More than he bargained for

by Mark King

This story is part of our 'Funniest hotel experiences' series, featuring tales from luxury hotel guests which were sent in for our recent travel writing competition. Photo by Stadfahrt-Hamburg.


About ten years ago I split from a long-term girlfriend and, being in my early twenties, decided it was the right time to see a bit more of the world. I embarked on a European train trip, taking in Paris, Amsterdam, Prague, Bratislava – and Hamburg.

I arrived in the German city at about 8pm and immediately set about finding a bed in one of the many hostels listed in my ancient guide book. Unfortunately, they were all occupied.

At the last hostel I tried, I was pointed in the direction of a three-star hotel about 15 minutes away that had comfortable rooms at a reasonable price and served breakfast.

I arrived at the address I had been given and found that the door was locked. I rang the bell, desperately hoping the hotel would be open and have available rooms. My prayers were answered when an elderly lady opened the door and welcomed me inside.

I was guided into a reception area and waited while the old woman shuffled behind the desk. To my surprise, I saw that there was another old lady sat there, wearing a similar floral dress.

As I attempted to ask for a room, I noticed the ladies had a tiny dog behind the desk with them, sat on one of their laps – they were stroking it and grinning insanely. I managed to agree a room with them as well as breakfast, and all the while they were grinning at me in a strange fashion.

I was given a key and told where my room was, so I left the reception and walked down a long corridor to find it. The room was large, with a double-bed and a modern television. I settled in, found a Bundesliga football match on TV and drifted off to sleep.

At some point in the night I was woken by a rap on the door and a woman shouting something in German. I had no idea what she wanted so I opened the door. I was confronted by a woman of about 35 dressed in black, skin-tight plastic trousers and a white, see-through, off-the-shoulder jumper. Her face was heavily made-up. I told her that I didn't speak German.

“You want business?” she asked. “No,” I replied, suddenly realising that the woman was a “night-worker”.

She went to stroke my cheek and I politely shut the door on her. Roughly every 45 minutes for the rest of the night, I was disturbed by a familiar rap on the door and cries of “you want business?” from a succession of different women – and once, a man. I was terrified!

By the time I wearily trudged down the corridor to breakfast, I was exhausted. The old ladies were there, in matching dresses, serving middle-aged men their morning meals.

“Did you have a good night?” one of the ladies asked me with a wink. “Great, thanks,” I replied.

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