ROMULUS, Mich. — When you come to a hotel, you expect it to be clean, in reasonable condition and to have a friendly staff. At the Howard Johnson Hotel located on Merriman Road, it is anything but, according to travelers on TripAdvisor.com. AmericaJR.com has received dozens of e-mails and complaints from people who have stayed there.
Guests report having dirty rooms that were never cleaned, peeling wallpaper, mold on the walls, sheets that aren’t changed, televisions that are green and leaky toilets.
“I went to set the alarm clock and the clock did not work,” said TripAdvisor.com member rntripster. “It looked like a murder scene with bloody hand prints on the wall and wet floors and a door that still did not seal properly. This hotel looks like it rents by the hour.”
Another TripAdvisor.com member, CanadianEh013, explained his experience at the hotel: “Opening the door, we saw that the room had obviously never been cleaned-unmade beds, dirty Kleenex and a filthy bathroom. This was supposed to be non-smoking, but reeked of cigarettes and the carpet was damp.”
AmericaJR.com put in a request at the front desk to see one of the hotel rooms. The assistant manager of the hotel, who refused to give us his name, gave us a tour of a room.
When asked if there have been any updates to the property, he said: “It’s been a couple of years probably since we’ve done anything. We’ve been under receivership since September. Basically, we can’t spend any money to do anything. We can only spend like, purchase supplies for the rooms: soaps, shampoos, towels. As far as any repairs, we have to do it pretty much ourselves.”
“Room was a dump,” said TripAdvisor.com member warnerte7. “It was dirty, the heating unit was loud and did not heat well, the shower was pathetic. Customer service was poor. Waited forever to check out as no one was at the desk. Wake-up call never came.”
Another TripAdvisor.com member, RickMcGee, explained his experience at the Howard Johnson: “The hotel looked like it was closed. Later I learned the hotel was in foreclosure and it was only a matter of time before the hotel closed. The bathroom was moldy and gross, the sheets were so thin I could see the mattress through them. The girl told me housekeeping wasn’t there everyday because the hotel didn’t have enough business and that they were trying to save money by only having housekeeping there every few days.”
We asked the assistant manager about the allegations that housekeeping wasn’t there every day. “That may have been one room. A lot of times guests don’t tell us. They just post something without notifying us about it.”
The Howard Johnson Hotel in Romulus has an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau. In addition, it is not an accredited member of the BBB.
“Currently, they are showing an ‘F’ rating due to two unanswered complaints from 2008,” said Patrick Bennett, Director of Community Relations at the Better Business Bureau-Eastern Michigan division.
TripAdvisor.com member KaitlynSmykowski said: “I wasn’t expecting a 5-star room but this was pathetic. The wallpaper was pealing in huge chunks around the shower head and in other places. There were purple markings on the walls. The beds looked a little sloppy and the bathtub was filthy. The toilet seat was unusable and even the shower curtain looked dusty.”
Nicole Hockin is a spokesperson for Hotels.com and a travel expert whose been featured on E! and The Rachael Ray Show.
“Don’t put your luggage on the bed,” said Hockin, when asked about advice for travelers. “If there’s going to be an issue with the bed, in terms of cleanliness or the comforters, then put your luggage on the luggage rack. Generally, the comforters on your bed are not cleaned with every stay.”
Another TripAdvisor.com member, GLCM87, explained her experience at the hotel: “I stayed in one of the ‘nicer’ rooms that had a Jacuzzi bath. The room was disgusting, the wall paper was peeling off the walls, the bath was cracked and dirty, the carpet felt filthy. The location is great, right next to the airport, but to be honest you would be better just spending the night in the airport itself.”
We asked the assistant manager about the amount of complaints from guests. “A lot of stuff is just out of our control,” he said. “A lot of it needs work, furniture, scraped up and chipped up. It’s things we cant replace or anything.”
AmericaJR.com was shown one of the clean rooms so where are the dirty rooms? “Probably, if there’s any that are still a little bit bad, the worst ones are in the 400 building,” the assistant manager said. “Those ones seem to take the most wear and tear.”
What should a traveler do if he or she receives a dirty hotel room?
“If you ever go into a hotel room and you’re not comfortable with the level of cleanliness, a hotel will generally move you or recommendable you to another room,” Hockin said. “I need to say, first and foremost, how the request is made, even though the customer is always right, how you make that request will really impact the way your request is received. In essence, you always catch more flies with honey. Even though you may be really irritated, try and make the request nicely. In many cases, most people will get an upgrade because the hotel is so appalled that their customers aren’t happy.”
Bennett added: “If they’re not satisfied with the resolution from the people in charge at the hotel, the hotel management, they can seek other avenues such as calling the Better Business Bureau and filing a complaint via our automated voice system or they can file a complaint online atwww.bbb.org.”
Another TripAdvisor.com member, cstar002, explained her experience at the Howard Johnson: “The hotel room was disgusting. Pealing wall paper, mold on the walls, the air condition barely worked. The shower was disgusting and there was an entire bucket of cleaning supplies and dirty rags in the tub. The sheets on the bed were damp and looked like they hadn’t been changed. Looking back, we should have just stayed at the airport.”
“I was afraid to sleep for fear of contacting bedbugs,” said TripAdvisor.com member salleng56. “The room was smelly when I stepped in. The end table and coffee tables both had fingerprints and grease. The showers had dirt, which I could easily wipe with a finger. The toilet had a leak because it would flush to refill the tank every 10 minutes or so until I finally turned the water supply off. The blanket had two burn holes and ash on it.”
Travel Expert Nicole Hockin offered more advice for travelers: “The other thing is, don’t use the glasses in the hotel rooms. Always look for the plastic cups. Plastic cups in a bathroom are a great option. If you don’t have plastic cups, then thoroughly rinse out the glass cups. You typically don’t see the housekeeping crews walking around with big carts full of glasses. So those aren’t always cleaned as well as you would hope.”
Most people on TripAdvisor.com say the Howard Johnson Hotel in Romulus is the dirtiest hotel in metro Detroit. However, we were able to find a positive review from TripAdvisor.com member BobbyZBurke.
“We chose this hotel because we were able to leave our car at the hotel instead of taking it to another parking lot,” he said. “The hotel was clean, the people working at the hotel were very nice. My personal experience at the hotel was great and I am very glad that I did not have a problem at the hotel where I would need to speak with management.”
Hockin added: “My caveat in warning with guest reviews, because I do think they are invaluable, but you want to look for consistency in reviews. One extreme review in either direction that’s a break from the norm is probably not what would be typical of that experience. But if you find a consistent kind of tone, positive or negative running through the reviews about a particular hotel, then you might want to give that some weight as you make your decision.”
This is not the only dirty hotel near Detroit Metro Airport. TripAdvisor.com members have also given low ratings to the Baymont Inn, Comfort Inn, Ramada, Extended Stay America, Red Roof Inn, Quality Inn, LaQuinta Inn, Best Western, Rodeway Inn and the Super 8 motel. All of these hotels are in need of updating their rooms and doing more to stay clean. These hotels all received scores of two stars or less.
These hotels have also had their fair share of crime, according to police reports obtained by AmericaJR.com. There have been 22 incidents of theft or damage to property over the last six months at hotels near the airport.