Where NOT to stay in Cameron Highlands

When moving over from Binchang to Tanah Rata in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia, I did my research,looked at several places online, and picked what seemed to be a good budget lodging option - The Highlanders Budget hotel.

We like to trim our accommodation budget when we can so staying in places less than perfect are certainly okay for us from time to time.  But as a disclaimer, I must say that we have found we do not like staying in the bottom of the barrel.  With that said, we usually can tolerate almost anything for a day or 2.  Last night was the first night that this was not true anymore.

We should have had an inkling from the first couple of rooms that they showed us as they flat out sucked.  I spent the 5 minutes looking at them trying to convince myself that I could deal with it.  I asked if they had any bigger rooms and he shook his head no, then showed me to a HUGE room a minute later.  We sort of looked back and forth at each other, knowing we didn't love it, but also knowing we didn't want to truck around town with all our luggage. So after some light bargaining on price, we paid for 2 nights (first mistake) and hunkered down.

It was already raining, as it does most afternoons in April.  So we turned the TV on to see what the channels were like.  One of the gentleman's selling points of the place was the great cable TV.  We discovered they had many channels but they all played the same thing...one inappropriate movie after another.  Okay, TV off. No big deal. We aren't used to having a TV anyway.

Since there was an extra bed in the room we decided a round of mattress gymnastics would be great.  And it was until all the vigorous activity stripped the bed and we discovered that the mattress was totally disgusting.  I started itching right away!  There was also no top sheet only the comforter. You know, the part of the linens that they never wash!

The entire room was filthy, ants everywhere, floors sticky, windows you could barely see through, and a shower that did not get warm or provide any pressure.  The toilet leaked a bucket full of water all over the floor every 20 minutes. Maybe that is where the shower pressure went.  Still, all of this was stuff we could live with.  As we went to bed that night it was pouring rain and cool.  We really didn't need the fan as the gentleman told me when we checked in.  Until....

Around 2am the rain really slowed down and that is where our backs were broken on this stay!  Apparently, the reason the hotel is in such disrepair and filthy is because the people running it stay up all night. But not to check new people in.  No, I mean hanging out partying with half the town...RIGHT OUTSIDE OUR WINDOW!  It was incredible really. The noise went on and on; car doors slamming, alarms going off, yelling, fighting, hollering, laughing until around 7am when they went to bed finally and the breakfast crowd showed up.

I couldn't figure out what was going on until the wee hours of the morning, but I sure as heck wasn't sleeping.  No wonder the office doesn't open until noon, they are all still asleep!  As soon as they woke showed up, we were outta there!

Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with hanging out late and sleeping until noon. After all, that is how I spent most of my teens. But when running an establishment and knowing full well you have a family right above you, it is just unacceptable.  The owners clearly had no pride in their establishment. At least attempt to make a halfway decent stay for people; clean the rooms, wash the sheets, replace foul looking windows and fixtures and, for goodness sake, do not party right below someone's window all night!

To their credit they did return the money for the second night when we told them how displeased we were, but they had no cash on them ($30 freaking dollars) and we had to return 2 times to get it all.

Lessons learned: For us, never commit to more than 1 night when booking a budget hotel sight-unseen, and never stay at a place that feels wrong from the get go.  For the kids, no matter what type of occupation you have, do it to the best of your ability or try something else.  Have some passion and pride which is gained from a job well done!  Do you hear that Highlanders??

Rant over!

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