Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m something of a connoisseur of crap. Nothing gladdens my simple heart more than a dumpy experience that I can ungratefully piss and moan about with an affected air of tired cynicism. I think this is why I eat Laughing Cow cheese triangles from the box without accompaniment.
As the many county write-ups on this blog testify to, I am prepared to travel considerable distances for my fix of crap. So given that the area around Harringay has been quietly gentrifying itself, it’s gratifying to still have an honest to goodness fail right on my doorstep.
Down the hill from Harringay station, past the tapas bar where Old Man Pablo doles out patatas bravas and tasty morcilla sausage, squats the Shelton Hotel.
Doesn’t look so bad does it? Admittedly, the free parking is used a little casually. And the car boot starbursts in the windows don’t exactly shout five-star hospitality. But it’s a reasonably nice Victorian building and boasts views of some of N4’s finest street furniture. Take a look at the Shelton’s website and again, it’s misleadingly OK. The photos of the rooms illustrate some basic facilities, although they seem to have been taken using a pinhole camera made of Vaseline. But look a little further and the cracks begin to appear, before rapidly widening into Grand Canyonesque chasms. Those charming ladies who occasionally hang around outside. Snatched glimpses of rarely-spotted guests with wheely suitcases standing outside the entrance, looking pale and drawn.
You have to admire the candour of the Shelton’s proprietors. It takes a certain ballsy attitude – or absolutely zero knowledge of how website plug-ins work – to allow guest reviews to be funnelled straight onto your website. A selection of the unvarnished highlights reads like a Fearne Cotton school report:
- ‘Dreadfull, this place should be shut down. I needed to stay in North London for two nights on business, I booked the Shelton online, when I arrived I found the staff very arrogant and rude also insisting on cash for the remainder of my stay.’
- ‘It is the worst hotel we have ever stayed in. Booked for 5 nights only stayed 1.’
- ‘The worst place I have stayed in in the UK.’
- ‘We had nowhere to go or we would have left.’
- ‘This is a tacky poorly maintained hotel, the lady did her best however it has been lacking maintenance for years and i would not stop here again, i would rather sleep in my car.’
And my favourite:
- ‘The carpets were unclean and seemed to be fire damaged in several places. The bed, whilst clean was very hard and the single pillow was so thin it was useless. The dining room was very bizarre with quotations written on post-it notes displayed in photo frames on the windows.’
Trip Advisor ranks it as the sixth worst reviewed hotel in London, a truly outstanding rating when you consider there are 1,025 to choose from. The fact there are five worse available options still in business is an affront to all that is just and right. I can only assume guests in those establishments are assailed by Japanese fighting spiders as soon as they step in to their en-suite open grave.
The only real competitor to the Shelton I’ve ever experienced first-hand was Oxford’s celebrated Nanford Guest House. Duvet-sized damp patches that wept like a keening Iranian funeral-goer were the first sign of trouble. This warning was followed closely on its heels by carpet stains that suggested the room’s previous occupant had recently been involved in a fight to the death with a yak full of gravy. The background odour added further weight to this theory. The telly was such a beefy old model there’s a good chance it was actually made from beef. Fortunately, I spent no more than four hours there, and was insensibly drunk for three and a half of those.
To its immense credit, the Nanford is listed as the worst of all 44 hotels in Oxford. As if that wasn’t enough, the guesthouse was raided this June for possible involvement in a child prostitution ring. The investigating officer in the credit was the heroically-monickered Christian Bunt. I could write for twenty years and not come up with a better made-up name than Christian Bunt.
The Nanford successfully traded on the fact that Oxford has no other hotels available for less than £100 per night, and a steady stream of cheap people wishing to visit the spires.
The Shelton’s continued existence is much more of a mystery. Any theories?
For more of this kind of rubbish, you can follow Land of Dope and Tories on Twitter @MrGlazed.