folks could not just walk in off the street and access the elevators.

          I ask for rooms on the upper floors, lock my doors, and … that’s it. I don’t give it a second thought.

          1. Sopranohannah*

            I’ve seen this more lately in tourist areas. Two hotels I’ve been to at larger sci-fi conventions in the last few years needed a keycard to access the elevators. I’ve never seen it at standard hotel though.

            1. Selina Luna*

              I’ve been in a couple of hotels that required keycards to get into the guest sections, but in both cases, the first floors had fairly popular restaurants, meeting rooms, convention centers, and things like that, where there were legit reasons for strangers to be around.

          2. Becky*

            I have been in one or two hotels that the elevator would not ascend unless you had a valid keycard for an upper floor, but most don’t do that.

            One that did it was the Luxor in Las Vegas.

              1. Cristina*

                The Luxor is also a magnet for suicides. The keycard is one way to minimize people throwing themselves off.

          3. Seeking Second Childhood*

            By 2am many a hotel has its outside doors locked and hotel staff will buzz them in if appropriate. (One example of inappropriate–. recogized as a former problem guest on the do-not-rent list)

        3. UKDancer*

          Same. Have just finished a 3 day business trip on my own, staying in 2 different hotels (1 Premier inn, 1 Holiday Inn Express). I won’t live afraid. I will say both hotels had keycard access to the lifts which I always think is a good idea.

          I’ve travelled on business and for fun solo to most of Europe and have never had much of an issue.

        4. Jenny*

          I’ve lived in DC, Chicago, Miami, and New York. Yes things aren’t always perfect, but I’m not scared to navigate those cities by myself.

      3. Bagpuss*

        Yes, and certainly when it comes to issues like sexual harassment / sexual assault another factor is that people are much more likely to speak out and to report incidents – it’s not that they happen more, it’s that more often when they happen, they are reported, so the statistics are not a true reflection of the number of incidents.

        I can’t speak from personal experience but think this is probably also true of things like racist assaults/ abuse – people’s willingness to report incidents, the fact that everyone now carries a phone that can record what happens etc. mean that incidents are more likely to be reported, more likely to be publicised, and less likely to be dismissed for lack of evidence (either legally or in the public mind)

      4. PsychNurse*

        Yeah, I am a young-ish woman and I absolutely love to walk (alone) everywhere. In my suburb, in towns, in cities I visit. This nonsense about “women can’t even leave their homes!!1!!” is way off-base and honestly seems to be contributing to some of the rampant anxiety we see among young women (who do not yet have lived experiences as a point of reference).

    3. Lacey*

      Mark. No.

      Women are not going to live like they have to be scared ALL the time just because there are some places where we do in fact have to fear for our lives.

      We are safe in many, and probably most, places in the United States.

      1. laser99*

        But we have to presume there is danger everywhere, as this is what keeps us safe(r). It doesn’t mean we have to exist in a constant state of terror, but certain actions are recommended.

          1. RussianInTexas*

            Yes, that is way too extreme.
            Lock your doors, be aware about your surroundings without being paranoid, use hotel safe is available for the valuables and papers, and go on with your life.

            1. MuseumGal*

              Exactly. I feel like there’s a huge difference between, say, quickly letting someone know you’re heading out after dark in a neighbourhood you don’t know well and feeling like you need a buddy to go to a hotel gym. The issue here is that OP’s company chose a really bad hotel not that women shouldn’t feel safe travelling for work.

          2. Chirpy*

            Depends. I wouldn’t walk around Manhattan at night alone, for example.

            Many other places alone, sure, but there’s a calculation to be made.

            1. ferrina*

              The calculation for workplace choosing a hotel will also look different than an individual. If someone is traveling on work, they should have a reasonable expectation of safety. They should be able to get to and from their job, eat and sleep without worrying about personal safety (and if they don’t, for example, if their job requires them to work in dangerous locations, that’s a separate conversation)

              1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

                Exactly. Any person has the right to decide the environment that they, personally, feel safe in. However, in the course of a company selecting a hotel for a number of people, ALL those people should be able to feel safe at said hotel. It’s like closing the office when the weather is really bad– some employees would feel totally safe driving into the office and returning home, but others not so. When it is bad enough multiple people say they feel unsure if they could get home without bodily harm (in either the hotel or driving situation), a company should take action.

              2. Splendid Colors*

                I had a great boss when I had to travel for work once. It was just 100-ish miles away, but the class was a week long so of course I wasn’t going to commute. The dudes from the company where I’d be training suggested Motel A. I used to know a desk clerk at that hotel and from his work stories, I could tell it was NOT safe for a woman traveling alone. Boss (female) immediately let them know we would find another hotel in that price range.

            2. Exurb*

              I felt WAY safer waking alone in Manhattan at night when I lived there than I do now walking in my nice suburb where no one will hear me scream.

              1. Selina Luna*

                I felt way safer walking alone at night in Fort Collins, when I lived there, than I do now, where it’s super rural. I’m not afraid of people, though. We have a literal pack of coyotes who roam the roads at night. They’ll leave dogs alone, but they’ve been known to take out cats and at least two people have been injured by them because they were walking alone at night.

              2. Rosemary*

                1000% yes. I live in Manhattan and feel much safer walking around alone at night than I do in my mom’s suburban neighborhood.

              3. whingedrinking*

                Yup. I’ve told students that even if the people on a downtown street at 3 AM aren’t people you especially want to hang out with, they are at least people, and someone who wants to hurt you would generally prefer to do it where they won’t be seen.

            3. Claudia*

              Having lived in NYC for over a decade, I have made plenty of nighttime walks in Manhattan by myself. How would I ever get home after going out to dinner, or seeing a show? Manhattan is well lit and full of people at all hours, so I never felt unsafe.

              However, when I lived in a certain neighborhood in Brooklyn, I would stay on the subway for one extra stop because the walk home from that station was better lit than from the other direction.

              1. Boof*

                Yes the vibe of the area you are in is important- i got i. Way more near altercations in a group and never alone, idk, particularly because i subconsciously avoided areas that i didn’t do as a group (and maybe also because sone drunk people are weirdly more likely to start crap with people who aren’t small and female appearing? Idk)

              2. Splendid Colors*

                In my current neighborhood, I always ignore the advice on the Transit app to get off the bus at the stop ahead of my street. Some of the worst blocks downtown are between that stop and my apartment. Lots of “attractive nuisances” like a head shop, a convenience store, closed businesses, and the kind of people who hang around those places. The next stop is a couple of blocks past my street, but those blocks are a public plaza that attracts people getting selfies at the public artwork, skateboarders, and commuters. Security discourages people from using drugs or panhandling. Across the street, there’s a posh apartment/hotel complex whose security chases away loiterers. The peace of mind is definitely worth a few more extra minutes.

            4. OldMtnLady*

              As a visitor, I felt totally safe walking around Manhattan alone at night. There were always people around, and lots of lighting. One of the few things I liked about Manhattan was its walkability at all hours.

            5. Moonstone*

              NYC at night is the best! I’ve always felt safe walking around. There are always plenty of people and the streets are well lit.

            6. Princess Sparklepony*

              I live in Manhattan. I actually feel pretty safe because there are so many people on the street at most hours. It’s when there is no one around that I worry. Or when it’s just me and some strange guy. Luckily, that doesn’t happen much. I live in a busy part of the city. People looking out for other people all the time.

              Recently broke my ankle in the subway – I had a lot of helpers step up.

        1. Lacey*

          Being on alert for danger at all times means we’ll be exhausted and panicked when we don’t need to be. That doesn’t keep us safer, it keeps us broken down and scared.

          Knowing actual signs of danger and taking reasonable precautions is smart for everyone.
          Acting like women can’t safely leave their rooms unattended is not.

          1. Splendid Colors*

            Do you mean acting like women can’t safely leave their rooms anywhere, or at the specific hotel they described here? If there are people lurking around a low-traffic hotel who look like they are up to no good, that’s different than if you’re at a busy SF convention at a Marriott or Doubletree. I wish I had someone to “buddy system” with at my apartment building because all the people you wouldn’t want to run into in a dark alley are friends with people in the building.

        2. Asenath*

          But which actions? I have a friend who is nervous walking along a busy sidewalk outside a senior high school, and I, when I lived in that area, waltzed past without a second thought (it was busy, not only because of the students, but because it connected with the nearest supermarket). Yes, we have crime in my city, but it is not common enough to make me walk in fear, or assume danger everywhere. Even when in much larger cities with higher crime rates, I don’t do that, although I will probably be a little more careful because I don’t know the city so well. I did know that some of my relatives whom I visited from time to time lived in a neighbourhood that was notorious on a national level. Most of the people who lived there were perfectly decent people, although usually poor. Some were involved in gangs and gang murders. I still didn’t walk in fear – chances I’d be hit by accident in some gang shooting was pretty remote, even there.

          Anyway – that hotel was filthy and disgusting for reasons having nothing to do with perceived safety. Ideally, LW could have spoken up the first day and said she was moving to another hotel, if she had to pay for it herself, but I know how hard it sometimes is to do that sort of thing on the spur of the moment. She can certainly mention it if there was any evaluation of the activity. I don’t know if it’s worth bringing it up in an exit interview since they might not bother to act on the complaint from someone who is leaving, but it couldn’t hurt to do so.

          1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

            I’m never sure where to draw the line. When I visited Miami for work, my Miami coworkers were horrified that I wanted to walk places; they thought it wasn’t safe. I wouldn’t have wandered around by myself after dark, but a friend and I walked through some of the “bad” neighborhoods, and my analysis was, “Yeah, the people here don’t have much money, and most of them aren’t white, but the properties are tended and it otherwise has the hallmarks of a ‘decent’ neighborhood.”

            I didn’t feel particularly unsafe walking there — but I was also aware that I was a stranger, and not attuned to the complexities of the local situation. At the same time, I was aware that many of my high school classmates would have termed the neighborhood I walked home in every afternoon as a ‘bad’ neighborhood.

            1. Bagpuss*

              YEs, similar. As a student I lived in an areas of the city (Large UK city with high ) which was not seen as very safe and we were on the edge of that area and close to a nationally notorious area with huge problems with drug-related gangs and shootings. And… mostly it was still pretty safe if you weren’t a member of one of those gangs. I didn’t walk in certain areas after dark if I was alone, which mean t some careful planning about which specific bus to get home, based on where the bus stops were, and was careful about when and where I used ATMs (there was one locally which was fine in the daytime, but it was outside a little parade shops and when they were closed, it was a muggers paradise as it wasn’t easily visible from the road and when the shops were shut, not from any where else either. And it was near a large student residence so commonly used buy students getting cash out for a night out, so relatively busy – so I chose not to use it because I didn’t feel it was safe at night, but had no issue walking along that stretch of road at night.

              1. Workswitholdstuff*

                Was it a city also associated with a certain outlaw/sheriff perchance?

                (If so, my hometown…)

            2. Fishsticks*

              When I first moved to my city back in 2010, I got lost almost immediately. I was driving around this rundown kind of neighborhood, and there was an older man sitting in a porch rocker who waved his hands at me and came down to the street. When I rolled my window down, he asked – nice as can be – if I was lost, because he’d seen me drive past him a few times at that point. I said yeah, I was new in town, and I was trying to get to Road Name but couldn’t find it. He smiled and told me where to turn, where to turn next, and then I’d be right where I wanted to be. I thanked him and went on my way.

              When I told coworkers of mine at my job, they were all HORRIFIED. Didn’t I KNOW that was the WORST place in the city?! I wasn’t safe! That man could have done ANYTHING to me! It goes without speaking that my coworkers were all white and the neighborhood in question very much was not. I didn’t know that at the time, but it put a lot of things into context for me about their reaction once I did.

              They were too scared of it to even set foot (or car) there. But my experience was someone going out of their way to help a stranger who seemed lost. And I know damn well I am far more likely to be injured in almost any other situation than “asking for help in a ‘bad’ neighborhood”. Which isn’t bad! Just economically depressed and primarily people of color thanks to segregation and redlining that has affected the makeup of the city into the present day.

            3. Jenny*

              I’ve lived and worked on Miami and even did work in Liberty City. Like yeah be careful where you park at night and don’t leave visible stuff in your car. But I never feared for my life.

            4. Lacey*

              That’s interesting. I know Miami is high crime, but I always think the danger is more of getting your house or car broken into. My family is from Miami and they’ve had a LOT of car related crime, but I’ve never been nervous to walk around.

              1. Splendid Colors*

                I lost track of how many times my friends and I had our cars broken into in San Diego, even in the daytime. And not in areas anyone felt were “unsafe” to walk around in.

          2. Happy meal with extra happy*

            Yeah, I used to live in a major city and would routinely walk by a methadone clinic that was on literally one of the city’s busiest, most downtown streets. Yet, I know people who would constantly be freaked out and talk about the sketchy people or cross the street. Loved there for years and never had an issue.

            1. Bagpuss*

              A friend of mine ended up inadvertently renting a house in a street where there were several houses of ill repute. (this was when they were students. It was cheap!) They said it was the safest place they ever lived. The brothels had bouncers / security guys and were of course keep to avoid the attention of the authorities and thus very anxious to avoid complaints by the neighbours. My friend said if she went out in the evening, one of the security guys would walk her down the street to make sure she wasn’t bothered by any of their customers, and they also dealt promptly and very effectively with any drunks, potential car/bike thieves or drug users who might be in the are and who would be ‘encouraged’ to move on. (She also said that as far as they were able to tell from sometimes chatting to them, the women who worked there were not being coerced or trafficked and felt safe working there)

              1. Happy meal with extra happy*

                My dad lived in an unsafe area while he was in college, and there was a brothel across the street that was beyond blatant and obvious. My dad had no clue why they they weren’t shut down until, one night, a cop car pulled up, two cops got out and went in, and they left about an hour later, straightening up, tucking their shirts back in, etc.

              2. Susannah*

                Yeah, back in the day, I had a friend who lived in Alphabet City in Manhattan – sketchy then, not unaffordable, as it is now. There were numerous drug dealers in the area but he said he felt safer- the dealers made sure no no one got mugged, because they didn’t want the cops coming around. He stayed out of their way, and they made sure no one jumped him.

            2. I have RBF*

              I live in a downtown area in my city. It is a well mixed neighborhood, has some nice restaurants, and plenty of homeless around. I’m older and disabled. I don’t tend to feel unsafe even at night. I probably shouldn’t leave my car unlocked, but otherwise it’s fine.

              Other people comment a lot about the homeless, and some folks on NextDoor are pretty bigoted, but with a Salvation Army in the neighborhood as well as other homeless services, it’s to be expected. For the most part the homeless are harmless, with only a few people with mental issues acting out sometimes. I would rather see them in tiny homes with doors that lock, just so they don’t get bullied and robbed, but I can’t do much about that.

              1. Splendid Colors*

                PSA: My large west coast city has a handful of tiny home projects, and they’ve been really successful. The City wants to expand the program but keeps running into organized public resistance. If you hear about a program like this in your city, join whatever groups are promoting the plan and support it!

                Send emails to your City Council and planning commission or whoever, show up to meetings if you can. (Some cities are still doing public participation via Zoom so you don’t have to spend all day/evening waiting your turn to comment. I just leave the Zoom meeting on my computer in the kitchen like C-SPAN and do chores while I wait.)

                Our problem is that lots of people want tiny homes, shelters, etc…. far away from them. So the City puts them in the low-income districts whose residents are working two jobs to pay rent and don’t turn out to meetings. Then the people in those districts wake up and realize they have all the shelters and the nice neighborhoods don’t have any.

                There are a few community groups organizing people to say they want tiny home communities, safe parking for RVs, etc. and aren’t afraid of unhoused people.

        3. Emmy Noether*

          I disagree. Danger is not everywhere. If I walk in broad daylight through my safe neighbourhood with plenty of people around, the danger to me is about as high as getting hit by lightening. I’m not giving it any space in my head.

      2. Lora*

        Often safer outside the US. I think it depends on both where exactly you are and your definition of “safe”. But I’ve definitely had friends and family express concerns about my solo travels when both I and the person fretting have roamed many places considered fairly dangerous after dark in the US without worrying.

        That said, I mean…yeah, there are places in the world where it’s objectively unsafe for women, LGBTQ+ folks and BIPOC folks to travel. One of my cousins works in the oil industry, and he’s been lots of places that I simply won’t/can’t go without a radical government overthrow. I would love for KSA to rethink their notions about LGBTQ+ folks, but it is not happening any time soon.

      3. Veryanon*

        As a woman who often travels alone, I take reasonable precautions such as: making sure a loved one has my itinerary and knows approximately where I’ll be most of the time; staying alert to my surroundings; trusting my instincts and getting out of situations where I feel unsafe; and keeping my phone handy. I don’t live in fear, but I do recognize that while most places are safe, there is always a risk for a woman by herself.

    4. AD*

      “Crime rates are rising” is both 1. not accurate to say as a blanket statement (where exactly? what crimes in particular?), and 2. not relevant to the OP’s questions.

          1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

            >>… for very specific classes of “women”.

            “Ladies,” in other words. Which had a very specific meaning in Regency England.

            Why, yes, I do read Jane Austen, why do you ask? ;-p

      1. metadata minion*

        As someone who despite their best efforts always gets read as female, doesn’t drive, and lives at a latitude where it gets dark at 4pm in December, I at this point have zero patience for people getting all scandalized when I go outside by myself after dark. Statistically I’m *way* more likely to be assaulted by someone I know, or at least someone at a party or something like that, than by a random stranger outside the Walgreens. There was actually one incident like that a few years ago and it made the news for weeks because that is extraordinarily rare.

        The one real safety precaution I take other than being generally aware of my surroundings is making sure I’m not dressed all in darks when I go out at night, so that if someone hits me with their car they at least can’t pretend they couldn’t see me.

        1. louvella*

          There actually have been a lot of random assaults and stabbings in my neighborhood as of late (including like…directly outside of my apartment window) but I still walk around alone at night because what else would I do? I also don’t drive. Life is full of risks.

          1. Splendid Colors*

            One of my neighbors was killed by a stray bullet outside our building when a gunfight broke out over a bad drug deal. She wasn’t involved in the deal, just happened to be outside smoking or getting back from the store or whatever.

    5. Sharkie*

      Then what do you suggest if a woman is traveling alone for business? Not go at all? Having to set up a buddy system just to go into a hallway is not normal at all.

      1. louvella*

        I live a block away from the convention center in a somewhat major city so the area that a lot of people are doing their business trips is my home. Curious what I’m supposed to do!

      1. Dust Bunny*


        This was never a thing. Mostly, we have social media now so we hear about all of it, but as an armchair true-crime ghoul I can assure you that this was never the thing that some people want to think it was.

    6. turquoisecow*

      Um, no. As a woman who has traveled alone many times, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that the company not make its employees of any gender take precautions like this. Women should not be afraid to stay in hotels or go places in public alone. If violent assaults and robberies were common at the hotels you worked in, I question the security at your hotels as well as where they were located. A downtown hotel in a busy metro area should not be having multiple instances like that.

    7. whoa no*

      Suggesting that women should need a safety buddy for routine parts of everyday life is really bad for women, dude. And it’s not true.

      1. laser99*

        No. It is beneficial for women to have a safety buddy system for routine parts of everyday life. (Source: I am a woman. In my youth, the only way I could get creeps to back off was by the companionship of another person. No, it did not have a 100% success rate, but it tipped the odds in my favor. A person bent on mayhem does not want witnesses.)

        1. anna*

          Well that’s one way to keep women out of public life.

          Most of us don’t need or want that level of assistance to go about our daily lives and you are doing serious harm by suggesting we need it.

          1. laser99*

            I stand by my statement. Of course, I was not suggesting that women should be kept out of the public sphere. What I am stating is that pretending potential harm is not prevalent, is doing everyone, of all genders/orientations, a grave disservice. I have no quarrel with anyone, we share the same goal.

            1. Critical Rolls*

              Probably most of the commenters understand where you’re coming from on this — the majority of the commentariat here is women. It’s well-intentioned to say that harm befalls women regularly, and therefore precautions are warranted. But A) this is something nearly every woman and girl knows and does not need to be told; B) there’s a line between reasonable precautions and going overboard, and constant buddying is on the wrong side; C) placing onerous conditions on women existing in public *does* exclude us from public life; and D) it plays into all the harmful narratives about how women can and should control whether they are targeted. Segregating women does not protect us, but it does harm us.

            2. turquoisecow*

              But if women can’t travel alone and men can, then women ARE being kept out of the public sphere, regardless of your intention. I can’t go to an important convention unless I have a chaperone? What if I don’t have one? If I haven’t got a spouse or a friend willing to accompany me, if my company can only afford to send one employee? Women end up being excluded.

              And for stupid reasons. We can and do travel and go to conventions and on business trips alone. Denying us that ability does exclude us from public life, for merely gender reasons. Men aren’t concerned about being attacked? Being a man automatically confers some level of safety?

              This is all BS.

              1. Fieldpoppy*

                It IS BS. I’m a 58 year old female-presenting human, and I have traveled alone to more than 25 countries in the past 15 years, including objectively “dangerous” places. I have ridden my bike alone across multiple countries. The vast vast VAST majority of the world is full of people who are helpful or at worst indifferent. The “women need to buddy up at all times” narrative is just not true and keeps women smaller.

              2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

                Exactly. It’s not that most people are saying “women shouldn’t be part of regular life.” It’s that putting the onus on women to take a million precautions has this effect.

                1. Splendid Colors*

                  As someone who doesn’t have the kind of social circle where friends are *available* to buddy up for anything that doesn’t require carpooling, I would be confined to my apartment any time I wasn’t going to the few volunteer meetings that happen in person these days. Nobody’s going to have time to drive “over the hill” to chaperone me to my art studio and hang out for hours until I finish work. Nobody’s going to come pick up a grown-a$$ woman to go grocery shopping or get a book at the library.

            3. Falling Diphthong*

              I actually think potential harm is not that prevalent, and that the perception of it has to do with how much time people spend being Very Online vs Out Interacting With MeatSpace People.

              Face masks are a current example. If you just live online then it seems people are just waiting to leap out and harangue you about wearing OR not wearing a mask. If you instead get your information from your real world interactions, you likely think this happens from never to vanishingly rarely when you meet a crazy person who has made this their thing.

              When I visit my relatives in the deep south there are fewer facemasks than up north, but they are everywhere and no one gets themselves into a tizzy at seeing one.

              1. Splendid Colors*

                We don’t have enough masks around here outside of medical offices, but oddly enough most of the “incidents” I’ve had of glassbowl behavior about my wearing one have been from employees of my apartment management company or other tenants. Not at stores.

        2. constant_craving*

          There’s a difference between you choosing it as a good system for you and the suggestion that all women should need to do this. The latter is a big problem.

        3. Asenath*

          I’m a woman and I got rid of a creep or two by screaming obscenities at them, and in one case, grabbing the hand that was trying to grope me and twisting it as hard as I could. Now, I might have encountered the kind of lunatic who would have tried to overpower me, drag me off into the woods, and you all know what comes next. But they were the much more common minor pests who can be seen off more easily.

        4. louvella*

          I don’t deny that it may be safer to be with another person but I don’t see how it’s realistic advice for most people. I don’t have someone on call who can escort me to work and back or to the grocery store.

          1. Jenny*

            If you add up all the time I spent on various trains I think I have 10 years of public commuting experience. The one time I got followed I was actually with a group of female friends.

        5. Insert Clever Name Here*

          I am also a woman.

          If that is what is necessary for you personally to feel safe, that is valid and you should continue it. But it is not valid to make a blanket statement that this is the way for women to feel safe. And for what it’s worth, people bent on mayhem don’t give a shit if there are witnesses.

        6. Rosemary*

          ” It is beneficial for women to have a safety buddy system for routine parts of everyday life.” LOLOL so as a single woman living in a major city should I just…not go out??

          1. UKDancer*

            Yes. I need to exist. So I go out alone, do things on my own. Sometimes I get a taxi rather than a bus if it’s late or in an unfamiliar city but I get on living my life. If I waited for an escort i would never have any fun.

        7. BubbleTea*

          Attacks by strangers are much more common against men than women. Women are at more risk, statistically, from people they know.

    8. Echo*

      I live in one of the cities you’re probably talking about, and this is silly. Yeah, there has been a trend lately – a trend of breathless news media reporting on crime in cities like it’s the Wild West all over again. That reporting is racist, classist, and wrong.

      1. Artemesia*

        I live in a big northern city that gets a bad rep for crime and yet on twitter, facebook, tripadvisor etc it is almost people posting from cities with much worse crime rates who are hysterical about how dangereous my city is. (one in which I walk in the central areas daily, take public transport and in a few moments will be hopping the subway to get to a book club meeting.).

        Crime rates are lower today and violent crime fell dramatically starting about 15 years after Roe V Wade and also the removal of lead from gasoline. I expect to see a big upsurge in violent crime about 15 years after Dobbs.

        And no one should be assigned a work hotel that makes them feel this unsafe. Too bad the OP and cohort didn’t together demand a move and good on her for looking for a better job.

        FWIW the only hotel where i was terrified was in NYC and upscale near a lovely private park. The incompetent night auditor facilitated a drunk trying to break into my room claiming it was his and why wasn’t I letting him in at 2 am. Instead of protecting me the auditor claimed I was not legally in the room (long reserved and checked into) and tried to enter the room with drunk and his passkey. Only my safety catch and later a chair also under the door knob kept him out. I was later comped the room but of course the level of adrenaline meant no sleep was had. My only regret is I did not call the police — would have if they had not finally gone away and left me alone.

        1. Cold and Tired*

          I suspect I live in the same city. Like sure, there’s crime, but as long as you take reasonable precautions there’s rarely a problem. I’ve had a lot more problems in other cities like NYC, Paris, and Rome with just general harassment and not always feeling safe when I’m on my own.

          And I used to be a frequent business traveler through my 20s and still travel sometimes for work and frequently on my own for personal travel. I’ve very rarely felt unsafe at hotels, besides one or two that I got my company to blacklist and had them move me asap to somewhere new. I watch my surroundings and latch my door shut, but I do that at home too. Being a younger female presenting person is the risk factor, not being in a hotel.

      2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Seems like at least part of this is an attempt to manufacture consent for increasing police budgets. Scare people about their safety, get them demanding change, and present more police as the solution. Doesn’t matter that there’s no good evidence that more police do anything to keep a community safe and substantial evidence that police do serious harm to marginalized members of the community.

        1. Splendid Colors*

          That is definitely the case in my city!

          We spent a *year* on a “ReImagining Public Safety” committee after the George Floyd protests, and the new mayor threw out their findings. Appointed a new committee that meets secretly and includes lots of police, their union, etc. Luckily, there were a few people from groups representing marginalized communities (the LGBTQ+ center, for example) who pushed back and made sure they included some of the biggest points from the RIPS report. But the police insisted that we have to hire more police too.

      3. Ginger Baker*

        Repeating for truth: That reporting is racist, classist, and wrong.

        Crime statistics (not media!) clearly show that crime is lower now than historically (for example, living in NYC, the 80s and 90s had more than twice as many major crimes than now). 24/7 media amplifies what are still relatively-speaking rare occurrences and they loom large in public perception, but they are actually still happening much less frequently than when I was a kid. Racist, classist, and WRONG.

      4. Pierrot*

        100%. I also hate how the rhetoric that homeless people are inherently dangerous to “the public” masks the fact that people who live on the street are substantially more likely to be *victims* of violent crime (especially random violent crime) than someone who is housed. When I lived in a large east coast city, I worked and volunteered at non-profits that served clients who were homeless. The stories I’ve heard are deeply upsetting- some involving being attacked by another homeless person late at night, others involving being ambushed by individuals who were not homeless.

        To be clear, this comment is not directed at the LW at all, it’s just in response to the overall topic of safety. I would also feel unsafe staying in a hotel where random people who were not staying in the hotel were wandering the halls (rather than walking with purpose to their room).

        1. I have RBF*

          … people who live on the street are substantially more likely to be *victims* of violent crime…

          This. Part of the problem with “shelters” and “shelter beds” is that they tend to set people up to be robbed and abused by the staff – eg you can’t brings your things, you can’t bring your pets, you have to try to sleep in a big room with hundreds of other people, etc. Then the powers that be complain that “the homeless” don’t want “shelter” and are incorrigible. I wouldn’t want to have to sleep in a shelter – they are dangerous and demeaning – there is no privacy or security. It’s worse than the street from what I’ve been told.

          Homeless people need real homes, with privacy and security – doors that lock. That’s why people prefer to live in cars and RVs rather than shelters, and even those sleeping on the street are harmed by shelters.

          Sorry, rant over. [One of my (late) roommates was formerly homeless before they moved in with me and was an advocate for the homeless.]

          1. Splendid Colors*

            I have heard exactly the same things from unhoused advocates in my area. And I’m in the same broadcast area as SF, so I hear how they’re punishing unhoused people who don’t want to be mugged in a shelter for not going to a shelter. I’ve met women who were assaulted by shelter staff, so of course they don’t want to stay in one. And there’s *always* somebody who is awake all night yelling at the voices in their head, which makes it hard for anyone else to sleep. If you do go to sleep, people steal your stuff. And some of the shelters have bedbugs!

      5. Lilas*

        Notably the “crimes” that get breathlessly reported on tend to be crimes of poverty, and not things like wage theft, graft, or domestic abuse. Sure, let’s have the thousandth article about …ooo… shoplifting!

    9. Managing to get by*

      Walking through a sketchy area of town late night – probably should have a buddy or two.
      Walking down the halls of the hotel your company booked for you – no, it should never require a buddy.

      This hotel was an extenuating circumstance.

    10. Lavender*

      I mean, it’s fine to take whatever safety precautions you want in your own life. If that means always traveling with a buddy, you are absolutely allowed to make that choice for yourself.

      But *as an employer*, you really don’t want to be making the assumption that your female or otherwise marginalized employees will never feel safe traveling alone, or that it’s up to you to decide whether or not they should. If they come to you and say they feel unsafe, definitely listen to them and provide accommodations if you can–but you need to take them at their word when they tell you what’s helpful and what isn’t. (And if you have a lot of employees telling you they feel unsafe when traveling, maybe take some time to consider why that is.)

      1. Lavender*

        To clarify my last sentence: if a lot of women and otherwise marginalized folks tell their supervisor that they feel unsafe doing business travel, the problem isn’t that they’re female/marginalized and will therefore never be able to travel safely. Their supervisor should consider whether there are other staff members on the trip who could be making them feel unsafe, or if they’re routinely getting sent to areas known to be particularly hostile toward certain demographics, or if the company is routinely booking hotels in sketchy areas…and so on. And if you’re not sure what the problem is, ask them rather than assuming.

    11. A Bug*

      Mark, I’m a woman and I travel alone for business at times. Are you suggesting that I not travel for business alone? So those opportunities should go to the men only? I almost never feel unsafe traveling alone, taking common safety protocols with do not include the buddy system.

    12. Yorick*

      It’s not a bad idea to do even if you feel safe in a nicer hotel. But it’s highly unacceptable to be booked somewhere for business travel where the conditions seem so unsafe you feel this is necessary.

      1. Seashell*

        Crime rates presumably include domestic violence and crimes committed against people the perpetrator knows, which are different than getting mugged/assaulted/raped by a stranger. I’m not really worried about the former when I’m on a business trip.

        1. Splendid Colors*

          Don’t rule it out. The women at an engineering company I used to temp at went on business trips with a male engineer who later left rape threats on their voicemail.

    13. Insert Clever Name Here*

      Abso-fucking-lutely not. When I travel for my employer, I should have a reasonable expectation of safety. If my employer cannot provide that for ALL employees regardless of gender then the employer needs to figure out how to resolve it that does not equal shunting that responsibility to their female/female presenting employees. This is disgusting.

    14. Critical Rolls*

      Here’s what you’ve said: “Women should never feel safe in public and should act accordingly.” There’s so much wrong with that I don’t know where to start.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        “And it’s not on employers to do anything about it, like picking a different hotel.”


    15. Clobberin' Time*

      “I think this SHOULD be a standard procedure on a business trip” – I know you’re well-intentioned, but what you are saying is that women shouldn’t travel alone for business, and if they do, they should have to spend the extra time and effort to ‘buddy up’ anytime they leave their hotel room.

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        To give them the benefit of the doubt: perhaps they meant that these procedures should be standard for everyone, regardless of gender, even though only their female colleagues currently practice it?

        I disagree with the idea for a number of reasons, but if they meant it to apply to all genders it’s not inherently sexist.

    16. Sales SVP*

      No, totally disagree. Booking a hotel in a decent area, keeping an eye out on your surroundings, locking all the locks on hotel doors, yes. But expecting women to travel with a buddy (which the OP mentioned, not you, to be fair) quickly becomes…maybe we shouldn’t Sally for an outside sales job – they’ll have to travel alone! I know Mary wants to go to that conference, but why don’t wait a year and she can travel with the colleagues who can’t make it this year?

      I’ve sat in too many rooms at this point in my career where an overemphasis on danger becomes a reason to constrain women and not men, implicitly, not beachside anyone is thinking clearly about it that.

      Of course bad things happen, of course companies should have safety protocols (and book reasonable hotels!), and of course we should be cautious.

      (The violent crime rate is roughly half of what it was in 1990, when I first entered the workforce. Sure, some neighborhoods and some cities are more dangerous than they were 30 years ago, but most are much safer, even including the slick uptick in violent crime in 2020 & 2021.)

      1. Kevin Sours*

        The recent uptick in crime is a bounce off of historic lows. Which certain people in the media have been dishonestly framing for propaganda purposes.

        1. Lavender*

          It also depends on how those statistics are counted. Are they counting the number of reported crimes, arrests made, convictions, or some other factor? And do the statistics refer to all crimes or just violent crimes?

          It’s actually pretty hard to get an accurate read on how much crime is happening in a given place at a given time. I was listening to a podcast recently that talked about how areas with “high crime” often get allocated larger police budgets, but then the crime rates appear to go up even more because more police=more arrests. So they raise the police budget again, and it becomes a vicious cycle.

      2. Lavender*

        Yes, absolutely. See also: “If we send Jane to the conference we’ll also have to send a chaperone. Let’s just send John instead, so we’ll only have to pay for one ticket.”

        And that can quickly turn into: “Sorry Jane, we decided John should get to run this project because he picked up some really interesting ideas at the conference. You can work on the next one–but let’s have Bill help you, since you don’t have much experience working by yourself.”

        1. Sales SVP*

          Exactly. And also, can you send of few of those slides you pulled together last month and send them to John? He’s got a presentation slot at the conference, and those will make our company look great!

          I lived this. Guess who got credit for the ideas when the CEO came to town? “John” for his amazing magic teapot conference presentation!

          1. Lavender*

            Yeah, I’ve been in similar situations as well. One time in a performance review, I told my boss about how a male coworker and I had collaborated on a project. (My coworker had come up with the initial idea for the project, but I ended up doing the bulk of the actual work while my coworker focused on other projects.) My boss’s takeaway from that was that my coworker must have actually done most of the work himself, since you know, it was his idea. I got marked down on my performance review for it. I was LIVID.

    17. Robin Ellacott*

      I once stayed in a pretty sketchy hotel on a trip with a hobby group, and some guy (I never found out whether it was a member of the group) told the front desk he was my husband and wanted a key to my room. The front desk gave him a firm no and told me about it the next morning. I do think of it often when at a hotel, but remind myself that they did keep me safe.

      That said, whatever people need to do to feel safe! We all start at different places, for some very good reasons, on that front.

      1. Bookmark*

        That is such a creepy experience! Good on the front desk staff! I will say, I have had similar good experiences as a solo female traveler with staff at sketchy hotels being, if anything, more conscious of/proactive about safety concerns than in some of the nicer hotels I’ve stayed in (for example, noting that they will not put me on the ground floor, being very careful not to say my room number aloud, etc).

      2. Fishsticks*

        And THIS is why they ask how many people are in your room with you! They could probably easily check and note that there was only you on the reservation, so even if it WAS your husband, there’s probably a reason you don’t have him on the reservation. But it’s also a big red flag that he’s up to something.

    18. Pugetkayak*

      I don’t want to have to go everywhere with a buddy just because I’m female, so no, I would not be cool with this. Obviously in unsafe areas or situations it’s one thing. I’m a single female so I have to go everywhere alone and would not appreciate being told I have to use a buddy system.

    19. Love to WFH*

      I’m a woman and I’ve traveled a lot on business, often alone, in cities and suburbs, in the States and Europe. I’ve never felt the need to travel in a pack in a decent hotel, in an ordinary neighborhood.

      I’m aware that crime happens in hotels. It also happens in gated neighborhoods. Statistics show that you’ll be fine almost all the time. When it comes to crime, you’re more likely to be attacked by someone you know that by a stranger.

    20. Ace in the Hole*

      That seems excessive. I often travel alone for personal trips, and when I (infrequently) travel for work I expect to do so alone as well. I would feel differently if we were talking about trips to remote areas – it’s extremely dangerous to be alone in the wilderness – or to regions known to be particularly dangerous for travelers. But for the most part travel is not a risky thing.

      I’m a grown woman. I do not need or want a buddy system for walking around, for example, downtown Sacramento, CA. Expecting one would limit career opportunities as well. Most cases where we have someone travel, we can only afford to send a single person and the trip has potential for important professional development or networking.

    21. elle *sparkle emoji**

      OP’s actions in this situation were necessary for her and her coworker’s comfort in this situation but to recommend this level of caution at all times is unnecessary and potentially damaging to one’s mental health. I understand where the fear comes from but its not healthy to be this distrustful of those around you.

    22. theletter*

      I think it’s a good idea in general to make sure you have everyone’s contact information and plans so that no one gets left behind, but in general, we shouldn’t feel like we have to do this for our safety.

    23. OhGee*

      Sorry, this is absolutely wild to me. I stay in a moderately priced, centrally located hotel in a medium-size city with a so-so reputation for street crime and have never felt unsafe as a 40-something woman coming and going alone, even late at night. It’s smart to have a safety plan, but the idea your comments make it seem like there are bad people lurking around every corner, and that simply isn’t true in most cities in the US.

    24. A person*

      Eh. That’s not true. I’m a single female and I travel alone all the time for business and pleasure. It is unrealistic and infantilizing to expect that people on business trips use the buddy system. I’m also assuming there’s an unspoken “women should do this” in this statement which again, not the best. I live alone, I don’t check in with people every time I leave my house and I certainly don’t take a buddy with me every time I leave my house either. Sure there are measures one can take when traveling alone but to insist that these should be standard practices for business trips is silly (and I’ve stayed in some sketch hotels alone in business trips).

    25. Susannah*

      Hmm, maybe women should not be allowed to travel anywhere then – at least nit without their burkas.

      Your equation is false and dismissive of their genuine concerns. Of course you can be attacked in any hotel, or on any street. That does not absolve the company of booking them in a seedy hotel which is *inherently* unsafe.

      My job has meant my staying at hotel in war zones. Yep, I get the need to have buddy systems in certain circumstances. That should absolutely not apply when you are talking about a corporate meeting in a city not under air assault.

      I agree LW should go to HR first. But when it’s time to announce the departure from the company, I’d make damn sure I’d tell HR and my manager – not just the exit interviewer – that the unsafe trip (meant to shire up morale!) was one of the reasons I was leaving.

    26. Linley*

      Nope, the last time I had a buddy I was in Kindergarten. I travel solo all over the world and I’m not giving up the limited freedom I retain while on a business trip and be stuck with a coworker when I want to be alone because the situation is unsafe (or, probably not in the OPs situation but in many cases, because other people perceive it as unsafe).

  2. NotRealAnonforThis*

    Concur with talking to whoever in the travel department you need to get this on the “nope, not ever again” list. I had a hotel where all the red flags immediately flew, I checked out within fifteen minutes of checking in, learned over the course of the stay that there were definite issues with the hotel I’d checked out of. Relaying all of this to the corporate travel coordinator and HR were met with “You’re correct, that is immediately being removed from the listings because what you’ve stated is completely not acceptable and we will never require our employees to stay under those circumstances.”

    1. Smithy*

      Absolutely – hotels that are “shabby” vs “absolutely no” are often just going to be impossible for any travel team to keep tabs on without that human verification.

      I recently had a last minute travel to one of our offices in a city that’s also a tourist town and also unfortunately known for underaged sex trafficking. By the time I was booking, the hotels our office recommended were all booked and I was on my own to look for hotels within our budget range and near the office. The one I picked had a hotel brand name I was familiar with, within our price range, close to the office – and unfortunately – a hotel that clearly was currently having issues with being used for sex work. While I never felt unsafe, I was also there for only two nights, never had any late nights and just let the travel office know.

      1. NotRealAnonforThis*

        “Broken locks on the room private doorwall on a ground level room”, “visible evidence of bedbugs”, and “large hole in closet wall with questionable origin visible low voltage type wire” definitely put that particular one on the “nope” list.

        Overall filth didn’t help.

        I’ve stayed in just “shabby”. You’re correct, there is a definite line.

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      Yes, talk to the travel department immediately for the good of everyone. They should want this information.

      It’s also a good idea to let the travel department know if a hotel or rental car company was particularly good and why. It helps them keep their preferred lists up to date.

  3. OyHiOh*

    In a former life, I worked in hotel housekeeping. It sounds like the hotel is under maintained and wildly understaffed and that they’re going for a unfortunately strict interpretation of “limited service” hotel rather than restricting occupancy to what their staff can actually accomplish – no extra sheets or towels, no housekeeping for guests staying multiple nights, etc. Owners and GM’s won’t stop unless/until they experience a real hit to the pocket book. So everything Alison says is on point and you should definitely document the issues with whomever books travel.

    1. Mill Miker*

      I wonder if maybe they were restricting occupancy, and so were the only hotel with enough rooms available with whatever notice the company gave.

      Not that that excuses or justifies anything, just wondering.

      1. redflagday701*

        Occam’s razor suggests that the same managers who decided to build morale by making the team travel while holding down the usual heavy workload didn’t consider anything beyond saving a few bucks.

    2. Bookmark*

      I always feel SO bad for the front line workers in hotels like that. I had a work trip that unfortunately coincided with the state fair, so ended up in the only place in town with availability at a government rate. It was clear the staff was holding everything together with a shoestring budget, which also meant a lot of staff that were utterly and somewhat understandably apathetic about their jobs. The stay was a nightmare (ex: I chose to sleep with my ground floor window open rather than breathe the moldy air being recirculated by a broken air conditioner that only had 2 settings: off, or 54 degrees) but for sure that’s an issue to raise on reviews/warning others off staying at the property/making a complaint to corporate, etc, not taking it out on the people working that particular night, which a lot of my fellow travelers were doing.

    3. doreen*

      All of the other issues are red flags – but as far as housekeeping , it’s been about a year since I’ve stayed at a hotel with daily housekeeping. The more expensive hotels changed more recently, (some never returned to daily after 2020) but the standard now seems to be housekeeping every three or five days or between guests only.

      1. NNN222*

        I agree that most hotels will not send housekeeping in if you’re only there for three days but most will still meet requests like giving you extra towels if requested.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        I love the little signs where they explain that this the hotel’s new environmentally-friendly policy, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that the hotel also saves money that way.

        I do prefer places that just have you call the front desk when you want housekeeping in. I used to hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door from check-in to check-out to avoid having people knocking on my door.

  4. Mbarr*

    Oh man, this reminds me of when I went to Montreal on a business trip. I had never been before, so the manager I was working with suggested a hotel near the workplace.

    At midnight, someone knocked on my door. For safety reasons, I didn’t answer. Then I heard the person walk away. 5 minutes later, the phone in my room rings. It’s the front desk. “Hello ma’am, did you hire an escort for this evening?” No. No I did not.

    The next day I asked the manager if he had hired a welcome gift for me. He laughed so hard.

    It wasn’t that the hotel itself was sketchy – it’s that it was located centrally near the the red light district AND the historical district and was around the corner from the office.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Somewhat (?) related… I had a boss who had very specific hotel preferences, and once he found a hotel that he liked (specific properties as well as corporate parents), he never budged. I went on back-to-back trips to a large Canadian city (not Montreal!), first with the whole company then just with him. First trip, lovely boutique hotel. Second trip, boss booked us into his preferred hotel. Great location. But I walked in and IMMEDIATELY was like, “Uh… I have a feeling this place does a pretty good escort business.” Just a feeling. My boss thought it was the best hotel ever because it was the brand he liked and he had stayed there for years and years. My feeling was later validated by a friend who lived in that city– when I told him where I stayed, he laughed and asked how many non-paying guests I saw in the lobby.

  5. Sassenach*

    Sounds like the objective was achieved! That being said…for anyone else who finds themselves in a similar situation the time to act is at that moment. Please do escalate to HR prior to leaving. And give us an update!

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      I worked in a terrible job where we bonded over its terribleness. I still meet some of them for lunch periodically, and that was going on twenty years ago.

  6. Casper Lives*

    Wow. That’s disgusting. In an ideal world, the company’s greed would have cost them more. You’d all have demanded a better hotel and the company would be on the hook for both. Wasting money by being cheap at the expense of employee health and safety.

    You’re smart to get out ASAP. This is more evidence the company won’t treat you well.

  7. Lacey*

    I felt panicked justreading that.

    Absolutely get that hotel on your company’s black-list and hopefully that opens a larger conversation about what the heck your manager thought he was doing put you all there.

  8. AlwhoisThatAl*

    I was booked in a “hotel” in London, the company said it was a bargain. Got there and it was basically it was a very old hotel. My room was on the landing between two flights of stairs – bizarre I thought. Opened the door and went it, it was tiny and had tiles all over the walls and floor – it was actually a toilet they had converted. They put a shower in and partially walled off part of the room to create a wet room, then put carpet tiles over the rest of the tiles and then wedged in a single bed. I had about a foor between the bed and the wall to manouver and 2 foot to the shower and toilet. The two windows were frosted glass as well which kind of gave it away as well. I complained and got a room even worse….

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes if you are visiting London in a budget I recommended the Premier Inns. They’re clean, comfortable and safe with a good bed. If pick that over hotels with “character” every time.

    1. Asenath*

      I’ve run into a few sleazy places in my time. One, I think, was originally a closet. Another had what I eventually figured out was an attempt at a wet room – a little cubbyhole with toilet and shower so that if you did shower, the towels, toilet paper and part of the floor got wet. The bedroom over a bar in a small town with few other options (and those all taken) was a bit noisy, but luxurious by comparison to some places I’ve stayed. Oh, yes, there was another ancient and sleazy place in a small Canadian city I won’t name that actually burned to the ground shortly after my stay.

      1. Mill Miker*

        I mean, other than “no room to maneuver”, this room sounds bad more on principle. “They stuck me in a converted toilet!”

        I offer, as comparison, the room I stayed in recently: Large room with modern finishings and two queen-sized beds, but the only thing damper than the carpet was the air itself. There was an air conditioner uselessly (but loudly) circulating the warm, muggy air, that reeked of damp carpet, ac coolant, and something else awful I couldn’t place. Every surface looked like it had been cleaned recently, but like the rag they used hadn’t.

      2. AlwhoisThatAl*

        The room that was worse….It was a large room, I think it might have originally been the Guest’s Lounge back when it was a proper hotel. Instead it had been packed with double bed divas, the ones without headboards. There was about 6 inches or less between each bed. The beds filled the room like a sea of beds. So to close the curtains, you had to climb onto and walk across 3 or 4 beds. There was a sink but it had a bed wedged next to it, so you splashed water on the bed when you washed. There was no on-suite or toilet, you had to use the toilet in the public bar. I took the bed by the door but didn’t sleep well at all…..

    2. Artemesia*

      That is hilarious. It is in face common in London to have a toilet on a landing. At least you had an ‘ensuite’ even if your bed was IN the bathroom. LOL.

      1. linger*

        Not uncommon in mid-C19th builds, as there was simply no established place to put an indoor toilet. I think Bill Bryson’s “At Home” mentions the original plan for his house (constructed 1851) had the toilet on the landing.

      2. londonedit*

        A lot of Victorian houses, terraces especially, still have downstairs bathrooms – usually a little extension off the back of the kitchen. Same reason – they would have had outdoor loos originally and the only place to reasonably put an indoor bathroom would have been downstairs where the plumbing was already in place, because the layout of the upstairs rooms just won’t permit it without spending a lot of money reconfiguring things. People much prefer an upstairs loo, but often it’s not possible without losing a bedroom (and the houses are usually only 2/3 bedrooms anyway).

    3. Le Sigh*

      And here I thought the hotel my friend booked for $60/night in NYC was bad. The windows were cracked, there was no AC in July, the bed was sketchy and stained, and the bathroom was a single one shared by the entire floor. I had to buy my own towel and a box fan, but I didn’t feel unsafe! Just a bit gross.

      Ah to be 22 again.

      1. allathian*

        When I was an exchange student in France, some of my friends came on a visit over the Easter holidays. We spent a few days in Paris, and slept in a cheap hotel that rented most of its rooms by the hour… We took care to wear minimal makeup and (business) casual clothes and avoided very revealing ones, and in spite of that all of us got propositioned at least once. Thankfully none of the men were at all threatening, but it was a really weird experience. At least the sheets were clean.

        On one trip to the UK I stayed with a few friends in a cheap B&B. It would’ve been nice otherwise, but the beds were far too springy so that I had a sore back every morning, and there were at least two mouseholes in the skirting/baseboard in the dining room. I thought that only happened in Tom & Jerry cartoons! I even saw a mouse running across the floor once. I mentioned it to the receptionist when we were checking out and got a 10% discount! Apparently this was standard at that B&B… I suspect that hygiene standards are a bit stricter now than they were in the mid-1990s.

  9. Mehitabel*

    Raising a stink with the manager(s), as a group, and demanding to be moved to decent accommodations, would have made for a *great* team-building exercise. Just sayin’.

    Also, this business of having to spend your evenings and weekend(s) doing your regular job on top of this whole team-building thing? In what alternate universe would anyone think that was a good or acceptable idea? Yikes on bikes.

    1. LG*

      When I imagine what I’d have done in this situation, my first thought was round up coworkers for an emergency meeting with managers to demand better accommodations.

    2. I Wish My Job Was Tables*

      Assigning mandatory fun without moving deadlines seems common for some companies, although I’ve seen it mainly with companies involved in entertainment media.

      I once worked somewhere that tried to boost company morale by scheduling an outing to a theme park known for roller coasters, but scheduled it the day before a major deadline for multiple departments and didn’t announce the trip until two days before the deadline. Instead of moving deadlines or giving exceptions, the higher ups made the trip mandatory, disallowed people from bringing their own vehicles, and rented buses so people wouldn’t be able to leave until the higher ups said so. Initially they said it was mandatory for everyone to ride each roller coaster regardless of physical status, but HR convinced them to nix this. A couple departments ended up sneaking cars in and calling taxis to get people out and back to the office to finish deadlines. There was an office wide lecture about that the day after the trip.

        1. I Wish My Job Was Tables*

          They’re big on having a happy office, but only ask a single department for their opinion on what counts as fun and expect everyone else to conform. Most of the company is structured around making things “fun” for that specific department.

          I still have a friend who works there, in the “golden child” department. It’s actually a great place to work if you’re in that department – great pay, ample benefits, lots of paid time off – but every other department is treated terribly in comparison.

        2. DataSci*

          Roller coasters have a long list of reasons why you shouldn’t ride, even without considering people who get motion sickness or fear of heights or just plain hate them! Did they plan on following it with a mandatory no-exceptions wine tasting?

        1. I Wish My Job Was Tables*

          I’ve never seen The Office, so I don’t know! It’s a company started by a someone who had worked in the entertainment industry and thus they knew how to handle/manage their field. I don’t think they were malicious, just overly focused on creating a good experience for a single department under the assumption that everyone there was an energetic extrovert.

          1. laser99*

            Fair enough, but what on earth did they say in the lecture? “How dare you ingrates sneak away to complete your work!” ???

            1. I Wish My Job Was Tables*

              Lots of talk about how this trip was a gift to the company to encourage company togetherness, but by leaving early or not participating in riding rides, you were ruining that. The gist was that you should appreciate the company’s gifts and work quietly off the clock to accommodate it.

  10. just another queer reader*

    1) That hotel sounds gross.

    2) I hesitate when people describe a neighborhood as “sketchy” or “dodgy”. Oftentimes it’s code for “people of color are here.”
    I’m not trying to invalidate OP’s experience – and I am myself a young woman who exists in this world and sometimes feels uncomfortable or unsafe – but maybe this is just a gentle reminder to my fellow white people to be thoughtful about how we think about and talk about our feelings of safety.

    1. Casper Lives*

      You don’t even know if OP is white. Can we trust that she and all her coworkers felt the hotel was in a dodgy neighborhood without implying she’s prejudiced?

    2. bamcheeks*

      Yes, I also flinch a little at “dodgy neighbourhood”. If you mean a business/commercial/non-residential district where the streets are completely empty after a certain time, fair enough! But it’s so often used to mean that the people who live there are somehow dangerous.

      Regardless, the hotel sounds horrible.

    3. Me ... Just Me*

      Actually, I’ve not encountered this. If things are run down and dirty, there’s no security, and the neighborhood is one that is run down … I don’t think most people are saying anything about the color of people’s skin … just that things are run down and things seem sketchy.

    4. Sharkie*

      I feel the same way about point number tw0. Personally my rule of thumb is if the buildings look like they are not maintained/ it is poorly lit/ if there are ton of boarded up windows/ no one walking around. I know its not the best rule but how else am I gooing to gauge the area?

    5. LG*

      I disagree with your second point. Sketchy areas in my city are simply high crime areas, and the crimes are committed by any and every colour of people.

  11. New Yorker*

    Was the director who chose this hotel staying there with the team? or were they staying elsewhere or at home? Still a bad situation, but curious

    1. Letter Writer*

      Hello, I’m the letter writer. The director and my manager stayed in their own homes. I don’t think they were ever inside the hotel.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Ahh, that explains also why they didn’t see a problem with it: because they weren’t there.

      2. Pierrot*

        Wow, that’s another detail that makes this even worse.
        I definitely think you should mention it in an exit interview (especially if the interviews are done with HR). You could just frame it around the fact that the company is trying to improve “employee satisfaction” and you’re giving feedback based on an issue you encountered. Generally, in my experiences with team building activities, normally management participated fully. The fact that your managers didn’t and were dismissive of everyone’s valid complaints says a lot about how the department functions as a whole.

      3. Girasol*

        They may not have known how bad it was when they booked it. (I was booked on several business trips over several years to a particular hotel. It was nice, then it changed hands and was a creepy dive, then it changed hands and was nice again. How could the company have known?) That said, in this case the manager should have relocated everyone as soon as he was told that it was bad enough to be a safety risk.

  12. Prospect Gone Bad*

    Two comments out of 14 so far seeming to think OP has a new job. They do not. They do not need to wait for a new job to complain about this! But I’d caution them to separate fact from subjective parts. If someone isn’t eager to help or hear you, they will latch onto any dramatization. For example, what does “got sick from the hotel” even mean? You think it’s the building and not the fact you were in closed quarters with people inside in the winter when everyone is sick? So I’d delete out unnecessary and distracting parts like that

    1. Letter Writer*

      Hello, I’m the letter writer. My colleague got a bacterial skin infection that needed antibiotics. There is no way to know where she picked it up, but she thinks it’s from the hotel and she left for a new job in the month following the trip. And sadly, I do not have a new job but I’m working on it.

      1. Daniel*


        You, she, and everyone else in that group has to approach whoever does travel in the company. That can’t happen again.

        And of course the manager and the director were nowhere near that place.

      2. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Oh then this might be a case where it’s worth mentioning it, I’ll stand correct. Just that in my years in corporate America, most people add embellishments to complaints to make them sound as horrible as possible because they’re afraid they won’t be listened to if the complaint doesn’t sound horrible. This sounded like it could’ve been one of these types of things but maybe isn’t

      3. Keymaster of Gozer*

        From what you say of the lack of any cleaning at that place it’s pretty likely that she did pick it up there. Bacterial skin infections are not common unless you are around unsanitary conditions – or you’re around people who are infected (once c.diff gets into a population it’s nasty)

      4. Ermintrude (she/her)*

        AAAAHHHHH out loud at ‘bacterial skin infection.’
        I think I’d be working out how to leave ASAP, company plans be damned. And I’ve seen a couple of dodgy hotels, nothing this gross however.

        1. Letter Writer*

          Yes, I believe that’s what is was. She could have picked it up while travelling, etc. but she believes it was the hotel. She spent the week she was off sick working on her resume and got a new job shortly after.

  13. A Penguin!*

    I absolutely agree with the overall read on the hotel being an awful place that no one should be forced to stay, but I’m curious about the 1st bullet of reasons why (elevators are accessible). I recognize why that isn’t ideal, but in every mid-range hotel I can remember being in that’s been the case. You usually have to walk by the front desk, but there’s nothing stopping you from going straight to the elevators and only once have I ever been challenged by a desk worker on my way through the lobby. Is restricted access to the elevators common enough that lack thereof is a red flag?

    1. Lacey*

      Yeah, that one was a little funny to me. I don’t think I’ve ever stayed in a hotel with security. Even the nice ones.

      1. Lynn*

        Most of the hotels I have stayed with that did have security have been the ones that were in dodgier neighborhoods. I used to stay, a lot (we are talking every week, only flying home on weekends) at mostly at mid-level chains like the Hampton Inn/Hilton Garden Inn/HI Express type. The only ones I ever saw with security in the parking lot or who checked everyone who walked in the door were the ones in tougher and/or more run down neighborhoods.

        Not all of them, of course-I stayed in loads where I would have liked to see security that didn’t exist. But the ones that did have them were the ones where, IMO, it was needed.

        1. Lynn*

          Oops-reading a little further down, I will add that I have been in a pretty fair number of those mid-level hotels, in both dodgy and nicer areas, where they did restrict elevator access to key card holders. That said, most didn’t check the key-card on entry through the front doors-especially in nicer areas. And the stairs are almost never key-card protected. So, you can almost always walk in the front door and up the stairs even if the elevators are restricted to key-card holders if the front desk folks are not being tasked with checking everyone who comes in the front doors (the side and back doors are usually key-card limited as well).

    2. chips and scraps*

      I’m confused by this as well – this is pretty normal IME. I stayed in the fanciest hotel of my middle-aged life last summer, and there was not really anything there either to stop people heading through to the lifts and going up to where the rooms were. I’m sure the staff haven’t memorised the face of every guest to distinguish them from random members of the public, and they don’t challenge people on the way through.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Okay, but they must be doing something basic to protect their hotel, even if that something is just being in a nice or remote area and just being alert to suspicious behaviour. Cameras can be a decent preventative, even. Logically, they must be doing something to not have that much of an issue with thieves, or with people trying the doors or a keycard system would be needed. Tourists and travellers are usually targets for crime, and hotels are usually keen to make sure their guests aren’t targeted. If I was staying in a budget hotel in a city area, I’d either expect key cards or alert, present staff who were responsive to complaints.

    3. Clisby*

      Not in my experience (I live in the US). And I’m including places like Marriott/Hilton/Hyatt. It’s not like you’re issued an elevator pass along with your room key. At least, I never have.

      1. Mill Miker*

        Some hotels have the option to make the elevator require you to insert a room key for the floor your going to before you can press that floor.

        I was at a conference once where on the first day the elevators were fully accessible, but after a couple big parties that night, they turned on the “your key gets you to your floor” restrictions.

        But yeah, I’ve played plenty of places that didn’t seem to have that capability, and have only seen it actually used a couple times.

        1. Porchgal*

          THIS. Good urban hotels require a key card to access the elevator going up. All decent hotels require a key card to access any exterior door at night other than the main lobby. And sometimes they require a key card or ring the front bell for the main lobby at night.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        In many hotels, the room key *is* the elevator pass. But I agree that not having that is not on its own a sign that the hotel is not reasonable, I think that level of security varies a lot by area–I have encountered it more in big cities like NYC and Atlanta but would not expect to see it in smaller cities or in smaller hotels (like if a lot of the rooms were on the first floor then what would even be the point of securing the elevator).

    4. MsSolo (UK)*

      Most budget hotels in the UK, especially the ones used for business trips (and hen and stag nights, commonly) use keycards now, and you need to use your keycard to access the lift to floors where the bedrooms are. I believe the fancier ones may even allow you to only access your own floor with your keycard. It means you don’t need someone on front desk to keep an eye on people wandering in off the street (one hotel chain in particular tends to have its desk staff also work the bar in the evenings).

    5. Bee*

      Right, I think the only hotel I’ve ever stayed in where that WASN’T the case was the high-rise I stayed in recently where you used your key card to summon the elevator so they could put everyone going to the same floor on the same elevator. And I’m usually at hotels for conferences where people are going in and out (and to other people’s floors) all the time, many of them not staying at the hotel itself. Sometimes *I* have been the one with an Airbnb nearby wandering in after dinner to go to a friend’s room party.

    6. Yoyoyo*

      I’ve stayed in a number of hotels where you had to swipe your room key card to gain access to the elevators. Sure, you could walk right by the front desk but unless someone held the door open for you, you couldn’t access the floors with guest rooms.

    7. SpeckledBeagle*

      I thought it was weird, but maybe it means anyone could just watch in off the screen and go straight to the rooms with no key? Most hotels nowadays do require a card swipe either at the elevator or to get in a certain part of the building itself past the lobby, even lower budget ones

      1. RussianInTexas*

        I stayed in brand new Avid in Austin last year, which is a mid-range 3 star hotel.
        Zero restrictions on the elevator access, floor access, etc. The only restricted (by the room key) locations were the rooms, gym, pool, laundry, etc. The floors were wide-open.

      2. bamcheeks*

        Not sure whether this is true everywhere, but in the UK it’s overwhelmingly the lower-budget ones that have that kind of system because an electronic keycard system is a lot cheaper than “lots of staff”.

      3. Whotels?*

        Reading the responses, I wonder if this varies geographically. I’m in the US, have stayed in hotels all over the East Coast and Midwest during the last 10-15 years, and have never once encountered a hotel (even a nice hotel!) that had the card-swipe-at-elevator, they were just … open.

        But I see a lot of UK folks saying the elevator card swipe is common, and presumably it is in other parts of the world. If you’re used to the elevators requiring a card, then not having one would feel sketch.

        1. Cold and Tired*

          I think the key card in elevators is much more a European thing than American thing. I’ve seen it in the us, but mostly in major cities (NYC, Chicago, etc) when the hotels are in dense urban areas and pedestrian traffic (aka anyone walking in off the street) is common. At least that’s been my experience after too many years of both American and european business travel.

        2. Ellis Bell*

          I would definitely be concerned as a UK person who is used to this; only really attentive staff would make up for it! Perhaps that’s what it is: the last time I was in the states I was in an area where it was super common to not lock doors or cars (something that is totally unthinkable to me) or think about security much, but bar staff were completely amazing about having your back when guys wanted to talk to you. “Is this guy bothering you” is something I had never heard in my own country.

        3. Mill Miker*

          I think it also depends on when you’re travelling. I’ve been under the impression that the hotels would rather keep that system turned off, but activate it if there’s a big concert or conference or sports game or something that would up the chances of people inviting drunken friends to their rooms.

        4. Really?*

          Its becoming more typical, particularly in newer or renovated urban properties. However, many more do not have that capability. Yet.

        5. Ariaflame*

          It is very common in Australia from my experiences staying in hotels here to have floors limited to people with the keycard of the room.

        6. Nightengale*

          I have. Once. recently. Western US city convention center hotel. But no one told us this when handing out the keys and there were unclear directions in the elevator about how to swipe/press the floor key to actually get the elevator to stop at your floor. I tried several combinations without success. I thought I might be stuck in the elevator forever but it eventually deposited me on the ground floor (not the floor I had started from). I called the front desk from the elevator bay in desperation and asked for someone to come show me how to operate the elevator. I felt much more afraid of being trapped in the elevator unable to get to my room than the risk of the wrong person getting in at all the other hotels I have ever been.

        7. Environmental Compliance*

          Hi, American in the Midwest here. Every time I’ve traveled for work in the past year, to a variety of states, I have had to swipe access to use the elevator.

          Nothing stopping me from using the stairs, though.

    8. ThatGirl*

      I’ve seen both – the two most recent hotels I’ve stayed in did have a keycard access scanner on the elevators, but they were swanky downtown high-rises in a major Midwestern city. For something more suburban or smaller, I’ve been in plenty of hotels where anyone could get on the elevator to any floor.

    9. It's me.*

      I was confused by that one, too. I was also confused by the note about housekeeping not visiting the room for three days – IME, this has become the norm at midrange hotels. Either they’re short staffed (fair) or it’s for ~environmental~ reasons (guests are encouraged the reuse the same towels during short stays, etc.). A lot of hotels have moved to housekeeping by request for stays shorter than three days. This one doesn’t bother me at all.

      1. Tae*

        This has been my experience as well. I wouldn’t blink at not getting housekeeping for that length of stay.

        Most will give you fresh towels if you ask though.

      2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        Those two details made me reread because I wondered if the LW and I simply had different expectations / standards. Those are both normal to me. But standing water in the tub, trash in the halls, and no extra towels are concrete and unambiguous! Yep, this was a crap hotel.

      3. Letter Writer*

        Hello, I’m the letter writer. I did ask for housekeeping though (I wasn’t convinced the sheets were fresh). No one came to my room despite asking, and when I ran out of clean towels and went to the front desk to get more and they didn’t have any.

        1. DataSci*

          To me those are totally different from “housekeeping didn’t routinely stop by every day”, which as others have said is increasingly common and many people (including me) prefer. Fresh towels if I want them, no need to come in every day.

    10. constant_craving*

      Some hotels make you swipe your key card to get to the floors where the rooms are on. But in most hotels you do at least have to walk past front desk staff, probably some cameras in the lobby, etc. and the front door is locked when the front desk isn’t staffed.

      On the other hand, I’ve seen hotels where you can access the stairs/elevator from the outside of the building. I’m guessing it was either a set up like that or no cameras/front desk staff between the entrance and the elevator.

    11. Letter Writer*

      Hello, I’m the letter writer. Strange, maybe it’s a Canadian thing (I’m Canadian). Most hotels I have stayed at in the last 10 years or so require a key card to access the elevators. I think that has also been the case when I stay at resorts in the Caribbean. I assumed it was standard everywhere.

      1. Bob*

        Swiping your key card to use the elevator is also very standard in the US. I’m surprised to see so many commenters questioning that point.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          In my anecdotal experience, and I normally stay in hotels like Avid, or Microtel, or Residence Inn, so 3-4 stories, it’s not the norm.
          In the high-rise hotels in the city it’s more of a norm.

          1. DataSci*

            I bet this is it. When I’m in a hotel it’s in a city (not always a high rise though, lots are 5-10 stories), and they always need a card to get the elevator to go to a floor. Haven’t stayed at a motel or a hotel in a smaller town for a long time.

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          Because for some of us in the US, it’s something we have rarely encountered. So it is not that standard.

        3. Napkin Thief*

          The US is very big, and full of variety! I wouldn’t blink my eye at either setup at this point – I think in recent years I have seen both keycard operated elevators and free access elevators in decent hotels with about equal frequency.

        4. Ace in the Hole*

          I’m in the US and have never had to swipe my key at a hotel elevator. So no, this is not standard in the US.

        5. Boop*

          This is just not true. It exists but is not “very standard” People are questioning the point because several of us are very well traveled and have not encountered it in the US.

      2. Fieldpoppy*

        yeah, also canadian and this is my experience too — most hotels have key card access to the residential floors (except for the 2 – 3 storey hotels that are essentially walkups).

    12. OyHiOh*

      This point also confused me. I’ve stayed at a very fancy resort hotel a couple times (think the kind of place where, if foreign dignitaries are staying, flags are displayed on the facade). There are multiple shops and restaurants on the main floor that are open to the public. There is security (and door people, and bell hops, and valets) so you never get in without being noticed, but you’re also not likely to be challenged.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        The ones that surprised me by not having visible security were both 5 star Hyatt and the 5 star Marriott in Russia I stayed at in 2019. The Marotte didn’t even have the key lock elevator.
        I presume people coming and going were noticed, but it was completely invisible.

    13. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I usually stay in mid-range hotels, and more lately have required you tap your key in order to access your room, especially if they’re located in cities. The hotels I stayed in recently that did not require a card for elevator access have actually been pretty crappy (both were under construction which contributed to the crappiness).

    14. Asenath*

      Yeah, most of the hotels I’ve stayed in anyone could access the elevators, and you didn’t usually need your keycard to operate the elevator. One of the exceptions was a really great place – but there was a very popular bar on the ground floor that you had to skirt to get to the elevators. You had to use your keycard to operate the elevators, and in the evening there were two large men stationed between the bar and the elevators to make sure only people who were staying there got on the elevators. The person who organized that event asked us all anxiously how the hotel was because it had quite a good reputation for being fashionable and quirky in a way, but also was at the centre of some of a very large cities’ most active socializing and partying. That made it central for the daytime meetings of the organization, but she was still worried. We all loved such an unusual hotel, well compared to the more standard mid-range types we could usually stay at, and I didn’t hear about anyone feeling nervous – maybe the big guards had something to do with that.

    15. Another Librarian*

      This past fall I stayed in the Midtown Hilton in NYC. There was a constant stream of pedestrians using the hotel as a shortcut between two streets. Of course, it was near Times Square and other touristy locations, so that was not surprising. Anyone could have gotten on the elevators at any time.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Hyatt in the Downtown Houston is connected to The Tunnels and is nearby to the Eleonore Tinsley Park, which hosts a lot of festivals and concerts.
        People constantly cut through, or come in for drinks or just stop by to be in the air conditioner.

    16. EarthhatesWomen*

      I tarvel for work and for fun and have stayed in dozens of hotels from the cheap to the five-star and yes, it is normal to have to scan a key to so much as move the elevator up a floor

    17. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I’m generally staying in hotels for convention travel, and none of those in my limited experience require keycard access for elevators since they often have function/meeting space on other floors and not everyone attending a meeting will be staying at the hotel. Often exterior doors other than the front entrance will need a keycard, though, and sometimes hotels will have a fancy floor of sleeping rooms that requires keycards to access. (One hotel we used to run a convention at did this with the floor where they had most of their suites, which was an issue since they’d always try to put our hospitality suite on that floor but we needed it where all convention members could actually access it.)

      I don’t think any of the non-convention hotels I stayed on my last road trip did either, but most of them had exterior stairwells and rooms that opened directly to the outside so there really wasn’t any interior space to limit access to in the first place. (These were generally in small towns rather than big cities, though.)

    18. This Old House*

      That also struck me as unusual. I remember staying in hotels in college (granted, this was 10+ years ago) where we remarked on how the low-budget hotels/hostels seemed to keep an eye on everyone and make sure no one was being snuck in – but if we were trying to cram more people than we were allowed into a room at a nice hotel (and we were!) all we had to do was walk through the lobby like we belonged and it was easy to get away with.

      I’ve also only uncommonly been in hotels that require a keycard to access the elevator, and often that feature only turns on in the evening – during the day anyone can access any floor of hotel. You need a key to get into a room and certain amenities, like the gym.

    19. Unkempt Flatware*

      I’m not so sure it matters when the LW said she felt unsafe. If I feel unsafe, no amount of telling me I’m misguided will convince me to not feel unsafe.

      1. Letter Writer*

        Hello, I’m the letter writer. I think you hit the nail on the head. I felt anxious and on edge the whole time I was there. The elevator is the thing I can point to as a fact, but I’m mostly going on how I feel instinctively. For context, I live in a large city, take public transit, etc. and I’ve learned to trust my instincts.

        1. Yoyoyo*

          Yup, the elevator was just one data point among a whole slew of other things that were sending you a message and informing your intuition. This is what the often-recommended book “The Gift of Fear” is all about – trusting your intuition, because it is picking up on things that may be outside of our conscious awareness.

      2. A Penguin!*

        I wasn’t trying to convince the LW she was wrong to feel unsafe, and I’m sorry that it came across that way. As you say, that’s entirely up to her.

        From the variety of replies, it looks like this might be a regional difference. Some people report rarely/never seeing elevators restricted, and some report the exact opposite.

    20. Ginger Baker*

      I’ve stayed at multiple well-known good quality hotels in Austin, NYC, Phoenix, San Juan, Costa Rica, and probably a few places I am missing, and only one has ever required a keycard swipe to get on an elevator (coincidentally, that stay was also my sketchiest, one-night-standiest, night…).

    21. Ace in the Hole*

      Not to mention, I’ve stayed at plenty of perfectly nice motels that didn’t even have internal elevators. Rooms were accessed via external stairways only, with ADA accessible rooms at ground level for people who can’t manage stairs.

    22. Critical Rolls*

      My experience with mid-range hotels in America is that they aren’t generally going to have keycard locked elevators. BUT, access to the building requires going through a staffed lobby or a keycard-access side door (usually with the lobby also secured after a certain time in the evening). The type of motel with no security to access the building is usually not a place I’d care to stay for a variety of reasons.

    23. UKDancer*

      Most hotels I’ve stayed in lately have keycard access to the lifts so you use your room key to make the lift work. Maybe this is just a UK / parts of Europe thing?

      1. DyneinWalking*

        Several US commenters said that they haven’t encountered this, so, no, probably not a US vs. EU thing. I suspect that a commenter further up is correct – that it’s a question of how metropolitan the area is. In a high-rise building in a huge city with lots of random pedestrians and visitors passing through parts of the building, of course you feel a lot safer when the access to the elevators is restricted! In a 4-story hotel frequented almost exclusively by hotel guests and personnel in medium-sized town, however, that would seem like overkill, simply because the number of people is much more manageable.

    24. mreasy*

      Restricting access at night and requiring a key card to get to the room floors is, while not universal, baseline for security to me as a regular traveler.

    25. WantonSeedStitch*

      I have also never seen access TO the elevators restricted. I have stayed in hotels (midrange hotels in a major city) that required you to swipe a keycard to press a button for one of the guest floors. This doesn’t prevent someone from just getting off the elevator with someone who has a keycard and pushes the button for that floor, but it’s SOME measure of security. But it’s also the most elevator security I’ve seen in a hotel.

  14. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Does anybody in here watch HBO’s South Side?

    I’m thinking of the bedbug episode with the clam chowder…


  15. ThatGirl*

    Yikes. In January my department had a similar effort at team-building (the first few sentences kinda made me wonder if this was one of my coworkers) but…

    – we stayed in a VERY nice hotel and all of our meetings were on-site
    – we had plenty of food provided
    – the hotel staff was on top of things

    which, I wasn’t super thrilled about the whole thing happening but there were definitely no health or safety issues!

  16. ProRata*


    No mention of the Gruel Hostel?? :-)

    On a more serious note, pack a sleeping bag liner and a camp towel….yeah, it’s more stuff to schlep, but if you have them, you’ll never need them, and if one does wind up staying in a dump of a hotel, they can come in handy.

    And the fact they put you and your colleagues in such a dump says much regarding your value to the company.

    Good luck!!

  17. Dust Bunny*

    My employer does not currently have a travel budget (and is not asking anyone to travel) but when we did they *strongly* recommended that we book hotels at a certain minimum level. I booked one for a workshop in another city and accounting actually called me to make sure it was the one I wanted (it’s better than it looks on paper).

  18. RussianInTexas*

    Re: security. I have never ran in to any security in any hotel. Ever. Even the 5 star Hyatt in Russia, where they don’t want random people. Even in the NYC, close to Times Square (it was a big chain hotel). The only thing I’ve seen are the elevators that require a room key to go to the “residential” floors, same for the access to the floors from the stairwell. But places like W or Avid or Marotte or whatever, you can wander in free for all.
    In fact, if I notice physical security in a hotel in the US, it would make me wonder about safety of the area around.
    Housekeeping – that is the feature in the post-pandemic hotels now. If you want housekeeping during your stay, you need to request it. Regardless of the quality of the hotel.
    The dirt and the non-draining tub – ewwww

    1. Mill Miker*

      If you want housekeeping during your stay, you need to request it. Regardless of the quality of the hotel.

      It sounds like this hotel was low-enough quality that it wasn’t even available on request. How many stars does a hotel have to have before “clean towel available on request” is something they need to offer?

      1. Letter Writer*

        Hello, I’m the letter writer. It was housekeeping on request, but I requested it every day (at the front desk and by using the little card for my door) and no one came to my room. I also stopped by the front desk to get towels (I only had 2 for 3 days) and they didn’t have any available.

        1. Mill Miker*

          Hi Letter Writer, your experience sounds awful, and I want to make it absolutely clear that all the negativity in my tone is directed at the hotel for not meeting minimum standards (and your employer for picking them), and that I have nothing but sympathy for you and your colleagues.

        2. I have RBF*

          That’s… bad. I never get housekeeping during my stay due to fragrance allergies, but always get extra towels. No extra towels would be a WTF? from me.

  19. Llama Llama*

    I am thankful that I work for a travel company and have been given a high standard for hotels. Any business travel has been to nice hotels. Most of these issues are unacceptable.

    Unfortunately I don’t get discounts on personal travel and can’t afford top tier. Because of my hotel industry knowledge, I have high standards and am disturbed by some of the quality issues.

  20. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    I think it might be good to raise all of the things you talked about in the context of the goal of the exercise, which was to improve employee satisfaction (and, presumably, retention). This whole thing sounds like a doomed fever dream of someone who’s read too many HR manuals.

    The fact that you were not relieved of your regular work during this exercise meant it was doomed to failure from the beginning. Travel is not fun for many people, and most of the people who went presumably had to make arrangements to cover their domestic responsibilities while they were gone.

    You know what actually works to improve employee satisfaction? Good management, good pay, time off, and appreciation.

    1. EPLawyer*

      But those things are HARD.

      Much easier to organize a team building exercise at a crappy hotel. While still demanding all deadlines be met.

      then they wonder why morale is so low.

    2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Said basically the same thing below, but much less eloquently. Being responsible for all my work and deadlines and having more demands for team-building activities, while being away from home – even with an acceptable hotel – would not improve my morale.

      I’d be more likely to leave because it became clear that my direct line of management have super questionable judgment.

    3. Decima Dewey*

      So to improve employee satisfaction ratings, OP was expected to travel to the company’s headquarters, stay at an awful hotel, do their regular work while exhausted from travel (possibly without the resources they’d have access to in their regular workplace), and make a pact with someone else to secure their safety in the aforementioned awful hotel.

      If this was the plan the higher ups came up with to improve employee satisfaction, what were the plans the higher ups rejected?

    4. Robin Ellacott*

      Yes I was actually more horrified that they also had to do their work than I was at the hotel (though the hotel sounds very unpleasant).

    5. El l*

      Actually, this is a good way to frame your moves internally about it. “The exercise failed.”

      And after you’ve said that, say, “And by the way, employees having to buddy-up to leave their rooms is also a philosophical-level HR failure. Taking physical risks to our safety is not part of our employment contracts.”

      1. Letter Writer*

        Hi all, I’m the letter writer and this thread was very helpful. The company talks a lot about culture but some of the things they do to improve it have just caused unnecessary stress (like mandatory evening events the week before Christmas when everyone just wants to get their work done and leave at a decent time.) I’ve read all the comments and you’ve given me some language to use so I can start pushing back.

  21. A. Tiskit & A. Taskit LLC*

    Every hotel I’ve ever stayed at (and my husband and I travel a lot) has had a website and Tripadvisor and/or Yelp ratings. Before choosing a hotel, this LW’s manager should have checked their ratings AND read the reviews. One or two poor ratings and complaints may be a one-off, but a pattern of bad reviews (such as repeated complaints about no housekeeping services, no clean towels (?!), etc.) signals a systemic problem with the hotel – one that won’t be fixed by the time you arrive there (or anytime soon.)

    It sounds as if management chose this place solely on the basis of cost and didn’t bother to check any further than the room rates – and it sounds as if management is now paying dearly for their parsimony in the coin of disgruntled, demoralized employees. Penny wise, pound foolish indeed!

    1. Letter Writer*

      Hello, I’m the letter writer. Yes, one of my colleagues brought up the bad reviews in advance and was told not to worry, the hotel is fine.

      1. I have RBF*

        So they knew it was a crap hotel and made you stay there anyway, while they slept at home in their own beds? Yikes on bikes, what a failure of management.

    2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      It’s remarkable the little things that employers do to cut costs that end up really costing them later when people leave.

  22. LB33*

    That sounds awful.. did anyone mention this at the time? I can understand the booker screwing up and booking a bad hotel, but if you or your colleagues told them what was going on and they did nothing? That’s just bizarre

    1. Antilles*

      I wondered about that too. OP mentions that they told the manager and got brushed off with a “that’s the hotel close to the office”*, but it’s not clear to me if that happened at the time or afterwards when it was too late to change anything.

      *A dumb excuse by the way; I’ve done plenty of business travel and I’ll take a good hotel that requires an extra 15 minutes of driving over a convenient-but-crummy hotel without hesitation.

    2. ferrina*

      It sounds like normal protocol would be to talk to your director who would work it out with whoever booked the hotel (this was usually how places I worked wanted me to deal with it). That said, if my director was known to be incompetent, sometimes I’d reach out directly (not on hotels, but on a couple similar things. Thankfully the hotels they booked were just fine).

      1. Letter Writer*

        Hi, I’m the letter writer. The director was the one who booked the hotel and organized all the details of the trip. Day-to-day, we do not interact with her, so no one felt comfortable complaining. I did raise concerns to my manager (who reports to the director) but his normal response to any problem is to minimize it and try to smooth it over. I don’t know that he even mentioned it to her.

        Obviously, this job has problems and I am actively looking for something new.

        1. ferrina*

          Good luck on your job search!

          The fact that no one on the team felt comfortable escalating a safety issue says a lot about the culture. And that attrition rate! I’m guessing this dysfunction was only the latest in a long string of issues? Hope you can get out soon!

          1. Letter Writer*

            You know, it’s a pretty good company as a whole, but we went to a national management system and things sort of fell apart. It’s just not the same when the manager and director are in different cities and don’t have much to do with our day-to-day work. I am really hoping the next thing I send to Ask A Manager will be an update on a new job.

  23. daffodil*

    I want to emphasize that even though these conditions would be a problem for necessary business travel, this trip was intended to IMPROVE MORALE. Sounds like it did the opposite in every possible way.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Right, this is what gets me the most – that this wasn’t a necessary business trip.

      If it were me, I’d feel a lot like I was being punished for giving honest answers on the survey, as well as gently prodded towards giving inflated, high marks on next year’s survey to avoid being sent to Elm Street Hotel again. Truly hope this isn’t what the leadership was aiming for!

      1. Letter Writer*

        Oh gosh, it didn’t even occur to me that we were being pushed towards giving better scores on the next questionnaire (they are done yearly). We do still bring up the “Dateline Hotel ” pretty regularly, and even the manager seemed to realize that the trip was an epic fail. There were some other really odd things about this trip that I couldn’t fit in the letter. For example, we were put into groups and told to openly discuss the items we scored the lowest on and how they affected us personally. These were things like not feeling valued, not having the resources to do our job, etc. It felt violating and emotionally draining, especially since we were all tired and stressed to begin with.

        1. I have RBF*

          My cringe is cringing at that. They made you discuss the bad things from the survey, as if you guys could magically fix it at your level? That’s a big sign of actively clueless management pushing the problems onto those who are affected, rather than putting on their management pants and fixing it.

          I wish you the best of luck in your job hunt, you need out of there. Your management is bananapants.

        2. Happy*

          That also seems weird to me because why would the company want to focus people on sharing complaints? (People might suddenly remember and share grudges they had forgotten years ago!) From the company’s perspective, wouldn’t it make more sense to have people break into small groups to discuss things the company does well?

  24. UKgreen*

    I am itchy just reading that, OP. It sounds like you have documented your concerns well. Take this, and any photos you and your colleagues took, and use this to make whoever books travel aware that this place needs to go on a ‘do not use’ list for future travel.

    We have a few places on my company’s ‘do not use’ list which colleagues raised with first-hand experience (and in some cases refused point-blank to stay there) and yet on those hotels’ websites they look totally fine, clean and pleasant.

  25. Another Chris*

    I wonder if the manager and director went outside of their company’s stated travel policies and recommendations when booking this trip. I’m assuming of course that as a publicly-traded company, they have policies regarding travel accommodations, maybe even a travel office. Perhaps the director elected not to use them. If so, I think the company would be interested in hearing that their middle management is free-lancing travel and not following procedure.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I almost wondered whether this was an “official” trip at all … perhaps this is fanfic but the first thing I thought of is that they’ve arranged this off the books in some way.

    2. Letter Writer*

      Hello, I’m the letter writer. I have to say I wondered that too. I think that’s why I’ve been hesitant to push this any further (I don’t want to make an enemy of my director). But when I have travelled for the company in the past I used our travel app and booked my own hotel. For this trip, the director booked the hotel and said it was so we could all be together. Other things about the trip seemed off or low-budget too, for example we mostly got driven around by staff members instead of taking cabs. I wasn’t crazy about that either (not everyone is good driver and one girl seemed quite embarrassed because her car was in bad condition), but it didn’t seem worth including in the letter.

      1. Ben*

        This is highly relevant information. If anything, having staff forced to drive you around is even more of a red flag, IMO. The whole thing seems wildly improper. I wonder if your management is under some extreme pressure to get those survey scores up and going rogue to do it. If so, they may have put those staff chauffeurs at risk of personal liability, which is potentially very serious.

        I’d make sure to report all of your concerns through formal channels.

      2. Really?*

        That is also a red flag. Having staff members use personal cars to drive other staff around, could be an issue, particularly if any adult beverages were consumed. As a manager, I’d be concerned about the company’s potential liability. Did your manager and director stay in the same hotel? I’ve spent my career in the hotel industry, and most of the midscale and upscale chain-affiliated properties are maintained to fairly strict standards. Occasionally, some properties may be mismanaged, but the description you provide is so far outside the norm that even most of the economy chains that are less stringent with respect to standards would bounce the property. And those economy chains rarely have corporate accounts, for a reason. How could they think this is OK?

      3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        What the hell is going on? Something’s afoot at your company, OP. I’m sorry. Something’s fishy.

      4. Observer*

        Hello, I’m the letter writer. I have to say I wondered that too. I think that’s why I’ve been hesitant to push this any further (I don’t want to make an enemy of my director).

        I get why you don’t want to make an enemy. But the internal sketchiness is all the more reason to bring this up to someone higher up in the hierarchy, in HR or in a compliance adjacent role. Because if something hits the fan you don’t want to be caught in the spray.

        1. DyneinWalking*

          I’d say that the sketchiness of the director’s actions is actually a promising sign that higher management might not side with the director! It suggests that the director is explicitly and knowingly hiding his actions… because he knows that his bosses would disapprove.
          So please, LW, report this incident to the people higher up!

  26. ABCYaBYE*

    Absolutely bring this up with anyone and everyone you can. It sure would have been ideal to raise the issue in the moment, but management (and HR, and any travel coordinator) absolutely should know that this hotel shouldn’t be used by the company. The fact that no one else has stayed there says a lot about the reason for choosing it – cost savings. But a company shouldn’t be putting its employees in unsafe and unclean places to stay.

    I think it is probably good to note, too, that this activity caused additional work and additional stress for you (and presumably others on your team). While I understand that sometimes travel and special circumstances do cause some additional work to be done before, during or afterward, it sounds like this wasn’t planned with any sort of thought given to how the activity would impact the normal work and operations. That is as problematic as the hotel.

  27. Finding a way out*

    I had a similar experience several years ago. There was a large group of us traveling for work and were only allowed to book one particular hotel. It was easily the worst hotel I had ever stayed at and to add insult to injury, it was expensive because it was in close proximity to a very popular tourist destination.

    I ended up reaching out afterwards to the person on the meeting and planning team and letting them know how terrible the accommodations were and asked if we could avoid staying there in the future, or at least have other options.

  28. Somehow_I_Manage*

    For just the tiniest second, I thought this was going to be an OP that expected the 5 star treatment, when a 3 star hotel would suffice. I would love to read *that* letter. Then the list kept going…I’m so sorry OP.

    1. Letter Writer*

      Haha, I’m the letter writer and I know what you mean. For similar trips I have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express that was clean and well-staffed. That was completely satisfactory. I don’t expect luxury for business travel but I’d like to be able to take my shoes off without worrying about catching something and have clean sheets to sleep on.

    2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Yeah, this definitely wasn’t “I expect the bellhop to assist me with my bags, how very dare they expect me to load and push the bell cart myself” experience. I’m pretty low maintenance as a hotel guest (I usually just ask for new towels and toilet paper as needed rather than ask for housekeeping to clean my room during my stay and such), and this would have been below what I expect from a hotel.

      Personally, I keep the main reservations number for several hotel chains in my cell phone so I can get a new room somewhere else at the drop of a hat if I decide not to stay at a gross hotel. Most chains have 24 hour centralized call centers that can help you find the closest available room in their chain. I’ve only had to do this once (I found at least 3 distinct species of invertebrates in the room while unpacking and the front desk said that’s just what rural areas are like when I complained), and I had to drive over 80 miles to a different town to get a room, but it was definitely worth it for me the time I needed it.

      1. allathian*

        Yuck, that’s even worse than the mouseholes in the baseboard (North London) and the roaches in the toilet (Corfu). Admittedly these happened when I traveled on vacation rather than on business, but still…

  29. ThatGirl*

    Yuck. As someone who is extremely squeamish, this would gross me out. Sorry you had to go through that, OP. They should have at least booked you into a decent hotel.

  30. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    Not even close to the biggest problem here, but I’m not sure how anyone figured that doing a team-building trip like this *while also having to do all your regular work* would improve morale. Like, you still have to get all your work done, but also there are other demands on your time and you don’t even have the comfort of home / ability to get away from your colleagues. It would still be a wild idea even if the hotel wasn’t awful. And I’d really question the judgment of anyone who thought this would be something people would like.

  31. BellyButton*

    I was sent to a conference that was being held at an Ivy League school campus, part of the was staying in a dorm room that was private and had a private bathroom. It was horrible. it was so hot that there was steam on the room mirror, it was loud, it was dirty. I called my manager and her response was “Find whatever hotel you can and get out of there.” That is how you handle bad accommodations.

  32. Keymaster of Gozer*

    Many years ago I was attending a training course in London and the company booked me into a hotel that they claimed was ‘nearby and easily accessible’.

    It took a mile walk in the dark with my luggage through an area where I definitely felt unsafe (please don’t make this about colour, the area was rough. Graffiti, discarded syringes, men shouting filthy things at me) to get to the hotel and when I got there I found it was filthy, tiny, the beds were collapsing under and there were loud fights going on in the halls. Whole place reeked of cig smoke.

    The next day (because the office was shut at this time) I phoned our office and said outright that I wasn’t staying another night in that place. They sort of argued about it but I just kept repeating that I didn’t feel safe and either they booked me somewhere else (and paid for the taxi to get there) or I was going straight home.

    Ended up in a very nice hotel about 6 tube stops away which was a lot better. Yeah the journey was longer but I felt safe again.

    So, I do not blame you if you bring up their appalling disregard for the safety and well being of you and your coworkers. It’s utterly terrifying to be away from home in a place where you feel unsafe.

  33. Fernie*

    At companies that include manufacturing facilities, employees are told that, if they are asked to do something at work that they don’t think is safe, they should refuse to do it.

    The same rule should apply to employees travelling for business. I agree with Alison’s suggestion.

  34. CLC*

    If this was the first year they had this type of trip the people booking the hotel most likely did not know about these problems. They probably had a certain budget and geographic constraints given to them and booked within that. It’s really unfortunate it was that bad, but sometimes things go wrong. I don’t think the company did anything horribly wrong here and hopefully they will choose a better hotel next year.

    1. Pierrot*

      I feel like this comment is missing some of the important details. The hotel had bad reviews (based on the LW’s comment) which was flagged to management prior to the stay. Later on, management was completely dismissive about the complaints about the hotel.
      I think your comment would apply if management had not been so dismissive. Had they said, “We are so sorry that you experienced these issues at the hotel we chose- we will not book with them again and will do a better job vetting our hotels in the future.” I get the approach of assuming positive intentions, but in this case the director’s behavior suggests that this was not the result of a genuine mistake- it was the result of negligence and lack of consideration for her reports.

    2. mreasy*

      It is incumbent on people responsible for booking hotels to do their research. It’s one thing if I, booking my own business travel, make a weird sketchy choice (as I have certainly done), but it is entirely another if the company books the place and ignores negative reviews and the fact that there are no nearby resources.

    3. Grammar Penguin*

      Dumping a bunch of extra work (mandatory “fun”) on people, dragging them out of their offices and homes to do that work in a crap hotel, all of this ON TOP OF their regular work with no adjustment to workload or deadlines? While the bigwigs in charge of this mess are staying at home? And all this in an effort to raise morale?

      I think the company did EVERYTHING horribly wrong here.

  35. Mimmy*

    The cynic in me wonders if this was done intentionally in the hopes that the team would come together and go to the manager with the issues they’re seeing and proposed alternate hotels.

    Highly unlikely, but it crossed my mind…

    In all seriousness: If this ever happens again, I would take pictures and, as a group, contact the manager and insist on different accommodations. That is completely unacceptable, especially the lack of housekeeping.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I think it’s more likely that the higher-ups who organized it didn’t have to stay there so they just didn’t care.

  36. kiki*

    In addition to what Alison said about a lot of exit interview stuff not going anywhere, I think bringing it up in an exit interview might come across as petty. I agree with LW that this was serious, especially the safety issues, but I can see somebody interpreting this as, “Oh, we made them stay at one 2-star hotel one time and they’re throwing a fit!”

    I think bringing it up to HR is the right move. Not necessarily to try and be punitive, but to figure out how something similar can be avoided going forward and make sure that same hotel is never used again.

  37. Forty Years In the Hole*

    Many years ago, hubby attended a defence-related conference in DC, and was staying at a very nice hotel (booked by his office) in a nice area.
    As he headed out to the recommended restaurant for dinner – around the corner, a couple blocks away – the concierge offered to flag a taxi for him. Hubby chose to walk. Concierge was concerned enough to call the restaurant, and the concierge and someone from the restaurant literally watched over him as he left the hotel/arrived at the restaurant. So, even in a “nice” part of town there can be concerns. He just thought it bizarre, but appreciated the concern. And he levelled up his “situational awareness.”

  38. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

    I’m more amused than I should be at the irony here. Wow, our employee satisfaction scores are in the crapper. I have a brilliant idea, let’s send them to the worst hotel we can find. Surely that will improve our scores. Bad-management logic at its finest.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      I love the idea that simply putting them “together”, was the ticket to success. No budget to put everyone in a clean hotel,
      but nevertheless let’s plough on with a bid to get them all together in one place. Did they think everyone would start swapping tales of their secret unspoken delight with management? Perhaps it was supposed to turn into a discussion hub of problem solving so senior leaders didn’t have to think of something. I feel like a lot of pot was involved in coming up with the togetherness idea.

  39. Davis*

    Your beef should be with the hotel itself, not your company. There’s an assumption that hotels will be clean and secure. The hotel didn’t live up to that.

    Submit a bad review.

    1. Letter Writer*

      Hi, I’m the letter writter. Yes, I added my one-star review to the several hundred other bad reviews on Trip Advisor.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      Okay, but that’s not going to stop the company booking the same hotel again. There were bad reviews before this experience.

    3. So Tired*

      LW is absolutely justified in “having beef” with their company. They said in a comment they and coworkers raised concerns prior to the trip and they were brushed off. You can absolutely have an issue with your workplace ignoring your justified concerns about accommodations *they’re providing*. Absolutely submitting a bad review is going to help other people know not to stay at this location, but clearly the company (or director) saw other bad reviews and ignored those as well. Plenty of issues within the company to “have beef” over.

    4. Observer*

      There’s an assumption that hotels will be clean and secure.

      Maybe in some alternate universe that’s true. In this universe we’re in, the existence of terrible hotels is not a secret.

      The fact that the manager shrugged off the problems when told about it tells you everything you need to know, if you are actually paying attention. Also, the LW actually posted some comments (before you posted yours, by the timestamps), in which they pointed out that the hotel already had bad reviews. Not only did the management not check the reviews, but when they were pointed to those reviews, they insisted that it’s ok.

      1. Grammar Penguin*

        Yeah, I’ve always assumed the cleanliness and security of a hotel will be directly proportional to its price. You get what you pay for, as with literally anything else that’s sold.

        The company paid as little as possible and got what it paid for. If the purpose was to show their employees how much/little they matter to management, they’ve done that. I’m sure morale will soar.

    5. LJ*

      I gotta ask, do you do all your travel in random motels off the side of the highway? Sketchy “hotels” with shared bathrooms in the city? (as someone mentioned upthread)

      1. LJ*

        To add, I realize there are hostels and some are perfectly wonderful. The “hotel” comment was referring to a specific commenter’s example of one with stained bedding, cracked windows, and what sounded like a generally sketchy vibe.

  40. Qwerty*

    I suggest paring down the list when escalating the issue to focus on the worst cleanliness ones. Some of these points seem pretty normal – you don’t want HR getting stuck debating whether security is normal at the elevators like we’re doing, you want them focused on dirty sheets, bathing in dirty water, and a coworker getting an infection. You were on edge from the gross stuff and that made everything else feel worse. Less is more here. It isn’t even that its an off brand hotel – my grossest experience was at a Marriott – but that this particular hotel is not up to standards.

    Look at each point through the mindset of “if everything else was nice, how terrible / HR worthy would this point be”.

    Some suggestions
    – No in-hotel food options is normal. Dodgy neighborhood could be seen as judgy and not everyone has the same barometer – unknown dark areas are universally unsettling though, so use that. The underlying issue sounds more like that y’all couldn’t just take a cab to dinner for some reason? (I’m supposed to take a cab after dark even when I feel safe…)
    – No housekeeping is normal nowadays until day 5+, even when requested and even at nice places. The problem was that you couldn’t get more towels and apparently they weren’t air drying in the room. Focus on that second part.

    1. Grammar Penguin*

      One very common feature of “dodgy” neighborhoods is a lack of taxi service. Drivers simply don’t accept calls to pick up if they don’t feel safe.

    2. Anon4This*

      This is from OP’s post right below yours, it was genuinely an area where most people would feel unsafe:

      “I want to clarify that when I say “dodgy” I mean an industrial area that was deserted in the evening. There were no sidewalks so we had to walk on the road and it was very, very dark. It was also near a highway off-ramp so there was constant loud traffic noise from air-brakes, etc. To get to the closest food options we had to walk on a highway overpass (there was a sidewalk) and then through a dark, mostly deserted parking lot. I am a smallish woman and I felt pretty vulnerable.”

  41. Letter Writer*

    Hi I’m the letter writer. I think that’s good advice. I want to clarify that when I say “dodgy” I mean an industrial area that was deserted in the evening. There were no sidewalks so we had to walk on the road and it was very, very dark. It was also near a highway off-ramp so there was constant loud traffic noise from air-brakes, etc. To get to the closest food options we had to walk on a highway overpass (there was a sidewalk) and then through a dark, mostly deserted parking lot. I am a smallish woman and I felt pretty vulnerable.

    1. mreasy*

      Deserted industrial area is unsafe at any speed. You absolutely should not have been expected to stay there.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I don’t know why, but I instantly thought of dark parking area when you said that! I grew up in a poor area and I’m totally used to not giving a shit about that, or picking up on it when someone means “poor” rather than unsafe. Unlit parking areas will always give me the heebie jeebies though. Add in highways and no pavements and that’s not appropriate at all.

    3. Just Ate Chipotle*

      That’s exactly the type of environment I pictured from your letter. Well within reason to call that dodgy. Some hotels I have stayed at have been in a similar location and it can be uncomfortable — especially if you’re in a new city or an unfamiliar area of a familiar city. Sounds like a miserable time all around. Hope you find a new job soon.

    4. Anon4This*

      LW for 40 years I’ve been going to the kind of nightclubs that often get held in cheap rented spaces in sketchy or dodgy areas, and while there’s plenty of genuinely questionable areas I’d have little qualms about traipsing through at ungodly hours, dark deserted industrial areas are still the ones that make my hair stand on end. And having to walk in the road is just an unacceptable risk under any circumstances. I don’t blame all y’all for being upset by this.

      Good luck finding a new job, and with however you choose to handle this going forward!

  42. voluptuousfire*

    My company had our bi-annual meet-up at a hotel near our satellite office and it was wonderful, the hotel and the meet-up. Reading this makes me grateful that our company and the hotel took care of us as they did!

  43. Ahrg*

    Oooh, this reminds me of a terrible work trip I once went on. It was to a huge expo thing, very popular, with thousands upon thousands of visitors descending on a quite tiny town. Our team of about ten people were booked to stay in a big, single room – like, school trip vibes. All of us sleeping in the same room for six nights! The beds were literally not even a foot apart. I was about 25 at the time and SO uncomfortable with the 50-year-old men in their pjs sharing a room with me. Changing in the bathroom and then scurrying to bed as quickly as I could with a towel over me for some modesty. My word… It sounds even worse in hindsight.

    1. I have RBF*

      Ten people in one room? For a work trip? Oh, hell no! The only time I’ve done that was in college when I couldn’t afford my own room, and it was with people that I mostly knew, not from work.

  44. Lady In Pink*

    A former coworker of mine, “Jim” ,occasionally needed to travel to one of our offices in another city. Employees traveling to that office always stayed at a Sheraton. Jim decided he was going to be a hero and save the company money. So instead of the Sheraton, he made reservations at a cheap motel. After he arrived at the motel, he regretted his decision. Prostitutes were going in and out. The clerk asked him if he wanted to rent the room by the night or by the hour. Jim was horrified, he was a fundamentalist Christian who didn’t believe in sex before marriage! Poor guy became a company legend.

  45. Michelle Smith*

    Please, please, please escalate this complaint. I can’t emphasize enough how much I feel collectively people at your office are severely underreacting to this. And for goodness sake, next time LEAVE. Seriously. There is no time when your life is worth risking for a business trip. None of you should have been in that situation and I’m appalled that you all stayed there all week instead of flying back home. I’m not blaming you, to be clear, but I’m just saying that next time say screw it and go HOME. I’d rather collect unemployment while I look for my new job than get attacked on my way back into my room.

    Also, please note you can prepare so that if you ever do end up in a situation again where you literally have no option to physically remove yourself from an unsafe room, you’re a little safer while inside it. I recommend a $25 security bar (easily Googleable – type door security bar) that you can fit in a suitcase that can be wedged under the door handle to prevent a break-in. You don’t have to make the door impervious to destruction – just more difficult to break into than the next room over.

  46. Jademelody12*

    The first ever work trip I took was for a training sponsored by one of our VPs (several rungs above me on the ladder) She arrived at our hotel just before me and called me to tell me to stay in my car. She felt that the hotel and location was completely unacceptable and she was finding a different place for us to stay. If it had been me by myself, I probably would have just sucked it up. I didn’t know any better. Our admin had no idea about the area and just went off the distance to the venue. Not only did the VP find someplace else, but insisted I had a suite, like hers, so I was more comfortable. Always liked that VP!

  47. Porchgal*

    When I was first working about 30 years ago, I was sent on a business trip alone. The company booked me at a Howard Johnson’s motel. It was clean and in a decent area (a college town), but the door opened directly to the outside, and I was down at the end of a back wing near a wooded area. I was a 23 year old female who weighed 110 lbs and I was petrified to enter or leave the room after dark. The night I ordered room service I turned on the shower and yelled, “Honey, the food’s here!” When I answered the door – which I’m sure fooled no one because I only ordered 1 meal. But it was a better option than the inquisitive/leering looks I got from the older businesses men when I ate dinner in the motel restaurant the first night. Looking back on it… .

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