A Choice Hotel in North Carolina was evacuated late last week after fire officials determined the hotel was too unsafe to be occupied.
According to the local ABC affiliate, the Fayetteville fire marshal received a complaint about possible hazards in guest rooms. An inspection was conducted later the same day.
Upon investigation, officials documented enough fire and electrical code violations to deem the building “unsafe to occupy.”
Nearly 50 guests had to be evacuated.
With over 7,000 worldwide locations, Choice Hotels have 12 brands that run the gamut from economy (Econolodge and Rodeway Inn) to upscale (Ascend, Cambria). Of the 12 brands, Quality Inn is somewhere in the middle in terms of cost. From Choice Hotel’s website:
“Enjoy The Extras” level
“Rest & Refresh” level
- Comfort Inn
- Sleep inn
“Get More Value” level
- Quality Inn
- Clarion Pointe
“Stay Awhile” level
- Main Stay Suites
- Suburban Extended Stay Hotel
- Woodspring Suites
“Travel Simply” level
- Rodeway Inn
So Quality Inn and Suites should typically be a solid 2 to 3 star hotel. Nothing luxurious of course, but not 100% crap, either.
However since each Choice hotel is independently owned and operated as franchises, there’s never a guarantee of how well (or not) each franchisee will follow through on corporate expectations (case in point, looking at a different brand for a moment, we’re not planning on staying at this IHG hotel, also a franchise, anymore because it’s gone so downhill. For years though, it was absolutely fine.).
However I did some research on the particular Quality Inn in question, and although it may not be one of the worst hotels ever (according to Trip Advisor, that award goes to these hotels), it’s certainly had its, shall we say, history.
The building was originally built in 1980 as a Best Western, and eventually turned into a Baymont Inn (which got horrific reviews on Yelp, back in the day). The building was sold at auction in 2011 and became a Quality Inn and Suites.
Of the 67 reviews for the hotel left on Trip Advisor since it became a Choice hotel, 8 were Excellent, 16 were Very Good, 16 were Average, 5 were Poor and a whopping 22 were Terrible.
Take a look at some of the more recent reviews:
1 star (Aug 2021)
“Where the Devil likes to stay when in Fayetteville NC”
“Do you like cockroaches? How about the smell of mold and mildew? Do you despise clean sheets and linens, and prefer to “air-dry” after a shower rather than use clean towels? Then I have the “hotel” for you! The Quality Inn & Suites Fort Bragg has all your desires for filth, desolation, pubic hairs galore across every bathroom surface, and as many ants and cockroaches as you can eat. For the more adventurous, sturdy types, you might even be able to benefit from random ceiling pieces falling on you, as my daughter got to experience during our 60 minute stay on 7/31/2021.
I booked two rooms for our family as a stopover on a long drive from Boston MA to Largo FL, thinking I would break the trip up into two legs rather than drive straight through. Of course the pictures on the website promised us a pool to swim in, clean beds to sleep in with functioning televisions, and a complimentary continental breakfast the next morning. Upon arriving at the location (or “exclusion zone”) of the hotel, a couple of the kids warned me about the graffiti visible on the walls of the hotel and the scurrying of insects across the parking lot grounds. Having driven for 13 hours straight, I was exhausted and much more willing to deal with accommodations several notches below what I expected or what was promised when I booked our stay. However, when my son had a cockroach on his pillow, another son had ants streaming from the shower head, my wife was wiping pubic hairs off the toilet seats, and my daughter had a piece of the ceiling fall on her, we finally reached our limit and decided it would be better to continue our road trip to Florida by sleeping in our car at a truck stop along the road in Georgia than spend another minute in this god forsaken hellhole. Unless you want to experience the literal definition of Hell’s Waiting Room, avoid this place at all costs. And may God have mercy on your soul if you decide to stay here.
Bonus Tip! If you leave the hotel and demand a refund within 60 minutes of arriving, the front desk staff will glumly refund your stay. But be aware that they will charge you TWICE as soon as you leave the premises!”
1 star (Jan 2021)
“Wow… Speechless, my entrance welcome was two females smoking, at my check inn everything was good, heading to the elevators once out of order and the other not working properly when i get off my floor all the corridor smells smoke from cigars, front of my room 204 was a debris near my door. Once in the room bathroom was dirty, toilet seat with urine stains and hair around the bathroom, bed sheets was dirty overall is a 1 star for me because the front desk agent was good and she don’t deserve bad ratings. I went down inmediatly and cancel my reservation… Management in this place need to work in this place… 😡 BTW My Wife left this place crying”
1 star (Nov. 2020)
checked in the afternoon of nov. 6, filthy lobby, hotel looks to be old. went to room bathroom lights did not work, light by the bed did not work, lamp by tv had a short in it. changed to another room. smelled like someone had just smoked in it. moved to third room carpet was filthy, no ice bucket, no phone, no towels. went to desk for a fourth time and requested a refund, got refund and left. not even a bad hotel. nastiest hotel i have ever stayed in.
1 star (Aug. 2020)
“Run away as fast as you can”
I had the unfortunate experience of staying here. Checked in at 2 a.m. and just wanted a to go to sleep. The first room I was put in was dirty and had no ac (even though she had her nephew check the room to make sure all was well). Was told she was moving me to another room and the security guard was going to check it out and assured me the room would be perfect. Get up to the room and the security guard was the same nephew who had checked my last room to make sure it was all set. Ac was working but then she expected me to come back down to the lobby to get the key. I had already changed into my pajamas so told her I was not going back down to the lobby as I just wanted to go to sleep. I tried turning the lamp on between the beds but nothing was plugged in so couldn’t even use the alarm clock. The next morning I went to shower and there were no face cloths just towels. Brushed my teeth and the sink filled up and wouldn’t drain. Got no service from the person working the front desk and manager was not on site. Called and asked to speak with manager and never heard back from them. After being closed for Covid for three months you would think they would have taken care of repairs and made sure each room was clean and ready for paying customers! So again run and don’t waste your money. You’d be better off sleeping in your car!!!!
And it’s not as if it was even a COVID thing…even before COVID, the hotel was getting crappy reviews:
1 star (Feb 2020)
If I could rate this hotel lower I would. It is so bad I checked out 10 minutes after I paid for the room. I received no refund and didn’t care, that’s how deplorable it is. I should have realized it was a dump from the look of the lobby which was unkempt and reeking of cigarette smell. Upon registering I was told the King Suite I had booked was not available because the floor had to be replaced and was given a regular King size room. The room was even worse than the lobby. As I entered the room the soles of my shoes were sticking to the tiled entrance. Theroom was seedy looking and the smell was worse than the oder in the lobby. It was certainly not like the pictures on the hotel website. I am a Choice Hotel member and have often stayed in their hotels never having a problem, this was the exception!!
The General Manager actually replied to this one:
I am so sorry you felt that our hotel was not satisfactory but our lobby has been updated to choice standards.Due to the fact that we have the sliding doors in our lobby we tend to have different odors or smells that find their way into our lobby but we do our best to attend to those issues as they come up. I just want to apologize that your stay was not favorable.
The last time the hotel had gotten a 5 star/Excellent review was August 2018 and most were from mid-2016 and before.
It sounds as if the hotel is in a rough part of town, but that’s really not an excuse to not keep it nice (we stayed at a hotel in the Tenderloin section of San Francisco in early 2020 and it was lovely). None of the complaints on TripAdvisor really mentioned electrical (save for lamps not working or just not being there) or fire issues (other than cigarette smells in rooms), but short term hotel guests are usually going to focus more on cleanliness, noise, lack of towels etc. – which they did. A lot.
But really, if a hotel, at worst, can’t get those basic right, and at best can only apologize and make excuses for them (see that Feb. 2020 complaint), how surprising is it that (A) they had possible hazards in guest rooms that were so bad that someone complained about them and (B) they got shut down for said safety hazards?
“I am grateful for the watchful eyes we have in this community,” Fire Chief Mike Hill wrote in a statement. “This complaint may have saved lives. We appreciate the initiative to come forward and point out problems. An inspection was done promptly. The building owner willingly worked with firefighters to make alternative arrangements for guests. We hope this destination will be able to safely open again. Our team will work with the owner to address these issues.”
No criminal charges were filed against the building owner.
Feature Photo: Nitram242 / flickr
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary