Real B&B horror stories

Look, we’ll cut right to the chase here: Sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor exist for a reason. That reason is to help everyday people make wise decisions with regard to things like staying at B&B’s. Any fly-by-night inn can slap together a website and throw a few bucks into PR and social marketing, thus making it seem like the B&B that Google dragged you to is quite the bargain and lovely, too.

But think before you book that, pilgrim. And feast your eyes on a review or two on your favorite such website; you’ll have to account a tad for individual taste and whatnot, but you’re really looking for the extreme reviews, the horror stories. The would-be guest may rest assured that any sort of Fawlty Towers-like shenanigans (or worse) reported on a Yelp-like site are never one-offs.

Balaplace should point out here that, in all honestly, the great majority of vacation-related horror stories from review sites online are mainly about non-chain hotels and motels. For one reason or another, bad reviews and/or word-of-mouth seem to be more lethal for B&B’s as opposed to outlet hotels or AirBnB hosts.

Nevertheless, horrible stories about B&B stays are definitely out there on the interwebs; in fact, we can set the bar with tales from our namesake Bala Place in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

No Balaplace for the Timid

After a couple of relatively seamless ownership/management changes, the Bala Place in Niagara Falls somehow ended up with a co-manger who elicited Trip Advisor reviews entitled “Stay away!” and “Beware of this place” between 2014 and ’16, an incredible two years of defying human decency while somehow staying in business.

As one reviewer somewhat charitably put it, the “person in residence has major issues.” Said major issues included demanding money in person, checking in guests while wearing only underwear, yelling at guests for using the bathroom at night and “shooting a gun at the geese on his dock” in the morning. (No, really.)

These complaints, along with the lack of refunds given under any circumstances (naturally), make for a virtual checklist of the typical B&B horror story. But with a strong sense of schadenfreude, let’s have more!

Who would stay at a place called Wombats, anyway?

Wombats Bed & Breakfast in New South Wales, Australia, was the subject of a review presenting a picture so thoroughly anti-B&B guest-oriented, the place may as well have been located in Bizarro World. (Hey, Fawlty Towers may have been crummy, but at least one could get a shower.)

At Wombats, however, one “could not even shower as the water just dribbled from the showerhead.” Talk about low water pressure… Apparently, certain necessities were considered amenities at Wombats, including heat, as “the dials to the heating were missing and we were staying during winter.” On top of this, guests were “advised” to limit their use of electricity.

More than once among the Trip Advisor reviews is Wombats’ owner described as “creepy,” but regrettably the amateur critics did not expound upon this tag, but my favorite/least favorite aspect of the Wombats-bashing going on is the kitchen, which reportedly featured “a trail of ants” and coffee was a “best before” date of four years previous. Yum!

Nostalgia, but not in good way

You gotta love any review beginning with “From the moment we drove into the driveway, we knew this was a bad idea.” Such is the case for one Yelp writeup of the Brass Lantern in Greenfield, Iowa.

The Brass Lantern is apparently not only a B&B-type inn, but a junkyard inside and out for, well, um, the word “stuff” comes up often in the review: in the driveway, four broken-down cars make the centerpiece for a graveyard of the internal combustion engine, snowblowers, lawnmowers; inside, “stuff” everywhere, useless and dusty and making movement impossible.

Beyond this was the host: Not quite as dusty as the remainder of the place, she was the apparent karmic answer to the Guest Who Wouldn’t Leave: “Every time she came over she stayed at LEAST 2 hours chit-chatting... While we tried to eat breakfast, she was telling us about all the junk that was broken and how it got that way.” Too bad she couldn’t explain the variable heating and electricity problems…

No service, no food, no air

Imagine getting all set to check out that great new place you heard about, bogged down with detailed four- and five-star reviews yet, when you get there … nothing.

This is the sad story of a great-sounding B&B located in Cape Canaveral, Florida, called Mars. Though the recipient of not-exactly perfect ratings, Mars definitely sounds like a stop to check out based on some enthusiastic reviews posted between 2013 and ’16.

The amazing endless red beaches of Mars’s surroundings go a long way in making up for some notable shortcomings of this B&B, including reviewer complaints of “the lack of a breathable atmosphere (95.32% carbon dioxide)” and that “It’s cold as hell” in the place.

Worse yet – and this is a serious shortcoming of depending on the Yelps and Trip Advisors of the world for advice – the place may be out of business. The most recent reviewer of Mars on Yelp commented that he “tried to find this place because I saw such good ratings on Yelp but it was just empty. I wonder if it's not in business anymore. The place had [one-]inch thick red dust...” Another commented on the lack of customer service, noting only the presence of a few robots who wouldn’t respond to guest requests.

Maybe it’s better to call ahead as well…