Early on while backpacking through India and SouthEast Asia, my wife Carrie and I realized that there really wasn’t that much of a difference between a $3 hotel room and a $13 hotel room.

SRI LANKA - 600 Rupees ($4) - Healey Tourist Inn, Dambula
SRI LANKA – 600 Rupees ($4) – Healey Tourist Inn, Dambula

. . .

Paying $3 vs $8 for a Hotel/Guesthouse Room

Sure, the more expensive hotel room might have a Western toilet in the room instead of a shared squatty potty, but neither had a comfortable bed or was especially pleasant to be in.

SRI LANKA - 600 Rupees ($4) - Healey Tourist Inn, Dambula... The bed and pillows were made of straw
SRI LANKA – 600 Rupees ($4) – Healey Tourist Inn, Dambula… The bed and pillows were made of straw

For instance, the above room in Dambula, Sri Lanka, featured the gem-of-a-mattress  you see to your right. Filled entirely with hay and stray, it was about as comfortable to sleep on as you would imagine.

Yet we stayed there, because it was the best hotel room we came across. I don’t even want to think about what may or may not have been living inside that bale of hay. Sometimes it would poke through while laying on it, others it would just exist like a bed of cement. Needless to say, we were thrilled to get out of there first thing the next morning.

Another prime example of an awful bed can be seen in the below photograph taken in Ubud, Bali. For $8, we got what the hotel owner refered to as a “large bed.”

BALI - 80,000 Real ($8) - Ayu Bungalow, Ubud
BALI – 80,000 Real ($8) – Ayu Bungalow, Ubud

. . .

Beware of the Crack

Upon closer inspection (aka, laying down on it), we quickly realized that it was made up of two twin beds pushed next to each other, alongside an even smaller third mattress and covered with a single sheet. And, because it’s what you do when backpacking, we stayed there for four days.

Port Blaire, Andaman Islands, India
Port Blaire, Andaman Islands, India

. . .

Sometimes the guesthouse rooms are big…with uncomfortable beds…

And other times times they are barely big enough to move around…with the same uncomfortable beds.

INDIA - 500rs ($10) Bombay
INDIA – 500rs ($10) Bombay

. . .

$10 = Four Thin Walls and No Ceiling

The most absurd part about the room above was that, because it was in Mumbai, India,  it was our most expensive room to date at a whopping $10. No real walls: just four thin pieces of balsa wood separating us from the room next door and a rickety fan perilously spinning from a communal ceiling.

Sadhana Forest, a hippie community in Auroville, India
Sadhana Forest, a hippie community in Auroville, India

. . .

So Why Do We Stay in these Hotels/Guesthouses?

The room above was in Sadhana Forest: an organic commune dedicated to reforestation in India. It was one of our favorite stops on the entire 9 month backpacking adventure…but the bed sure wasn’t comfortable.

Now keep in mind, Carrie and I willingly chose to stay at these places. Partly because we were on a budget, but also because they provided us with some of our most memorable experiences. These were the places that we got to meet the locals and learn about all the amazing places to visit from our fellow travelers.

Quite often, there was an idyllic scene just outside the door and had we not stayed in these budget guesthouses we never would have had the chance to explore the area. Take the below bungalow. While teeny, it also literally was less than a minute from the white sands of the Arabian Sea in Goa, India.

INDIA - 200 Rupees ($4) - Costello's Cabanas, Benalum, Goa
INDIA – 200 Rupees ($4) – Costello’s Cabanas, Benalum, Goa

. . .

The Worst Place I’ve Ever Stayed… for Five Nights!

Of course, from time to time we found ourselves in an absolute hellhole like the Overstay: a whorehouse turned guesthouse in Bangkok. It was during Songkran – the Thai New Year – and Carrie and I found ourselves with little other option than to spend five nights there after we met some amazing new friends.

It’s amazing what one puts up with just to make it easy to hang out with people. (and no, the final photo below was not our room, but it was where dozens of other traveler’s slept in the Overstay).

The floor was a popular sleeping spot at The Overstay in Bangkok during Thai New Year, though we had a "room"
The floor was a popular sleeping spot at The Overstay in Bangkok during Thai New Year, though we had a “room”

. . .

Want to read more about some of the absurd places that Carrie and I stayed? Then check out:

. . .

OK, I’m done now. For the comments section…what is the most absurd place you have ever stayed and why? Discuss :)

  • The last photo saying Bangkok is absolutely stunning :) What a place!

    • Yeah, it was pretty much the most horrible place I’ve ever slept…not that I could do much sleeping with the music thumping just below my non-existent pillow until 5:30am.

  • I just came onto your post and found it quite interesting. I am also associated with hotels in amritsar, hotels near golden temple and enjoy to read the stuff on the same as it’s rarely found on hotels.

    • Thanks for your comment. When I was in Amritsar, I stayed at the free pilgrim’s lodge next to the Golden Temple. Now THAT was an experience!