Hungover, a couple of weeks ago, Aaron and I were watching Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back. To Aaron’s utter dismay, they were investigating and shining a UV light on a Bournemouth hotel we had stayed in just over a year ago. Because nothing says a spontaneous, romantic getaway like an army of dead flies trapped in a lightbulb and potentially two years’ worth of dust gathering like a big, fluffy grey cloud on the window ledge. But our £30 night away wasn’t what got Aaron so pale in the face.
“They think that’s bad,” Aaron says sheepishly.
We chortle uneasily.
“We should probably email in,” I suggest, knowing we won’t, images and scents of another Bournemouth hotel invading my mind and upsetting my sensitive nostrils. I gulp down the nausea.
If £30 a night in Bournemouth buys you a hotel with alarming levels of harmful bacteria in the bathroom and a puke-inducing (although that could have been the hangover talking) medley of at least five strangers’ hair in the plughole, let me tell you, you don’t want to know what £20 a night in Bournemouth buys you.
But, since you asked, let me tell you what £20 a night in Bournemouth buys you.*
It buys you a hotel with a bathroom that offers damp toilet paper. Yes, you leave the toilet with a wetter bottom than the one you went in with.
(Aaron told me to take that last bit out, but I think it’s crucial to be transparent, much like the toilet roll was.)
I tease Aaron for being so thrifty that, since moving in with him, I haven’t eaten a packet of crisps or lunchbox snack bar that isn’t supermarket-branded. He’s the kind of guy who treats his girlfriend to a Vouchercloud lunch, but only after he has logged it in his Excel spreadsheet – whilst we are sat waiting for the menu – to confirm that he has leftover money in his monthly allocated spending allowance to do so. If I want to take him on a weekend away, often I give him the job of finding the cheapest hotel and watch him thrive as he compares prices from every accommodation website out there. If we are willing to walk fifty minutes to get to dinner, it’ll be £25 altogether. I complete the transaction with my credit card, mentally taking a note to remember walking shoes and wondering what new low we will reach next.
Honestly, it’s part of the adventure. As the Sat Nav tells us we are five minutes away from our destination, we are both giddy. I am drafting up a punch line in my head; a joke to tell at Aaron’s expense (and our lack of expense) that evening over dinner. I am eager to find out whether this hotel will provide me with the material to beat my “What do you call a B&B with no air-con? A hot-hell” joke I like to tell him about a particular stifling and memorable London B&B we stayed in a few years ago. Aaron, on the other hand, has the sweats as we swing into the hotel car park, sensing the excitement seeping out of of my pores. Noticing the fine sheen of sweat on Aaron’s forehead, I ask, “Shall we stick the air-con on?”
I don’t really have a conclusion to this pretty grim and brief tale. But if you’re willing to inhale dust in your sleep and tear a few sheets of toilet paper with your fingers before you get it right, you may just reap the benefits. What we don’t spend on a hotel in Bournemouth is an extra taco at our favourite Mexican restaurant or a round of crazy golf in the Lower Gardens. Or, if we break a record and find a £15 a night hotel, maybe we can have both.
“Don’t push it,” Aaron interjected as he read this.
*Many alternative Bournemouth hotels available.